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Effect of Rexinoids on Inducing Effector T Cell Chemotaxis

Description

The retinoid-X receptor (RXR) can form heterodimers with both the retinoic-acid
receptor (RAR) and vitamin D receptor (VDR). The RXR/RAR dimer is activated by ligand all
trans retinoic acid (ATRA), which culminates in gut-specific effector T cell migration. Similarly,

The retinoid-X receptor (RXR) can form heterodimers with both the retinoic-acid
receptor (RAR) and vitamin D receptor (VDR). The RXR/RAR dimer is activated by ligand all
trans retinoic acid (ATRA), which culminates in gut-specific effector T cell migration. Similarly,
the VDR/RXR dimer binds 1,25(OH)2D3 to cause skin-specific effector T cell migration.
Targeted migration is a potent addition to current vaccines, as it would induce activated T cell
trafficking to appropriate areas of the immune system and ensure optimal stimulation (40).
ATRA, while in use clinically, is limited by toxicity and chemical instability. Rexinoids
are stable, synthetically developed ligands specific for the RXR. We have previously shown that
select rexinoids can enhance upregulation of gut tropic CCR9 receptors on effector T cells.
However, it is important to establish whether these cells can actually migrate, to show the
potential of rexinoids as vaccine adjuvants that can cause gut specific T cell migration.
Additionally, since the RXR is a major contributor to VDR-mediated transcription and
epidermotropism (15), it is worth investigating whether these compounds can also function as
adjuvants that promote migration by increasing expression of skin tropic CCR10 receptors on T
cells.
Prior experiments have demonstrated that select rexinoids can induce gut tropic migration
of CD8+ T cells in an in vitro assay and are comparable in effectiveness to ATRA (7). The effect
of rexinoids on CD4+ T cells is unknown however, so the aim of this project was to determine if
rexinoids can cause gut tropic migration in CD4+ T cells to a similar extent. A secondary aim
was to investigate whether varying concentrations in 1,25-Dihydroxyvitamin D3 can be linked to
increasing CCR10 upregulation on Jurkat CD4+ T cells, with the future aim to combine 1,25
Dihydroxyvitamin D3 with rexinoids.
These hypotheses were tested using murine splenocytes for the migration experiment, and
human Jurkat CD4+ T cells for the vitamin D experiment. Migration was assessed using a
Transwell chemotaxis assay. Our findings support the potential of rexinoids as compounds
capable of causing gut-tropic migration in murine CD4+ T cells in vitro, like ATRA. We did not
observe conclusive evidence that vitamin D3 causes upregulated CCR10 expression, but this
experiment must be repeated with a human primary T cell line.

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2020-05

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

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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

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 Perception of Genetic Risk: What Do We Know About Biological and Psychological Diseases and Where Did We Learn It

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As a biology major, many of my classes have included studying the fundamentals of genetics or investigating the way genetics influence heritability of certain diseases. When I began taking upper-division psychology courses, the genetic factors of psychological disorders became an

As a biology major, many of my classes have included studying the fundamentals of genetics or investigating the way genetics influence heritability of certain diseases. When I began taking upper-division psychology courses, the genetic factors of psychological disorders became an important part of the material. I was exposed to a new idea: that genes were equally important in studying somatic diseases as they were to psychological disorders. As important as genetics are to psychology, they are not part of the required courses for the major; I found many of my peers in psychology courses did not have a grasp on genetic fundamentals in the same way biology majors did. This was a disconnect that I also found in my own life outside the classroom. Growing up, my mother consistently reminded me to limit my carbs and watch my sugars. Diabetes was very prevalent in my family and I was also at risk. I was repeatedly reminded of my own genes and the risk I faced in having this biological disorder. However, my friend whose father was an alcoholic did not warn her in the same way. While she did know of her father's history, she was not warned of the potential for her to become an alcoholic. While my behavior was altered due to my mother's warning and my own knowledge of the genetic risk of diabetes, I wondered if other people at genetic risk of psychological disorders also altered their behavior. Through my thesis, I hope to answer if students have the same perceived genetic knowledge of psychological diseases as they do for biological ones. In my experience, it is not as well known that psychological disorders have genetic factors. For example, alcohol is commonly used by college students. Alcohol use disorder is present in 16.2% of college aged students and "40-60% of the variance of risk explained by genetic influences." (DSM V, 2013) Compare this to diabetes that has "several common genetic variants that account for about 10% of the total genetic effects," but is much more openly discussed even though it is less genetically linked. (McVay, 2015)This stems from the stigma/taboo surrounding many psychological disorders. If students do know that psychological disorder are genetically influenced, I expect their knowledge to be skewed or inaccurate. As part of a survey, I hope to see how strong they believe the genetic risk of certain diseases are as well as where they gained this knowledge. I hypothesize that only students with a background in psychology will be able to correctly assign the genetic risk of the four presented diseases. Completing this thesis will require in-depth study of the genetic factors, an understanding of the way each disease is perceived and understood by the general population, and a statistical analysis of the survey responses. If the survey data turns out as I expect where students do not have a strong grasp of diseases that could potentially influence their own health, I hope to find a way to educate students on biological and psychological diseases, their genetic risk, and how to speak openly about them.

