Babinchak, W. Michael, Junior, Chemistry
Faculty Mentor: James Wilson, Ph.D., Chemistry
My research involved the synthesis, quantification, and analysis of binding capabilities of six derivatives of a bifunctional cationic fluorophore. Each compound contains two stilbazolium dyes that allow for analysis through fluorescence upon binding to the norepinephrine transporter protein, which has been shown to have high plasticity in substrate binding. Each of the six compounds was synthesized using substitution of dibromoalkanes with picoline followed by a double Knoevenagel condensation reaction. All compounds were quantified via H NMR, C13 NMR, infrared spectroscopy, and high resolution mass spectrometry. The fluorescence was quantized using UV-vis and fluorescent spectroscopy in varying solvents, such that the quenching capabilities of each solvent on the six compounds could be examined as well. The binding capabilities were examined through the addition of each compound individually to a pallet of human epithelial cells and the addition of a desipramine inhibitor in order to examine the release of each compound. The fluorescent intensity on each pallet was recorded over time and analyzed to produce numerical binding and release rates. This research will continue using other derivatives of the fluorophores in order to further examine the plasticity of the norepinephrine transporter.
Barona, Melissa, Senior, Environmental Engineering & Chemistry
Faculty Mentor: Frank Millero, Ph.D., Marine and Atmospheric Chemistry
My research assignment consisted of the analysis of hydrographic measurements collected along section A22 in the Atlantic Ocean, which extends from Massachusetts to South America, as designated by the World Ocean Circulation Experiment (WOCE). Biological and physical parameters including potential temperature, salinity, nitrate, phosphate, oxygen, total alkalinity, total carbon dioxide, partial pressure of carbon dioxide, and pH were measured during cruises in 2003 and 2012. My research project utilized the data to determine the change in anthropogenic CO2 along section A22. The computer program Ocean Data View was also used to construct graphs and images that illustrate the distribution of the measured parameters. The internal consistency or accuracy of the measured parameters (total alkalinity, total carbon dioxide, partial pressure of carbon dioxide, and pH) that characterize the carbonate system of ocean was determined by comparing measured and calculated values. The project was finalized with a report that summarizes observations made on parameter distributions and estimates of the anthropogenic CO2 increase along section A22.
Dell, Jessica, Junior, Ecosystem Science and Policy & Biology
Faculty Mentor: Alexandra Wilson, Ph.D., Biology
Obligate symbiotic relationships between insects and bacteria allow both species to fulfill their needs through a partnership. The pea aphid, a sap-feeding insect, is host to the endosymbiotic bacteria Buchnera aphidicola that reside within specialized aphid bacteriocyte cells. Buchnera convert nonessential amino acids provided by the aphid into essential amino acids, supplementing the aphid’s diet with the essential nutrients it lacks. Amino acid transporters facilitate the transfer of amino acids across the outer bacteriocyte cell membrane and inner symbiosomal membrane surrounding each Buchnera cell. In order to understand the mechanism of this nutritional symbiotic relationship, it is necessary to determine the location of amino acid transporters expressed at the aphid/Buchnera symbiotic interface. The aim of my project was to experimentally validate an antibody that will be used in future experiments to localize the amino acid transporter ACYPI001018 at the symbiotic interface. I conducted a Western Blot Analysis on two yeast protein samples. One sample was transformed to express transporter ACYPI001018 in the yeast membranes and an additional sample without transporter ACYPI001018 was the negative control. The proteins contained in the yeast membranes, including the amino acid transporters, were isolated and probed with the antibody. A fluorescent secondary antibody was then applied and the protein samples were scanned with light to detect the binding of the first antibody to the targeted transporter. Because cross-reactivity between the antibodies and the amino acid transporter was detected only in the yeast containing transporter ACYPI001018, the antibody correctly bound to its target. In order to further understand the regulation of amino acids and specialization of amino acid transporters in this symbiotic relationship, this validated antibody will be used to localize the amino acid transporter ACYPI001018 at the aphid/Buchnera symbiotic interface.
