Matching Items (265)

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Germ Cell Specific Safety Switches: Cell Isolation

Description

The process of spermatogenesis, the differentiation of sperm stem cells into spermatozoa, produces a diverse array of descendent cells which express varied morphological and genetic traits throughout their maturation. Beginning

The process of spermatogenesis, the differentiation of sperm stem cells into spermatozoa, produces a diverse array of descendent cells which express varied morphological and genetic traits throughout their maturation. Beginning with primordial germ cells, these sperm progenitors experience twelve stages of differentiation before maturation into their final stage. During their differentiation, these cells reside in the seminiferous tubules within the testes. These tubules are surrounded by somatic cells, primarily Sertoli, Leydig, myoid, and epithelial cells. These cells provide the germ cells with necessary signaling proteins for their progression as well as protection from exterior toxins through the formation of the blood-testis barrier (BTB). However, their close association with germ cells makes extracting these sperm progenitors difficult. Here, I convey the results for an initial trial of harvesting germ cells from two mice. Due to inconclusive qRT-PCR amplification data from the first experiment, future iterations of this harvest will explore other previously published methods. These will include Magnetic-Activated Cell Sorting which will target individual sperm progenitor populations using cell-surface receptors such as GFRα-1 and THY1 to obtain sperm stem cells. Additionally, Fluorescence-Activated Cell Sorting may be useful for obtaining multiple groups of meiotic cell types from a heterogenous cell suspension harvested from the seminiferous tubules through the use of Hoechst 33342 staining. Finally, extraction of spermatozoa from the Cauda Epididymis, a storage site for these mature sperm, can be performed either in conjunction with testes collection during necropsy or as an in vivo technique intended for serial sampling of sperm cells over time. Regardless, it is necessary for these methods to produce populations from spermatogonia to spermatozoa with high purity in order to produce representative qRT-PCR results downstream, indicating either presence or lack of genetic mutation enacted by future CRISPR-Cas9 experiments.

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  • 2019-05

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Developing a new model organism in cancer research: Trichoplax adhaerens (Placozoa)

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All multicellular organisms are susceptible to developing cancer, but some organisms have varying sensitivities to the disease. One such organism is the Trichoplax adhaerens which has no documented case of

All multicellular organisms are susceptible to developing cancer, but some organisms have varying sensitivities to the disease. One such organism is the Trichoplax adhaerens which has no documented case of cancer development. T. adhaerens cancer resistance was studied by observing physiological and morphological changes of the organism after radiation treatment. Preliminary experiments suggested that this organism is able to survive exposure to 160 gray radiation treatment almost as well as untreated organisms. The T. adhaerens have two genes, TriadG6402 and TriadG5479, similar to the human genes TP53 and MDM2 respectively. TP53 and MDM2 are the two main genes associated with apoptosis in humans: an important cell regulatory checkpoint involved in cancer prevention. PCR analysis, done after radiation treatment, showed an overexpression of the ortholog gene MDM2 in the T. adhaerens. This may suggest that T. adhaerens block apoptosis from occurring and that their ortholog gene is involved in DNA repair. It is significant to study the gene expression of TriadG6402 and TriadG54791 in T. adhaerens because these genes are well conserved in humans. Future studies of these genes in the T. adhaerens can be used to understand the evolution of the function of these genes in more complex organisms and be used for human cancer prevention.

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  • 2019-05

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Increased interactions in active learning biology classrooms: Exploring the impact of instructors using student names and student academic self-concept

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Learning student names has been promoted as an inclusive classroom practice, but it is unknown whether students value having their names known by an instructor. We explored this question in

Learning student names has been promoted as an inclusive classroom practice, but it is unknown whether students value having their names known by an instructor. We explored this question in the context of a high-enrollment active-learning undergraduate biology course. Using surveys and semistructured interviews, we investigated whether students perceived that instructors know their names, the importance of instructors knowing their names, and how instructors learned their names. We found that, while only 20% of students perceived their names were known in previous high-enrollment biology classes, 78% of students perceived that an instructor of this course knew their names. However, instructors only knew 53% of names, indicating that instructors do not have to know student names in order for students to perceive that their names are known. Using grounded theory, we identified nine reasons why students feel that having their names known is important. When we asked students how they perceived instructors learned their names, the most common response was instructor use of name tents during in-class discussion. These findings suggest that students can benefit from perceiving that instructors know their names and name tents could be a relatively easy way for students to think that instructors know their names. Academic self-concept is one's perception of his or her ability in an academic domain compared to other students. As college biology classrooms transition from lecturing to active learning, students interact more with each other and are likely comparing themselves more to students in the class. Student characteristics, such as gender and race/ethnicity, can impact the level of academic self-concept, however this has been unexplored in the context of undergraduate biology. In this study, we explored whether student characteristics can affect academic self-concept in the context of a college physiology course. Using a survey, students self-reported how smart they perceived themselves in the context of physiology compared to the whole class and compared to the student they worked most closely with in class. Using logistic regression, we found that males and native English speakers had significantly higher academic self-concept compared to the whole class compared with females and non-native English speakers, respectively. We also found that males and non-transfer students had significantly higher academic self-concept compared to the student they worked most closely with in class compared with females and transfer students, respectively. Using grounded theory, we identified ten distinct factors that influenced how students determined whether they are more or less smart than their groupmate. Finally, we found that students were more likely to report participating less than their groupmate if they had a lower academic self-concept. These findings suggest that student characteristics can influence students' academic self-concept, which in turn may influence their participation in small group discussion.

