The presentations shown here were presented by St. Norbert College at the Undergraduate Research Forum.
Forest inventory studies are important for understanding forest succession. Periodic forest inventories are important to understand how the forest changes and what the changes mean for the health of the forest. The data gathered in this inventory will start a long-term study on the forest succession at the St. Norbert College Natural Sciences Field Station. Measurements were conducted with a variety of forestry instruments to determine tree species, diameter at breast height (dbh), canopy cover, and tree height. Measured trees were marked with metal tags and coordinates were recorded using a handheld GPS unit. Mature tree species were a focal point of the study although other species were noted. The long term goal of this study is to collect data periodically on tree dimensions, diversity, and richness to study long term trends of forest succession at this site. The data will advance a research partnership that is capable of educating stakeholders on the forest dynamics of the site that will aid in implementing conservation and management actions.
In 2016, approximately 248,000 girls were arrested in the United States (Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 2016). At a time when the criminal justice system faces new forms of scrutiny, media representations of criminality and incarceration become especially consequential. Our research investigates how a popular reality TV show portrays girls’ experiences within the juvenile justice system. We conducted an analysis of the Netflix docuseries Girls Incarcerated. We developed and applied analytic codes to every episode in Season One and Season Two. We found that the show portrayed juvenile detention centers as reformative—as institutions that encourage incarcerated girls to change their lives for the better. Two frames, including hard work and structure, emerged in support of this overarching theme. Specifically, the series depicted the girls adopting constructive behaviors, changing dysfunctional attitudes, and pursuing new goals. This ‘hard work’ was prompted and supported by the juvenile detention center’s programming, namely advising and school that were heavily infused with accountability structures. The ‘reform’ narrative that emerged in our coding of Girls Incarcerated is deeply problematic in its romanticizing of incarceration’s purposes and possibilities. The prescriptions of hard work and accountability may make for good TV, but they ignore the empirical realities of girls’ experiences in the criminal justice system.
Identification and Report of Parasites Trematoda and Acanthocephala Found in Fulica americana from Oconto, Wisconsin
This project focuses on the morphological and molecular characterization of two parasites, a thorny-headed worm (Acanthocephala) and an intestinal trematode fluke (Neoleucochloridium) from the American Coot, Fulica americana, from Oconto, Wisconsin. The bird was necropsied, parasites were extracted and fixed for morphology and DNA sequence analysis. Techniques used included: DNA extraction, amplification of target genes (28S rRNA gene), staining to prepare whole mounts and Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM). The acanthocephalan species was identified as Polymorphus trochus and single trematode was identified as Neoleucochloridium. This is the first DNA sequence data for Neoleucochloridium.
Nick Brauer, Claire Garvey, Morgan Gauthier, and Jessica Dagenais
In collaboration with Rockline Industries, Sheboygan, WI, the antimicrobial activity of two surfactants have been evaluated over a range of pH. The pH of 10% commercial surfactant in water was adjusted using three organic acid/organic base pairs including citric acid, benzoic acid/sodium benzoate, and salicylic acid/sodium salicylate. Inhibition of growth of a series of bacteria and fungi over a pH range of 2-7 will be described. Additionally, the chemical synthesis and evaluation of the antibacterial activity of a novel zwitterionic surfactant will be discussed.
Britney Breckheimer and Cassie Nooyen
Through its framework, Full Spectrum Learning creates a vocabulary for the examination of a broad range of learning environments and encourages us to share stories about transformative teaching and learning experiences.
Emily Dehmer and Kalista Arendt
Smiling is a universal facial expression that conveys happiness. People wonder if it is smiling that leads to happiness or happiness that leads to smiling. The facial feedback hypothesis suggests that smiling leads to happiness. A lot of controversy surrounds the facial feedback hypothesis because there have been numerous other studies whose results have disputed it. Therefore, it is important to check the validity of studies promoting the facial feedback hypothesis. The hypothesis under investigation was that smiling increases funniness ratings for cartoons. It is meaningful to test this hypothesis because there are practical implications of the research as well as broader connections to other theories of emotion. If supported, it would suggest that people could improve their mood by smiling. Participants (n = 37) in the study were undergraduate college students (94.60% white, 75.68% female). Participants performed a variety of actions using a marker held in their mouths. They were instructed to either hold a marker in their teeth without touching it with their lip (hence, smiling) or to hold a marker in their lips (hence, not smiling). With the marker in their mouths, participants performed and rated the difficulty of a variety of tasks, and then rated four comics from Gary Larson’s The Far Side for funniness. There were not any significant differences between funniness ratings by participants holding the marker with their teeth and by participants holding the marking with their lips. This research suggests that smiling does not lead to higher funniness ratings. Further research may try to find a different method to test the validity of the facial feedback hypothesis by presenting more up-to-date comics and manipulating facial expressions without participants’ awareness. While Gary Larson’s The Far Side comics were amusing for their time, they seemed dated and unhumorous to the participants. In a future study, to increase external validity and applicability, the participant makeup should be more consistent with that of the general population. There should be a more broad population of participants given the lack of ethnic and age diversity.
