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- Creators: School of Life Sciences
Every day, the earth’s oceans are being destroyed. Pollution, fishing, sonar, and many other man-made factors have caused detrimental effects to the most crucial of the ocean’s ecosystems. While more individuals are becoming aware of these problems, additional support is needed to help protect the ocean’s many unique creatures. The purpose of this honors thesis exhibition is to continue to shine light on human negligence towards threatened ocean creatures. The three artworks in this thesis show the descent of diversity and life of these marine creatures over time. By showcasing the different ways in which whales, rays, and corals have been affected by human impact, this thesis and subsequent art pieces will help to continue to enhance one’s understanding of the importance of marine conservation.
Insects are able to navigate their environments because they can detect hydrocarbons and volatile odors, but it is not clear which one has the fastest reaction when detected, or how much of a response can be produced due to either one. In order to determine which category of odorant is detected first as well as which one causes the highest response rate, data on electrophysiological responses from ants was analyzed. While the statistical tests can be done to understand and answer the questions raised by the study, there are various hydrocarbons and volatile odors that were not used in the data. Conclusive evidence only applies to the odorants used in the experiments.
The objective of this thesis is to address, study and evaluate the current Veteran suicide epidemic and discuss current initiatives and recommended reforms to decrease Veteran suicide rates across the nation. This thesis holistically demonstrates the significance of this issue with presenting and analyzing extensive recent data and information gathered from military reports. Next, this thesis assesses federal policies and programs along with statewide suicide prevention efforts created to mitigate this issue, including unique anecdotal evidence and observed data. In order to illustrate the nature and efficacy of current suicide prevention measures, this thesis carefully relies on information from diverse primary sources, examining stories, claims, and perspectives from state Veterans-affiliated leadership, some of whom are former service-members themselves. To comprehensively unite these various state profiles and perspectives, this thesis conducts careful theme-based analysis, studying and dissecting each state using a uniform set of themes. Finally, this thesis proposes thoughtful and evidence-based recommendations for future efforts to further decrease Veteran suicides, offering insights for key changes to important processes and federal reporting as well as suggestions for the implementation of specialized prevention efforts on a nationwide scale with the goal of promoting the welfare of our nation’s former service members.
In order to determine whether the spatial organization of FRCs and their expression of maturation markers (such as Ltbr) are altered with age, I performed immunofluorescence on frozen and cryosectioned whole lymph nodes from young and aged mice. My second aim was to perform RT-qPCR and flow cytometry in order to determine whether FRCs from aged mice have altered expression of maturation markers when compared to young mice. Thus, the goal of the honors thesis research was to determine whether lymph node FRCs in the aged mouse exhibit signs of impaired maturation in their protein and gene expression. As the immune system is profoundly impacted by aging, my project supports a cellular mechanism by which defects in aged tissues disrupt immune cell function. Therefore, understanding the age-associated decline in host defense could provide new avenues for the treatment of many diseases of which the elderly are most vulnerable, in particular re-emerging and novel pathological agents such as COVID-19.
As 2020 unfolded, a new headline began taking over front pages: “COVID-19”. In the months that followed, waves of fear, sorrow, isolation, and grief gripped the population in the viruses’ wake. We have all heard it, we have all felt it, indeed because we were all there. Trailing a few months behind those initial headlines, more followed that only served to breed misinformation and ludicrous theories. Even with study after study, quality, scientific data about this new virus could not come fast enough. There was somehow both too much information and also not enough. We were scrambling to process the abundance of raw numbers into some semblance of an explanation. After those first few months of the pandemic, patterns in the research are beginning to emerge. These horrific patterns tell much more than just the pathology of COVID-19. As the number of sick, surviving, and deceased patients began to accumulate, it became clear that some populations were left devastated, while others seemed unscathed. The reasons for these patterns were present long before the COVID-19 Pandemic. Disparities in health care were highlighted by the pandemic – not caused by it. The roots of these disparities lie in the five Social Determinants of Health (SDOH): (1) economic stability, (2) neighborhood and built environment, (3) education, (4) social and community context, and (5) health and health care. Minority populations, namely Black Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, and Pacific Islanders consistently have higher diagnosis rates and poorer patient outcomes compared to their White American and Asian American counterparts. This is partly because minority populations tend to have jobs that pay lower, increase exposure risk, and provide little healthcare. When unemployment increased in the wake of the pandemic, minorities were the first to lose their jobs and their health insurance. In addition, these populations tend to live in densely populated neighborhoods, where social isolation is harder. Higher poverty rates encourage work DISPROPORTIONATE EFFECTS OF COVID-19 ON MINORITY POPULATIONS 3 rather than education, often perpetuating the cycle. The recent racial history and current aggressions towards minority people might produce a social attitude against healthcare Health care itself can be expensive, hard to find, and/or tied to employment, leading to poorly controlled comorbidities, which exacerbate poor patient outcomes in the case of COVID-19 infection. The healthcare delivery system plays little part in the SDOH, instead, public policy must be called to reform in order to fix these issues.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, pre-health individuals around the world encountered a range of challenges. Research and internship opportunities were cancelled, clinical experience was unreachable, and prerequisites became more demanding in a remote setting. I myself was working in a research lab in Switzerland when the pandemic was declared, resulting in my career-altering internship to be cut short six months. My life-long friend, Alejandra, had the same experience and reached out to me with an extraordinary idea to unite and empower pre-health individuals on a national level. With my skills in event planning combined with her vision, we built the National Pre-Health Conference (NPHC): a 3-day virtual event for pre-health individuals to explore medical careers and learn how to pursue their professional goals, particularly during these uncertain times. We held our inaugural conference with the theme A Future in Medicine in 2020 with over 1000 attendees from around the country. In 2021, we held our second-annual conference with the theme Unity in Healthcare with over 1000 attendees as well. In addition to planning the second-annual NPHC, I employed pre-event and post-event surveys to assess the confidence level of attendees before and after the conference in healthcare experience, research experience, standardized testing, community service, academics, essay writing, and completing graduate/professionals school applications. We found that NPHC improved the confidence level of attendees in all categories. Overall, understanding how NPHC benefits pre-health students will help our team improve for future conferences.
