The 2020 Summer SIReS (Summer Interdisciplinary Research Symposium) will take place on Friday, July 24 from 9:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. on the Zoom and Google Meet platforms.

The schedule is as follows:

9:00 a.m. – 10:15 a.m. Keynote Speaker: Dr. Karl Reid, Executive Director, National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE)

“Failure IS an Option: How Failure is Critical to Success”

Most advanced students who have achieved success believe that any failure is an indictment of their intelligence. And yet, anyone who has achieved critical breakthroughs in their fields or domains has done so by taking risks, learning from their failures and persisting through them. Through personal stories that illustrate the literature, this talk flips the script on success and failure by encouraging students, faculty and staff to shift their attitudes, behaviors and reward structures to embrace growth-oriented mindsets and behaviors toward achieving mastery.

Recording of Zoom Meeting

 

Poster Session 1: 10:30-11:30 am

Title Author(s) Department Project Code
Role of Rbfox RNA-binding proteins in brain development, neuronal function, and behavior in the zebrafish Trupti Patel, Michael A Berberoglu Biology BIO-1
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Rbfox proteins are RNA-binding proteins that play a major role in the alternative splicing of neuronal transcripts in the central nervous system. The Rbfox proteins are required for proper brain development and function. In humans, RBFOX1 has been implicated in a variety of neurological disorders including autism, anxiety, epilepsy, and schizophrenia. These results are based largely on human case studies, but further research can better explain the role of Rbfox proteins in neurological and behavior disorders using animal models such as zebrafish. Zebrafish are a well-suited model system due to the neuroanatomical similarities they share with other mammals, but also their capability to regenerate many tissues throughout their bodies including their central nervous system. Another rbfox gene, rbfox2, is required for cerebellar development in mice. Both Rbfox1l (Rbfox1-like) and Rbfox2 are expressed in the adult zebrafish cerebellum. In this project, rbfox1l and rbfox2 mutant zebrafish (in collaboration with The Ohio State University) will be used to examine the role of rbfox1l in brain development and behavior, and determine if rbfox2 and/or rbfox1l are necessary for cerebellar development and regeneration after injury. An understanding of the role Rbfox proteins play in neural development, regeneration, and behavior may lead to advancements in medical research and healthcare.

Biocatalytic Synthesis of an Unnatural Fluorescent Amino Acid Cassandra Niemeyer, Alyssa Jarabek, Natalie Michaels Chemistry CHEM-1
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The long-term goal of this project is to chemically synthesize an unnatural fluorescent amino acid, 3-[7-nitro-2,1,3-benzoxadiazol-4-yl]-L-alanine, that can later allow researchers to visualize a single “glow-in-the-dark” protein in an otherwise transparent living cell. In addition to our attempted organic synthesis, here we report a biocatalytic synthesis. Specifically, we plan to use the enzyme glutathione S-transferase from the cyanobacterium T. elongatus to catalyze the key nucleophilic aromatic substitution reaction. As part of this effort, we are planning a new synthetic route to the non-natural amino acid, beta-amino alanine. In sum, we hope to synthesize these two unnatural amino acids in a more time- and cost-efficient manner.

Design and Synthesis of Antifungal Drugs Noah Moriarty, Jessica Villegas, Jeffrey Pruet Chemistry CHEM-2
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Fungal infections occur when fungus invades the tissue, which can grow and affect the whole body if left untreated. The current antifungal drugs on the market often come with unwanted side effects, and drug resistance will always be a problem. This leads to the necessity for new pathways for inhibiting fungal infections. To this end, we are developing a library of new antifungal agents. An enzyme critical for life, methionine synthase, has a key difference between fungi and humans that can be exploited. An inhibitory molecule can be made to selectively target fungal methionine synthase based on this difference. Utilizing the modelling software Autodock, molecular modelling was done to develop theoretical molecules that target the fungal enzyme. Based on the theoretical modelling, a library of potential inhibitors was synthesized. These compounds were tested in an assay measuring the activity of the fungal enzyme in the presence of our compounds. To further evaluate the activity of each inhibitor, they are tested in a fungal growth assay which show zones of inhibition that prove our molecules are biologically active against fungi.