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  • 2017-05

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Using Ancient DNA Methods to Examine Dire Wolf Population History

Description

Dire wolves have recently risen to fame as a result of the popular television program Game of Thrones, and thus many viewers know dire wolves as the sigil and loyal

Dire wolves have recently risen to fame as a result of the popular television program Game of Thrones, and thus many viewers know dire wolves as the sigil and loyal companions of the Stark house. Far fewer recognize dire wolves by their scientific name, Canis dirus, or understand the population history of this ‘fearsome wolf’ species that roamed the Americas until the megafaunal mass extinction event of the Late Pleistocene. Although numerous studies have examined the species using morphological and geographical methods, thus far their results have been either inconclusive or contradictory. Remaining questions include the relationships dire wolves share with other members of the Canis genus and the internal structure of their populations. Advancements in ancient DNA recovery methods may make it possible to study dire wolf specimens at the molecular level for the first time and may therefore prove useful in clarifying the answers to these questions. Eighteen dire wolf specimens were collected from across the United States and subjected to ancient DNA extraction, library preparation, amplification and purification, bait preparation and capture, and next-generation sequencing. There was an average of 76.9 unique reads and 5.73% coverage when mapped to the Canis familiaris reference genome in ultraconserved regions of the mitochondrial genome. The results indicate that endogenous ancient DNA was not successfully recovered and perhaps ancient DNA recovery methods have not advanced to the point of retrieving informative amounts of DNA from particularly old, thermally degraded specimens. Nevertheless, the ever-changing nature of ancient DNA research makes it vital to continually test the limitations of the field and suggests that ancient DNA recovery methods will prove useful in illuminating dire wolf population history at some point in the future.

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Date Created
  • 2018-05

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Evaluating Whether the Benefits of Spinal Fusion Surgeries are Worth Their Increasing Costs

Description

This thesis seeks to evaluate whether the benefits of spinal fusion surgeries are worth their increasing costs. The paper examines the trends that contribute to these surgeries' increasing prices and

This thesis seeks to evaluate whether the benefits of spinal fusion surgeries are worth their increasing costs. The paper examines the trends that contribute to these surgeries' increasing prices and then evaluates the customer impact of these surgeries in order to make a conclusion on whether the surgeries are worth it. This paper discusses the main factors that contribute to the increase in prices of these surgeries and these include the aging population, the increase in diabetes rates, and the practice of purchasing physicians owned distributorships (PODs) devices in some hospitals. The paper concluded that there is a definite correlation between the increased rate of spinal surgeries performed as a result of an increase in diabetes rates in the US population. It was argued that diabetes can lead to multiple spinal diseases which increase the demand of spinal surgeries which in turn causes the prices of these surgeries to rise. The paper also argued that current technological advances have allowed us to live longer which in turn leads to an increase in spine surgeries simply due to old age and a deteriorating spine. Lastly, it was argued that the recent surge in the POD devices being used in spinal surgeries in some hospitals can be seen as a possible influence to the increase in the cost of these surgeries. This is because the hospitals that chose to purchase surgery devices from PODs are more likely to increase the cost to perform the surgery because they are paying a lot more for those devices. Looking at the customer impact, it was apparent that spinal fusion surgeries carry certain risks because they require decortication of bone and, often, placement of implants; along with extensive dissection and longer operative time. However, based on the research conducted, there was no conclusion to be made on whether spinal fusions carried more risks than all other spinal surgeries because the data used only compared the surgery to some that are arguably less complicated like discectomies.

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  • 2017-12

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The Development of a Plant-Expressed M2e-Based Universal Influenza Vaccine

Description

Influenza is a deadly disease for which effective vaccines are sorely lacking. This is largely due to the phenomena of antigenic shift and drift in the influenza virus's surface proteins,

Influenza is a deadly disease for which effective vaccines are sorely lacking. This is largely due to the phenomena of antigenic shift and drift in the influenza virus's surface proteins, hemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA). The ectodomain of the matrix 2 protein (M2e) of influenza A, however, has demonstrated high levels of conservation. On its own it is poorly immunogenic and offers little protection against influenza infections, but by combining it with a potent adjuvant, this limitation may be overcome. Recombinant immune complexes, or antigens fused to antibodies that have been engineered to form incredibly immunogenic complexes with one another, were previously shown to be useful, immunogenic platforms for the presentation of various antigens and could provide the boost in immunogenicity that M2e needs to become a powerful universal influenza A vaccine. In this thesis, genetic constructs containing geminiviral replication proteins and coding for a consensus sequence of dimeric M2e fused to antibodies featuring complimentary epitopes and epitope tags were generated and used to transform Agrobacterium tumefaciens. The transformed bacteria was then used to cause Nicotiana benthamiana to transiently express M2e-RICs at very high levels, with enough RICs being gathered to evaluate their potency in future mouse trials. Future directions and areas for further research are discussed.

