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Diurnal Cortisol Rhythms and Sleeping Patterns in Adolescence: A Longitudinal Study of the Transition to College

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This study examined the cross-sectional and longitudinal associations among diurnal cortisol rhythms and sleeping patterns in adolescents. 79 participants completed the study over three days during the spring semester of

This study examined the cross-sectional and longitudinal associations among diurnal cortisol rhythms and sleeping patterns in adolescents. 79 participants completed the study over three days during the spring semester of their senior year in high school, and 76 of these subjects participated again over three days during the fall semester of their freshman year in college. They completed daily saliva samples and diary entries, while wearing an actigraph to obtain objective measurements of sleep duration and efficiency. Cross-sectionally, longer sleep duration was associated with a lower cortisol awakening response, a smaller area under the cortisol curve, and a steeper cortisol slope. Longitudinally, there was no significant relationship between sleep duration and these cortisol parameters. Moreover, sleep efficiency was not associated with cortisol parameters cross-sectionally nor longitudinally. Results suggest associations between concurrent sleep duration and cortisol patterns, and may have significant impact on understanding adolescents' physiological response to stress.

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Date Created
  • 2013-05

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Selenium Supplementation and Cardiovascular Outcome Markers in Hemodialysis Patients: An Evaluation of Bioelectrical Impedance

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Cardiovascular disease is one of the most deadly outcomes of end stage renal disease. Bioelectrical impedance is a intriguing, yet unproven method of measuring fluid buildup in the heart, and

Cardiovascular disease is one of the most deadly outcomes of end stage renal disease. Bioelectrical impedance is a intriguing, yet unproven method of measuring fluid buildup in the heart, and is marketed as a early diagnostic tool for onset of cardiovascular disease. In this study, selenium supplements were given to a cohort of dialysis patients in the Phoenix metro area and their fluid tolerance was measured with thoracic biolectrical impedance. BNP was used as a correlate to see if bioelectrical impedance was correlated with heart disease. The study found no correlation between BNP and bioelectrical impedance and thus was not an accurate diagnostic tool in a medical setting.

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Date Created
  • 2013-05

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Seasonal changes in cell neogenesis in the brain and pituitary gland: a study in the adult male frog, Rana catesbeiana

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Though for most of the twentieth century, dogma held that the adult brain was post-mitotic, it is now known that adult neurogenesis is widespread among vertebrates, from fish, amphibians, reptiles

Though for most of the twentieth century, dogma held that the adult brain was post-mitotic, it is now known that adult neurogenesis is widespread among vertebrates, from fish, amphibians, reptiles and birds to mammals including humans. Seasonal changes in adult neurogenesis are well characterized in the song control system of song birds, and have been found in seasonally breeding mammals as well. In contrast to more derived vertebrates, such as mammals, where adult neurogenesis is restricted primarily to the olfactory bulb and the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus, neurogenesis is widespread along the ventricles of adult amphibians. I hypothesized that seasonal changes in adult amphibian brain cell proliferation and survival are a potential regulator of reproductive neuroendocrine function. Adult, male American bullfrogs (Rana catesbeiana; aka Lithobates catesbeianus), were maintained in captivity for up to a year under season-appropriate photoperiod. Analysis of hormone levels indicated seasonal changes in plasma testosterone concentration consistent with field studies. Using the thymidine analogue 5-bromo-2-deoxyuridine (BrdU) as a marker for newly generated cells, two differentially regulated aspects of brain cell neogenesis were tracked; that is, proliferation and survival. Seasonal differences were found in BrdU labeling in several brain areas, including the olfactory bulb, medial pallium, nucleus accumbens and the infundibular hypothalamus. Clear seasonal differences were also found in the pars distalis region of the pituitary gland, an important component of neuroendocrine pathways. BrdU labeling was also examined in relation to two neuropeptides important for amphibian reproduction: arginine vasotocin and gonadotropin releasing hormone. No cells co-localized with BrdU and either neuropeptide, but new born cells were found in close proximity to neuropeptide-containing neurons. These data suggest that seasonal differences in brain and pituitary gland cell neogenesis are a potential neuroendocrine regulatory mechanism.

