Mallis Akman, Department of Biology, Sacred Heart University, Fairfield CT 06285; Nicholas Ayala, Department of Biology, Sacred Heart University, Fairfield CT 06285


This study aims to explore the effect of limb segment lengths in the efficiency of slope-walking. We anticipate that individuals with shorter distal limb segments in the lower limb will demonstrate greater metabolic efficiency when walking on an incline, and will require less activation of the ankle plantar flexors when assuming a fore-foot (“toe walking”) posture. Measurements of the thigh, shank, foot, big toe, pelvis width, height, and weight will be recorded and reflective motion capture markers placed on 13 locations on the foot, anterior and posterior superior iliac spines, femoral epicondyles, and the lateral and medial malleoli of the subjects.

Joseph Annabi, Jack Dunican, and David Zuckerman, Biology, Iona College, 715 North Avenue, New Rochelle, New York, 10801


Bactofilins, a class of cytoskeletal proteins exclusive to bacteria which are present in all phyla, have become an increasingly researched subject in microbiology. These proteins contain a highly conserved DUF583 domain surrounded by poorly conserved N and C termini. Our studies focus on two bactofilins in C. crescentus, bacA and bacB, along with four bactofilins in the soil-dwelling bacteria, M. xanthus, bacM-P. It was previously believed that the BacM protein, which exists in multiple isoforms, matures by proteolysis. However, our lab has discovered the presence of multiple start codons in the bacM mRNA, which results in initiation of translation of two different protein isoforms. To test if multiple isoforms of other bactofilins exist, plasmids were engineered to contain sequences of bactofilins found in C. crescentus (bacA and bacB) and M. xanthus (bacN-P) along with an epitope (FLAG) tag at the 3’ end. This plasmid was transformed into either C. crescentus or M. xanthus and analyzed by immunoblot via anti-FLAG antibody. Preliminary findings indicate that BacM is the only bactofilin to be expressed as multiple isoforms out of the bactofilins studied in M. xanthus and C. crescentus. Future studies include mutagenesis experiments to identify the true start site of transcription of the bacA and bacB genes as well as confirming the expression of multiple isoforms in bactofilins of P. mirabilis, as well as determining the mechanism by which these isoforms arise.

David Albro,Biology, St. Francis College 180 Remsen St #4305, Brooklyn, NY 11201


The New York City Water Trails started its Citizens’ Water Quality Testing Program (CWQTP) in 2011 in response to an unprecedented sewage leak from the North River Wastewater Treatment Facility in Manhattan. The program has grown and expanded through the years, and has continued to add sampling sites. St. Francis College was added as a sampling site in 2018. Despite the pandemic, the CSWQTP proceeded, albeit it at less locations. The CSWQTP uses an USEPA approved Enterolert system from IDEXX Laboratories that samples for enterococci, which can live and thrive in brackish as well as fresh water. The NYDEP uses a boat for sampling dissolved oxygen (DO), chlorphyll, clarity, nitrogen and salinity as well as bacteria. This study is a comparison between the CSWQ program and the NYC Department of Environmental Protection (NYDEP) sampling program.

Alexis Ayrey, Biology Department, Iona College 715 North Ave, New Rochelle, NY 10801


Corydalis incisa (Incised fumewort) is a myrmecochorous (ant dispered) non-native invasive plant located along the Bronx River and other watersheds in Westchester County and the Bronx. This region also has a high diversity of native myrmecochorus plants such as Asarum canadense (wild ginger) that may be negatively impacted by this invasion. Between June to August 2019, ants were found to disperse the seeds of C. incisa and A. canadense in both native and knotweed invaded areas. The most commonly found ant in pitfall traps and on C. incisa seeds was the non-native Nylanderia flavipes, not Aphaenogaster rudis as expected. C. incisa is being successfully dispersed more than the native A. canadense in knotweed-dominated areas, which are particularly common along the Bronx River. In addition, the non-native ant, Nylanderia flavipes is playing a critical role in its dispersal. We argue that our data is a possible example of an invasional meltdown whereby a non-native ant facilitates the spread of a new non-native herbaceous plant more often in sites that are dominated by the invasive Japanese knotweed. Due to Covid-19 these experiments were unable to be fully repeated in summer 2020. We did however find that C. incisa is increased in abundance and range during that time period. We plan to repeat this study in summer 2021 and additionally use Winkler bags to better sample the ant community.

Cassidy Baldauf, Dr. Nicole Roy, Biology Department, Sacred Heart University, 5151 Park Avenue Fairfield CT 06825


Di-butyl phthalate (DBP) is commonly added to make plastics softer and more pliable and is found in a variety of consumer and industrial products. Alarmingly high levels of DBP have been detected in water and sediment as DBP leaches from products. The Environmental Protection Agency has labeled DBP as a priority environmental pollutant and the European Commission as a priority substance. Given the ubiquitous presence of DBP globally and continuous exposure to DBP, studies on the developmental toxicity of DBP are needed. There is a wealth of literature supporting the endocrine disrupting effects of DBP, but developmental toxicity of DBP during critical developmental time windows is understudied. Here, we investigate the developmental effects of DBP exposure during early development. We treated gastrula staged zebrafish embryos with concentrations of DBP that have been environmentally noted. We find defects in eye development including a decrease in the size of the lens and retina in DBP treated embryos, but the intraocular distance was increased compared to controls. Defects in vascular and neuronal patterning were also noted. Here we conclude that exposure to environmentally relevant doses of DBP during crucial time windows of embryonic development is toxic to eye development.

Avery Belenos, Nataliya Myshakina PhD, Science Department, Chatham University, 1 Woodland Rd Pittsburgh PA 15232


Oxybenzone (benzophenone-3/BP3), an ultraviolet (UV) filter commonly used in sunscreens, is similar in structure to the estrogen hormone. This study employed the Small Molecule Drug Discovery suite (Schrödinger Inc.) to compare binding affinity of BP3 with binding of estradiol to human estrogen receptors (hERs). Docking studies were performed utilizing the Glide docking module. The energy minimized structure of BP3 was docked into two hER crystal structures (PDB access codes: 3UU7 and 1A52). We also simulated modified forms of BP3 in order to evaluate whether estrogen mimicking effects of BP3 could be reduced. We selected functional groups from other common organic UV filters to modify BP3. The electronic structure of the most promising candidates will be further analyzed computationally for UV filtering effectiveness. A form of BP3 with low hER affinity and effective UV filtering would benefit public health by allaying consumer concerns, thus bolstering sunscreen use and mitigating skin cancers.