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  • 2018-05

The Long Alchemy of Becoming: Aqua es Vida Film

Description

“The Long Alchemy of Becoming: Aqua es Vida” is a short, artistic film depicting the history of the Universe shown through the microcosm of the Mexican town, Cuatro Ciénegas, in

“The Long Alchemy of Becoming: Aqua es Vida” is a short, artistic film depicting the history of the Universe shown through the microcosm of the Mexican town, Cuatro Ciénegas, in the state of Coahuila. The film takes the viewer from the start of the universe to what scientists believe will be its end, via a poem written by Dr. James Elser. “The Long Alchemy of Becoming: Aqua es Vida” starts with the Big Bang, through the formation of matter, stars, planets, including Earth. From there, the viewer witnesses how life evolved illustrated via scenes in the ciénegas (‘marsh’ in Spanish) found in Cuatro Ciénegas, Coahuila, Mexico. The film explores how life expanded out from water, producing plants and animals, including humans. Then, modern life in Cuatro Ciénegas is shown, including the modern agricultural practices that are threatening to destroy the ciénegas that sustain long histories of microbial evolution. The film concludes with the end mankind and the eventual destruction of Earth by the dying sun. Cuatro Ciénegas is a biologically and ecologically significant location, because its pools and marshes are home to many endemic species, including stromatolites, which are very rare, bio-chemical living structures. This film is part of a National Science Foundation grant, and reflects the extensive scientific research efforts in and around Cuatro Ciénegas and its unique pools.

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Date Created
  • 2015-05

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Teaching Biology in a Maximum-Security Prison Unit: Feedback, Notes and Recommendations from a Pilot Class

Description

We, a team of students and faculty in the life sciences at Arizona State University (ASU), currently teach an Introduction to Biology course in a Level 5, or maximum-security unit

We, a team of students and faculty in the life sciences at Arizona State University (ASU), currently teach an Introduction to Biology course in a Level 5, or maximum-security unit with the support of the Arizona Department of Corrections and the Prison Education Program at ASU. This course aims to enhance current programs at the unit by offering inmates an opportunity to practice literacy and math skills, while also providing exposure to a new academic field (science, and specifically biology). Numerous studies, including a 2005 study from the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC), have found that vocational programs, including prison education programs, reduce recidivism rates (ADC 2005, Esperian 2010, Jancic 1988, Steurer et al. 2001, Ubic 2002) and may provide additional benefits such as engagement with a world outside the justice system (Duguid 1992), the opportunity for inmates to revise personal patterns of rejecting education that they may regret, and the ability of inmate parents to deliberately set a good example for their children (Hall and Killacky 2008). Teaching in a maximum security prison unit poses special challenges, which include a prohibition on most outside materials (except paper), severe restrictions on student-teacher and student-student interactions, and the inability to perform any lab exercises except limited computer simulations. Lack of literature discussing theoretical and practical aspects of teaching science in such environment has prompted us to conduct an ongoing study to generate notes and recommendations from this class through the use of surveys, academic evaluation of students' work and ongoing feedback from both teachers and students to inform teaching practices in future science classes in high-security prison units.

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  • 2015-05

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Cold populations of flies evolved larger bodies and larger wings made of larger cells

Description

We examined the evolutionary morphological responses of Drosophila melanogaster that had evolved at constant cold (16°), constant hot (25°C), and fluctuating (16° and 25°C). Flies that were exposed to the

We examined the evolutionary morphological responses of Drosophila melanogaster that had evolved at constant cold (16°), constant hot (25°C), and fluctuating (16° and 25°C). Flies that were exposed to the constant low mean temperature developed larger thorax, wing, and cell sizes than those exposed to constant high mean temperatures. Males and females both responded similarly to thermal treatments in average wing and cell size. The resulting cell area for a given wing size in thermal fluctuating populations remains unclear and remains a subject for future research.

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  • 2015-05

The Beauty Within

Description

The Beauty Within is a ceramics show displaying human body anatomy, which seeks to bridge aspects of my biological sciences major in the School of Life Sciences with aspects of

The Beauty Within is a ceramics show displaying human body anatomy, which seeks to bridge aspects of my biological sciences major in the School of Life Sciences with aspects of my studio art minor in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. My goal in creating the show was to change the opinion of people on human body organs from unease to admiration by recreating these organs in an artistic light. By stylizing the construction of the pieces and bringing in the contemporary form of art \u2014 makeup art \u2014 I hoped to bring a new light to the pieces and highlight the beauty within the human body. By leaving the pieces partly unfinished I further hoped to draw attention to the natural beauty within the pieces regardless of the makeup that covers them. By holding the show in the human anatomy lab room on campus and having both animal and human organs on display I was able to create that sense of disgust toward the organs in the viewers. The beauty of my created pieces was then directly contrasted with the disgust felt about the real organs by displaying each of my pieces next to a real organ. The reactions of the viewers reflected a change in view from the actual organs to my re-created organs, and therefore the goal of the show was achieved.

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Date Created
  • 2017-05