NEWS & EVENTS
Biology, Geology, & Environmental Science, 2009
  • Biology, Geology, & Environmental Science, 2009

     

    Regional Comparison of Genetically Modified Corn Prevalence in the United States verses Central and South America
    Claire Brandon, Katherine L. O’Shaughnessy
    Mentor: Kerry L. Cheesman

    As the commercialization of genetically modified (GM) crops increases, an interesting comparison can be made between products in the United States verses products in Central and South America. Genetically modified seeds produce higher crop yields but cost more initially. Although there is a higher volume of labeled foods (organic, all natural, etc.) present in the United States verses Central and South America it does not mean that the unlabeled foreign products are GM. This experiment was designed to determine whether corn products from Central and South America show a higher or lower prevalence for GM when compared to corn products from the United States. The research encompasses some of the economic and nutritional deficits in the regions and what bearing these environmental factors may have on GM prevalence. Using standard techniques and materials, DNA was extracted in duplicate from various store-bought foods and amplified with PCR to detect the transgenic CaMV 35S promoter and/or NOS terminator sequences (found in approximately 85% of all GM foods). Samples were run on 3% agarose gels, along with known GM-positive and negative controls, and visualized with UV light after staining with ethidium bromide. For the corn products from the United States (n = 36, non-organic samples) 75% were positive for some amount of GM. However, of the corn products from Central and South America (n = 22) 18% were positive for some amount of GM.

     

     

    Correlation between Developmental Genetics of the Phalanges and Female Athleticism
    Helen Breznicki, Megan Holstein
    Mentor: Kerry Cheesman

    Two recent reports (2006, 2008) have indicated a possible link between the ratio of lengths of second and fourth fingers (2D:4D) of females and a predisposition or tendency toward athleticism. This is reported to be linked to androgen receptor concentrations in the developing fetus. Only one of these reports looked at college athletes, and only one compared female athletes with women not currently active in team sports. We followed up on these reports by studying female athletes (n = 66) and control females (n = 76) at Capital University. The hands of each woman were xeroxed, and the lengths of their 2nd and 4th digits were measured. Data were compared between athletes and controls, and between athletes of different sports. The control group was also divided into those who have never played on a sports team (n = 12) and those who have played on teams prior to arriving at the university (n = 64). Comparisons were done between each control subgroup and each sports group. Significant differences in finger length ratios were found for both basketball and tennis teams when compared to the control groups. No differences were found for track, cross-country, soccer, or volleyball, although women involved in track showed a trend toward significance. In addition, a significant difference was noted between right and left hand ratios in the control group. It appears that 2D:4D ratios can be correlated with athleticism, at least in some sports. We will be conducting further research for a closer look at the relationship between finger length development and athletic ability.

     

     

    A Comparison of Waste Composition between City and Shoreline Trash of Ustupu in Kuna Yala, Panama
    Elizabeth A. Delfing, Katherine L. O’Shaughnessy, Adam J. Rodriguez
    Mentors: Kerry L. Cheesman, Alan Stam

    The island of Ustupu, one of the San Blas islands off the coast of Panama, is home to approximately five thousand Kuna Yala people. As a vital natural resource, the ocean is a primary food supply for the Kuna; thus, preservation and protection of the marine ecosystem is a great concern for the community’s welfare. However, an array of contributing factors like geographical isolation, increasing population, and natural water currents pose unique challenges with respect to both inorganic and organic waste disposal. This study focused on the relative amounts of plastic, paper, and other inorganic wastes between an area of shoreline and an area within the central village to observe potential variation in trash composition. The trash from each location was collected, separated, and weighed; proportions were calculated and compared to determine whether a significant difference between waste compositions existed. A significant difference in composition between shoreline and town trash may imply what types of wastes the mainland of Panama and passing boats contribute as opposed to Ustupu residents themselves. Moreover, study addresses the issue of waste disposal and offers possible recommendations in order to help the Kuna become a more self-sustainable community.