First-Principles Calculations of Electronic and Transport Properties of Nanowires John Shen Electrical and Computer Engineering ECE-1
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The goal of this research is to find out the electronic structure and transport property of nanowires that we are interested in. As Moore’s law is faltering, scientists are trying to use different methods to continue to increase computer’s computing power like using carbon nanotubes or quantum transistors. In the spirit of this, semiconducting nanowires constituted of atomic units and choices of ligands are proposed to mimic the functions of transistors to achieve the goal of increasing computing power. Electronic structure and electron transport calculations have been conducted based on the density function theory and the non-equilibrium Green’s function (NEGF) method to show the effect of ligands on the nanowire.

A Mixed-Method Approach to Investigating Difficulty in Data Science Education Sydney Shearer, Ellie Strauss, Ethan Hawk, Sasha Lioutikova, Marius Orehovschi, Frankie Vazquez, Linda Clark, Katherine Kinnaird, Bjorn Sandstede, Karl Schmitt Mathematics and Statistics MATH-1
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The purpose of this study was to define a methodology to identify any disconnect between students and instructors in data science classrooms through analyzing qualitative data. A combined qualitative and quantitative approach was used for analysis of survey data from students, faculty/instructors, and teaching assistants across three institutions. Using a manual content analysis paired with a TF-IDF analysis, researchers were able to pull out frequently used terms within responses and encode them into categories and subcategories. Trends were identified from these categories and subcategories to examine general areas of disconnect within the data science classroom. Additionally, a quality analysis was run to determine the effectiveness of the phrasing of the questions posed during the survey. As a whole, the methods used throughout this research process provide direction for researchers in interpretation and analysis of the survey data in an efficient and time-sensitive manner. Furthermore, it allows researchers to analyze the quality of responses to give insight towards rephrasing of survey questions in future analyses. Although the research was applied to data science classrooms, this method has the potential to be applied into other fields and areas of study when performed with coordination between a field expert and a data scientist.

Fabrication of Flexible Graphene Films for Capacitive Displacement Pressure Transducer Arthur Goyne, Thomas Goyne, Di Zhang Mechanical and Bioengineering MBE-1
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The long term goal of this project is to synthesize a flexible graphene film to act as an electrode for a capacitive pressure transducer. This project was commissioned by Dwyer Instruments, Inc. to replace the silicon electrode in their miniature capacitive displacement pressure transducer. Replacing silicon with graphene should yield a pressure transducer that more accurately measures low pressures and has a larger dynamic range. The first step of this project is to convert graphite to graphite oxide (GO) using permanganate and hydrogen peroxide oxidation. The resulting GO powder has been characterized using x-ray diffraction and infrared spectroscopy. Several methods are being explored to reduce the GO to form a flexible graphene-containing film. One potential method is to soak sheets of paper in an aqueous GO solution, allow the water to evaporate, and then reduce the GO by heating the film in a 250 °C oven.

Computational Simulations of Tissue Scaffolds: Creating a Degradation Model Nick Evans, Bethany Luke Mechanical and Bioengineering MBE-2
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Tissue scaffolds are an ideal medical device that helps restore mechanical functions to the affected tissue. The scaffolds act like a “home” for cells to be seeded into allowing them to differentiate and produce healthy tissue. Our objective in researching tissue scaffolds is to create the optimal model through computational simulations in order to design better scaffolds. We focused our research on the degradation of fibers within the scaffold where the degradation rate is defined in our model as the loss of fiber segments over time. The ideal rate should never exceed the rate of tissue formation. However, degradation is influenced by multiple factors such as polymer molecular weight, crystallinity, and autocatalytic reactions. Our goal is to research the criterion that influences the degradation rate in order to see the effect it has on fiber scission. The parameters used in our model are based on research reported in Chen and Sensini. In order to accomplish the goal, we used MATLAB to simulate the effect the parameters had on fiber degradation. At the end of the simulation process, we compared our results to experimental data obtained by other researchers. The comparison showed that our simulated model for degrading fibers is accurate to in Vitro data. Future simulations will focus on parameters for amorphous polymers such as poly(D-lactide) (PDLA) and the attachment points between a cell and a fiber.

