Student Research Fellows Summer 2012

Caleb Archambault

Project: Development and Improvement of Protocols and Methodologies for Chemical Analysis in the Fermentation Industry
Faculty Mentor: Mark Thomson, Physical Sciences-CAS

The fermentation industry manufactures products according to standards; and testing occurs to assure their products meet expectations. Brewers and Vintners send their samples to be tested at analytical laboratories; this is a time and money consuming process. This research project was designed to develop protocols and methods that allow the use of mobile analytical equipment on location at a Brewery or Winery. Several tests were determined to be useful to local Wineries and Breweries; the tests included Free Assimable Nitrogen, Sulfur Dioxide levels, International Bitterness Units, Standard Reference Method (beer Color), and Turbidity. The accepted methods were modified for use with mobile equipment on location. Using statistical tests the reliability of the mobile UV-Vis was compared to that of the Desktop UV-Vis and was found to have no significant difference in readings using the same methodology. However, not all of the test were without difficulties, the process for measuring sulfur dioxide did suffer until a proper reference standard could be produces to determine the accuracy of the hand built apparatus. From the research it was determined that the tests above can with little difficulty be performed using mobile equipment on location.

David Birdsall

Project: An Investigation of the Cocrystallization Behavior of Saccharin
Faculty Mentor: Dan Adsmond, Physical Sciences-CAS

A cocrystal is a crystalline structure made up of two or more compounds in a definite ratio. Cocrystallization applications and theory are important to many fields including pharmacy and pharmaceuticals. Properties like solubility and bioavailability can be manipulated with the presence of a cocrystal, and thus is important for active pharmaceutical ingredients. My research was identifying the effects of cocrystalization specific to Saccharin, a sweetener. During the course of 10 weeks, over 80 experiments were carried out using 35 different carboxylic acids, 11 benzamides and 6 different solvent mixtures in different ratios. In order to determine if a cocrystal is present, an Infared Spectrum was collected on both the pure samples of the acid and saccharin- which would essentially give a fingerprint of each compound. If a cocrystal were present, shifts in the peak would be observed. In these experiments, only three different carboxylic acids cocrystallized with saccharin, and one (so far) of the 11 benzamides used. In this talk we will discuss the influence of solvents, solubility and acidity on cocrystal formation.

Katie M. Boolman

Social Work
Project: Teaching Racial Tolerance: Increasing Validity in Racial Surveys
Faculty Mentor: Michael Berghoef, Social Work-CAS

Are today’s universities teaching racial tolerance or merely that racism is not socially acceptable? While most universities value diversity, researchers assessing higher education’s impact on racial tolerance face many substantial obstacles. For example, are educated individuals actually more racially tolerant or merely more adept at socially desirable responses? Race and racism are currently conceptualized differently than they were during the Jim Crow era or Civil Rights movement. Concepts of race continue to evolve in order to encompass more subtle forms (e.g., “modern-day racism, aversive racism, institutional racism”). Ideally a robust survey could measure multiple forms of racism; however, subtle forms may be more accurately assessed in qualitative methods. This study employs qualitative interviews for iterative improvements of survey items measuring racial tolerance (e.g., “readability, item development, level of invasiveness, clarity, interpretation of question”). The goal of this iterative process is to create a more robust survey with increased validity. By providing a more comprehensive understanding on the impact higher education has on students’ racial tolerance, universities will be able to more accurately assess diversity programming and curriculum for future development.

Blake Bonkowski

Project: The synthesis of Novel PPAR delta agonists to better improve upon the clinically used gamma agonists; such as Avandia
Faculty Mentor: Tracey Boncher, Pharmacy

Type 2 diabetes mellitus is an emerging epidemic characterized by uncontrolled blood glucose and cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. Pharmaceutical companies are synthesizing new potential drug molecules everyday to help treat this disease. New discoveries and treatments in the field of type II diabetes have led to the focus of Peroxisome Proliferator Activated Receptors (PPAR) gamma and delta agonists to better improve upon diabetic treatments used clinically. PPARδ/γ dual agonist compounds have the potential to improve both blood glucose as well as cholesterol levels. The new series of PPARδ/γ dual agonists are synthesized and purified via solid phase organic synthetic processes. Initial results of new novel compounds thus far have indicated that they are in fact PPARδ/γ dual agonists with high selectivity and potency for these receptors. These new compounds also have shown significant cardio-protective effects as well as neuro-regenerative effects, which will not only lead to better diabetic treatments, but also lead to promising Alzheimer’s treatments in the future.