James Bonanno (Yale University, New Haven, CT, 06510; Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY, 12604),
Jenny Lin (Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY, 12604),
Julia D'Orazio (Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY, 12604),
Kayen Tang(Pi) Lori Newman (Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY, 12604)


Astrocytes are glial cells within the brain that influence blood flow, energy production, and neurotransmitter and ionic balance. All of these functions are critical for neuronal activity and synaptic plasticity, which are critical components of memory. The current study focuses on the relationship between spatial working memory (SWM) and astrocytic activity. We employed a chemogenetic technique (Designer Receptors Exclusively Activated by Designer Drugs, or DREADDs) to activate astrocytes in rats during a spontaneous alternation task. We targeted the prefrontal cortex, a region associated with SWM performance, through bilateral injections of either hM3D(Gq)-mCherry, the designer receptor, with a GFAP promoter or an eGFP control virus. Rats were tested twice on the spontaneous alternation task: control and experimental rats were subjected to intraperitoneal injections of both the corresponding hM3D(Gq) receptor agonist Compound 21 (C21) and saline 30 minutes before testing each day (1 injection per day). Preliminary results uncovered an unexpected effect of high doses of C21 such that 3 mg/kg of C21 significantly inhibited the number of arm entries made. However, this effect was not seen with a dose of 1 mg/kg. Additionally, at the lower dose there are trends for improvements in spatial working memory when DREADDs astrocytes are activated with C21. Moving forward, we plan to examine the effects of sex differences, as astrocytes have receptors for estrogens. Our research indicates astrocytes play an integral role in memory processes in the prefrontal cortex and are a novel target for neurotherapies in neurodegenerative diseases.

DeCoff, Brendan; Stablewski, Jacob; Marnocha, Cassandra Niagara University, 5795 Lewiston Rd, Niagara University, NY 14109


The Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge is a wetland environment home to several cold acidic sulfur springs with unique chemical compositions that yield different microbial communities. Each of the springs sustain active populations of Acidithiobacillus. Acidithiobacillus is known to be capable of bioleaching, and strains are currently used in the mining industry. While most cultured representatives of Acidithiobacillus are found in acid mine drainage, our strains are relatively rare in that they are found in a naturally occurring acidic environment. Samples from the two springs in the refuge were used to inoculate enrichment cultures, with intentions to isolate, identify, and characterize the Acidithiobacillus in the spring. By characterizing the Acidithiobacillus isolates through establishing optimal growth, sequencing the 16S rRNA gene, and determining bioleaching capabilities, we will be able to better understand how natural isolates differ from isolates obtained from anthropogenically impacted environments. The bioleaching capability of these isolates is of particular interest for future work because natural isolates may offer unique characteristics that can contribute to a more eco-friendly metal extraction process.

Baylee Caudill, Pace University. Elmer-Rico E. Mojica, Pace University Department of Chemistry and Physical Sciences.


Propolis is a multifunctional material collected and used by honey bees in the construction and maintenance of their hives. It has been used in folk medicine for centuries. The absorbance of ethanolic extracts of propolis (EEPs) samples collected from 4 different regions in the United States namely Northeast (New York and Maine), South (Alabama and Mississippi), Midwest (Michigan and Ohio) and West Coast (California and Washington-Oregon) were obtained. Over-all visual inspection of the absorbance profile showed differences in most samples even those coming from the same region. The only exception are those from California and Ohio samples that almost has the same absorbance profile. In addition, derivative spectroscopy was also performed to further differentiate the difference between the propolis samples. It was also observed that the absorbance profile of all propolis samples changed with aging with absorbance increasing in samples that was stored for more than a year.

Kasey Charron, Brianne Cooley, Jessica Mobbs, Bleue Silkensen, and Parise Ricks, Psychology Department, Ithaca College, Ithaca, NY, 14850


The COVID-19 pandemic has been widely hypothesized to have a negative impact on mental health and wellbeing. The current study explores the impact of COVID on anxiety, depression, perceived stress, social support, eating disorders, substance abuse and social media use. Data was collected from 176 undergraduate subjects from January 2020 through November 2020, and divided into three phases: Pre-COVID, Remote Late-Spring, and Remote Fall Semesters. No overall changes in levels of stress or depression were reported. Anxiety levels dropped during the remote late-spring semester, and these changes trended towards significance. Results also indicated that social support from friends increased significantly during this period, and similar changes in social support from family trended towards significance. There were no significant changes in substance abuse, eating disorders or social media use over the course of the study. Replicating the findings of other studies, eating disorders and anxiety were positively correlated with compulsive internet use, and anxiety was strongly associated with eating disorders. Depression and anxiety were negatively associated with both family and friend social support. Social support from family was negatively associated with marijuana and CBD use. Social media use was positively associated with perceived social support from friends. These findings are discussed and the limitations of the study are outlined, and future recommendations for research are provided.

Dylan Cho and Alex Pinto, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Manhattan College, Riverdale, NY


The ability to produce phase pure and compositionally controlled nanomaterials at temperatures lower than the ones required by solid state reaction methods is one of the most important features in a solution-chemistry synthetic method. The sol-gel based methods usually use many organic compounds throughout the synthetic process, which can be detrimental to certain applications, as high quantities of residual carbon can be found along the final product. The Oxidant Peroxo Method, usually known by the acronym OPM, is a solution-chemistry method based on the production of peroxo complexes with hydrogen peroxide and different transition metal ions at alkaline pH. The production of these peroxo complexes leads to an amorphous material that upon calcination produces phase pure transition metal oxides with controlled composition. One special feature of the OPM method is the use of inorganic sources of titanium during the synthesis, which avoids the presence of undesired pyrolyzed organic molecules mixed with the metal oxide product. In this work, the amorphous peroxo complex precursor has been prepared at room temperature and use in the hydrothermal treatment using to prepare titanium dioxide (TiO2) nanoparticles. The main parameter studied was the variation in the concentration of the surfactant Cetrimonium bromide (CTAB) to see how this affects the nanoparticle size and morphology. The materials were characterized by X-ray diffraction (XRD) and infrared spectroscopy to verify the crystalline phase of the TiO2 and the presence of the CTAB functional groups in the TiO2 surface.

Christina Chodkowski. Derner School of Psychology, Adelphi University. 1 South Ave, Garden City, NY 11530


Do traditional gender role beliefs decrease the self-esteem reported by collegiate women? Past research explicitly assessing gender roles and self-esteem has conflicting results. A study containing female college women used two explicit measures that measured the participants’ masculinity or femininity and their attitudes towards the gender roles of women. The results showed that participants who believed in the traditional gender role reported lower self-esteem than participants with a modern gender role belief (Kleinplatz et al. 1992). Other research has suggested that gender roles do not have an effect on the self-esteem of women. A study containing both male and female participants, who worked at the same health care facility, found that the gender role stress each individual faced at work had no significant effect on self-esteem (Kargin et al., 2020; Akın, 2017; Kurucu, 2019). The literature pertaining to the effect gender role beliefs have on women’s self-esteem is therefore not conclusive. Literature that implicitly, as compared to explicitly assesses a women’s gender role beliefs and self-esteem may be able to clarify the relationship between gender role and self-esteem. Past research that implicitly assessed women’s gender role beliefs and self-esteem did not contrast it with explicit findings (Aidman & Carroll, 2003). I hypothesize that implicit traditional gender role beliefs will decrease participant’s implicit self-esteem when compared to explicit gender role beliefs. Undergraduate women will complete a web survey assessing implicit and explicit gender role beliefs and self-esteem. Correlation and regression analyses will be used to examine the results. Implications for the implicit effect on self-esteem will be discussed.

