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URD@C 2020 Student Participants

 

Kyle Connolly

Kyle Connolly

Hometown: Overland Park, Kansas
Major: Clarinet Performance
Faculty Mentor: David Thurmaier
Mentor's Department:
Music Studies
Funding Source: SUROP Grant

 

Finland's Patriot Composer: A Semiotic Approach to Nationalism in Sibelius's Second Symphony

The question of nationalistic content in Finnish composer Jean Sibelius's Symphony No. 2 has been debated consistently since its premiere in 1902. Early audiences read it as protest art for the Finnish Independence movement, but scholars later asserted the work's abstract nature. Scholarship is still divided today. However, both sides of the argument do little to negate any listener's interpretation. In my paper, I argue that the symphony's meaning should not be treated as inherent in the music, but rather dependent on the cultural context surrounding its listeners. Semiotic meaning is a necessary concept for a musically-derived answer to the debate concerning the symphony's nationalistic message. Semiotic meaning arises from the interaction between the listener and the music itself. I adapt Robert S. Hatten's markedness theory (from Musical Meaning in Beethoven), which describes this interaction, to reconstruct the original meaning of the symphony. My semiotic analysis of the fourth movement will support its interpretation as a "glorious liberation" by combining related descriptors such as "triumphant" "unbounded" and "resolute." These descriptors are in turn derived using markedness theory, which allows for such metaphors to be drawn from an otherwise abstract work. As a result, the original audience's nationalistic reading will be justified, even as the symphony makes no explicit reference to Finnish nationalism. I will not negate other interpretations of the work, but instead defend a supposedly inauthentic interpretation of Sibelius's Symphony No. 2. Historically, the symphony's original nationalistic interpretation influenced Finnish public opinion and contributed to the movement for Finnish independence. The process of generating such impactful ideas through the arts is of interest to anyone concerned with public opinion, nationalism, and the spread of ideas.

 

Sahla Esam

Sahla Esam

Hometown: Bronx, New York
Major: Biology
Faculty Mentor: Rachael Allen
Mentor's Department: Biological and Chemical Sciences
Funding Source: SEARCH Grant

 

Predator Avoidance Behaviors of Dubia Cockroaches

This study focuses on observing and analyzing the different behavioral patterns Dubia cockroaches (Blaptica dubia) use to avoid potential predation. There is considerable variation in terms of habitats occupied by insect groups and how they avoid detection by predators in those locations, including camouflage or taking cover. Documented strategies include burying themselves in substrate and otherwise hiding in tight spaces. This species has been shown to favor hiding in crevices and hollow spaces to avoid being detected. Additionally, Dubia cockroaches discriminated between colored-shelter options. Dubia cockroaches are economically beneficial because of their recently gained importance to the reptile food industry due to their high protein and calcium content. Because of their close taxonomic relationship between Dubia cockroaches and German cockroaches future work may shed light on ways to reduce impacts of this widespread household pest.

 

Cassidy Nelson

Cassidy Nelson

Hometown: Blue Springs, Missouri
Major: Biology
Faculty Mentor: Thomas Menees
Mentor's Department: Biological and Chemical Sciences
Funding Source: SEARCH Grant

 

Genetic Analysis of Branched Ty1 RNA Formation

Retroviruses are a class of viruses that use retroviral replication to insert themselves into the host's DNA. One of the most well-known retroviruses is HIV, the virus that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), and this is the retrovirus that we are mainly targeting in our research. The ultimate goal of this project is to identify additional host factors for retroviral replication that could lead to the development of novel HIV treatments. The human RNA debranching enzyme hDBr1 is a host factor for HIV, and promotes reverse transcription. Likewise, RNA debranching enzyme, Dbr1, in Saccharomyces cerevisiae (baker's yeast) is a host factor for the retrovirus like element Ty1. Dbr1 cuts a branched form of Ty1 RNA. The creation of and removal of the RNA branch promotes Ty1 reverse transcription and it is likely that this mechanism operates the same in HIV. A specific hypothesis to be tested in this SEARCH project is that genes that act on RNA 5' caps and play roles in Ty1 reverse transcription promote the formation of branched Ty1 RNA. We have focused on two candidate genes, CBC1 and MCK1, assessing their roles in the formation of branched Ty1 RNA. We performed a study to determine if their gene products are working together in the same pathway that leads to the branched Ty1 RNA.

 

Kaia Shott

Kaia Schott

Hometown: Farmington, Missouri
Major: Psychology and Sociology
Faculty Mentor: Erin Hambrick
Mentor's Department: Psychological Sciences
Funding Source: SEARCH Grant

 

Protective Factors and Their Effect on Attachment in Children

Attachment quality impacts a child's stress regulation, adaptability, and resilience. I examine the role of protective factors in promoting attachment in a sample of children who have experienced at least one adverse experience related to attachment. To do this, we will utilize data from a study of relational capacities in typically- developing (not currently receiving any mental health or developmental services and not having an intellectual disability) preschoolers. Our independent variables for this project are the child's protective factors, and the dependent variable is level of attachment. These variables are obtained from the study's caregiver surveys and interviews. We hypothesize that protective factors may have buffered children's response to adversity. This would support the idea that though adverse childhood experiences are common, there is hope for resilience.