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2018-05

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Student-To-Student Anatomy Volume 1: Heart, Lungs, ENT

Description

Student to Student: A Guide to Anatomy is an anatomy guide written by students, for students. Its focus is on teaching the anatomy of the heart, lungs, nose, ears and throat in a manner that isn't overpowering or stress inducing.

Student to Student: A Guide to Anatomy is an anatomy guide written by students, for students. Its focus is on teaching the anatomy of the heart, lungs, nose, ears and throat in a manner that isn't overpowering or stress inducing. Daniel and I have taken numerous anatomy courses, and fully comprehend what it takes to have success in these classes. We found that the anatomy books recommended for these courses are often completely overwhelming, offering way more information than what is needed. This renders them near useless for a college student who just wants to learn the essentials. Why would a student even pick it up if they can't find what they need to learn? With that in mind, our goal was to create a comprehensive, easy to understand, and easy to follow guide to the heart, lungs and ENT (ear nose throat). We know what information is vital for test day, and wanted to highlight these key concepts and ideas in our guide. Spending just 60 to 90 minutes studying our guide should help any student with their studying needs. Whether the student has medical school aspirations, or if they simply just want to pass the class, our guide is there for them. We aren't experts, but we know what strategies and methods can help even the most confused students learn. Our guide can also be used as an introductory resource to our respective majors (Daniel-Biology, Charles-Speech and Hearing) for students who are undecided on what they want to do. In the future Daniel and I would like to see more students creating similar guides, and adding onto the "Student to Student' title with their own works... After all, who better to teach students than the students who know what it takes?

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2017-05

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STUDENT USE OF AND ATTITUDES TOWARD THE TEXTBOOK IN AN INTRODUCTORY BIOLOGY COURSE

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The college textbook is the most commonly required component of almost any college course, regardless of a student's academic discipline. Professors often expect students to have access to the textbook and to use it to complete assigned readings. Textbooks often

The college textbook is the most commonly required component of almost any college course, regardless of a student's academic discipline. Professors often expect students to have access to the textbook and to use it to complete assigned readings. Textbooks often contain features that are designed to facilitate active reading, or critical engagement with the information being read, to enhance learning of the material. However, students often do not read or prioritize reading the textbook. Students who do read, tend not to read the textbook as intended or use many of the features designed to promote active reading and enhanced learning of the material. Educational studies of textbooks tend to focus on aspects related to topics more relevant to publishers or professors with less research on aspects of the textbook applicable to students at the college level. The purpose of this study is to evaluate students' textbook use and their attitudes toward the textbook in an introductory biology course. Results of this study indicate students hold positive attitudes toward their textbook in an introductory biology course and majority of students do not use components meant to facilitate active learning. Although students report completing assigned readings, students may actually be reading select portions of what is assigned in using the textbook to prepare for exams. These results suggest that students may only be using their textbook to enhance their understanding of materials they expect to be tested on. The findings of this study help to understand the role of the textbook from the perspective of the student and provide insight for improving textbook design and use in science courses at the college level.

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2016-05

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Thinking Brains: An Introduction to Neuroscientific Thought

Description

An introduction to neuroscientific thought aimed at an audience that is not educated in biology. Meant to be readable and easily understood by anyone with a high school education. The first section is completed in its entirety, with outlines for

An introduction to neuroscientific thought aimed at an audience that is not educated in biology. Meant to be readable and easily understood by anyone with a high school education. The first section is completed in its entirety, with outlines for the proposed final sections to be completed over the next few years.

