Matching Items (45)

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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 the context of a high-enrollment active-learning undergraduate biology course. Using

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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STAT3 Inhibition as a Therapeutic Strategy in Esophageal Adenocarcinoma

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Esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC) is the most prevalent type of esophageal malignancy in the United States (US) and the rate of occurrence continues to grow rapidly. As the prevalence of risk factors such as obesity and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) rises,

Esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC) is the most prevalent type of esophageal malignancy in the United States (US) and the rate of occurrence continues to grow rapidly. As the prevalence of risk factors such as obesity and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) rises, the rates of EAC are expected to continue rising as well. Unfortunately, the 5-year survival rate remains low and the lack of targetable, oncogenic drivers presents challenges in developing more effective and less toxic therapeutics. The current standard of care for EAC involves combinations of chemotherapeutics and radiation therapy that can cause severe side effects and often leads to refractory and relapsed disease. According to the cancer stem cell model, a small subset of the tumor cell population is responsible for cancer's ability to replicate, metastasize, and relapse. These cancer stem cells (CSCs) can self-renew and differentiate. Napabucasin, a "stemness" inhibitor, which works by inhibiting STAT3, has shown promising results in pre-clinical and clinical investigations across a variety of solid tumor types. Because a major barrier in treatment of EAC is the likelihood of relapse, targeting the CSC population that results in this phenotype is a therapeutic strategy of great interest. We hypothesize that employment of napabucasin to inhibit stemness through STAT3 represents a viable therapeutic strategy in the EAC setting. In this study, we investigated the efficacy of napabucasin on EAC cells. Napabucasin was shown to reduce phosphorylation of STAT3 as well as levels of MCL1, a cell survival protein downstream of STAT3, and levels of "stemness" markers Nanog, Sox2, and B-catenin via immunoblot analysis. Napabucasin monotherapy showed high efficacy in some EAC settings, with IC50 values in a clinically achievable range. The treatment in combination with cisplatin, a standard of care chemotherapeutic, resulted in reduced cell viability than either treatment alone indicating that a combination strategy could reduce the dosage of each drug needed. The data suggests that STAT3 inhibition in combination with current standard of care treatments could be a viable therapeutic strategy in EAC, and improve the dismal survival for these patients.

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2018-05

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A Comparative Genomics Approach to Understanding the Biosynthesis of the Sunscreen Scytonemin in Cyanobacteria

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Background: The extracellular sunscreen scytonemin is the most common and widespread indole-alkaloid among cyanobacteria. Previous research using the cyanobacterium Nostoc punctiforme ATCC 29133 revealed a unique 18-gene cluster (NpR1276 to NpR1259 in the N. punctiforme genome) involved in the biosynthesis of

Background: The extracellular sunscreen scytonemin is the most common and widespread indole-alkaloid among cyanobacteria. Previous research using the cyanobacterium Nostoc punctiforme ATCC 29133 revealed a unique 18-gene cluster (NpR1276 to NpR1259 in the N. punctiforme genome) involved in the biosynthesis of scytonemin. We provide further genomic characterization of these genes in N. punctiforme and extend it to homologous regions in other cyanobacteria.

Results: Six putative genes in the scytonemin gene cluster (NpR1276 to NpR1271 in the N. punctiforme genome), with no previously known protein function and annotated in this study as scyA to scyF, are likely involved in the assembly of scytonemin from central metabolites, based on genetic, biochemical, and sequence similarity evidence. Also in this cluster are redundant copies of genes encoding for aromatic amino acid biosynthetic enzymes. These can theoretically lead to tryptophan and the tyrosine precursor, p-hydroxyphenylpyruvate, (expected biosynthetic precursors of scytonemin) from end products of the shikimic acid pathway. Redundant copies of the genes coding for the key regulatory and rate-limiting enzymes of the shikimic acid pathway are found there as well. We identified four other cyanobacterial strains containing orthologues of all of these genes, three of them by database searches (Lyngbya PCC 8106, Anabaena PCC 7120, and Nodularia CCY 9414) and one by targeted sequencing (Chlorogloeopsis sp. strain Cgs-089; CCMEE 5094). Genomic comparisons revealed that most scytonemin-related genes were highly conserved among strains and that two additional conserved clusters, NpF5232 to NpF5236 and a putative two-component regulatory system (NpF1278 and NpF1277), are likely involved in scytonemin biosynthesis and regulation, respectively, on the basis of conservation and location. Since many of the protein product sequences for the newly described genes, including ScyD, ScyE, and ScyF, have export signal domains, while others have putative transmembrane domains, it can be inferred that scytonemin biosynthesis is compartmentalized within the cell. Basic structural monomer synthesis and initial condensation are most likely cytoplasmic, while later reactions are predicted to be periplasmic.