While there is a wide variety of research about personality in the field of psychology, there is still a gap in the political science literature. Within the past decade, political scientists have begun to investigate how personality affects political behavior including candidate evaluations and voting. Generally, this study intends to build upon a burgeoning area of research that will help further explain how individuals may use their own personality traits to make judgments about the personalities of political candidates through psychological mechanisms such as projection. Data for this study will be collected using a survey that asks participants to express their agreement towards statements that describe different elements of personality, including the Big Five personality traits and other measures like need for closure, need for cognition, and need for chaos. Other survey questions will test projection effects and ask about political preferences and demographic characteristics to strengthen the association between individuals’ personality traits and how they behave in the political world. Overall, this research will amalgamate prior studies of personality and political behavior with studies of projection effects in hopes of testing if projection is a valid mechanism for mediating the association between personality and political behavior, as it is clear that personality cannot directly predict how someone will vote or evaluate a candidate.
Helen Fischer and Lydia Klatt
Acanthocephalans, known colloquially as “thorny-headed” worms, are parasites that possess a spiny eversible proboscis which is utilized to secure the worm in the gut of its host (see attached figure). They are found in invertebrates and in vertebrates, including fish where they are common (Goater et al. 2014. Parasitism: The diversity and ecology of animal parasites. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.).
A study of parasites of creek chub, Semotilus atromaculatus from Baird Creek, Green Bay, yielded specimens from 3 genera of the phylum Acanthocephala (Pomphorhynchus, Acanthocephalus, and Neoechinorhynchus). This study focuses on the Acanthocephalus species found, using molecular (DNA sequence) data and morphological analyses. DNA sequence data from the 28S and 18S regions of the rRNA gene array indicates similarity with several Acanthocephalus species but no identical match.
Thus far, we have generated DNA sequence data of the 28S rRNA gene from 6 individuals of Acanthocephalus species collected from creek chub, by PCR amplification. Comparison of these sequences with sequences of other Acanthocephalus species available in GenBank (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov) has uncovered genetic differences with these other species, including the most probable match—Acanthocephalus dirus, an anatomically similar North American species with a wide distribution that includes Wisconsin. Preliminary morphological analysis through measurements of specimens on prepared slides suggests similarity to a species of Acanthocephalus that currently lacks genetic sequence data, A. parksidei that was described from the Pike River in southeastern Wisconsin (Amin, 1975. Journal of Parasitology, 61(2), 318-29.). However, Amin (1984, Proceedings of The Helminthological Society of Washington, 51(2):225-237) later synonymized A. parksidei with A. dirus. The molecular data generated so far in this study contradicts this synonymy and rather suggests that there are, in fact, two separate species.
In order to characterize Acanthocephalus sp. and discover its relation to A. parksidei and A. dirus, we will prepare stained whole mounts from preserved specimens that originate from a variety of fish host types, complete PCR amplifications of additional isolates, and use Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) for the first time on these Acanthocephalus specimens to generate additional data. We will then link genetic data to the morphology, and evaluate if Acanthocephalus sp. is a new species.
Minimal genetic data has been generated to characterize species of the genus Acanthocephalus and link those data to the morphology of the worms; therefore, data generated by this study will lead to additional research in the future and a significant expansion of knowledge regarding this understudied parasite. If the Acanthocephalus sp. being studied here is found to be a new species, this research would provide both a molecular and morphological description of the worm and eventually document it in the published literature. If Acanthocephalus sp. is found to be A. parksidei, then this research will rectify the incorrect synonymy of this species with A. dirus, establish it as a valid independent species, and provide the first sequence data from the species in GenBank.