 

Peerless SimpsonPeerless Simpson

Hometown: Independence, Missouri
Major: Biology
Faculty Mentor: Shin Moteki
Mentor's Department: Biological and Chemical Sciences
Funding Source: SEARCH Grant, NSF Grant #0058229

 

Chirality Directed Self-Assembly of Dual Catalytic Janus Dendrimer and Application Toward Orthogonal Tandem Catalysis

Since early 1970s, scientists around the world unsuccessfully tried to design an artificial reaction system where multi-step reactions occurs in single reaction vesicle. We proposed and successfully demonstrated the polymer-based multi-step reaction material called "Nanozyme" (Nano + enzyme). An artificial enzyme which can theoretically run multi-step reactions in one pot without any post synthetic processes. Major advantages of our system over the others are 1) Efficiency: Minimum labor to synthetize valuable materials, 2) Green Chemistry: "Environmentally friendly approach to produce material with minimum waste, 3) Chemical reaction in water: Like living cells, we now can conduct multi-step reactions in water. (Current approach is to use organic solvent to run various reactions producing lots of toxic waste along the processes), and 4) Sustainable Chemistry: Our catalyst system can be re-used many times whereas currently available catalysts are a one-time use only. Our approach will likely transform the way the industry produces materials, and also, keep our atmosphere/rivers/streams free of pollutant! In addition, unlike the traditional catalysts used in major industries, our catalytic system is re-usable, which significantly reduces the dependence to foreign countries for obtaining catalyst raw materials.

 

 Zachary Spaulding

Zachary Spaulding

Hometown: Kansas City, Missouri
Major: Biology
Faculty Mentor: Leonard Dobens
Mentor's Department: Biological and Chemical Sciences
Funding Source: SEARCH Grant

Drosophila as a Model for Diabetes

 

The Drosophila gene tribbles encodes the founding member of the Trib family of kinase like proteins. These proteins perform conserved and overlapping functions in the regulation of cell migration, proliferation, growth and homeostasis. In humans, three tribbles homologues (Trib1, Trib2, and Trib3) serve as adaptor proteins, binding targets such as Cdc25 phosphatase, the kinase AKT, and the transcription factor C/EBP to regulate the activity of these targets. Mutations in the Trib family of genes have been associated with susceptibility to diabetes and cancer and this is consistent with the notion of Tribs as required for the proper regulation of tissue growth and division. Although much is known about Trib targets, we still lack critical knowledge of Trib molecular mechanisms, and this limits our ability to treat disease and develop targeted drugs. In our lab, we study Tribbles (Trbl) using the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. We have found that a small targeted mutation in a strongly conserved protein motif leads to dramatic changes in sub-cellular trafficking and stability of Trbl protein. Preliminary data show that this Trbl mutation disrupts an important cellular process called ubiquitination, suggesting that we have identified a novel mechanism of Trib regulation. In order to investigate this hypothesis, we have designed a new fly mutant that we propose will reproduce the original effect at a different location on the protein. We expect that this new mutant will provide useful information regarding basic Trib function and allow us to gain critical insight into Trib-related diseases and potential drug targets.

 

Ella Valleroy

Ella Valleroy

Hometown: Cape Girardeau, Missouri
Major: Biology and Chemistry
Faculty Mentor: Joey Lightner
Mentor's Department: Nursing and Health Studies
Funding Source: SEARCH Grant

 

STIs, Migration, and Missouri: A County-Level Analysis

Sexually transmitted infection rates are continuing to increase across the United States, further developing health disparities and the economic burden of disease. Chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis continue to rise with HIV no longer declining but staying constant. With health outcomes of STIs becomes more severe, for example: the emergence of multi-drug resistant gonorrhea with the potential to turn septic and fatal, understanding the spread of STIs and how to prevent new cases is becoming paramount. As populations move in general, they are at a higher risk of the contraction and spreading of disease due to lack of social, economic, and healthcare support. After following the migration in all the counties of Missouri from 2008-2017 and the corresponding STI rates for each county every year, it can be determined that as populations move and increase within Missouri counties, STI rates rise and spread in response. After determining this, the qualitative side of the data needs to be addressed. After identifying four counties near the top of STI rates, the bottom, and the middle, interviews with their health departments were conducted to learn the story behind the numbers. By collecting this information from experts in the field of public health, changes can be implemented at the county level to help improve the health and decrease the burden of disease for all Missourians.

 

Grant Verhulst

Grant Verhulst

Hometown: Kansas City, Missouri
Major: Environmental Science
Faculty Mentor: Jejung Lee
Mentor's Department: Earth and Environmental Sciences
Funding Source: SEARCH Grant

 

Real-time Prediction of Water Quality in Kansas City Urban Lakes

The purpose of this project is to develop a cost-effective and reliable device to predict the water quality of a given body of water. Our device will grant local governments the ability to monitor lakes in a budget-friendly way. Lakes are often a focal point for communities, so any risks to human health, such as E. Coli and harmful algae, must be monitored. This device predicts the water's quality based on specific parameters known to be linked to health risks, so that local governments and communities can act swiftly and appropriately. Phase one of this project includes building a cost-effective prototype that can return values similar to lab-grade sensors and deploying the prototype on Smithville Lake to test its effectiveness in the field.