Conclusion: We show that scytonemin biosynthetic genes are highly conserved among evolutionarily diverse strains, likely include more genes than previously determined, and are predicted to involve compartmentalization of the biosynthetic pathway in the cell, an unusual trait for prokaryotes.

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2009-07-24

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Serotonin 2A receptor (5-HT2AR) expression after sleep deprivation and possible implications for schizophrenia risk

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ABSTRACT
Environmental and genetic factors influence schizophrenia risk. Individuals who have direct family members with schizophrenia have a much higher incidence. Also, acute stress or life crisis may precede the onset of the disease. This study aims to understand the

ABSTRACT
Environmental and genetic factors influence schizophrenia risk. Individuals who have direct family members with schizophrenia have a much higher incidence. Also, acute stress or life crisis may precede the onset of the disease. This study aims to understand the effects of environment on genes related to schizophrenia risk. It investigates the impact of sleep deprivation as an acute environmental stressor on the expression of Htr2a in mice, a gene that codes for the serotonin 2A receptor (5-HT2AR). HTR2A is associated with schizophrenia risk through genetic association studies and expression is decreased in post-mortem studies of patients with the disease. Furthermore, sleep deprivation as a stressor in human trials has been shown to increase the binding capacity of 5-HT2AR. We hypothesize that sleep deprivation will increase the number of cells expressing Htr2a in the mouse anterior prefrontal cortex when compared to controls. Sleep deprived that mice express EGFP under control of the Htr2a promoter displayed anteroposterior gradients of expression across sagittal sections, with concentrations seen most densely within the prefrontal cortex as well as the anterior pretectal nucleus, thalamic nucleus, as well as the cingulate gyrus. Htr2a-EGFP expression was most densely visualized in cortical layer V and VI pyramidal neurons within the lateral prefrontal cortex of coronal sections. Furthermore, the medial prefrontal cortex contained significantly cells expressing Htr2a¬-EGFP than the lateral prefrontal cortex. Ultimately, the hypothesis was not supported and sleep deprivation did not result in more ¬Htr2a-EGFP expressing cells compared to basal levels. However, expressing cells appeared visibly brighter in sleep-deprived animals when compared to controls, indicating that the amount of intracellular Htr2a-GFP expression may be higher. This study provides strong visual representations of expression gradients following sleep deprivation as an acute stressor and paves the way for future studies regarding 5H-T2AR’s role in schizophrenia.

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2015-05

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Aerosolization Methods for Dispersion of Bacterial Cells in Air

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Legionella is a gram-negative bacterium with the ability for human infection by inhalation or aspiration of water containing the bacteria. Legionella live in aquatic environments and have been identified in cooling towers, humidifiers and respiratory therapy treatments, among others. Infection

Legionella is a gram-negative bacterium with the ability for human infection by inhalation or aspiration of water containing the bacteria. Legionella live in aquatic environments and have been identified in cooling towers, humidifiers and respiratory therapy treatments, among others. Infection with Legionella bacteria leads to Legionnaire’s Disease or Pontiac Fever (Edelstein, 1993). Information regarding the means of aerosolization of Legionella bacteria has not yet been reported, therefore the relevance of experimentation was defined. The objective of this study is to determine the modes by which bacteria may be aerosolized under laboratory conditions. Specifically, to measure the amount of bacteria transported over a specific distance in a given amount of time and determine the most effective mode of bacterial aerosolization. Three methods of bacterial aerosolization were tested, these included an electric paint sprayer, an air paint sprayer and a hand-held spray bottle. E. coli was used as a surrogate for Legionella in experimentation due to its similar bacterial properties. Both bacteria are gram-negative, aerobic bacilli while Legionella is approximately 2 μm in length (Botzenhart, 1998), and E. coli is between 1 and 3 μm in length (Reshes, 2007). The accessibility and non-pathogenicity of E. coli also served as factors for the substitution.
In order to measure the aerosolization efficiency of each spray method, an air sampler was placed opposite to the position of the sprayer, on either side of a sealed box. Each sprayer was filled with E. coli concentrated at 104 CFU/ml in a PBS solution and sprayed for a time span of 1 and 5 seconds. For each of these time intervals an air sample was collected immediately following the spray as well as 5 minutes after the spray. Compared to the other two methods, the air spray method consistently showed the highest number of bacterial cells aerosolized. While all three methods resulted in the aerosolization of bacteria, the results determined the Air Spray method as the most efficient means of bacterial aerosolization. In this study, we provide a practical and efficient method of bacterial aerosolization for microbial dispersion in air. The suggested method can be used in future research for microbial dispersion and transmission studies.
In addition, a humidifier was filled with a spiked solution of E. coli and operated for a period of 1 and 5 seconds at its maximum output. Air samples were collected after 0 and 5 minutes. Immediately after the humidifier operation was stopped a small number of colonies were detected in the air sample and no colonies were detected in the air sample collected after a 5-minute elapsed time. This experiment served as a proof of concept for airborne pathogen’s transmission by a humidifier.