Binary Star Systems in Planetary Nebulae and their Relationship to Stellar Evolution: Modeling Two New Binary Systems Maggie Bliese, Laura Floyd Physics and Astronomy PHYS-1
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The aim of this research was to learn more about close binary star systems and how they influence the formation of planetary nebulae at the end of a star’s life. These systems are produced by a common envelope phase where they share the same atmosphere and spiral closer together, causing stronger interactions between the stars. Properties of these systems can be used to better understand Type 1A supernovae, cataclysmic variable stars, and gravitational waves. There are 70 of these close binary star systems known, of which fewer than 20 have been modeled. This summer, models were generated for two of these systems, the central stars of Lo 16 and PHR 1510-6754. The parameters determined were masses, radii, temperatures, inclination, and separation of the stars. Both systems have an irradiation effect, with Lo 16 displaying a small eclipse. Possible solutions for both systems have been found, and at this time, the models indicate stellar parameters that are consistent with the expected ranges for these systems. Further work will aim for a more complete range of all possible parameters. Knowing the specific combination of parameters will lead to a better understanding of how these systems form, how they impact the shaping of the planetary nebula, and how they will continue to evolve in the future.

Ultra Diffuse Galaxies Olivia Krugman Physics and Astronomy PHYS-2
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My research has involved researching ultra diffuse galaxies (UDGs), galaxies whose stars are spread far apart, making them appear much dimmer than a “normal” galaxy. UDGs are also strange because they are rotating too slowly for the amount of matter they contain. Specifically, I have been studying UDGs using radio astronomy using the Arecibo and Green Bank Telescopes to detect emission from atomic hydrogen in UDGs. This is useful because UDGs are too dim or too far to observe with optical telescopes. I have been collaborating with fellow radio astronomers, the Undergraduate ALFALFA Team (UAT), which already have a method for analyzing the data taken with the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico. However, the UAT does not have similar software for data taken with the Green Bank Telescope, so my research involved developing new code that works efficiently at the Green Bank Telescope. I have worked closely with programs such as Python, IDL, and VNC to produce and alter new code so the GBT data can be processed as smoothly as Arecibo. I learned how to use various coding programs as well as how to find values such as recessional velocity and distance to plug into Python and determine a galaxy’s mass and amount of atomic hydrogen gas. By comparing these measurements of “normal” galaxies observed with Arecibo and UDGs observed at Green Bank, we are able to look for differences to see if they help explain why the stars are so diffuse.

 

Poster Session 2: 11:30 am-12:30 pm

Title Author(s) Department Project Code
Environmental Cues and Fungi Morphology Paige Camp, Kirsten Treptow, Hailey Goodwin, Maya Leon, Anita Coleman, Michael Watters, Patrice Bouyer Biology BIO-2
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Candida albicans, a symbiotic yeast in the human gut, and Neurospora crassa, a filamentous bread mold, are distinct in habitat, morphology, and behavior. However, both fungi are equally susceptible to the ongoing flow of stimuli present within the environment. The objective of our research was to understand how different fungi respond to specific cues found within or outside their natural environment. Three stimuli were tested on C. albicans: estradiol (E2), media morphology, and plastic microfibers. Three stimuli were tested on N. crassa: plastic microfibers, simulated microgravity, and cold shock. C. albicans was tested only on solid agar plates, while N. crassa was tested on both liquid and solid agar media. Specialized minimal media plates containing microfibers were made to test irradiated and non-radiated microfiber exposure. While C. albicans expressed no sensitivity to 0.1nM E2, it displayed three types of morphology when grown on either minimal, Spider, or YEPD media. N. crassa showed no sensitivity towards microfibers, but C. albicans exhibited inhibition in colony formation. Under simulated microgravity, N. crassa did not show significant morphological differences besides a possible increase in the amount of conidia present, however, results are inconclusive at this point. As a continuation of ongoing research, various knockouts of N. crassa were put through cold shock and allowed to recover in an attempt to scan for any knockouts that affect the recovery phase of cold shock. Currently, only a very small portion of the knockout has been examined and no significant results found.