During an analysis of parkland inventory, staff for the Village of Bellevue Parks, Recreation, & Forestry Department learned that the Village was not meeting minimum standards of developed park space, as defined by the National Parks and Recreation Association (NRPA). The parks did not appear to be equitably distributed throughout Bellevue, with some regions of the village having access to several parks, and others having access to none. This project completed an assessment of Bellevue’s ability to provide equitable access to parks through safe, multi-modal entries and created an analysis of the quality of amenities within each of the Bellevue parks. Findings from this Park Accessibility study found that Bellevue prioritizes parks in higher income areas, while ignoring communities disproportionately affected by poverty. There are several reasonable recommendations that can help the Village of Bellevue move forward in their goal of achieving a village park within a 10- minute walk of every resident.
Flavobacterium columnare protease knockout shows potential for vaccine development against columnaris disease
Flavobacterium columnare is a gram negative, slender rod bacterium that primarily infects salmonids in hot or cold water systems. Columnaris disease is symptomatically represented by long “straw-like” colonies on mucosal surfaces of fish species. Fish infection trials have been conducted to understand infectivity however, the cause of pathogenesis is still under investigation. These strictly aerobic bacteria require a unique apparatus called the Type Nine Secretion System (T9SS) to infect fish. The T9SS is involved in both secretion and motility. Essential T9SS genes characterized include porV and gldN genes which have been shown to be essential for virulence of F. columnare in fish. The porV and gldN effects on the T9SS have been studied extensively to understand their contributions pathogenesis of columnaris disease. The aim of the current study is to understand specific cargo of the T9SS and its effect on virulence. Using a zebrafish mortality assay and silver stain gel techniques, we examined the effect of spent media (containing proteins secreted by the bacterium) from both wild type F. columnare and strains with knockouts in genes coding for multiple proteases thought to be secreted by the T9SS. Results suggest the strains lacking specific metalloproteases appear to be reduced in virulence, while several other protease knockouts show wild-type virulence. Continued genetic manipulation of F. columnare strains and virulence testing in our zebrafish model should shed more light on the mechanisms by which F. columnare causes disease in fish and may lead to the identification of vaccine candidates.
Planarians possess a primitive excretory system called protonephridia, which consists of an organized network of branched tubes that function in waste filtration and water regulation. On a cellular and molecular level, the planarian excretory system shows considerable homology to the human excretory system: the kidney. Knowing what genes are necessary for a functional excretory system, how the genes interact, and mechanisms that alter normal gene function leading to disease is critical for the development of treatments for excretory system diseases. Furthermore, understanding flatworm-specific genes, many of which are parasitic to humans, may provide useful drug targets for treating parasitic worm infections.
A recent, significant advancement has been the development of single-cell transcriptomic technologies that allow for the ability to examine gene expression profiles of individual cells (Figure 1). Planarians were the first organism to have these technologies applied to determine the expression profile of all of the animal’s cells (Fincher, 2018). However, only a few of the 3,000 protonephridia genes identified and available via the public database (https://digiworm.wi.mit.edu/) were validated by Fincher et al. To further explore the genes required for excretory system function, we have chosen the 48 most highly expressed protonephridia genes from the Fincher 2018 paper to analyze via bioinformatics, RNA mediated interference, and in situ hybridization.
In this presentation, I will address the causes and effects of the refugee reception crisis in France in the hopes of better understanding refugee reception and integration for a future project which will be more in-depth and comprehensive. Specifically, I will analyze the plight of Syrian refugees in France. Due to the gradual nature of the Syrian refugee crisis which has been developing for a decade or more, there has not been a lot of empirical research on its causes or implications, which is surprising given its political and media salience. The research that has already been conducted has mostly focused on public perceptions of the refugees and their experiences at the various stages of the refugee application process and integration into society if accepted; I would like to take a more empirical approach concerning the economic and political impact of the Syrian refugees in France. I plan to examine some general trends such as the impact of terrorism on refugees, the impact of refugees on the political climate, and a brief evolution and analysis of French refugee policy. I will provide a comprehensive compilation of data and trends pertaining to the experiences of refugees, their impact on communities, and why French refugee policy is what it is.
Precise control of a laser diode’s wavelength is necessary for atomic research. A laser housing is used to provide precise mechanical control of the wavelength. Typically, these housings are either commercially purchased or milled from metal. We also designed a 3D printed housing for a laser tunable at 1015 nm whose performance was tested using atomic spectroscopy and found to be comparable to the metal housing while being a fraction of the cost. We also used atomic transitions to confirm the laser properties of a commercially purchased laser tunable at 1529 nm through a process called Electromagnetically induced transparency (EIT).