     

     

    Circadian Rhythms in Gonyaulax
    Joseph Francia, Aaron Brooks
    Mentor: Jerry P. Thomas

    Gonyaulax polyedra is a species of marine dinoflagellates that display very distinct circadian rhythms. Some of the behaviors controlled by these rhythms include aggregation, bioluminescence and vertical movement via changes in buoyancy. These rhythms can be altered by external triggers known as zeitgeibers. This research focused on how these triggers could affect the circadian rhythms of Gonyaulax. It was discovered that under certain conditions, nitrate was able to reset the rhythms. Heat shock increased the protein synthesis but had no effect on the circadian period. It was found that red and blue light were each able to shift the rhythm. Future studies should focus on the specific receptors and pathways for the zeitgeibers thus increasing understanding of circadian rhythms on a cellular level.

     

     

    Composition, Abundance, and Distribution of Post-hurricane Scleractinian Coral and Algae in Cozumel, Mexico
    Julia Harris, Roxx Ann Williams
    Mentor: Philip C. Whitford

    Scleractinian corals (hard corals) are normally the main components of near shore fringing reefs. Data on coral species, abundance, and distribution had been collected on Paraiso Reef before Hurricane Wilma struck the area in 2005, destroying approximately 90% of Paraiso near shore Reef. Casa Del Mar Reef is 1 km north of Paraiso Reef with its crest, fore, and hind reefs at similar depths and comparable in conformation. Pre-hurricane species composition, distribution and age structure of the two sites should have been nearly identical based on these criteria. The hypothesis is that changes in pre vs. post hurricane coral and common algae species composition, abundance, and distribution are directly attributable to the storm damage and will be representative of changes one can expect for reefs of similar depths subjected to swells of a category 5 hurricane. The scleractinian corals Montastraea annularis, Montastraea cavernosa, Porites astreoides, Porites porties, Siderasterea siderea, and Agaricia agaricia were the most abundant scleractinian species in pre-hurricane Paraiso Reef studies on the near-shore fringe reef. Post-hurricane relative abundance of specific coral and algae species sampled was significantly different than pre-hurricane studies for all zones.

     

     

    Dysgenics: Breeding Mediocrity?
    Michael Herold, Subathra Thanabalan
    Mentor: Kerry L. Cheesman

    Dysgenics, a term coined in the early 20th century, is the genetic deterioration of human society. Whether from a dysgenic effect that results in the majority of fit men being removed from the gene pool during a large-scale war, or the larger child count of lesser-educated families, dysgenics has the potential to create a “lesser society” of human beings. The 2006 movie Idiocracy describes a society purposefully created to be susceptible to advertisement and commercialism. This dark view shows one side of the argument against society allowing dysgenics to occur. But is it really a problem? Can combined counter-effects from economy, literacy, and proper government be used to curb dysgenic effects? Or, from a purely scientific view, could eugenics be used to create a positive effect in the gene pool? This presentation investigates whether or not there is a dysgenic tendency in modern society and whether or not it is ethical to do something about it.

     

     

    Nutrient Contamination and Wetland Effects Near Logan, Ohio: A Pilot Study
    Corey J. Hinkle, Ryan M. Griffin
    Mentors: William J. Clark, Margaret E. Ginn-Pease, Terry D. Lahm

    Water samples from groundwater springs, wetland environment, and an area lake were analyzed from Capital University’s Primmer Outdoor Learning Environment and surrounding area near Logan, Ohio. These water samples were collected four times over three months. Samples were analyzed for the presence of nitrate and phosphate using ion selective electrode, colorimetric instrumental techniques, respectively, with both using standard addition methodology. Phosphate levels were found to be near or below detection limits of the technique. Nitrate levels were found to be elevated in the middle spring compared to the left spring. The source of the contamination is unknown but perhaps related to current or historical farm-field fertilizer run-off from nearby agricultural activity. Nitrate levels of the springs were significantly different than levels at the outlet of the wetland. This may indicate that the wetland is serving as a filtration system for nitrate.