Understanding vertebrate embryonic development under conditions present in outer space Blake Benson, Michael A Berberoglu, Masaru Nakamoto, Elaina Baker, Dalia Yehyawi Biology BIO-3
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It is currently unknown whether humans can survive and thrive in outer space, which includes human embryonic development. In this study we investigate vertebrate embryonic development under conditions present in outer space including microgravity and an altered day-and-night cycle using zebrafish and chicken model systems. Zebrafish and chicken model systems are widely used in developmental biology research given their similarity as vertebrates to humans. We aim to analyze the development of brain, muscle and other tissues under conditions of microgravity in both zebrafish and chicken embryos. Additionally, we will analyze zebrafish development under an altered day-and-night cycle (16 sunrises and 16 sunsets per day), and determine whether adult zebrafish can survive and reproduce under these conditions. Zebrafish and chicken embryos will be placed onto a clinostat, which is a device used to simulate a microgravity environment. Embryos will be harvested between 2 and 14 days of incubation on the clinostat, and markers of cell proliferation, death, and differentiation will be analyzed on tissue sections of brain, skeletal muscle, and other tissues. We expect that our results may allow us to better understand embryonic development under conditions present in outer space, which may shed light on this process in humans.
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Organic Synthesis of an Unnatural Fluorescent Amino Acid Cassandra Niemeyer Chemistry CHEM-3
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The long-term goal of this project is to chemically synthesize an unnatural fluorescent amino acid, 3-[7-nitro-2,1,3-benzoxadiazol-4-yl]-L-alanine. This amino acid can be used to build glow-in-the-dark proteins, allowing investigators to visualize a single protein in an otherwise transparent living cell. We have been unable to replicate the previously reported synthesis and are exploring different reaction conditions and workup procedures. To determine the efficiency of the new reaction conditions, reaction kinetics will be analyzed using 1H-NMR and LCMS, which follow the reactions over time.

Battery Applications of Silver Molybdate Structures Allen Huff, Paul Smith, Julie Pohlman-Zordan Chemistry CHEM-4
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Rapid advancements in energy storage have caused lithium-based batteries to become a dominant product, however, there is a demand for non-flammable alternatives. Zinc-based batteries are cost-efficient and nonflammable. This research focuses on replacing lithium in the implantable cardiac defibrillator battery with a zinc anode source. The high conductivity of silver and large oxidation numbers of molybdenum make silver molybdate materials strong candidates for zinc ion hosts. Silver molybdate cathode and zinc anode batteries were examined through discharge, cyclic voltammetry, recharge, and scanning electron microscopy. To determine the best silver molybdate structure for battery application, several compounds were used with varying silver molybdenum ratios and symmetry. Results indicated that better battery behavior was found in samples that contained higher amounts of silver and nanowire morphology.

Cyber Security on a Budget: Tool Identification and Constraint Considerations Jaeda Nowacki, Daniel Hautzinger Computing and Information Sciences CIS-1
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this multifaceted project has investigated a number of security-related instruments in order to build a set of recommended tools for Information Technology practitioners constrained by minimal resources. Criteria for tool selection were identified, including operational complexity and reusability, to refine the possibilities found to a workable number of options. This list was largely informed by several available well-known platforms and suites; a secondary goal was to define a toolkit suitable for classroom instruction. Initial investigation led to the identification of the Raspberry Pi and Kali Linux. This combination provided a very large range of options and a portable/mobile capability. The main challenges to this project revolved around two goals: (1) locating tools that had little to no cost, and (2) identification of tools that are both easy to learn and suitable for those looking to create more secure network and host configurations with limited time, expertise, and financial resources.

Estimation of Population Parameters Using Sample Extremes from Nonconstant Sample Sizes Alexander Bruno Mathematics and Statistics/ Analytics and Modeling MATH-2
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We examine the accuracy and precision of parameter estimates for both the normal and exponential distribution when using only a collection of sample extremes. That is, we consider a collection of m random variables, where each of the m random variables is either the maximum or minimum of a sample of nj independent, identically distributed random variables drawn from a normal or exponential distribution with unknown parameters. Previous work by Capaldi and Kolba (2019) derived estimators for the population parameters assuming the nj sample sizes are constant. Since sample sizes are often not constant in applications, we utilize Matlab to perform simulations to assess how the estimators from Capaldi and Kolba perform when the sample sizes are themselves random variables. Additionally, we explore how varying the mean, standard deviation, and probability distribution of the sample sizes affects the estimation error. Furthermore, we derive new unbiased estimators in the case where the sample sizes are drawn from a uniform distribution. Our estimation framework is applied to a biological example involving plant pollination.