Estevez, Nicholas, Junior, Management Science & Finance
Faculty Mentor: Edward Baker, Ph.D., Management Science
This summer I worked with Dr. Edward Baker, Chairman of the Management Science department, examining the financial performance of companies deemed ethical in comparison to those who have not been deemed ethical. The project consisted of three main stages: literature review, sector performance evaluation, and individual performance evaluation. In the literature review stage, I researched numerous pieces of academic literature on corporate social responsibility, shareholder wealth maximization, and the link between the previous concepts and corporate financial performance. In the sector evaluation stage, we divided the companies listed in Ethisphere’s World’s Most Ethical list into their different sectors using the Global Industry Classification Standards. Next we compared the performance of each sector each year from 2009 to 2012 to the FTSE 350 and S&P 500 sector indices. Likewise, we also created a composite graph for each sector and for the overall list. In the final stage of the project, we took each individual company from the World’s Most Ethical list and found the adjusted closing price for each stock from January 2005 to July 25, 2012, using the Bloomberg software. In addition, I randomly selected 150 companies from the S&P 500 to use as a control sample and obtained the closing prices for those stocks. Next, I converted the prices into compounded daily returns. Using those daily returns, we created a spreadsheet with all the companies including their daily returns and numerous indicator variables for the sectors and the WME list. We imported the spreadsheet into SAS and found regression and GARCH models for the data.
Fields, Thomas, Senior, Finance
Faculty Mentor: Juliano Laran, Ph.D., Marketing
Summary of Summer Involvements
- Did literature review and write-ups for 2 papers to find sources for background ideas
- The 1st paper involved sadness and perception
- The 2nd paper involved tendencies of sadness vs. fear driven action
- Did pretest statistical analysis on three studies, and made write-ups summarizing conclusions drawn, implications, and possible next steps. Study names were:
- Envy_ElectivesPhase2 (pretest)
- Programmed/wrote a few tests/pretests on Qualtrics to be administered in the studies
Gabaldon, Michaela, Junior, Health Science
Faculty Mentor: Mark Stoutenberg, Ph.D., Epidemiology and Public Health
The research I conducted may stray from the quintessential “scientific method” type of research. I assisted in the development of a lifestyle modification program, called FOGO Wellness—a program intended to hopefully reduce the number of sedentary, inactive adults, and change the lives of its participants by educating them about the importance of physical activity and a healthy diet in one’s life. My role in the development of FOGO Wellness leaned more towards composing the curriculum for the 16 week program, which consists of a weekly lesson, activity, and assignment. I was responsible for collecting information and research from different sources, and compiling them into one, well-rounded, effective curriculum for participants to engage in. I created the lesson plans and activities planned for each week of the program. Increased fitness and wellness for participants is the ultimate goal of the FOGO Wellness program. The program’s success has the potential of positively affecting the lives of many in the future.
Gentile, Alexander, Junior, Nursing
Faculty Mentor: Joseph De Santis, Ph.D., Nursing
I worked under the supervision of Dr. Joseph De Santis in the Human Subjects Research Office (HSRO) in the SONHS. Dr. De Santis is currently conducting two pilot studies in order to gain more information about specific populations facing health disparities in the South Florida area, of which I assisted on both. The main study, entitled VIDA-II, focuses on recruiting Hispanic Men who have Sex with Men (HMSM), while the other study is focused on transgender females. I worked to prepare research tools, perform QA, enter data electronically using the VELOS system, and occasionally participated in the subject interviews. I also worked with several other professors, including Dr. Emma Mitchell, Dr. Sarah Lawson, Dr. Rosina Cianelli, and Dr. Maite Mena on their respective research studies when Dr. De Santis was out of town for recruitment and when he had to speak at a conference in Israel.