Need a new and exciting way to work out while also jamming to your favorite tunes? Look no further than BeatBox, a virtual reality rhythm game! Inspired by the popular VR game Beat Saber, BeatBox allows players to use their own songs (mp3 or wav format) and punch blocks that come at them to the beat. The game features a constant beats-per-minute mode that works great with songs that have a constant BPM. Alternatively, there is a beat detection mode that tries to automatically determine when the beat is.
Previous research has indicated that anxiety can impair memory ability (Garibbo et al., 2019). Specifically, working memory capacity (Sari et al., 2017; Angelidis et al.,2019). Such impairment in memory may impede learning, which is consistent with some past research on undergraduate students: 33% of a sample of undergraduate nursing students reported that anxiety affected their learning and ability to perform (Beischel, 2013). In a general biology class, students with higher anxiety reported lower course grades (England et al., 2017). The adverse effect of anxiety on memory and learning may currently be compounded by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. This may be especially true for more anxiety-sensitive students.
Precise organ development requires organized gene expression to generate a functional system. When this process fails, it often results in disease. The planarian excretory system is an excellent model for studying human kidney development disease due to shared cellular and molecular homology. Having the ability to regenerate organ systems, various molecular tools can be used to determine the significance of a particular gene to this development. Previously RNA seq identified approximately 80 genes with enriched expression in protonephridia. Using RNAi screening methods, these genes were knocked down, and planarians were cut to force protonephridia regeneration. Seven genes were found to be essential for normal excretory development and will be invested further to better understand the role these genes play in protonephridia regeneration.
The War of 1812 is a conflict that has received very little attention, but played a central role in shaping American Westward Expansion. Historical discussion of the War of 1812 often focuses on a relatively narrow section of the events of the War, such as the leadup to the war or a specific campaign within the war. This method of approaching the war is useful but leaves much to be desired. In this essay, I focused on the War of 1812 in the Northwest Territory, but extended the cause and effects of the war over a larger time frame, by synthesizing existing research on the subject to highlight the impact it had on U.S. relations with native tribal communities. This broadening of historical time frames has allowed us to view intricate webs of cause and effect between seemingly disparate events. I have also identified the role of the War of 1812 in creating a geo-political paradigm shift within the area around the Former Northwest Territory. The region shifted from a multi-polar power balance, with both the United States and British governments exerting influence over tribes within that region, to the United States having an almost complete monopoly on political power within the region. This shift can be seen as an overwhelmingly negative event for Native peoples in the region, who faced increasing mistreatment from the United States after the war. This method of analyzing the War of 1812 and its effects on a macro time frame thus allows us to show the conflicts’ importance and recenter the Native communities indigenous to the region that it most impacted. Specifically, we see the foundations laid for a shift towards more direct control of Indigenous populations by the United States government after the War of 1812, and the system of reservations function as an attempt to break up networks of inter-tribal solidarity by the American government.
Cyanobacteria, blue-green algae, produces and releases cyanotoxins during Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) that cause ecological, economic, and human and pet health concerns. The majority of cyanobacteria produce the neurotoxin beta-N-Methylamino-L-alanine (BMAA). Human exposure to BMAA may be an environmental cause of neurodegenerative diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. The effect of BMAA on zooplankton has not been studied in depth. We investigated how ingestion of BMAA affects the reproductive and developmental behavior of Daphnia in the short- and long term. We hypothesized that different concentrations of BMAA will affect the behavior of Daphnia associated with development and reproduction. We predicted that Daphnia would grow slower and produce fewer offspring in higher concentrations of BMAA. Daphnia were exposed to BMAA concentrations (0, 1, 10, 50, 100, 200 and 300 g/L) for 96 hours at 22-240C with a 16:8 light-dark cycle. The number of survivors and the body length of Daphnia was measured at the end of the experiment. The data were analyzed using One way ANOVA, Kruskal-Wallis, and pairwise comparisons in SYSTAT 13. Results indicated that Daphnia survivorship declined as the concentration of BMAA increased and larger Daphnia had greater survival. The hypothesis was partially supported as Daphnia had lower survival in higher concentrations of BMAA. Our next step is to analyze long-term exposure data to fully test the hypothesis. More studies are needed to better understand the mechanism by which BMAA affects Daphnia development and reproduction.