Christopher Clark, Manpreet Singh, Dr. Mark Gallo PhD, Biology, Niagara University, 5795 Lewiston Rd, Niagara University, NY 14109


Staphylococcus aureus is responsible for multiple diseases which are currently being treated by antibiotic drugs. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a major biomedical concern due to the lack of effective treatment, as antibiotics become ineffective against this pathogen. An alternative is to use bacteriophage to control Staphylococcus. A number of novel phage have been isolated from the nares of white tail deer, Odocoileus virginianus. DNA sequence analysis indicates that they belong to the Siphoviridae family. This research explores a bioinformatic approach to investigate the detailed analysis of the genome composition of 13 isolated phage. This analysis will allow for future prediction of gene functions, comparison to characterized phage, and analysis of sequenced Staphylococcus aureus genomes for phage genes similar to our phage.

Kassandra Cortes, Biology and Health Sciences Department, St. Francis College, 180 Remsen St. Brooklyn NY 11201


This study aims to see if breast cancer gene variants are shared or unique among different ethnicities (African American, European American, Iranian, Brazilian, Pakistani, Jewish, Columbian, and Hispanic/Latino) and to ascertain if they are correlated with survival rate. Sample results include: A total of 61 BC patients (59 F and 2 M) of Iranian descent were wild-type for BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations. A total of 95 individuals with hereditary breast and ovarian cancer (HBOC) syndrome clinical suspicion in Brazil were sequenced and 25 samples were evaluated for insertions/deletions in BRCA1/BRCA2 genes. Another result that indicates a correlation of BC in various ethnicities with survival rate is seen in triple negative breast cancer (TNBC); (these represent 10-15% of breast tumors diagnosed each year). This type of cancer, which has a poor prognosis, is more common among African American (AA) and Hispanic-Latina (HL) women. In total, the high risk breast cancer genes, BRCA1, BRCA2, TP53, STK11, CD1 and PTEN account for approximately 20% of the familial risk in the ethnicities listed above.

Jason DeBoard, Rose Dietrich, Angela Croop, James Hughes, James Oschal Wilkes University


Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a predominant type of dementia and major cause of neural network impairment. There are currently no known cures for the disease. Early detection to impede its progress is the current standard. Beyond age and genetics, another prevalent risk factor for AD might be traumatic brain injury (TBI), which has similar neurodegenerative hallmarks. Our research focuses on obtaining information and methods to be able to predict when neurodegenerative effects might occur at a clinical level by observation of events at a cellular and molecular level in mice. We introduce our evidence that brain damage can be observed via brain imaging prior to noticeable loss of neuromuscular control in AD model mice. We then show our evidence that some blood biomarkers might be able to be early predictors of AD in the mice. Here we search early predictors of long-term neurodegenerative effects due to differing degrees of TBI and AD, and what level of TBI causes further damage and earlier death to the AD mice. Upon application of TBIs to induce extremely mild TBIs, wild-type (WT) mice and AD mouse models were tested for epileptic activity, neuromuscular control, olfactory ability, blood biomarkers, and brain imaging. Our data suggests that neuromotor control and olfactory function diminish for both AD and WT mice after the administration of multiple consecutive, mild TBIs. Greater enhancement of AD symptoms is observable in older mice compared to younger mice following TBI. Sustained TBI causes both accelerated and exacerbated AD symptoms in AD model mice.

Thomas DeVantier, Mark Gallo, Biology, 5795 Lewiston Rd, Niagara University, NY 14109


Honey bees (Apis mellifera) are a keystone pollinator species in the anthropocentric world as they are able to pollinate effectively over a large area, which qualifies this species to be extremely important for many crops. Ironically the number of bee colonies is decreasing at an alarming rate, even as their demand for pollination is increasing. The mite, Varroa destructor is a parasite of bees that can also be a vector for numerous be viral diseases. This is the largest threat to the bee industry, accounting for up to 60% of losses of colonies every year. This is not a sustainable situation. The current study analyzes mite load on local non-migratory beehives that have died through the winter. Testing for viruses will also be performed.

Erica Eack, Natural Science Division, Mount Saint Mary College, 330 Powell Avenue Newburgh, NY, 12550


Bacteriophages are highly specific viruses that infect and replicate only in bacteria. Considered to be the most predominant biological entities on this planet, we are only beginning to understand their remarkable diversity and evolutionary patterns in response to the selective pressures from their hosts. Aiding our understanding has been the renewed interest in the sequencing and annotation of the phage genomes. We are part of the SEA PHAGES consortium, a Howard Hughes funded initiative dedicated to providing undergraduate students an opportunity to do novel research using soil bacteriophages as a model system. In this study we describe the annotation of a Microbacterium foliorum phage ParleG, isolated from a soil sample found in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 2019. Part of the EA1 cluster, ParleG has a genome size of 41,810 bp. Genome annotation is the process of identifying and describing the function of genes using an in silico approach. We used a variety of bioinformatics programs that predict gene locations (Glimmer and GeneMark), their start sites (Starterator), potential functions (HHpred, NCBI Blast) and the presence of putative tRNAs (ARAGORN, tRNAscan) in this study. Our annotation demonstrates that the genome of ParleG contains 63 genes, for which the function of 26 is currently known. The genome did not contain any tRNAs but did contain various proteins of interest such as a holin and an endolysin. We are currently doing finer analysis of this genome. The annotation of ParleG has been submitted to GenBank (Accession number MT553343.1) for use in future wet lab projects.