Hanewinckel, Marie, Junior, International Studies
Faculty Mentor: John Paul Russo, Ph.D., English
My Honors Summer Research Project was to organize and catalogue the I.A. Richards collection in Special Collections at Richter Library. I.A. Richards is known as the founder of modern literary criticism, and participated in groundbreaking work in aesthetics, semantics, literary criticism, elementary reading, and second-language training. Although many of the materials in the collection were donated about twenty-five years ago, it was not organized or catalogued in detail. I had to sort through all nine boxes and write down their contents. After going through each box, I had to decide what needed to remain in Special Collections and what could be removed. Most of the books were removed and placed in the regular collection in the library. In addition, some of the film had to be removed because it had deteriorated beyond repair. Whenever an item was removed, it had to be carefully documented so there was a record of its existence. After deciding what to keep, I reorganized the collection. Since the majority of the remaining materials were language instruction tools, most of the boxes were organized by language. I then catalogued the contents of each box into Archon, the computer program used by Special Collections, so it could be uploaded onto the Richter Library website. I also wrote a brief biography on I.A. Richards and a description of the collection for the website. Once the Richards collection was finished, I did some work with the Italian-American collection. The experience was incredible and I learned a lot about how Special Collections works, and the care required to maintain each collection.
Jakubowski, Andrew, Junior, Entrepreneurship, Finance, & Economics
Faculty Mentor: Tie Su, Ph.D., Finance
My project sought to determine the impact of a reverse stock split on the future prices of that security. To do this, we examined the cumulative abnormal return associated with the reverse split using the event study methodology, a common technique for assessing market valuations subsequent to key corporate actions. Such information may be beneficial to both the management and investors of publicly traded companies seeking to discern the probable effect of a reverse split on market prices. My personal contribution included a great deal of background reading of scholarly papers on the subject, which was useful not only for the creation of a review of literature, but also in determining ways to distinguish our project from others in the past. I was also responsible for making recommendations on which particular portions of academic journals should be cited in our work, as well as for scouring a number of databases in search of the various data sets we needed to perform our analysis.
Johnson, Natasha, Senior, Biology
Faculty Mentor: Sanjoy Bhattacharya, Ph.D., Ophthalmology-Bascom Palmer Eye Institute
The purpose of this project is to determine whether iron objects result in distinct changes in corneal protein and lipids using bovine, porcine, and cadaver human corneas. Enucleated bovine, porcine (n=300 each) and human cadaver eyes (n=6), deficient in protein synthesis, were exposed to iron, copper and lead. Laemellar dissection techniques were employed to isolate corneal layers. Protein amount was determined by spectrophotometry and protein profiles were visualized using SDS-PAGE analyses. Protein identification was carried out after protease digestion using a LCQ Deca XP mass spectrometer. Class specific lipid identification was carried out using ratiometric lipid standards on a TSQ Quantum Access Max mass spectrometer. Our findings are consistent with iron impaction to corneal tissue resulting in cleavage of 1-phosphatidylinositol-4,5-bisphosphate phosphodiesterase beta-2 variant (PLCB2; 134KDa) into a 36KDa species. Presence of epithelial layer is necessary for PLCB2 cleavage upon iron impaction. While iron impaction resulted in distinct changes in PLCB2, other metallic object penetration resulted in lower protein extractability from corneal tissue compared to controls. The changes in protein profiles were different for different metals. Depth of injury negatively affected protein extractability compared to controls. Protein profile changes were different for penetration to different depths and dependent on several other factors in a complex manner. Commensurate with PLCB2 cleavage, phosphatidylinositol (PI) but not phosphatidylcholine (PC) lipids showed significant changes in iron impacted corneal tissues. Iron impaction of corneal tissue for 24 hours results in cleavage of PLCB2 commensurate with significant changes in PIs but not PCs or other phospholipids.
My contribution to this project included corneal exposure to metal objects along with protein and lipid extraction. In addition, I took part in measuring the protein amount via Bradford’s method and visualizing protein profiles using SDS-PAGE. I also carried out immunohistochemistry and Western blot to confirm the presence and localization of PLCB2 in the epithelial layer of iron exposed cornea. Finally, I helped in digesting the gels in order to identify corneal proteins via mass spectrometry.