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Date Created
  • 2012

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Toward more inclusive large-enrollment undergraduate biology classrooms: identifying inequities and possible underlying mechanisms

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Guided by Tinto’s Theory of College Student Departure, I conducted a set of five studies to identify factors that influence students’ social integration in college science active learning classes.

Guided by Tinto’s Theory of College Student Departure, I conducted a set of five studies to identify factors that influence students’ social integration in college science active learning classes. These studies were conducted in large-enrollment college science courses and some were specifically conducted in undergraduate active learning biology courses. Using qualitative and quantitative methodologies, I identified how students’ identities, such as their gender and LGBTQIA identity, and students’ perceptions of their own intelligence influence their experience in active learning science classes and consequently their social integration in college. I also determined factors of active learning classrooms and instructor behaviors that can affect whether students experience positive or negative social integration in the context of active learning. I found that students’ hidden identities, such as the LGBTQIA identity, are more relevant in active learning classes where students work together and that the increased relevance of one’s identity can have a positive and negative impact on their social integration. I also found that students’ identities can predict their academic self-concept, or their perception of their intelligence as it compares to others’ intelligence in biology, which in turn predicts their participation in small group-discussion. While many students express a fear of negative evaluation, or dread being evaluated negatively by others when speaking out in active learning classes, I identified that how instructors structure group work can cause students to feel more or less integrated into the college science classroom. Lastly, I identified tools that instructors can use, such as name tents and humor, which can positive affect students’ social integration into the college science classroom. In sum, I highlight inequities in students’ experiences in active learning science classrooms and the mechanisms that underlie some of these inequities. I hope this work can be used to create more inclusive undergraduate active learning science courses.

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Date Created
  • 2018

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A Selective Serotonin1B Receptor Agonist Modulates Cocaine Self-Administration in Female Rats Regardless of Estrous Cycle Phase

Description

Greater than 11% of the total population of Americans age 12 and older were illicit drug users with close to 1 million suffering from cocaine use disorder in 2017 alone

Greater than 11% of the total population of Americans age 12 and older were illicit drug users with close to 1 million suffering from cocaine use disorder in 2017 alone (SAMHSA, 2017), yet there are no effective pharmacological treatments for this disorder. Previous research from the Neisewander Laboratory in male rats found that administration of a 5-HT1BR agonist facilitates cocaine intake when given prior to a daily self-administration session, while inhibiting cocaine intake and attenuating drug-seeking behavior following 21 days of protracted abstinence, yet it is not known whether such effects are observed in female rats. Women face unique challenges in all phases of the drug addiction cycle. With respect to active drug-taking (i.e., the maintenance phase), women tend to increase their rate of consumption more rapidly than men, and female rats acquire cocaine self-administration faster than males. In part, this is due to ovarian hormone influences on the reinforcing properties of cocaine, where peak levels of endogenous estrogen hormones correspond to an increase in cocaine intake. In this study, we investigated the effects of CP94253, a selective 5HT1BR agonist, on cocaine intake across all phases of the estrous cycle in female rats. The rats were trained to self-administer cocaine (0.75 mg/kg, IV) on a fixed ratio (FR) 5 schedule of reinforcement and daily vaginal smears were taken after each session to monitor the estrous cycle. Rats were pretreated with CP 94,253 (5.6 mg/kg, IP) or vehicle prior to separate tests during each estrous cycle phase and were then either given 1-h access to 0.75 mg/kg cocaine followed by 1-h access to 0.375 mg/kg cocaine or 1-h access to 0.1875 mg/kg cocaine followed by 1-h access to 0.075 mg/kg cocaine. Similar to males, CP 94,253 decreased cocaine intake in females at intermediate doses, however, the estrous cycle phase did not alter this effect.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2019