Nora Foster, John Egan, Cade Ferreras, Psychology Department, Ithaca College, Ithaca, New York, 14850


The current study explores the effect of mindfulness and empathy on romantic beliefs. The construct of Romantic Beliefs reflects an individual's personal philosophy, values, or schemas for fulfilling love relationships. It includes the sub-constructs of “idealization,” “love finds a way,” “love at first sight,” and “one and only.” We hypothesized that those higher in mindfulness would be more likely to endorse the belief that “love finds a way” and less likely to believe in “love at first sight,” “one and only,” and “idealization.” Additionally, we hypothesized that empathy would be positively correlated with both “love finds a way” and “love at first sight.” The current analysis is restricted to women only. Subjects (N=142) were asked to complete a questionnaire that included the Cognitive and Affective Mindfulness Scale-Revised, the Toronto Empathy Questionnaire, and the Romantic Beliefs Scale. Mindfulness was positively correlated with the belief “love finds a way,” a tendency towards “idealization” of partners, and the belief that there is “one and only” partner for them. Contrary to our hypotheses, mindfulness was associated, in places, with more traditional views of romantic relationships. Additionally, the results show that empathy was negatively correlated with “love at first sight” and positively with “love finds a way.” These unexpected results suggest that there is a complex relationship between facets of romanticism and these personality traits. Further research is needed, as is replication, and future studies should be completed with male subjects to see if these patterns are similar in men.

Tiana Giovatto and Dr. LaTina Steele Sacred Heart University, Department of Biology, Fairfield, CT 0682


Spartina alterniflora is an abundant plant species in salt marshes across the United States. Salt marshes provide protection from erosion by trapping sediments and help prevent flooding, but a variety of factors have contributed to the loss of valuable marsh habitats. Restored salt marshes are increasing in number to combat marsh loss, so understanding how restored plants interact with other marsh species is crucial. If restored plants produce fewer chemical defenses or experience more grazing than natural marshes, they might not perform as well as natural marshes. To assess the occurrence of grazing and patterns of chemical defenses in restored vs. naturally occurring S. alterniflora, we collected S. alterniflora leaves from three locations within Stratford Point, Connecticut: 1) planted in 2015, 2) planted in 2017, and 3) naturally occurring. We then used ImageJ to measure the percent area with visible grazing scars on each leaf and calculated the percent area grazed for each leaf. Significantly more grazing occurred in the 2015 planting group in comparison to the 2017 planting and the natural group. To determine if there was a link between chemical deterrent production in the leaves and the amount of grazing on the plants, we measured the phenolic content of freeze-dried and ground leaf tissue using the Folin-Denis assay. Phenolic analysis is still underway, but we expect to see lower phenolics in the more heavily grazed plants. Our results can shed light on the role of herbivores in restored marshes, ultimately improving the success of future marsh restoration projects.

Jos​é A. Gómez Leuridan & Dr. Cassandra Marnocha, Environmental Science, Niagara University, 5795 Lewiston Rd, Niagara University, NY 14109


Fillmore Glen State Park, New York, is a campground that allows pets on the premises and also lets humans bathe in their water. Because humans and pets act as vectors for bacteria, having these policies may change the microbial community structure of the water. Some common bacteria that may be found in the water because of increased human activity include ​Salmonella​ and ​Shigella. ​Pets that are brought by visitors can also carry ​Salmonella​, as well as ​E. coli.​ To further investigate microbial life at Fillmore Glen State Park, samples were collected near the waterfall in three different locations; upstream, downstream, and still water from the recreational pool. These different locations were selected because they are expected to have different dissolved oxygen concentrations which may impact which microbes thrive in each sample. The 16S gene was sequenced from the total genomic DNA of the water in order to characterize the bacterial communities in said environments. Because the ribosomal gene is strongly conserved and crucial to the organisms’ life, it will help us differentiate between taxa in our samples. With this information we can compare the bacterial diversity of Fillmore Glen State Park’s water with parks that are less pristine.

Christopher Gonzales ,Dr. Christina Andruk, Dr. Mychel Varner , Biology Department, Iona College, 715 North Ave, New Rochelle, NY 10801


American colleges are responsible for throwing out over 22 million pounds (almost 10 million kilograms) of food waste a year. In addition, colleges are required to maintain and pay for expensive dumpsters to store wasted food. Vermiculture, or composting with worms, has the potential to sustainably manage organic waste from college campus while creating high quality compost. Composting with biochar as an additive has been shown to increase carbon sequestration and mineralization, but only in certain conditions. It was hypothesized that adding biochar to Eisenia foetida vermiculture would produce less carbon dioxide than vermiculture alone. Six worms were added to yard waste, half of which contained 10% biochar by weight. These were compared to controls containing yard waste without worms, half of which contained 10% biochar. Sodium hydroxide traps were placed in each container and were titrated weekly to measure carbon dioxide emissions. After four 1-week trials, no apparent difference was observed between the experimental and control groups or across the duration of the experiment. We think that the sodium hydroxide trap methodology was not precise enough for our research question and are revising the experiment. The new experiment will use an infrared sensor that will be made using Arduino programming (a SMACC machine). We also will use lower amounts of biochar in the medium, ranging from 5% to 10% and a higher sample size.

Mikayla Henry, Biology Department, Ithaca College, 953 Danby Road Ithaca, NY 14850


Scaevola plumieri (S. plumieri) is a coastal dune species typically found on tropical and subtropical beaches in the Indo Atlantic. Native and introduced honeybees are known pollinators of this plant. Little is known about the relationship between S. plumieri genetic diversity and its proximity to honeybee populations. In this study, we are researching how the genetic diversity of S. plumieri is impacted by the proximity to apiaries on the island of Vieques, Puerto Rico. To do this, S. plumieri individuals were collected from three beaches that varied in their distance from two apiaries. DNA was extracted from each of the plant individuals and four microsatellite regions were amplified using previously developed primers. Peaks of microsatellite alleles were analyzed and scored using Geneious software. Peak scores were recorded in Excel for genetic analysis using GenAlEx software. Hardy Weinberg Equilibrium (HWE), Analysis of Molecular Variance (AMOVA), Mantel, and allele variant tests were used to assess genetic diversity of the three populations. Overall, the test results implied that the hives did not have an impact on the genetic diversity of S. plumieri populations studied.

Joshua R. Hughes, Neuroscience Program, John Carroll University, 1 John Carroll Blvd., University Heights, OH 44118


Due to its adverse effects on human organ systems and its common use in solvents, isopropyl alcohol (IPA) has become a target analyte within the United States Air Force (USAF). Currently, there are no commercially available sensors that can selectively detect IPA, including the industry standard of photoionization detectors. Thus, researchers have moved to develop more advanced sensor platforms to achieve selectivity. USAF researchers choose carbon nanotubes (CNTs) for their unique electrical properties. The dispersion of CNTs within a solution allows for the reorientation and functionalization of carbon nanotube bundles to form field-effect transistors (FET) through dielectrophoresis (DEP). Researchers have found that selecting polyvinyl pyrrolidone for the dispersive agent creates an environment selective for IPA. Combining these two findings, CNT-FETs coated in polyvinyl pyrrolidone selectively detect IPA over similarly structured volatile organic compounds. The current study focused on evaluation of simultaneous DEP to hasten the development of FETs using the USAF designed electrode platforms. Evaluation of the produced CNT-FETs was conducted using both semiconductive analyzers and supported by scanning electron microscopy. Simultaneous DEP worked and was shown to be repeatable, and preliminary results show a 56% yield of functional CNT-FETs, which was never achieved before for the chosen microchip platform.