Kasparis, Elena, Senior, Health Sector Management and Policy & International Studies
Faculty Mentor: Steven Ullman, Ph.D., Management
My analysis included an examination of the cost-saving motives for expanding the practice of international medical tourism and the role of insurance companies and employers in facilitating this growth. Quality, ethical, and legal issues in regards to international medical tourism were discussed with suggestions for reform to improve the safety and quality of the practice. I argue that the concept of forming an international regime to govern international medical tourism has great potential to provide appropriate and necessary oversight of medical tourism.
Midden, Aaron, Junior, Finance & Management
Faculty Mentor: John Mezias, Ph.D., Management
For my research, I assisted Dr. Mezias in conducting reviews of the literature to decipher what avenues of research he should pursue. I completed the reviews on a variety of topics including: expatriate adjustment, international mentoring, international staffing, local expatriates, third country nationals, resource-based view and alliances, and corporate social responsibility. The process first involved conducting searches on Business Source Premier using keywords. Then Dr. Mezias and I would review the abstracts of each of the research articles and select the ones that were relevant. I read and analyzed the selected research articles and created an entry for each article in the summary journal. The summaries were formatted in standardized manner which included citation, abstract, type, hypotheses, sample, methodology, results, limitations, directions for future research, and conclusion. Some notations were made within the journal that exemplified conflicts and continuities within the existing research. I also analyzed and discussed what past researchers deemed important for future research. Throughout the summer, I met with Dr. Mezias to not only discuss results but also to learn from him. Furthermore, all research articles were integrated into the RefWorks database, which included giving each article a unique identifier for easy retrieval.
Nepomechie, David, Senior, Mathematics, Economics & Computer Science
Faculty Mentor: Professor Christopher Parmeter, Economics
Many models in the economic literature seek to identify factors which influence government spending, but there is little consensus on the relative accuracy and importance of these models. This summer research uses an empirical analysis to reduce this model uncertainty and evaluate the salience of potential determinants of government spending. Data from public sources was compiled into a panel dataset of 476 variables covering the period from 1960 – 2010 for 189 countries. In addition to estimating traditional panel models from this data, Bayesian Model Averaging was performed. This method computes the inclusion probability of variables in a well-specified model, and can as such identify influential and meaningful variables. Bayesian Model Averaging applied to government spending thus analyzes various purported determinants and evaluates their importance, thereby elucidating the appropriateness of various competing models.
Parsons, Graham, Junior, Economics
Faculty Mentor: Richard Grant, Ph.D., Geography and Regional Studies
For my honors summer research project work I assisted Dr. Richard Grant, head of the Urban Studies department, with his upcoming book Modern Africa: An Urban Revolution. He hopes for the book to be used in academic settings for urban studies courses. The book also synthesizes much of the information scattered over various stand-alone sources to provide a comprehensive examination of the African urban situation. As his research assistant, my main work was researching, reading, and taking notes on African academic literature online, particularly concerning water in Africa. The main other work was to proofread and format chapters such that the electronic version of the novel would be as close to what the editors wanted as possible. Overall, the experience gave me the opportunity and challenge to improve my researching skills, as well as absorb much more information about the African water situation, and hopefully be a contributing part of an important book.
Patel, Shreyans, Junior, Neuroscience
Faculty Mentor: Ian Hentall, Ph.D., Neurological Surgery- Miami Project to Cure Paralysis
Respiratory diseases are the leading cause of death after a spinal cord injury (SCI). The nucleus raphe magnus (NRM), located in the brainstem, is a principal center for the repair of CNS tissue, releasing trophic substances such as serotonin (Teng, 2005). In this study the NRM was stimulated electrically for 3 weeks in rats with a cervical (C5) contusional spinal cord injury (SCI). Adult female Sprague Dawley rats were injured using a New Horizons impactor. A stimulating electrode was then implanted stereotaxically into the NRM region of the brainstem. Assessment of respiratory function was done over a 5 week period. Whole body plethysmography was done using a bias flow controlled chamber designed for rodents, in conjunction with recording software (Buxco Electronics, Wilmington, NC). Each rat acclimated to the chamber for a minimum of 15 minutes and 3 minutes of measurement ensued. In the 4th week post-SCI, an atmosphere of 5% CO2 was also tested, to examine responses to respiratory stress. Respiratory function returned towards normal (pre-SCI) in 4 weeks, although forelimb motor responses (grip strength and inclined plane stability) were depressed. Frequency and minute volume both increased after injury and slowly returned to normal whereas tidal volume decreased before returning to pre-injury values. Thus spinal respiratory control adapts more rapidly to cervical injury than does forelimb function. This is consistent with published work on cervical hemisection (Reier, 2008). Stimulation appeared to show a beneficial effect on respiration; minute volume was significant in repeated measures (ANOVA (P=0.017)). We plan to repeat this study for mid- and upper-thoracic injuries, which directly affect spinal respiratory neurons, as opposed to the block of descending control that cervical injuries produce.