     

     

    Galactosemia and the Effects on the Leloir Pathway
    Andra Howard, Erica Crawford, Terra Forward
    Mentor: Kerry L. Cheesman

    Galactosemia is a rare metabolic disease caused by a defect of one of three enzymes in the Leloir pathway. The most prominent type of galactosemia is Galactosemia I, which is a defect in both copies of the galactose-1-phosphate uridyl transferase (GALT) gene. The malfunction of the Leloir pathway disables the proper break down of galactose in the body to glucose, which leads to toxic levels of galactose in the bloodstream. Galactosemia is usually diagnosed within a few weeks of birth; however, if the infant is not treated quickly enough, there is a high risk of the infant developing an enlarged liver, cirrhosis, cataracts, renal failure, and brain damage, which can lead to death. Although galactosemia is treatable, galatosemics usually have developmental problems including mental disability, speech impediments, delayed motor skills, and ovarian failure.

     

    The Carbon Footprint of Capital University
    Amanda Huntsberry
    Mentors: Terry D. Lahm, Alan Stam

    Climate change is an important current issue in politics and science. Carbon footprint studies for businesses and institutions are used to determine and analyze how much carbon dioxide is emitted into the atmosphere by individuals, organizations, companies, and even college campuses. This study looks at Capital University’s carbon footprint, specifically analyzing the output of carbon dioxide from the campuses energy usage. Based on other studies, the emissions from energy sources can be the cause for up to 90% of a university’s carbon footprint. The Clean Air – Cool Planet Campus Carbon Calculator is used to compile the data from the university sources and convert it to kilograms of carbon dioxide emitted. It is compared to other universities and evaluated looking at possible changes that the university could undergo to minimize the carbon footprint and the future impact on climate change.

     

     

    Metabolic Effects of Pancreatic Insufficiency in Cystic Fibrosis Adults
    Jaymie Lemmon, Brittany Davidson
    Mentor: Kerry L. Cheesman

    Cystic Fibrosis (CF) is an autosomal recessive disease affecting nearly 30,000 children and adults in the United States. CF is a multi-organ affecting disease with primary problems concerning the lungs and the pancreas. This study presents the results from a review of the literature to identify pancreatic insufficiency in CF patients and the metabolic disturbances it causes within the body. The inability of the pancreas to function normally accounts for the high percentage of CF patients experiencing malnutrition and growth retardation. The two central issues surrounding this problem in CF individuals are the inability of the islet cells to manufacture insulin causing Cystic Fibrosis Related Diabetes (CFRD) and the decrease or complete absence of the three principle enzymes, lipase, protease and amylase being secreted by the pancreas. Malnutrition is a major factor adversely affecting survival and the achievement and maintenance of energy balance in CF is one of the central aims of management. Through enzyme replacement and close monitoring of insulin production physicians are able to maintain adequate body weight in most of their patients. However, much research is needed to tailor an appropriate nutritional guideline for individual CF cases.

     

     

    Phenylketonuria: Another Link Between Genetics and Metabolism
    Morgan L. Locy, Marissa K. Snyder
    Mentor: Kerry L. Cheesman

    Phenylketonuria (PKU) is an autosomal recessive genetic disorder that causes a deficiency or absence of the enzyme phenylalanine hydroxylase (PAH). Phenylalanine hydroxylase is the enzyme that normally converts the essential amino acid phenylalanine to tyrosine. Therefore, when phenylalanine is ingested the body of an individual lacking PAH is not able to metabolize the amino acid and in return the amino acid accumulates within the blood and body tissues. The excessive amount of phenylalanine is metabolized into phenylketones. Young individuals with chronic hyperphenylalaninemia are subjected to significant brain tribulations including mental retardation. The incidence of PKU is about 1 in 15,000 for the greater population. With the realization of the seriousness of the metabolic disorder and the effects the disease can have on an individual, we examine how the disorder is detected, the metabolic pathway that is affected, symptoms, treatment, and the effects of maternal PKU.