Jennifer Hutnik, Chemistry Department, Pace University 1 Pace Plaza New York, NY 10038


Propolis is a natural resinous substance collected by honey bees from buds and exudates of trees and is used by bees as a glue, general-purpose sealer and draught extruder for beehives. Known in folk medicine since ancient times, propolis has attracted much attention in recent years as a useful ingredient applied in medicine, domestic products, and food products since it possesses various biological properties including antimicrobial, antioxidative and antiulcer properties. In this study, ethanolic extracts of propolis (EEPs) samples from the United States was determined for antioxidant activity using 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl or DPPH assay and correlated with its phenol content using Folin-Ciocalteu’s reagent. Among the eight samples used, those obtained from California and Ohio showed strongest antioxidant activity and highest phenol content.

Riley Justice and Jamie Gatesman, Neuroscience Program, John Carroll University, 1 John Carroll Blvd., University Heights, OH 44118


This study investigated the impact of chronic psychological trauma on memory, socialization, food consumption, water intake, and body weight in male and female Long Evans rats. The experiment involved a one-week habituation period followed by a three-week experimental period. To induce chronic psychological stress during the experimental period, the cages of the experimental rats of both gender groups were encircled with violent images of rats. The control rats were not exposed to these pictures. At the end of weeks two and three of the experimental period, spatial working memory was tested through the Morris Water Maze (MWM). The MWM assessment was divided into two trials (sample and test). Additionally, at the end of the third experimental week, experimental and control rats of the same gender were paired and socialized to assess aggression, which was measured using a nine-point scale. It was concluded (1) that chronic psychological trauma does not negatively affect spatial working memory for either gender, but the rats of all groups demonstrated learning between the sample and test runs, (2) traumatized rats are more likely to display aggressive behavior after experiencing chronic psychological trauma, regardless of gender, and (3) experimental rats consumed more food and water than the control rats, resulting in a higher body weight. Additionally, male rats weighed significantly more than female rats as a result of their increased food and water intake.

Noah Kaczmarek, Niagara University Biology Department. 5795 Lewiston Rd, Niagara University, NY 14109


Fayetteville Green Lake is a meromictic lake found in upstate New York. Green Lake is a unique place due to its high sulfur content, permanently stratified monimolimnion, purple and green sulfur bacteria, and its freshwater coral reefs. Measurements of the zooplankton abundance in the lake have been absent since Culver et al. assessed the community in 1967. Zooplankton samples were collected in October of 2019 using a 63μm net and preserved with ethanol. Samples were identified to species and measured in the laboratory under a dissection microscope. Relative abundance and size frequency were then calculated using the data. Leptodiaptomus sicilis was found to be the most abundant species, followed by the Epischura lacustris, and Daphnia pulex, with some copepod nauplii found throughout the samples. The zooplankton community did not drastically change from the 1967 to 2019. This is important to know so that we can observe the effects climate change and other environmental factors have on zooplankton populations.

Elizabeth Kelsey - Gossard, Dr. William Edwards, Dr. Cassandra Marnocha,
Professor Coleen Edwards, Biology Department, Niagara University, Niagara University, New York, 14109


Fayetteville Green Lake is a meromictic lake located south of Syracuse, NY. Due to the lack of seasonal mixing and its unique sulfidic conditions, the producers, including cyanobacteria, green and purple sulfur bacteria, and eukaryotic algae, found in Fayetteville Green Lake, are vertically stratified. A study by Culver et al in 1967 described the zooplankton community and its vertical distribution of Fayetteville Green Lake. Our goal is to understand the feeding behavior of zooplankton in relation to the community interactions of the lake. There is no current standardized protocol for isolating bacterial DNA from zooplankton through a microbial gut analysis. We developed a protocol to extract sufficient bacterial DNA for identification of bacterial species found within the zooplankton gut. Following the DNA extraction, we sent the samples to be analyzed using 16S rRNA gene sequencing allowing identification of bacterial populations to species. With time, this protocol will allow for determination of species specific feeding niches of zooplankton.

Areeba Khalid, Mathematics and Computer Science, Adelphi University, 1 South Ave, Garden City NY, 11530
Nara Yoon, PhD, Mathematics and Computer Science, Adelphi University, 1 South Ave, Garden City NY, 11530


Chemotherapeutic agents are the cornerstone regimens to treat human malignancies. However, in many cases, chemotherapy is not successful due to development of drug resistance. The hallmark of the process is when a drug is not able to elicit a therapeutic response at recommended protocols. One of the main strategies to counter this problem is the sequential application of drugs. The process is followed through a phenomenon known as collateral sensitivity where resistance to one drug displays higher sensitivity to another drug. To solve this problem optimal therapy scheduling based on a pair of collaterally sensitive drugs has been explored in this study. Our previous model described the effects of sequential drug pairing on the structure of cell classification considering the resistance and sensitivity against the drugs. Despite advantages of the simplified modeling setup to derive analytical work, the previous model is limited to understand cellular heterogeneity. In our advanced model, we added a new cell type that is not treated by either drug in the collaterally sensitive drug pair. Hence, based on our simulation model, we conclude that the introduction of a third type can describe the situation that the resistance developed even under the optimal scheduling of the drugs.

Ryan Kim, Institute of NeuroImmune Pharmacology and Department of Biological Sciences, Seton Hall University (South Orange, NJ, 07079)


Using QIAGEN Ingenuity Pathway Analysis (IPA), 28 molecules were identified overlapping between those affected by ethanol and those associated with 11 inflammatory diseases. IPA Core analysis of these 28 revealed that Neuroinflammation Signaling Pathway (NISP) was the top with p-value 2.52E-24. Among these 28, 12 outside NISP and the following 16, CASP1, CCL2, CRP, IFNG, IKBKB, IL4, IL10, IL12B, IL1R1, MMP9, MYD88, RELA, STAT1, TGFB1, TLR4 and TNF within NISP. Core analysis of these 16 revealed NISP to be the top with a lowered p-value than that for all 28. Core Analysis of the 12 revealed that NISP was not one of its pathways with p-value <0.05. Due to the decreased p-value and the consistent NISP top ranking when the 12 were excluded, further analyses were conducted to identify the least molecules required with NISP as top. Core Analysis of reduced numbers of molecules from 15 to 6 revealed that p-values increased with each exclusion, suggesting lessened NISP association while NISP has remained top. Based on all analyses, the 6 molecules, CASP1, CCL2, CRP, IFNG, IKBKB, and IL4, were found to be the least number to have NISP as top. The effects of each molecule on activation of diseases within NISP were studied to reveal that these 6 collectively lead to onset of diseases including Blood-Brain-Barrier (BBB) Disruption, GABAergic neuron density, Neurofibrillary tangles, Astrogliosis, Amyloid-beta fibrils phagocytosis, and neuron damage. The molecular pathways of these 6 may underly alcohol drinking activation of NISP leading to brain diseases (supported by U01AA025964).