Sargsian, Shushan, Junior, Microbiology
Faculty Mentors: Joshua Hare, Ph.D. & Ivonne Schulman, Ph.D., Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Institute
Human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) are non-hematopoietic stem cells, meaning they are not formed in blood vessels or related to blood cells. They can be isolated from virtually every tissue type, but bone marrow and adipose tissue are the principal sources for most preclinical and clinical studies. MSCs can be readily expanded in vitro and can differentiate into osteoblasts, chondrocytes, adipocytes, endothelial cells, vascular smooth muscle cells and cardiomyocytes. Previous studies have shown that mesenchymal stem cells from female donors possess higher therapeutic efficacy for the treatment of experimental heart failure than their male counterparts. The goal of this study was to examine the effect of hMSC gender on angiogenesis, the development of new blood vessels. Because female stem cells were not available during the duration of the program, male stem cells were treated with the female hormone, estrogen (17-β-estradiol) to simulate a gender difference in the cells and to also study the role of estrogen in hMSC angiogenesis. We hypothesized that male hMSCs treated with estrogen would have a greater angiogenic potential than untreated male hMSCs, meaning those cells would form longer and more numerous tubes in various angiogenesis assays. Western blots were first performed to confirm the expression of two estrogen receptors, ER-α and ER-β, on the stem cells.
Bone marrow derived hMSCs were expanded and cultured for 14 days in α-MEM media not containing vascular endothelial growth factor, VEGF, which could promote endothelial differentiation. Experimental groups were treated with 10-7 M, 10-8 M, and 10-9 M concentrations of 17-β-estradiol 24 hours prior to three different assays for testing angiogenic potential. For the matrigel assay, hMSCs were grown EGM media (which does contain VEGF) for 24 hours and then plated on the matrigel gel; tube growth was observed after 5 hours. In the spheroid assay, hMSCs were grown either in α-MEM media or in EGM, and treated with 10-7 M estrogen. Cells were first plated in non-adherent wells and allowed 48 hours to form spheroids at which point they were suspended in collagen and transferred to different wells. Tube growth was observed 24 hours later. The 3D Co-Culture involved plating hMSCs and human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) in separate layers of collagen in the same well in order to observe the interaction between them and how this influences migration and tube formation. The tubes that formed in the matrigel and spheroid assays were counted and measured using the ImageJ program. The vascular index for each group in the matrigel assay was calculated by multiplying the average number of tubes per frame by the average tube length. The highest vascular index in this assay was that of the male hMSCs treated with 10-8 M estrogen. The vascular index for the spheroid assay was calculated by multiplying the average number of tubes sprouting out from each spheroid by the average tube length. Male hMSCs grown in EGM media containing VEGF, but not treated with estrogen, had the highest vascular index in the spheroid assay. Not enough trials of the 3D Co-Culture were performed to quantify any data. Future goals of this study include repeated trials of the assays already performed, as well as acquiring hMSCs from a female donor to test against those from the male donor in order to achieve a better understanding of the gender difference in mesenchymal stem cells.
Savarin, Ajda, Junior, Meteorology & Mathematics
Faculty Mentor: Shuyi Chen, Ph.D., Meteorology and Physical Oceanography
The research I did for the internship was a continuation of what I did during the spring 2012 semester for Professor Shuyi Chen. It involved data processing from the DYNAMO (Dynamics of the Madden-Julian Oscillation) field campaign occurring in November and December 2011. Lots of data was collected using plane sensors and radar and dropsonde data to try and learn more about the phenomena.