     

     

    Rhizospheric Analysis of Nitrogen-Fixing Microbiota Among Common Crops
    Morgan Locy, William Hilinski, Clinton Hirschfeld, Andy Harner, Richard Robenstine
    Mentors: Kerry L. Cheesman, Nancy Swails

    Nitrogen is an important element required by plants in large amounts for suitable growth. In order for plants to obtain nitrogen they form symbiotic relationships with bacteria or fungi, scavenge amino acids from organic soils, practice insectivory, or absorb ammonium and nitrate ions from the soil with their roots (Bloom et al., 2003). In this study we examine the presence of nitrogen fixing bacteria within the rhizosphere of corn, soybean, and alfalfa. Different plant species’ roots can have an effect on rhizobacteria present (Nautiyal & DasGupta, 2007). The number of bacteria found within the rhizosphere is examined to assess soil health via rhizospheric percentages. We sampled soil from three different agricultural fields, (corn, alfalfa, and soybean) each growing a unique species of crop. The technique used for rhizosphere sampling was to pull the plant, shake off excess dirt, and then remove the remaining dirt from the roots into a sample bag. Soil was then stored at -2º C until analysis occurred. To test these three crops versus how many bacteria were grown, especially nitrogen fixing, we plated the soil on both a medium selective for nitrogen fixing bacteria and nutrient agar. To find the best dilution of soil and water we did many test dilutions and decided on 1 g:10,000 mL. Both agars were plated for the three species in triplicate. These plates were incubated at room temperature between 48 and 72 hours and counted for the number of colonies grown on the plates.

     

     

    The Effects of Climate Change: Chad
    Mercy Kimawu Nange Luzolo, Katherine A. McChesney, Nathaniel R. Overmire, Ryan M. Griffin
    Mentors: Alan Stam, Suzanne M. Marilley

    Astrid Heidberg, President of the Red Cross Society, said in 1999 that climate change was no longer a “doomsday prophecy,” but a reality, one lived by some countries today, that have been more affected by global warming than others. This is the case with Chad, one of the poorest countries in the world, and inland country located in Central Africa. Chad’s main source of water comes from the Lake Chad, a lake whose boundaries are shared by five other countries and which used to be the largest body of fresh water in the Sahel region. Lake Chad is now a mere shadow of its former self (Onyekakeyah, 2008) The purpose of this presentation is to demonstrate the existence and effects of global warming, first by presenting how Lake Chad has been affected by climate change over the last 40 years. The second part deals with the effects of this phenomenon on the people of five different nationalities living around the lake. We provide steps taken on the local, national, regional and international levels, to bring solutions to this problem.

     

     

    Human Genetic Testing: Is once enough?
    Josh Lyberg, Caitlin Condon
    Mentor: Kerry L. Cheesman

    Do you have a genetic pre-disposition to diabetes? Or, what about Huntington disease? Very few adults can answer these questions and with a great number of late onset genetic diseases being discovered, people should be able to find out if they are at genetic risk during various stages of their lives. Standard genetic testing is done when a child is born. The genetic test aims to recognize any immediate genetic diseases the child might have, but none that may become problematic in adulthood. For this reason, a lifelong genetic testing plan is necessary to increase personal awareness about genetic diseases. The plan corresponds with milestones in a person’s life at which they become more likely so see a genetic disease surface. The test would prepare a person for any genetic disease that could dramatically influence life. With a lifelong genetic testing plan, people will be able to prepare their lives and bodies and perform any prevention or intervention for their specific genetic disease. This would lead to a more health-conscious and knowledgeable population.

     

     

    The Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus Epidemic
    Hope R. McMannamy
    Mentor: Catherine Boulant

    Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2D) is a worldwide epidemic. Particularly alarming is the number of children diagnosed with this chronic, metabolic disease. This study is a literature review on the putative causes, contributing factors, and preventive strategies for T2D. The necessity of exercise to maintain glucose homeostasis can be explained by looking at human evolution in the context of hunter-gatherer societies becoming labor-based civilizations. It has only been in the last century that the majority of occupations in the United States have become desk jobs rather than industrially or agriculturally based. That has meant a marked increase in sedentariness, which has given rise to increases in chronic diseases including T2D. Exercise has a positive influence on the rate of blood glucose uptake into skeletal muscle which is an insulin-like effect. Exercise reverses insulin resistance both acutely and chronically. This effect is particularly important for individuals with or at risk for T2D. In addition to the long term effects on the emotional and physical health of individuals with T2D, this epidemic strains health care systems, the economy, and society.