Jesse Kozub (Niagara University, Chemistry, 5795 Lewiston Rd, Niagara University, NY 14109),
Pavel Kovtunov (Niagara University, 5795 Lewiston Rd, Niagara University, NY 14109),
Brandon Bruno (Niagara University, 5795 Lewiston Rd, Niagara University, NY 14109),
David Vorobey (Niagara University, 5795 Lewiston Rd, Niagara University, NY 14109), and
Dr. Mark Gallo PhD (Niagara University, Biology, 5795 Lewiston Rd, Niagara University, NY 14109)


Recombinant proteins have a vast potential of medical applications. One such application is using glycoside hydrolases in order to remove surface sugar residues on red blood cells. Red blood cells have sugars on the cell surface that are responsible for bloods’ antigenic properties. These residues react with antibodies present in blood plasma and result in clotting upon recognition of a foreign antigen such as incompatible donor blood. These sugars distinguish the three blood types as A, B, and O. It is proposed that using glycoside hydrolases found in Paenibacillus JDR2 will result in a means to alter or remove the surface sugars sufficiently to prevent recognition by recipient antibodies. The genes for these enzymes were cloned and expressed in E. coli. using the Pet15b vector. The resulting transformants were used to obtain pure plasmids containing the gene of interest to be transformed into the BL21(DE3) E. coli strain for expression.

Katherine Lee, Biology, Iona College, 715 North Avenue, New Rochelle, NY 10801


Bactofilins are a class of cytoskeletal proteins found in a range of bacterial species. One such bactofilin gene in Myxococcus xanthus is bacM, responsible for the maintenance of proper cell wall shape and resistance to certain classes of antibiotics. Two bacM isoforms are expressed in M. xanthus by the inclusion of two independent start codons of the gene. The expression of two isoforms suggests that each contributes to BacM activity, though the exact function of individual isoforms and the necessity of both proteins being expressed is unknown. A crooked cell shape is observed in ΔbacM mutants, differing from its wild-type rod-shaped phenotype, and mutants demonstrate an increased sensitivity to antibiotics. To test the individual contributions of each isoform to overall BacM activity, single isoform mutants of M. xanthus were engineered via PCR mutagenesis and expression was confirmed by immunoblot. Using microscopy and antibiotic sensitivity assays, we attempt to determine the contributions of each protein isoform to maintain cell wall shape and for cells to survive antibiotic stress.

Christian Machado, Yelda Balkir, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Manhattan College (Riverdale, NY, 10471)


The price of the raw materials and product refinement associated with the current method of biodiesel synthesis affects the adoption of renewable alternative energy on a large scale. Coffee oil is a renewable source of feedstock for biodiesel synthesis because it can be extracted from waste coffee grounds. Homogeneous catalysts are the most commonly used catalysts in biodiesel production, but they are harmful to the environment and heavily contribute to the processing costs associated with the production of the fuel. Heterogeneous catalysts are recyclable and a more energetically and cost-efficient choice of catalyst. The heterogeneous catalyst calcium oxide (CaO) is a sustainable alternative to homogeneous catalysts like potassium hydroxide (KOH), though it displays lower in situ reactivity and stability than its active phase of Ca-glyceroxide. In the present work, purchased coffee oil first underwent a Fischer esterification pretreatment to lower its % FFA content before its use as feedstock in the transesterification reaction. Ca-glyceroxide was synthesized in the laboratory and successfully catalyzed the conversion of coffee oil to fatty acid methyl esters (FAMEs), or biodiesel. X-ray Powder Diffraction (XRD) and Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) confirmed the formation of the active phase catalyst, and 1H NMR and FTIR were used to analyze the conversion of the feedstock to biodiesel.

Joshlyn Mensah, Department: Biology and Health Sciences Department,
Institution: St. Francis College, Institution Address: 180 Remsen St. Brooklyn, NY 11201


In this benefit-risk observational study, it is expected that there are more favorable health outcomes than there is harm with consuming fish. Healthy omega 3 oils were found from a variety of fish such as salmon, mackerel and tuna. Conversely, fish taken from certain waters contained methylmercury, which caused people to reduce their consumption of fish. Moreover, fish collected from the Great Lakes and Hudson River have contained organic pollutants and dioxins, and guidelines have been issued that caution limits to fish consumption. One encouraging study in lake trout fillets showed a concurrent reduction in PCB’s (5200 ng/g to 100 ng/g and dioxins (16 pg/g to 9 pg/g) in Lake Ontario, and a reduction of mercury (0.9 ug/g to 0.2 ug/g) over a 40-year period from 1970 to 2010. Another finding is that modern diets have 10-25 times as much omega 6 lipids than omega 3’s, whereas in the past the amounts were equitable. Eating a fish diet can increase omega 3’s in the diet, as well as bone mineral density. However, pollutants such as mercury, PCB’s and dioxin might offset these benefits. We would like to fine tune out study to include additional nutrients/contaminants found in fish as well as differences in nutritional content of farmed versus wild fish.

Aidan Lawrence Murphy, Patrick O'Donnell, and
Latina Steele department of biology at Sacred Heart University 5252 Park Ave Fairfield CT 06825


To understand how best to restore damaged coral reefs, one must first understand how best to nurture and grow fragments of coral. For our purposes, we used the Indo-Pacific, coral Duncanopsammia axifuga as a model organism, as it is integral to the reef ecosystem both structurally and ecologically, as well as it is readily available to scientists, since it is not a threatened species. The controlled lab experiment was set up in a way that two replicate groups were isolated when fed, one group was fed 30mL of phytoplankton three times a week, while the other was fed zooplankton on the same three days. We recorded how long the corals actively fed, and comparisons were made along the duration of the project regarding starting size, number of polyps, amount of sprouting polyp buds, and in the future, we hope to analyze the density of the coral’s skeleton between the two groups. We expect our results to be able to help provide valuable information for coral reef restoration projects for years to come.