The part that was particular to what I did in the summer was my boundary layer recovery time. The boundary layer is the layer of the atmosphere closest to the surface, that gets most affected by daily changes in temperature, moisture, etc. The MJO (Madden-Julian Oscillation) is a wave of precipitation moving eastward in the tropics (mostly Indian and Pacific oceans), oscillating between suppressed and active phases depending on the amount of rainfall. When rain is falling, the air around it is cooling down, producing more stable air and conditions that suppress the rainfall for a while, so I was trying to calculate, based on physical models, how long it takes for the boundary layer to recover back to the state it was in, before the rainfall started, so the whole thing can start over again.
What I did was design a set of equations that were obtained from various academic sources that would allow me to calculate that time - I was using software called Matlab to write code for the calculations, and various project-specific software that were written to analyze the radar data in various ways. The data I was using was collected during the field campaign.
The research I have done so far is more of a general conclusion, and I will keep working on improving it, refining it and finding new results at least until the end of this semester. At that point, there’s an American Geophysical Union conference happening, that Professor Chen thought would be good for me to attend, as part of it is also focusing on the same phenomenon, meaning it would give me the opportunity to meet other people who are doing similar things or things connected to MJO, and put the whole thing into better and broader perspective.
Sterwald, Christopher, Senior, Neuroscience
Faculty Mentor: Jutta Joormann, Ph.D., Psychology
This summer, I worked in Dr. Joormann’s Mood and Anxiety Disorders laboratory in the Psychology department. The project I was most involved in over the summer concerned emotional regulation strategies and the psychophysiological response to stressful situations. Although the full study also involved different attentional training paradigms, for the purposes of my poster I focused on the correlation between the emotional regulation strategies known as experiential avoidance, cognitive reappraisal, and expressive suppression and the psychophysiological measures of heart rate, respiration rate, and skin conductance. I examined correlations between these variables at baseline and during a stressful speech task, as well as the difference between the stressor and baseline situations. The actual work I did in the lab this summer involved data cleaning. To do this, I used Mindware software to clean and prepare the psychophysiological data for analysis.
Suarez, Sophia, Junior, Political Science
Faculty Mentor: Jonathan West, Ph.D., Political Science
Dr. West of the Political Science Department has been working on a new book entitled Public Service Ethics: Individual and Institutional Responsibilities with his colleague, Dr. Bowman of Florida State University. The book is intended to be used as a core text for upper-level undergraduate and beginning graduate students. Dr. West and Dr. Bowman utilize cases, charts, and graphs in order to instruct individuals studying public service ethics by clarifying moral experiences, analyzing individual decision making strategies, and assessing organizational ethics programs. As Dr. West’s research assistant this summer I was responsible for a variety of tasks. Namely, I used internet databases to find pertinent laws, commissions, policies, and scandals as supplemental material for each chapter. I drafted fictional and nonfictional cases on relevant individuals and situations in order to clarify and exemplify chapter objectives. Additionally, I created graphs, charts, and other visual aids to facilitate understanding of concepts. I also worked on creating PowerPoint presentations on Human Resource Management. Dr. West was also in the middle of setting up the annual South Eastern Conference on Public Administration which he is the chair of this year. As a result, I read all the submitted abstracts and organized them by topic and panel, drafted a conference program, and e-mailed the conference participants with important notifications. I learned how to use internet databases, develop cases, and organize a large conference.