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2014-05

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Using Steroid Hormone Concentrations to Assess the Reproductive Cycle of the Bull shark, Carcharhinus leucas, in Southern Florida

Description

The bull shark, Carcharhinus leucas, is a large species that it is commonly distributed worldwide in tropical and subtropical waters. Despite the bull sharks global distribution, little is known about its life history. In particular, the limited reproductive information suggests

The bull shark, Carcharhinus leucas, is a large species that it is commonly distributed worldwide in tropical and subtropical waters. Despite the bull sharks global distribution, little is known about its life history. In particular, the limited reproductive information suggests the bull shark is placental viviparous, assumed to have a biennial cycle, and that newborn pup nurseries are near the coast. In order to conserve and protect any species, an understanding of the habitats where reproductive events occur is needed. In order to better understand the habitat use in Biscayne bay, Fla, and whether certain areas are critical during the reproductive cycle of bull sharks, I will evaluate circulating levels of the hormones progesterone, estradiol, and testosterone using radioimmunoassay. These samples were collected by the University of Miami opportunistically between 2012-2020 shipped to Arizona State University, where they were analyzed. For my study a total of 73 mature samples, 27 females and 46 males, were collected over the sampling period. The results indicated that Biscayne bay is an important gestation area for bull sharks. The hormonal trends for males and females demonstrated an interesting reproductive cycle, which were further supported through other placental viviparous reproductive patterns. Females had a low level of estradiol throughout most of the year, besides in the summer where there were no sharks in the bay due to movement to estuaries. During their return to the bay, there was a peak in progesterone indicating early pregnancy. Male testosterone levels indicated that there was a production in sperm right before females speculated peak in estradiol.

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2021-05

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The Trajectory of Thought: Lévy Flight Patterns and Dynamical Systems in Human Memory Foraging

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Recent work in free-recall tasks suggest that human memory foraging may follow a Lévy flight distribution – a random walk procedure that is common in other activities of cognitive agents, such as animal and human food foraging. This study attempts

Recent work in free-recall tasks suggest that human memory foraging may follow a Lévy flight distribution – a random walk procedure that is common in other activities of cognitive agents, such as animal and human food foraging. This study attempts to draw parallels between memory search and physical search, with the assumption that humans follow similar search patterns in both. To date, research merely equates the two processes (foraging in memory and the physical world) based on a similarity in statistical structure. This study starts with demonstrating a relationship between physical distance traveled and IRIs by having participants list countries. An IRI, inter-retrieval interval, is the time interval between items recalled. The next experiment uses multidimensional scaling (MDS) to derive a Euclidean perceptual space from similarity ratings of freely-recalled items and then maps the trajectory of human thought through this perceptual space. This trajectory can offer a much more compelling comparison to physical foraging behavior. Finally, a possible correlate of Lévy flight foraging is explored called critical slowing down. Statistically significant evidence was found in all three experiments. The discussion connects all three experiments and what their results mean for human memory foraging.

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2016-12

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Effects of Specific Visual Stimulation on Human Stress Indicators

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The purpose of our study was to evaluate whether viewing videos of dogs had an effect on the stress response of college students. While there is strong support in the literature for demonstrating the beneficial effect of human-canine interactions on

The purpose of our study was to evaluate whether viewing videos of dogs had an effect on the stress response of college students. While there is strong support in the literature for demonstrating the beneficial effect of human-canine interactions on human stress indicators, there is very little to no literature on whether or not this phenomenon translates across a digital medium. We hypothesized that when exposed to a video of golden retriever puppies after a stress-inducing task, an individual would experience an increase in blood pressure recovery rate and a decline in perceived stress. In order to study this, we put together several surveys to test our participants' perceived stress, and we measured blood pressure several times in order to obtain a physiological measure of stress. Additionally, in order to produce a guaranteed stress response in our participants, we gave them 2 minutes to prepare a 4 minute video-recorded speech that they were not made aware of prior to entering the testing facility. After the speech task, the experimental group quietly viewed a pleasant 4 minute video containing imagery of dogs, while the control group sat silently for the same duration of time. During this time, the control group was asked to mentally review their performance and to focus intently on the feelings they experienced while giving their speech. Through these measures we found a significant recovery rate in systolic blood pressure and a trending difference between groups for the decline in negative affect. The data demonstrated that the experimental group had blood pressure levels that were significantly closer to their baseline levels when compared to the control group, whose blood pressure did not decline at the same rate. Additionally, the experimental group experienced a higher level of change in negative affect when asked to self-report their level of stress before the speech task and after the conditional recovery period. Interestingly, these findings can be applied to recent literature suggesting that systolic blood pressure is the most important factor of cardiac health to consider when assessing an individual for risk of heart disease or cardiac arrest. While the sample size of this study was small, the significant reduction in systolic blood pressure within the experimental group could indicate the possible efficacy of utilizing digital media containing imagery of canines as a form of therapy for systolically-hypertensive individuals as a means of managing their condition.

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2017-05