Ian O'Neill/ Maki Inada/ Rory Cohan, Biology Department, Ithaca College, 953 Danby Road, Ithaca, NY 14850


Regulation of gene expression is an important process in all organisms. The information in DNA must be copied to mRNA and translated to protein for proper gene expression. For eukaryotes, mRNAs are processed via a step called splicing, whereby non-coding sequences are removed. However, we do not know all of the machinery or mechanisms that are involved in regulating splicing. Schizosaccharomyces pombe, or fission yeast is a useful and inexpensive model organism for splicing studies because of the similarity of splicing architecture to that of humans. To gain insight on these mechanisms, we make mutants that are involved in mRNA splicing. Using a temperature-sensitive mutant library, we have screened for mutants that may be involved in splicing and then wish to map where the mutations are within the genome using whole-genome sequencing. In our initial experiments, we found that our sequencing samples contained large amounts of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) that pollute the sample. Using a method called Depletion of Abundant Sequences by Hybridization (DASH) (Gu et al., 2016), we will target mtDNA in vitro using CRISPR/Cas9 to deplete unwanted sequences in our sample. We are using quantitative PCR to examine the efficiency of our DASH depletion.

Alexandrea Papadelias, Emer-Rico E. Mojica PhD,
Department of Chemistry and Physical Sciences, Pace University, One Pace Plaza, New York, NY 10038


Probiotics in breast milk is a very recent field of research, as the existence of the human milk microbiome was discovered only about a decade ago. More than 200 different species have been described in human milk. The function of microbiota in breast milk may include the enhanced immune development of the infant, better nutrient metabolism and absorption, improved intestinal barrier function, and stimulation of the gut-brain axis, which reduces infants' risk of infectious diseases. The chemicals present in breast milk may be responsible for this biological activity. The objective of this study is to determine the fatty acids in breast milk sample obtained from the Philippines and to compare the results gathered using GC-FID and GC-MSD with reported literature. In this study, the fatty acid profile of some breast milk samples from the Philippines was determined using AOAC Official Method 2012.13. Results showed variation among fatty acids in different samples. This could be due to several factors that affect breast milk composition, such as maternal age, parity, duration of pregnancy, maternal diet, and daily breastfeeding rate.

Katherine Peake and Robert Fogle, Department - Neuroscience Program,
John Carroll University, 1 John Carroll Blvd., University Heights, OH 44118


The present study investigated the impact of Theobroma cacao (cacao), a psychostimulant, on spatial working memory, body weight, food intake, water intake, and anxiety in female and male Long-Evans rats. Each gender was divided into control and experimental groups. Animals were placed in individual cages equipped with a running wheel and food and water were provided ad-libitum. Each day, body weight, food intake, and water intake were measured. The study consisted of two phases: Phase I utilized 12 female rats and Phase II utilized 12 male rats. Each phase was subdivided into three periods: 1) habituation (days 1-7), 2) experimental (days 8-21), and 3) withdrawal (days 22-27). Control rats received a placebo in periods 1, 2, and 3, while experimental rats received a placebo in periods 1 and 3 and received a treatment of cacao during period 2. The effect of cacao on spatial working memory was assessed by utilizing the methodology of the Morris Water Maze (MWM). Rats were evaluated by performance in the MWM during week 1 and week 2 of the experimental period, as well as 2 days and 5 days into the withdrawal period. It was hypothesized that when compared to the control group, cacao-treated animals would exhibit significant positive effects on spatial working memory with few negative side effects. Results with male rats supported the hypothesis; whereas, results with female rats did not. Cacao did not significantly affect anxiety in either gender.

Lawrence Phillips, Chemistry, Pace University, One Pace Plaza, New York, NY, 10038


Propolis, a complex organic mixture produced by honeybees from the buds and exudates of plants, is utilized as a safeguarding barrier against predators in various beehives. Similarly to its implementation in beehives, propolis can be used as a protective barrier in the human body because of its beneficial properties once introduced to the immune system. This includes being an antiviral, antibacterial, and antimicrobial agent that qualitatively and quantitively varies depending on the vegetation, bee species, and area of collection. In this study, several propolis samples were collected from distinct parts of the United States and analyzed using a chromatographic technique (gas chromatography- mass spectrometry or GC-MS). The results concluded that most samples have a different composition, specific to the location of the beehive. Some of the unique chemicals found are caffeine from cinnamyl cinnamate from Alabama, 3-methoxycinnamic acid from California, cinnamoylglycine methylester from Michigan, phenol, 2, 4-dichloro-benzenesulfonate from Mississippi propolis, benzyl cinnamate from New York, 2-methoxy-4-vinylphenol from Ohio, and 1,2-benzenedicarboxylic acid, diisononyl ester from Washington.

Jada Rojas, Itati Abadie, Samantha Healy, Michelle Pei.
Psychology Department, Ithaca College 953 Danby Rd Ithaca, NY 14850


Increasing numbers of first generation students are attending college in the United States. Prior research has demonstrated that first generation students face unique challenges in college settings. One of the challenges first-gen students tend to face is increased levels of academic anxiety due to the lack of familial experience in this environment. They may also be under additional pressure from their family as role models for the younger generation. The current study used data from the Healthy Minds Study to explore the differences in anxiety levels for first-gen students, as well as the academic impact of that anxiety. The study also addressed the family support and academic anxiety between first-gen and continuing students. An analysis of 45,369 participants showed that first-gen students reported higher anxiety levels compared to continuing students. First-gen students also reported more negative academic impacts as a result of anxiety or stress including getting a lower grade in exams or projects, getting a lower grade in one or more courses, receiving an incomplete or dropping one or more courses, and having a disruption in research, practicum, thesis, or dissertation work. Like continuing students, first-gen students reporting greater levels of stress also reported lower familial support. The limitations of the current study are discussed and suggestions for future research are offered.

Eleanora Robinson, Natural Science Department at Mount Saint Mary College, Newburgh, NY 12550


Drosophila ananassae is a newly sequenced species of Drosophila that is evolutionarily related to the common fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. Unlike other Drosophila species, D. ananassae was found to have an enlarged genome, and by studying its genome as part of the Genomics Education Partnership, researchers are observing how genomes change over time. Notably, D. ananassae has shed light on the evolution of pseudogenes, which are genes that have been duplicated, rearranged, and mutated to the point where they are no longer functional 1. These pseudogenes may give insight into why the genome of D. ananassae is longer than other Drosophila species and help understand how pseudogenes affect the gene expression of their functional counterparts 1. The purpose of my research was to annotate the genes in contig 13, a portion of the D.ananassae genome, and determine the evolutionary relationship between two predicted pseudogenes, TTLL4A and wun2. The results showed that CG7139, CG7133, CG7130, and RpLP0 were genes in this region of the genome. CG7139 in D. ananassae was also found to have an extra exon compared to CG7139 in D. melanogaster. Furthermore, the results showed that the TTLL4A pseudogene was duplicated and inserted into the genome first approximately 7 million years ago followed by the wun2 pseudogene.