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2015-12

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Potential Anti-Biofilm Applications of Tolaasin

Description

As a major cause of nosocomial infections, biofilms such as those caused by Staphylococcus aureus and Staphylococcus epidermidis pose large concerns in the field of healthcare due to their extreme durability and resistance to treatment. While all biofilms grow similarly

As a major cause of nosocomial infections, biofilms such as those caused by Staphylococcus aureus and Staphylococcus epidermidis pose large concerns in the field of healthcare due to their extreme durability and resistance to treatment. While all biofilms grow similarly in a series of three stages: 1. Adhesion 2. Maturation 3. Dispersal, Staphylococcal species such as S. aureus and S. epidermidis make use of unique growth factors in order to form prolific and durable biofilms. Due to the prevalence and risks associated with bacteria, many antibacterial methods have been created to treat bacterial infections. Although many antibacterial methods exist, there is still a great need for additional and more effective methods to treat and prevent serious bacterial infections associated with biofilm growth, because incidences of bacterial infection and resistance, especially in medical settings, are on the rise. In recent research, the exotoxin tolaasin, produced by the bacterium Pseudomonas tolaasii has briefly been shown to exhibit antibacterial effects. Based on previous research and tolaasin's observed pore forming and detergent properties, it is hypothesized that tolaasin will disrupt and prevent staphylococcal biofilm growth either independently or synergistically with existing antibiotics. If this is confirmed, tolaasin may have major implications within the future of healthcare, particularly in the field of antibiotics. In order to optimally use tolaasin as an anti-biofilm agent, potential anti-biofilm applications would aim to prevent and treat biofilm infections at the most common sites of biofilm growth such as catheters, medical instruments, implanted medical devices, and surgical sites. In addition, under the assumption that tolaasin will be found effective in inhibiting biofilm growth and infection, this thesis proposes future anti-biofilm technologies that could use tolaasin as an anti-biofilm agent in order to prevent biofilms and associated infections. While there are many potential and promising ways that tolaasin could be used as an anti-biofilm agent in the future, there are still possible limitations that would need to be investigated through further research before these applications can come to fruition. Ultimately, if future research successfully determines that tolaasin can be used to make anti-biofilm technologies that are biocompatible, durable, and effective, then technologies using tolaasin as an anti-biofilm agent may more effectively ensure sterility of medical devices and prevent bacterial biofilms and infections, and may eventually save lives.

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2015-05

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Student Conceptions of Collaboration within and between CUREs: An Investigative Analysis

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Course-Based Undergraduate Research Experiences, or CUREs have become an increasingly popular way to integrate research opportunities into the undergraduate biology curriculum. Unlike traditional cookbook labs which provide students with a set experimental design and known outcome, CUREs offer students the

Course-Based Undergraduate Research Experiences, or CUREs have become an increasingly popular way to integrate research opportunities into the undergraduate biology curriculum. Unlike traditional cookbook labs which provide students with a set experimental design and known outcome, CUREs offer students the opportunity to participate in novel and interesting research that is of interest to the greater biology community. While CUREs have been championed as a way to provide more students with the opportunity to experience, it is unclear whether students benefit differently from participating in different CURE with different structural elements. In this study we focused in on one proposed element of a CURE, collaboration, to determine whether student's perception of this concept change over the course of a CURE and whether it differs among students enrolled in different CUREs. We analyzed pre and post open-ended surveys asking the question "Why might collaboration be important in science?" in two CUREs with different structures of collaboration. We also compared CURE student responses to the responses of senior honors thesis students who had been conducting authentic research. Five themes emerged in response to students' conceptions of collaboration. Comparing two CURE courses, we found that students' conceptions of collaboration were varied within each individual CURE, as well as what students were leaving with compared to the other CURE course. Looking at how student responses compared between 5 different themes, including "Different Perspectives", "Validate/Verify Results", "Compare Results", "Requires Different Expertise", and "Compare results", students appeared to be thinking about collaboration in distinct different ways by lack of continuity in the amount of students discussing each of these among the classes. In addition, we found that student responses in each of the CURE courses were not significantly different for any of the themes except "Different Expertise" compared to the graduating seniors. However, due to the small (n) that the graduating seniors group had, 22, compared to each of the CURE classes composing of 155 and 98 students, this comparison must be taken in a preliminary manner. Overall, students thought differently about collaboration between different CUREs. Still, a gap filling what it means to "collaborate", and whether the structures of CUREs are effective to portray collaboration are still necessary to fully elaborate on this paper's findings.