Ashpis, Gilad, Senior, Finance & Management Science
Faculty Mentor: Edward Baker, Ph.D., Management Science
The purpose of my project is to develop a “smart” market for groundwater in South Florida. Currently, the government allocates water by a permit system to farms, factories, offices, and other users. A relatively low, fixed price is paid for large amounts of water that can be very valuable to these businesses. The proposed improvement is to implement an auction market where users freely trade water. This “smart” market uses a central computer to accept bid and offer prices for water and matches up the buyers and sellers. The user that pays the highest price will receive the water, creating a benefit to the economy. For example, instead of an unproductive farmer using his water to grow crops, he can sell his water at a profit to his neighbor, who is a much more productive farmer and needs that extra water to grow more crops. The implementation of this market requires a sophisticated groundwater simulation to determine the effects of groundwater pumping on the water systems of South Florida. It is essential that groundwater sources are not depleted, that sufficient water flow reaches the Everglades, and that saltwater from the coast does not intrude into freshwater sources. I used the simulation program MODFLOW to determine how pumping at various locations in South Florida would affect the water levels and flows in the rest of the region. Incorporating the groundwater simulation data and notional bid data for the proposed “smart” market, I used linear programming, an optimization technique, to demonstrate how the market should operate.
Castle, Alison, Senior, Biology
Mentor: Juan Young, Ph.D., Human Genetics
This past summer I worked in the human genomics laboratory of Dr. Juan Young. The focus of my project was on Methyl CpG binding protein 5 (MBD5). The function of this protein is currently unknown, but mutations in the MBD5 gene are associated with mental retardation. In order to determine the function of a protein, the first step is to knock out the protein’s expression to determine the phenotypic effects. I tested various small interfering RNAs which could be used to inhibit MBD5 expression. Small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) bind to the mRNA transcript if the sequence of ribonucleotides is exactly complementary to the MBD5 sequence. This complementary binding leads the mRNA transcript to be digested by the RISC complex, stopping further production of MBD5. I used three different alternative tests to determine siRNA efficiency; the real time PCR tested the mRNA levels of MBD5 after shRNA introduction; the western blot tested MBD5 protein concentration; the luciferase assay tested the protein activity of MBD5. Unfortunately, the real time PCR data did not give expected results and the western blot was suggestive but inconclusive. The luciferase assay did indicate that the shRNAs 2 and 3 are good candidates to decrease the amount of MBD5 and could be used in further experiments.
Diaz, Jonathan, Senior, Legal Studies
Faculty Mentor: Patricia Sánchez Abril, Ph.D., Business Law
This summer, I worked with Dr. Patricia Sánchez Abril on a research project comparing internet privacy rights in the United States and European Union. We focused on analyzing a new EU law which gives European citizens a “right to be forgotten” online, if and how it could be applied in the US, and its effects on US-based internet companies with European clients. The project involved a detailed analysis of the current legal landscape on the subject of internet privacy. After aggregating information from law review articles, recent court cases, international news publications, and US and EU legislation, I compiled an extensive comparison of privacy rights between the United States and European Union. Professor Abril and I also had the opportunity to meet with a law professor from Spain to discuss this new law and the differences in privacy between the US and the EU. With all the information we collected, we were able to come up with a logical analysis of the potential impact of the “right to be forgotten”, and the practicability of applying such a law.
Eckford, Brandon, Senior, Legal Studies & Finance
Faculty Mentor: Ann Olazabal, Ph.D., Business Law
My research was about general topic in business law. This may range from privacy rights, employment law, age discrimination, property rights, and international commerce. I had a wide range of responsibilities which included editing an employee handbook, reading and selecting cases that were relevant to my professor’s needs and editing law review articles.
Hassan, Quais, Senior, Biology
Faculty Mentor: Athula Wikramanayake, Ph.D., Biology
This summer, I studied the effect of lithium chloride (LiCl) on endoderm formation in the starlet sea anemone Nematostella vectensis. Gastrulation is the process in which the two types of tissue form in N. vectensis. This process is regulated by the Wnt/β-catenin pathway. LiCl has been shown to inhibit a protein called GSK-3β which causes gastrulation and endoderm formation; embryos exposed to LiCl show an increase in endoderm formed compared to untreated control embryos. My lab hypothesized that the extra endoderm originates from an adjacent tissue section and we predicted that the pharynx region of the gastrula was the specific source of the extra endoderm that was formed. We used a protein, Frizzled 10 (NvFz10) to observe endoderm formation because it is known that NvFz10 is only expressed in the endoderm and not the pharynx. My responsibilities included collecting the N. vectensis embryos post-fertilization, preparing necessary solutions and dilutions, fixing the embryos at the appropriate developmental stage, whole-mount immunostaining the embryos, and observing them under bright field microscopy. My future plans to continue this research include using in situ hybridization to confirm mRNA transcription in the pharynx (which would correlate to the data collected in my summer experiments).