Donald Bucholz

Architecture and Facility Management
Project: An analysis of current sustainability assessment methods and their potential application to holistic sustainable community development in Michigan
Faculty Mentor: Paul Long, Architecture-CET

For the first time in history more people live in urban than rural areas. If current rates of urbanization continue, 65% of the world’s population will be urban dwellers by 2025. As cities consume a significant portion of the world's resources, this unprecedented scale of urban growth raises fundamental questions regarding the ability to maintain current ways of life. Paradoxically, while cities contribute to many social and environmental problems, they are also seen as solutions to these same problems. The pursuit of sustainable community development (SCD) has emerged as a solution for many local, state, and national governments; however, providing growth and redevelopment that can be viewed as truly sustainable has proven difficult at best. This report looks at two types of common sustainability assessment (SA) methods intended to gauge and promote SCD, and critiques how key examples of each addresses the individual aspects of holistic sustainability (Environmental, Social, and Economic). This paper finds these approaches lacking in their promotion of holistic sustainability and concludes with the development of a hybrid approach to SA that promotes a holistic vision of sustainability geared toward communities in West Michigan.

Amber Carr

Biology Education
Project: Prevalence of Tetrathionate Reduction among bacteria isolated from the Muskegon River
Faculty Mentor: Anne Spain, Biology-CAS

Though microbiology is a huge field in which a lot of research has been done, the majority of microbial diversity remains unknown. The main focus this summer was to help fill in a small gap of this unknown by isolating bacteria from the Muskegon River, and identifying those that reduce tetrathionate. Tetrathionate is part of the sulfur cycle and scientists have just scratched the surface to how it is produced and utilized in nature. Basic microbiology techniques were used to isolate bacteria under aerobic and anaerobic conditions; isolates obtained were characterized by gram-staining and growth experiments. We isolated 14 microbes aerobically and 11 microbes anaerobically from the river sediment and surrounding soil. Of these, 11 were selected for growth in Luria Burtani broth under four different growth conditions: aerobically and anaerobically both with and without tetrathionate. Results showed that three of the unknown isolates were strict anaerobes, and four grew better with tetrathionate under anaerobic conditions, suggesting that they have the ability to use the compound as an electron acceptor for anaerobic respiration. We hope to continue this research by using PCR to identify these unknown isolates and also to identify which isolates carry the gene for tetrathionate reduction.

Lauren Clements

Project: Damaging and Repairing Melanocytes: Sunlight's Role in Melanoma and its Prevention
Faculty Mentor: James Hoerter, Biology-CAS

There is a well established connection between solar radiation (UVA 320-400nm; UVB 290-320nm) and melanoma. The exact mechanisms of this process are not yet known.  To study how sunlight induces skin cancer, scientists use model organisms. The zebrafish is an ideal model organism because about 80% of its genes are similar to those in humans. However, zebrafish have one mechanism that humans do not have: photorepair. This is a mechanism of repair that uses UVA light to activate a cellular pathway that repairs UVB-induced DNA damage.  The overall goal of my research was to determine how photorepair is affected in melanocytes when p53 (a tumor suppressor in cells, known to help prevent several human cancers) is nonfunctional. Knowledge of this process of repair may lead to the development of sunscreens and other methods of preventing melanoma in humans. Three important steps toward this goal have been accomplished thus far: (1) doses of UVA and UVB were determined based on fish survival; (2) techniques required to preserve, section, bleach, and stain tissue samples for melanocytes were perfected; and (3), location of tissue for highest number of a melanocytes is being determined to ensure statistically significant results.