As the use of social media becomes more prevalent, especially in adolescents and young adults, there is a growing need to understand how social media use affects psychological well-being in the emerging adult population. Prior research has found that exposure to nature reduces stress and increases attention in comparison to urban environments, but nature has not been studied as a way to reduce the potentially negative effects of social media. The current study aimed to determine if viewing social media or nature for a brief time affected psychological well-being, social comparisons, future self-identification, and awe, and to test whether viewing nature scenes could buffer the effects of viewing social media. Data was collected from 275 participants using a survey on Amazon Mechanical Turk. Results showed that emerging adults exposed to nature scenes had significantly less negative affect compared to those exposed to their social media feeds. Exploratory analyses showed that those who spent more time outside tended to experience decreased negative affect when they viewed both social media and nature photos, but those who spent more time outside experienced increased negative affect when only viewing social media. Those who used social media more often generally experienced lower negative affect. Findings show that relations between humans, social media, and nature, are complex, and further research into these relations and their underlying causes may be beneficial.
Human communication has been dramatically altered by the emergence of the internet and other communication technologies. Technology facilitates communication in a way that offers both benefits and potential dangers. For example, for those experiencing domestic or intimate partner violence, technology may be used by the perpetrator to extend the psychological and emotional aspects of abuse. This is accomplished by harassment via information communication technology, monitoring of devices, and deprivation of technology by taking or breaking devices. Technology also makes it possible to find domestic violence services and resources online and to communicate with others. With technology offering potential benefits and dangers, this study was conducted to gain insight about the role of technology in help-seeking behaviors and its potential to serve those leaving abusive relationships.
TSPO was discovered in 1977 and it’s function is still currently unknown. Significant research has suggested that TSPO functions in steroidogenesis to import cholesterol from the mitochondrial outer membrane (MOM) to the mitochondrial inner membrane (MIM) where it is converted into steroids. There were two indications that this is TSPOs main function: its elevated levels in steroidogenic tissue and its primary location in the MOM. There is evidence of TSPO binding cholesterol with high affinity, however there is not currently evidence of TSPO transporting cholesterol. STAR, ACBD1, and ACBD3 are proteins thought to be associated with TSPO and steroidogenesis. However, the distribution of these proteins in various eukaryotes show little similarity suggesting that TSPO functions independently. The function of TSPO in steroid synthesis has been called into question because a well-cited research paper claimed that TSPO knockdown resulted in embryonic lethal mice, however there was no evidence presented from their study and this experiment did not produce the same results when repeated in later studies. There are also studies that show TSPO may not be involved in regulation of sterols, but instead may regulate cell stress. The elevated levels of TSPO during inflammation suggest a role for TSPO in cellular stress. Binding interactions with porphyrins and heme also support that TSPO may modulate stress levels. We used the phylogeny of TSPO in order to gain greater insight into the evolutionary function of TSPO. NCBI BLAST searches revealed that TSPO was present in bacteria and had a widespread but patchy distribution in a small set of eukaryotes. From these initial results, we were prompted to search a larger set of eukaryotes for TSPO. All of the prokaryotic and eukaryotic TSPO sequences were used to create a phylogenetic tree that would provide greater insight into the evolution and function of TSPO. If TSPO was from a common ancestor, it is probable that its function is related to sterol regulation whereas if gained in eukaryotes by horizontal gene transfer from bacteria its function is related to stress regulation. The phylogenetic tree was most consistent with an ancestral origin of TSPO with an evolutionary function related to steroid synthesis regulation. However, there is not sufficient research to confirm the function of TSPO.
The purpose of this study was to determine whether an innovative injury prevention program based on the FIFA 11+ for soft tissue injuries increased the participation and engagement levels of children aged between 10-14 years old. The innovative injury prevention program consisted of FIFA 11+ activations turned into fun, recess-like, games. This was also considered a gamification of the FIFA 11+. Current research about the FIFA 11+ lacks studies that seek to understand the low engagement levels in injury prevention programs although they have been proven to be effective. This study conducted a five-week injury prevention program that was built in association with Dr. Cory. After every session, the participants were asked to fill out a five-minute survey where they were asked about their engagement levels during the session and if they would want to participate in the future. The data was collected via the Survey Monkey platform. The major findings of the study were that the participants enjoyed the program and the majority wanted to participate again in future sessions. It can be concluded that turning the FIFA 11+ exercises into fun, recess-like games results in increased engagement levels in the injury prevention program.