Mya McDaniel and Olivia Hanson
Long term biological studies spanning several years are rare but a key part in analyzing trends which may not be obvious in a single season of research. Here we examine data collected between 2017 and 2019 concerning small mammal populations dynamics at the St. Norbert College Field Station (De Pere, WI; Figure 1). Using a mark and recapture method, small mammals were measured and tagged to supply data representative of the populations residing around the field station. With this data, we determine how small mammal populations vary from year to year and respond to changes occurring in and around the ecosystem that the St. Norbert College Field Station offers. The main goal of this research project is to monitor the population dynamics and trends occurring over time. Through this work we aim to provide stakeholders with the necessary data to ensure proper conservation measures are taken
Hannah Peck and Emily Hirsch
The growth of gut bacteria is affected by signaling molecules of a host, especially stress hormones. In previous studies, a bacterium isolated from the zebra finch gut presumptively identified as a Pseudomonas showed a decreased growth rate in the presence of epinephrine. As the species of Pseudomonas was unknown, a multilocus sequence typing (MLST) scheme was used to identify the specific bacterial strain. Sequencing data classified the bacteria as Pseudomonas putida, a gram-negative, rod shaped bacterium. This information provides a more complete understanding of bacteria involved in the communication within the brain-gut axis.
This android application is made for both the artistic and not-so-artistic alike. With the touch of your finger, you are able to add filters to your photo such as black and white. You have the choice of taking a photo, uploading a photo, or a blank canvas to use for creating your masterpiece. Once finished, the user can save this masterpiece to their gallery.
Hailey Sanders and Bonnie Raechal Beres
Red-shouldered hawks (Buteo lineatus) are medium-sized woodland hawks listed as threatened with extinction by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. These birds are threatened by the loss of ature habitats because mature forests are extremely valuable for commercial logging operations. Further threats include activities such as ATV riding and camping. Protected habitats are minimal and are also at risk. Hawks are extremely sensitive to disruption and because of these activities, the adult birds abandon the nest thus unsuccessfully raise their young, Figure 2. In this particular project, DNA was isolated from feathers found on the ground or in nests that are no longer inhabited. This allows for less disturbance to the habitats and is more effective than capturing and marking the bird itself because hawks are extremely
sensitive and smart. Given that male birds have two identical sex chromosomes (ZZ), whereas females are heterogametic (ZW), polymerase-chain-reaction (PCR) primers were used to amplify homologous sections of two conserved chromohelicase-DNA-binding (CHD) genes, located on sex chromosomes of all birds. The primers P0, P2, and P8 (Han, J., 2009) were utilized to amplifiy the sex chromosomes. The ultimate goal of this work is to determine the genetic structure, relatedness, and nesting behavior of red-shouldered hawks in Northeast Wisconsin through the use of non-invasively collected feather DNA.
Mast and McAndrew (2011) reported that the violent lyrics in heavy metal music can increase aggressive behavior in male college students, as measured via the hot sauce allocation paradigm. We examined this effect on a more granular level by using three heavy metal songs by the same band (i.e., Disturbed): one with violent lyrics (i.e., Who Taught You How to Hate?), an instrumental version of the same song, and one of the band’s heavy metal songs with non-violent lyrics (i.e., The Light). We hypothesized that participants who listened to the lyrical version of the violent heavy metal piece would create a spicier salsa mix (ostensibly for the next participant in the study to taste) than participants in either of the two other conditions. We also extended upon Mast and McAndrew’s 2011 study by examining whether female college students would be affected by the violent lyrics in heavy metal music in a manner similar to that which had been reported for males. Twelve female and three male college students from a small private college in the Midwestern United States were randomly assigned to one of the three aforementioned music conditions. Two of our noteworthy findings were that our results approached significance with only 15 participants, F(2,12) = 3.391, p = .068, and that the students who listened to the song with non-violent lyrics added more hot sauce to a 39 gram cup of salsa (M = 5.0 g, s = 3.08) for the next participant to taste than the students who listened to the song with violent lyrics (M = 2.2 g, s = 1.30). (We used a Taylor food scale to determine how much hot sauce each participant had added to the 39 grams of salsa, after participants had been excused from the study.) We will discuss possible explanations for this seemingly counterintuitive result, including the degree of influence that each individual can have within smaller samples.
Question: Is there a pattern in the feeding behavior of songbirds within species, will species cooperate to obtain food?
Hypothesis: There will be a difference in the feeding behaviors of song birds when cooperation is required.
Prediction: If there is a difference in feeding behavior of song birds across species when cooperation is required then fewer songbirds will be present.
Audrey Shreiner, Sophia King, Grace Beno, Will Donohue, Rebecca Jacques, Olivia Platz, Annicka Rabida, and Neale Tracy
The Senior Art Exhibition is the capstone experience for all Art majors. In these videos students reflect on their concepts, process, and techniques. The videos are filmed in the Bush Art Center Galleries, where the work is on display through May 5, 2021.