     

     

    Coral Abundance and Species Composition Post Hurricane Wilma in Cozumel, Mexico
    Katelyn Mescher, Ashley Sturgess
    Mentor: Philip C. Whitford

    Research was conducted via underwater transect data collection using SCUBA on several coral reefs in Cozumel, Mexico; both before and approximately 3 years after hurricane Wilma to ascertain changes to coral abundance and species composition resulting from a category 5 hurricane. Nine 100 m linear transects, 3 each of fore reef, hind reef and reef crest of the Casa Del Mar near shore fringing reef were sampled. Five species of sponge (brown encrusting, variable boring, rope pore row, pink vase, black ball) and six species of soft coral (Eunicea sp., Plexaura homomalla, Pterogorgia citrina, Gorgonian ventilina, Pterogorgia sp., Pseudopterogorgia sp.) were observed. These data were compared to prehurricane transect data collected in 1999 by Capital University student Micheal Deeter and Dr. Philip Whitford, using the same transect data collection protocol. The 2009 transects were done 1 km south of the 1999 site (this site is now closed to all research by the Mexican government) on comparable regions of Parisio Reef. These comparisons showed a significant drop in species abundance, surface coverage, and altered species composition most probably due to natural storm causes of the category 5 hurricane.

     

     

    The Importance of Coral Reef Preservation for Future Medical Discoveries
    Katelyn Mescher, Ashley Sturgess
    Mentor: Philip C. Whitford

    Recent experimentation has found soft corals and sponges to have potential medical uses in treating cancer and other disease. Research was conducted via underwater transect data collection using SCUBA on several coral reefs in Cozumel, Mexico, approximately three years after hurricane Wilma destroyed much of reef. Three 100 m linear transects each of fore reef, hind reef and reef crest of the Casa Del Mar shore near fringing reef were measured for the total coverage (in centimeters/100 m/ reef zone) of five species of sponge and six species of soft coral. These data were compared to pre-hurricane transects made, in 2002 by Capital University students using the same transect data collection protocol 1 km south of the 2009 site on comparable regions of Parisio Reef. These comparisons showed a significant drop in species abundance, surface coverage, and altered species composition. We discuss the possible medical uses of the chemicals found in some species of soft coral and sponges and the importance of the preservation of the coral reefs to future discoveries.

     

     

    Up, Up and Away: The Genetics of Superheroes and Supervillains
    Bryan Oxley, Christopher Maggio
    Mentor: Kerry L. Cheesman

    Many of our most beloved comic book heroes and heroines, as well as our most hated villains and villainesses, are the products of ionizing radiation and genetic mutation. But, can radiation cause these genetic mutations? We examine the most common forms of ionizing radiation, the effects they on DNA as well as the human body and the question of whether or not obvious and beneficial genetic mutations can occur as a result of this ionizing radiation. We explore the possibilities of gaining “superpowers” as a result of exposure to ionizing radiation, focusing on superheroes and villains such as Spiderman, the Fantastic Four, the Incredible Hulk, and Dr. Doom.

     

     

    A Comparison of Learning Styles in Music and Science Students
    Sylvia Parker, Heaven Randolph
    Mentor: Kimberly Heym

    Educators recognize that there are, at minimum, three ways of learning: auditory, visual, and kinesthetic, with some experts claiming seven or more learning styles. Not surprisingly, there is an equally extensive list of printed and on-line learning style surveys. Some of these surveys are designed for the home schooled, school teachers, and high school or college students. We have devised a short learning style survey that assumes the three above mentioned learning styles. The survey was administered to students at Capital University and the results compared to the work of Dr. Denis Pearl at Ohio State University, who uses a more extensive survey called the Felder Learning Styles survey. After assessing the learning styles of students from the science and music departments, we have discovered that the majority of the students favor the visual learning style over the auditory and kinesthetic learning styles.