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Date Created
2016-05

Characterization of the structure and interactions of the AcrAB-TolC multi-drug efflux pump in Escherichia coli

Description

The spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria is currently a pressing global health concern, especially considering the prevalence of multi-drug resistance. Efflux pumps, bacterial machinery involved in various active transport functions, are capable of removing a broad range of antibiotics from

The spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria is currently a pressing global health concern, especially considering the prevalence of multi-drug resistance. Efflux pumps, bacterial machinery involved in various active transport functions, are capable of removing a broad range of antibiotics from the periplasmic space and the outer leaflet of the inner membrane, frequently conferring multi-drug resistance. Many aspects of efflux machinery’s structure, functions, and inter-protein interactions are still not fully understood; further characterization of these components of efflux will provide a strong foundation for combating this resistance mechanism. In this project, I further characterize the channel protein TolC as a part of the AcrAB-TolC efflux pump complex in Escherichia coli by first determining the specificity of compensatory mutations in TolC against defective AcrA and AcrB, and then identifying TolC residues that might influence TolC aperture dynamics or stability when altered. Specificity of compensatory mutations was determined using an array of TolC mutants, previously generated from defective AcrA or AcrB, against a different mutant AcrB protein; these new mutant combinations were then analyzed by real-time efflux and antibiotic susceptibility assays. A vancomycin susceptible TolC mutant—a phenotype that has been associated with constitutively open TolC channels—was then used to generate vancomycin-resistant revertants which were evaluated with DNA sequencing, protein quantification by Western blots, and real-time efflux assays to identify residues important for TolC aperture dynamics and protein stability and complex activity. Mutations identified in revertant strains corresponded to residues located in the lower half of the periplasmic domain of TolC; generally, these revertants had poorer efflux than wild-type TolC in the mutant AcrB background, and all revertants had poorer efflux activity than the parental mutant strain.

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2016-05

STUDY OF INACTIVATION OF MS2 BACTERIOPHAGE BY ULTRA SHORT PULSES OF TI-SAPPHIRE LASER

Description

Studies have demonstrated that viruses such as human immunodeficiency virus [HIV], M13 bacteriophage, and murine cytomegalovirus [MCMV] have been effectively inactivated by exposure to ultra short-pulsed lasers (6,7,10,11,14,15,17). Ultra short pulse laser shows promise as a new method for non-invasive

Studies have demonstrated that viruses such as human immunodeficiency virus [HIV], M13 bacteriophage, and murine cytomegalovirus [MCMV] have been effectively inactivated by exposure to ultra short-pulsed lasers (6,7,10,11,14,15,17). Ultra short pulse laser shows promise as a new method for non-invasive antiviral treatments (17). This method can be used to prevent problems such as drug resistance that is currently rising in numbers. According to the Center for Disease Control [CDC], there are more than two million people in the United States of America that are infected with antimicrobial-resistant infections and at least 23,000 deaths per year occur as a result (19). In this study, ultra-short pulses, specifically Ti-Sapphire Laser [USP Ti-Sapphire Laser] will be evaluated for viral inactivation. The virus chosen for this study was MS2 bacteriophage, which is a non- enveloped, icosahedral, single-stranded RNA [ssRNA] bacteriophages that infects F+ pilus Escherichia coli (16). It was hypothesized that ultrashort pulses from a Ti-Sapphire laser will inactivate MS2 bacteriophage. Inactivation was measured using plaque-forming units [PFU/mL] as an indicator. It was expected that there would be an increase in inactivation of MS2 bacteriophage with an increase in irradiation duration. The results indicated that MS2 bacteriophage was highly sensitive to irradiation treatments of the USP Ti-Sapphire Laser. The concentration of MS2 bacteriophage decreased by 107 PFU/mL after being treated for various time periods ranging from 5 minutes to 150 minutes. Longer duration of USP Ti- Sapphire Laser treatment inactivated more MS2 Bacteriophage.

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Date Created
2014-05

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Evaluation of Collaborative Learning in a Blended Biology Course at ASU

Description

Collaborative learning has been found to enhance student learning experiences through interaction with peers and instructors in a way that typically does not occur in a traditional lecture course. However, more than half of all collaborative learning structures have failed

Collaborative learning has been found to enhance student learning experiences through interaction with peers and instructors in a way that typically does not occur in a traditional lecture course. However, more than half of all collaborative learning structures have failed to last very long after their initial introductions which makes understanding the factors of collaboration that make it successful very important. The purpose of this study was to evaluate collaborative learning in a blended learning course to gauge student perceptions and the factors of collaboration and student demographics that impact that perception. This was done by surveying a sample of students in BIO 282 about their experiences in the BIO 281 course they took previously which was a new introductory Biology course with a blended learning structure. It was found that students agree that collaboration is beneficial as it provides an opportunity to gain additional insight from peers and improve students' understanding of course content. Also, differences in student gender and first generation status have less of an effect on student perceptions of collaboration than differences in academic achievement (grade) bracket.

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2014-05