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Biology faculty at large research institutions: the nature of their pedagogical content knowledge

Description

To address the need of scientists and engineers in the United States workforce and ensure that students in higher education become scientifically literate, research and policy has called for improvements

To address the need of scientists and engineers in the United States workforce and ensure that students in higher education become scientifically literate, research and policy has called for improvements in undergraduate education in the sciences. One particular pathway for improving undergraduate education in the science fields is to reform undergraduate teaching. Only a limited number of studies have explored the pedagogical content knowledge of postsecondary level teachers. This study was conducted to characterize the PCK of biology faculty and explore the factors influencing their PCK. Data included semi-structured interviews, classroom observations, documents, and instructional artifacts. A qualitative inquiry was designed to conduct an in-depth investigation focusing on the PCK of six biology instructors, particularly the types of knowledge they used for teaching biology, their perceptions of teaching, and the social interactions and experiences that influenced their PCK. The findings of this study reveal that the PCK of the biology faculty included eight domains of knowledge: (1) content, (2) context, (3) learners and learning, (4) curriculum, (5) instructional strategies, (6) representations of biology, (7) assessment, and (8) building rapport with students. Three categories of faculty PCK emerged: (1) PCK as an expert explainer, (2) PCK as an instructional architect, and (3) a transitional PCK, which fell between the two prior categories. Based on the interpretations of the data, four social interactions and experiences were found to influence biology faculty PCK: (1) teaching experience, (2) models and mentors, (3) collaborations about teaching, and (4) science education research. The varying teaching perspectives of the faculty also influenced their PCK. This study shows that the PCK of biology faculty for teaching large introductory courses at large research institutions is heavily influenced by factors beyond simply years of teaching experience and expert content knowledge. Social interactions and experiences created by the institution play a significant role in developing the PCK of biology faculty.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2013

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Investigating the influence of food on reproductive physiology and gonad growth: urbanization as a natural experiment

Description

For animals that experience annual cycles of gonad development, the seasonal timing (phenology) of gonad growth is a major adaptation to local environmental conditions. To optimally time seasonal gonad growth,

For animals that experience annual cycles of gonad development, the seasonal timing (phenology) of gonad growth is a major adaptation to local environmental conditions. To optimally time seasonal gonad growth, animals use environmental cues that forecast future conditions. The availability of food is one such environmental cue. Although the importance of food availability has been appreciated for decades, the physiological mechanisms underlying the modulation of seasonal gonad growth by this environmental factor remain poorly understood.

Urbanization is characterized by profound environmental changes, and urban animals must adjust to an environment vastly different from that of their non-urban conspecifics. Evidence suggests that birds adjust to urban areas by advancing the timing of seasonal breeding and gonad development, compared to their non-urban conspecifics. A leading hypothesis to account for this phenomenon is that food availability is elevated in urban areas, which improves the energetic status of urban birds and enables them to initiate gonad development earlier than their non-urban conspecifics. However, this hypothesis remains largely untested.

My dissertation dovetailed comparative studies and experimental approaches conducted in field and captive settings to examine the physiological mechanisms by which food availability modulates gonad growth and to investigate whether elevated food availability in urban areas advances the phenology of gonad growth in urban birds. My captive study demonstrated that energetic status modulates reproductive hormone secretion, but not gonad growth. By contrast, free-ranging urban and non-urban birds did not differ in energetic status or plasma levels of reproductive hormones either in years in which urban birds had advanced phenology of gonad growth or in a year that had no habitat-related disparity in seasonal gonad growth. Therefore, my dissertation provides no support for the hypothesis that urban birds begin seasonal gonad growth because they are in better energetic status and increase the secretion of reproductive hormones earlier than non-urban birds. My studies do suggest, however, that the phenology of key food items and the endocrine responsiveness of the reproductive system may contribute to habitat-related disparities in the phenology of gonad growth.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2014