Jacomino, Kristina, Senior, Biomedical Engineering-Premed
Faculty Mentor: Ozacan Ozdamar, Ph.D., Biomedical Engineering
Gabrielle Banks worked with Dr. Di Benedetto of the Department of Theatre Arts. She worked on an exploratory project in which she researched information for a follow up book to “The Provocation of the Senses in Contemporary Theatre” by Dr Di Benedetto. Gabrielle explored various “events, festivals, films, theme parks (and attractions within), performances, art exhibitions, etc. that utilize full sensory integration.” The goal of the research was to find what this full sensory integration means, what its effects are and how effective it is. Gabrielle and Dr. Di Benedetto met weekly to discuss her findings and further exploration of the topic.
Irene Daboin worked with Dr. Heather Henderson, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, and Olga Moas, Doctoral Candidate, Department of Psychology
on a project in which she explored the effects of parenting styles and child temperament on the child’s social and emotional development. She documented the behavior of children with unfamiliar peers and studied the relationship between these behaviors and parenting styles.
Anup Dadlani worked on a project to develop a new method for detecting cardiac troponin I (cTnI), a protein, which is released after Heart Attack. Before beginning work on this subject, Anup had to become familiar with the use of many complex analysis tools and methods including the KSV conductivity trough, UV/vis spectroscopy, and the atomic force microscope.
Jennifer Dennis worked with Dr. Brand
on a study of Karenia brevis, a dinoflagellate which causes red tides, and the effects of low amounts of phosphorus in its environment. In particular, she looked at the effects of the location of the dinoflagellates on their response the low phosphorus environment.
Katrina Duarte worked with Dr. Bush
on formatting and editing his book on the Oral History of Virginia Key. The key theme of this book is the history of civil rights in public space. Katrina also helped to complete some research for sections of the book that needed expansion. She learned about how to conduct research from primary sources and about the publication process, from drafting to editing, to eventual publication.
Andrew Fernandez worked with Dr. Ramnath
on a project dealing with errors in reporting earnings per share. They looked at a database of companies with seemingly erroneous reports of earnings per share (EPS). They analyzed each company’s actual Security Exchange Commission (SEC) filings to determine whether or not their quoted EPS was misleading to stockholders and potential investors.
David Painter worked with Dr. Thomas Sick at the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis.
His project dealt with the effects of strokes on the hippocampus (the part of the brain that plays a key role in long-term memory and spatial navigation). Over the summer David collected significant amounts of data related to the recovery of neurons and will be continuing his work with Dr. Sick over the school year to analyze the significance of his findings.
YiJun (June) Pan worked with Dr. Luis Locay on a project relating government spending on public higher education with the growth of the state’s income. She used data from a variety of sources including the National Center for Education Statistics, the Digest of Education Statistics, and the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Through a wide array of statistical methods June and Dr. Locay came to a variety of interesting conclusions. This project gave June experience in dealing with various types of data and analysis methods, and developed her critical thinking skills.
Julie Sanders worked with Dr. Ren on the CALNEX Field Study. The UM group at the study site concentrated on air quality and climate change, specifically affected by Nitrous Acid (NOHO). Julie primarily used two measurement instruments. One is the Long Path Absorption Photometry (LOPAP) which measures the concentration of HONO in and air sample. The second is the Relaxed Eddy Accumulation (REA) which measures the vertical movement of HONO. The goal of these measurements was to determine the locations of highest HONO concentrations and the originating source.
Katherine Schueller worked with Dr. Olazabal
on a research project exploring the discrepancies seen in eight different frequent flyer programs, in order to assist her in her memorandum on the subject. She explored the effects of legal language and the actual terms of the programs on the ease with which members can redeem miles. Additionally she used legal case