Applications of Haptic Technology in Engineering Education Carter McCullough Mechanical and Bioengineering MBE-3
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People gather information by using their senses to explore and interact with physical systems. The ability to touch is very important in learning fundamental engineering concepts. However, the traditional in-class experience can not create every physical engineering system with a sense of touch. One solution is to utilize haptic technology, a technology used to create physical touch in a virtual environment. We have been studying how haptic technology can be used to improve intuition and retention of engineering concepts. Our preliminary study has shown promising results, but there are still areas of potential improvement. Therefore, the focus of our research has shifted towards optimizing the haptic learning system by improving the quality of the haptic feedback, and modifying the learning environment. To improve the immersive haptic experience, we are developing a more robust design to stabilize the motors in the robot. We are also better integrating the engineering concept into the simulation. Our goal is to make the learning experience as easy as possible, which we expect to achieve by incorporating live equations reflecting the interactions in the system. With these changes, we hope to see a significant improvement in the student’s retention of engineering concepts.

Updating Data Acquisition System for the Diesel Engine Test Cell Krystal Pena, Wenxuan Meng Mechanical and Bioengineering MBE-4
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In this project, a new monitor system with National Instruments equipment needs to be designed to replace the current AVL (Anstalt für Verbrennungskraftmaschinen List) data acquisition system. The equipment that will replace AVL is the CompactRIO and modules which are specialized for different signal inputs in the test cell engine. The main software of the new monitor system is LabView, a visual programming system on the computer. For the whole engine, we will be monitoring and collecting temperature, pressure, and digital signals.

Analyzing the Periodicity in Proto-Planetary Nebulae Sean Egan, Peyton Grimm Physics and Astronomy PHYS-3
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Our research revolved around analyzing how the brightness of proto-planetary nebulae (PPNe) vary over time. The overall goal was to analyze their light curves for periodicity and to find what the periods are. PPNe are celestial objects in transition from the red giant phase to the planetary nebula phase of a star’s life cycle, a phase that only lasts a few thousand years. PPNe are known to pulsate, causing them to periodically vary in brightness, and these pulsations can be observed and analyzed in their light curves. To analyze our PPNe for periodicity, we gathered data from the online database of a sky survey named ASAS-SN, which surveys the skies every clear night. The observational data stretch back to 2016. After reducing the data, we analyzed it using a program called Period04, which uses a Fourier transform to search for periods and allowed us to fit sine curves to the data. We studied a sample of 14 PPNe located in the southern hemisphere. We found that most have periods ranging from around 20 – 103 days, with several PPNe having multiple periods. The general pattern was that most of those PPNe have two periods that are within 10% of each other, forming beat periods in the amplitudes. Two PPNe also have longer period modulations of 1000 to 2000 days. This research was supported by a grant from the Indiana Space Grant Consortium.

Neutral Pion Asymmetry Analysis and Forward Upgrade Preparation at STAR Joseph Snaidauf, Claire Kovarik, William Bakke, Anand Agrawal, Michael Bukowski Physics and Astronomy PHYS-4
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The Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) sited at Brookhaven National Lab in Upton, New York, is the only collider in the world capable of colliding beams of polarized protons. The Solenoidal Tracker at RHIC (STAR) detector analyzes properties of these collisions to investigate, among other things, the gluon’s spin contribution to the spin of the proton. The gluon contribution can be theoretically calculated from an experimentally measured asymmetry in the number of ?0’s (a particle produced in the collisions) produced as a function of the protons’ spin configuration. STAR’s Endcap Electromagnetic Calorimeter (EEMC) can reconstruct a ?0 , which decays in 10-16 s, by measuring the energy of its two decay photons. This summer, we performed Quality Assurance (QA) on the 2012 p+p data, made asymmetry calculations by fitting mass plots to a couple of different functions, helped prepare a forward upgrade at STAR, and processed some data from 2013. The QA involved plotting several characteristics of the ?0 reconstruction process as a function of run number, which are segments of data. This summer 9,600 scintillators were polished and painted to be sent to Brookhaven for the update of the Forward Calorimeter System (FCS).