Sarah Gilbert

Pre-Molecular Diagnostics
Project: Synergistic Effects of Solar UVA and UVB Radiation on Melanocyte Development
Faculty Mentor: James Hoerter, Biology-CAS

Melanoma is the deadliest form of human skin cancer. It is thought to have its earliest origins in a melanocyte stem cell. Solar radiation plays a primary role in the etiology of melanoma. Solar radiation is divided into two major wavelength divisions: UVA (320-400nm) and UVB (290-320nm). Zebrafish offers an excellent animal model for the study of melanoma. Melanocyte stem cells can be artificially induced (NCP and fin amputation) to regenerate adult melanocytes, providing the opportunity to study the effects of mutations on melanocyte development. The purpose of this experimental study was to determine if multiple doses of UVA and UVB are capable of damaging stem cells, causing abnormalities in melanocyte pattern and development after regeneration. My preliminary data indicate that UVA and UVB radiation is capable of causing structural damage (necrosis) and abnormalities in pigment pattern.

Daniel Langenburg

Project: Method Development in Determining Stability of Pharmacist-Compounded Amlodipine Besylate Oral Suspension
Faculty Mentor: Kim Hancock, Pharmacy

Amlodipine besylate is a commonly prescribed antihypertensive medication available in 2.5mg, 5mg, and 10mg tablets. For patients who require a different dose or dosage form, an amlodipine besylate pharmacist-compounded oral suspension may be necessary. Unlike tablets, stability standards, and therefore beyond-use dates, for compounded amlodipine besylate oral suspensions (AB-COS) are not as scientifically defined, creating barriers to optimal patient care and increasing costs. To better establish stability information for AB-COS, methods were needed to measure degradation of amlodipine over time. Reverse Phase-High Performance Liquid Chromatography (RP-HPLC) was investigated as a potential method of analysis. Mobile phase and detection wavelength were identified through published scientific literature. The HPLC column and the operating temperature were optimized for amlodipine detection. A linear relationship between the known amlodipine concentration samples and peak area of the corresponding chromatograms was established, suggesting HPLC as a viable analytical method for determining the concentration of an unknown sample of amlodipine. This method can be utilized to measure the degradation of amlodipine in AB-COS and provide scientific evidence for establishing a more defined beyond-use date, and may ultimately improve patient care and cost.

Kaylee Moreno

Social Work
Project: Motivation and Communicative Action in Bullying
Faculty Mentor: Stephanie Thomson, Communication-CAS

Over the past twenty years, school bullying research has investigated the increase in school violence. Olweus, an authority on bullying, developed a clear definition of school bullying, researched anti-bullying programs, analyzed gender roles in bullying, and bullying mannerisms. Although there is a plethora of research, a need to examine the language of bullying through different mediums still exists. Cultural analysis, prominently developed by Hall, examines how culture is influenced by the elite and the heterogenic divisions which exist and influence cultural perspectives. More specifically, it studies the role media plays in the interpretations of messages through cultural development. This project analyzes a three month collection of 428 blogs and 312 mainstream media articles from a variety of blogging sites and the top newspapers in the country. Utilizing quantitative content analysis, this research addresses the question: what language differences exist between mainstream media and adolescent blogs? Results indicate differences regarding the consistency of language used, the scope addressed, the framing of victimization, and the prominence of emotion in the content. Preliminary analysis also indicates emergent differences regarding the reporting of power relationship between the amount of perceived control bullies and bully targets have over bullying situations.

Evan Weaver

Architecture and Facility Management
Project: A comparison of the accuracy of architectural daylighting analysis methods
Faculty Mentor: Paul Long, Architecture-CET

Building industry standards for the prediction of daylight performance within a building include the testing of physical models, computer simulation of virtual models, and rules of thumb or universally accepted design standards. These methods of daylight prediction and building performance are important to the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction community as 50% of all energy used in the U.S. can be contributed to buildings. Properly designed daylight solutions can reduce energy consumption of buildings by 25%, thereby significantly reducing overall energy consumption. However, the ability of these standards to accurately predict daylight performance is widely disputed. This project utilizes four commonly used daylight analysis programs and compares them to actual daylight conditions with the purpose of determining which method is the most accurate. When compared to four test case scenarios, preliminary analysis of compiled data indicates widespread variability between results for individual programs. This calls in to question the ability of these software packages to be used for accurate daylight simulations. Further analysis is required to identify highest accuracy for specific sky conditions while additional research will explore the integration of these academic-based analysis methods into a proposed design work flow for use in architectural firms.