     

     

    Following Darwin’s Footsteps
    Heather E. Payne, Amber N. Slezak, Clinton T. Hirschfeld, Kyle O. Daly, William C. Hilinski
    Mentor: Kerry L. Cheesman, Alan Stam

    A hundred and fifty years ago Darwin published On the Origin of Species, a revolutionary piece describing how species change in response to environmental factors leaving only the best adapted to flourish. One place that greatly shaped his ideas is the Galapagos Islands, currently a province of Ecuador, which we traveled to in May 2008. Three distinct habitat areas seen in Ecuador are the Amazon rainforest, Andean mountains, and the Galapagos Islands. Diversity found in the rainforest displays the unique ways in which species interact, causing changes in behavior and physiology that allow interdependent cooperation. The high altitude habitats found in the Andean Mountains produce organisms specially adapted to an environment that lie outside most species’ tolerance range. The desert habitat on the Galapagos Islands was slowly colonized by various species of plants, reptiles, birds, and some mammals producing endemic species seen nowhere else on earth. The diversification and specialization seen in the Galapagos is still occurring, producing subtle and sometimes dramatic changes to ecosystems and individual species. These Ecuadorian habitats provide a unique and wide view of the dynamics of ecosystems, how they are affected by invasive species, and how they adapt to the changing world.

     

     

    The Pickens Plan: Good for America or T. Boone Pickens?
    David W. Pickering
    Mentors: Terry D. Lahm, Kevin R. Griffith

    The Pickens Plan promises a future of energy independence, and economic prosperity for the American people. However, the “devil” is in the details. My paper provides a technical analysis of the Pickens plan and attempts to weigh the pros and cons of the entire plan. The core of the Pickens Plan is using wind energy to generate 22% of electricity needed by all Americans. This increased capacity will free up the natural gas that is currently used to generate utility electricity. This displaced natural gas could be used to fuel vehicles. Pickens intends for the Federal government to subsidize private enterprises to create the wind power infrastructure. Pickens acknowledges that his plan is only a medium range solution that will not provide any immediate relief or long-term impact. For this reason and others outlined in the work, the Pickens Plan would be an obstacle to obtaining an energy independent nation. This piece critiques the Pickens Plan and provides other solutions. The Pickens Plan is not perfect and the American taxpayer should not finance this plan.

     

     

    The “White Indians” of Kuna Yala: Albinism Rates among Panama’s Indigenous Peoples
    Heaven Randolph, Mimi Sayre
    Mentor: Kerry L. Cheesman, Alan Stam

    Albinism, also known as achromatosis, is a form of hypopigmentary congenital disorder characterized by a lack of melanin pigment in the skin, hair and eyes, causing the person to appear white. Albinism is caused by an inheritance of recessive alleles. There are reports from the 1920s of the Kuna population having an uncommonly high number of cases of albinism. To investigate we traveled to the San Blas islands off the coast of Panama which are inhabited by the Kuna Yala Indians. We observed a large number of albinos in the Kuna population. Between the local medical records and our own observations we discovered that out of the approximately 4,000 people on the island 30 people are albinos. This means that 0.75% of the Kuna Yala Indians are affected by albinism, which is a significantly larger percentage than the 0.0058% found in the United States. Additionally, nearly 20% of the population are carriers for albinism (compared with < 1% in the US). This raises questions about why the number among this population is larger than most. There could be inbreeding occurring or limited exposure to outside populations. There are many genetic questions that could be investigated in the future.

     

     

    Progeria: A New Look at an Old Face
    Lesley Ross
    Mentor: Kerry L. Cheesman

    The Kuna Indians of the San Blas Islands in Panama display an abnormally large rate of progeria in their population. Progeria is an extremely rare genetic childhood disease characterized by premature, rapid aging that is caused by a single point mutation on the lamin A (LMNA) gene. This mutation alters nuclear membrane stability which hinders cellular replication, ultimately leading to early cell death. The cells of an individual with this genetic mutation age approximately eight years during every one year of life. Of the 4,000 individuals inhabiting the San Blas island of Ustupu, four suffer from progeria, a rate greatly exceeding the average of one in every 6 million newborns worldwide. The purpose of this research is to explore the progeria encountered in this small, isolated population, including the symptoms, mutation discovery, cellular alterations and potential drug treatments of the disease.