Karlee Schultz, Haley Kovach Department: Neuroscience Program Institution:
John Carroll University, 1 John Carroll Blvd., University Heights, OH 44118


Caffeine, a common stimulant consumed by many individuals each year, has been used in research to identify the link between caffeine and anxiety. The current experiment aimed to determine how chronic caffeine intake at a particular time of the day (at the onset of the light or dark cycle) affects anxiety. The experiment involved Phase 1 to determine the appropriate caffeine dose (12.5 mg/kg), and Phase 2 to conduct the comparison of caffeine given at different times of day. Female Long Evans rats were divided into two groups (light versus dark cycles) and given a milk treat in either a control or caffeinated form. Anxiety was measured once a week using an elevated plus maze (EPM) and by obtaining blood glucose levels post-sacrifice. The light cycle group demonstrated significant disruptions from the caffeine. Specifically, the EPM results showed that a moderate dose of caffeine caused the light cycle experimental rats to be stimulated as evidenced by the rats spending more time in the open arms and less time in the closed arms in comparison to the control group. The experimental group also gained weight at a slower rate than the control group. However, glucose levels were found to be maintained among all groups in the light and dark cycles. These results could be important for shift workers because an appropriate dose of caffeine at a particular time of day may be beneficial for alertness without causing an increase in anxiety.

Cordell Siggins, Thomas Smith, Matthew Costello, Physics, Wilkes University, Wilkes-Barre Pennsylvania, 18766


The rapid development of new drugs is critical to public health, but the process of drug discovery is incredibly slow and expensive. Although computational models for drug discovery aim to alleviate this problem, it remains incredibly difficult to predict a compound’s binding affinity from a three-dimensional structure. In this work, we explore the use of topological data analysis (TDA) in combination with deep learning to build predictive models of compound affinity from protein-ligand structures. Using the PDBBind dataset, structural data from protein-ligand complexes is transformed into an image-like feature set using persistent homology (a well-established technique in TDA). These images are then used to train a deep neural network to predict compound affinity. We explore hyperparameter choices as well as network architectures to assess the viability of this method. We also explore the featurization strategy using unsupervised learning techniques. Using feedforward neural networks to properly predict how well a protein will bind with medications and other drugs will prove to be paramount in a future where new viruses and diseases emerge without warning. Testing each new drug or medication with individual proteins manually takes a considerable amount of time. Using binding affinity data from the Protein Data Bank as training data for neural networks allows for determining any correlation between a protein’s structure and its affinity towards certain bonds. Finding these correlations would allow for rapid predictions on an otherwise complex protein’s ability to bind with medications resulting in a quicker production of necessary and effective medicine. This is done by rearranging the structural data of protein-ligand complexes using persistent homology to algorithmically create persistent images which are then fed into the neural networks as the training data. Work is currently being focused on optimizing the hyperparameters used in making the persistent images, training the neural networks, and making the neural networks easier to tune with an algorithm being looked into that would automate the optimizing of the hyperparameters.

Catrina Sullivan Department of Biology, Eastern Connecticut Statement University,
83 Windham St, Willimantic, CT, 06033


Legume plants are unique because of their ability to form a symbiotic relationship with the soil bacteria rhizobia. Rhizobia infect legume plants and form structures called “nodules” on the roots. Inside the nodules, rhizobia capture and convert atmospheric nitrogen into usable form ammonia by a natural process called symbiotic nitrogen fixation (SNF). Understanding this process of SNF by finding all the essential genes will help us to transfer SNF process to non-legume plants, which would decrease cost and increase environmental safety of crop production. We are using a forward genetics method in the model legume plant Medicago truncatula. Using tobacco Tnt1 retrotransposon, thousands of M. truncatula mutants were created by the Noble Research Institute. By screening ~4000 mutants, Dr. Veerappan isolated more than 200 mutants that are defective in SNF. I will present data on the secondary confirmation and phenotypic characterization of two mutants with defective SNF and supernodulation phenotypes in comparison to the wild-type. Wild type plant phenotypes are green shoots, large, ovoid-shaped and reddish pink nodules whereas the mutants show strong nitrogen deficiency (reddish purple shoots) and small, round, white nodules (Nod+;Fix-). Each mutant studied contains approximately 20-100 mutations, and in order to determine which mutation causes the defects of SNF, I will analyze Tnt1 mutant database and design PCR primers to further the identification of the causative mutation.

Sarah Weiby, Niagara University, 5795 Lewiston Rd, Niagara University, 14109
Cassandra Marnocha, PhD., William Edwards, PhD. Biology Department, Niagara University


Cyanobacteria are involved in primary production via photosynthesis in various aquatic environments. Synechococcus is a cyanobacterium that is found in Fayetteville Green Lake (FGL) in Syracuse, NY. FGL is meromictic and euxinic, meaning it has distinct layers that do not mix and deeper layers lack oxygen and contain sulfide. Synechococcus carry an SQR (sulfide:quinone oxidoreductase) gene that allows them to survive in the deeper layers of FGL. SQR allows for anoxygenic photosynthesis by using sulfide as an electron donor. We have isolated a strain of Synechococcus from Fayetteville Green Lake. We are characterizing the growth of our Synechococcus strain under oxygenic and euxinic conditions by comparing cell densities in culture over time and under varying concentrations of sulfide. This is a starting point for further characterization of the role SQR plays in growth in euxinic conditions and how it impacts the growth of Synechococcus.

Sarah Weiby, Mark Gallo, PhD. Niagara University, Lewiston, NY.


Plasmids have become an area of interest due to their ability to carry antibiotic resistance genes, resulting in more antibiotic resistant bacteria. Plasmids are small circular, DNA elements that can encode beneficial genes for their bacterial hosts. Little is known about how the energy costs of carrying a plasmid in a non-selective environment affect plasmid persistence. A plasmid that is widely used in teaching laboratories is pGLOTM. This plasmid is frequently used because it encodes green fluorescent protein and is under control of an arabinose promoter, has a multiple cloning site, and encodes a β-lactamase enzyme for ampicillin resistance. In this study we looked at the rate of pGLOTM loss in several strains of E.coli. They were grown in various conditions where there was no selective pressure for antibiotic resistance maintenance. This study followed the long term preservation of intact pGLOTM.

Spencer Yacuboski, Electrical Engineering and Physics, WIlkes University, Wilkes-Barre, PA, 18702


Through physical modelling and simulation, the fluorous effect is compared to the hydrophobic effect in this project. The results of this simulation lend themselves to a unique comparison to fluorinated hydrocarbon molecules and proteins to assist in the understanding of these reactions. The analysis of the fluorous effect provides insight into how water molecules will react within protein structures, and how proteins would fold when fluorinated. This provides more understanding of how proteins fold, and how engineering proteins with synthetic fluorinated amino acids could take place.