     

     

    Tay-Sachs Disease
    Stephani Streacker, Mimi Sayre
    Mentors: Kerry L. Cheesman

    Tay-Sachs disease (or also called GM2 gangliosidosis, Hexosaminidase A deficiency or Sphingolipidosis) is an autosomal recessive fatal genetic disorder. The disorder is due to the inability of the enzyme Hexosaminidase A (HEX-A) to catalyze fatty acids called gangliosides. Without HEX-A properly functioning, the lipids accumulate in the brain and cause neurological problems that eventually lead to death. All patients with Tay-Sachs have a cherry-red spot that is one of the known signs of the disease, and show the buildup of gangliosides in the retina. This disease affects Eastern European Jewish, French Canadians and Cajun populations, and is due to a mutant form of the enzyme HEX-A, whose gene is found on chromosome 15. There are three different forms of Tay-Sachs: The most common is infantile TSD, while rarer forms of juvenile and adult/late onset TSD have been documented. The mechanism of the breakdown of GM2 lipid ganglioside in the nerve cells is complex and degenerative.

     

     

    Kuna: Native language of the Central American tropical tribes or developed dialect of the Spanish conquistadors?
    Sarah Wills
    Mentors: Maria Jose Delgado, Kerry L. Cheesman

    There is an ongoing dispute between Panamanians and the Kuna Indians over whether the Kuna language is a Spanish dialect or its own original language. To explore this question, the researcher traveled to the San Blas Islands off the coast of Panama live with the Kuna Indians on the island of Ustupu. While there, the researcher studied the language and discovered several significant differences between Spanish and Kuna that clearly sets Kuna apart as its own language. There are differences in pronunciation, grammar, usage of the //y//, //w//, // //, and //k//, syllabic endings, and sound flow. In addition, the fact that the Kuna language existed prior to the Kuna Indian’s exposure to Spanish culture and language during the Spanish conquest of the Panamanian isthmus of the 16th Century as well the inability of Spanish speakers to communicate with Kuna speakers clearly marks distinction between the Kuna and Spanish languages.

     

     

    A Study on the Relationship between Vision and Behavior in Cougars
    Sarah Wills
    Mentor: Kerry L. Cheesman

    The premise of this study was to determine if the glaucoma levels, measured by the intra-ocular pressure (IOP), of Jessie, a captive, female cougar at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, would affect her activity levels. According to the Zoo's veterinary ophthalmologists, Jessie's excessively high IOPs led to partial blindness. The North American Zookeepers sought to find out if this would lead to a decrease in her activity levels, thus the purpose of the study was to determine whether or not glaucoma had a significant effect on Jessie’s activity level. I tested three hypotheses: (1) Jessie’s activity will not change over time. (2) Jessie’s left intra-ocular pressures will not change over time. (3) Jessie’s right intra-ocular pressure will not change over time. This study was both observational and historical in methodology and it was ex post facto in design. For the first hypothesis, there was enough evidence to support the alternative hypothesis. For hypotheses two and three, I failed to reject the null hypothesis in favor of the alternative. Conclusions reached by the study were that Jessie's mean activity level is decreasing and that her left and right eyes are not improving. I recommend that the keepers continue to administer glaucoma-regulating medications to Jessie.

     

     

    Application of a Novel Microbial Fuel Cell Design for Voltage Production in a Sus domesticus Manure Holding Area
    Rachel A. Yoho
    Mentors: Nancy Swails, Patrick Shields

    A novel microbial fuel cell design has been applied at a commercial agricultural production facility in order to create voltage production from a Sus domesticus manure substrate. Microbial Fuel Cells (MFC) use bacteria present in the S. domesticus manure substrate to generate electricity. Previous studies have shown that the manure is a viable fuel source. This study adapts a previously productive fuel cell design for application as an alternative fuel source in a large-scale production location. The design uses carbon cloth electrodes of a style 1001, as defined by Fabric Development, Inc., Quakertown, PA. Previous testing (N = 19) revealed that this design effectively produced voltages maximizing at 0.303 V from a 3.8 liter environment. Studies include analysis of the bacterial load of the manure and identification of the most prevalent species in order to further increase the output of each MFC. The physical characteristics of the cell including the internal resistance, total electrical capacity, peak production and lifetime usage are also being evaluated. These studies, performed under actual conditions serve as the basis for future applications at other commercial locations, including those with other vertebrate species.