«Strengthening the Nation through Diversity, Innovation & Leadership in STEM San Antonio,Texas · October 3-6, 2013 Get Connected! Connect with the ...»
Plant disease is a constant concern for our agriculture industry and for world-wide food security. Pathogens circumvent the primary immune system in plants by secreting effector proteins into plant cells to disrupt the signaling pathway. Effector-triggered immunity (ETI) is a secondary pathway activated when plants possess disease resistance (R) genes that recognize specific effectors. ETI includes a defensive hypersensitive response (HR), which involves localized cell death at the site of pathogen recognition, quarantining the pathogen. Although many known R and effector protein pairs trigger HR, the signaling events that lead to ETI remain unclear. Generating transgenic plants that inducibly express effector proteins for research is problematic or impossible because of the HR phenotype triggered by background levels of effector protein because of leaky transcription. This problem can be circumvented by employing an inducible promoter- and splicing-based regulation strategy to tightly regulate effector genes. Our lab developed an alternatively spliced suicide exon called HyP5SM, which renders the transcript nonproductive by default.
Inducing HyP5SM exon skipping recovers protein expression. In transiently transformed Nicotiana benthamiana, this dual regulation eliminates detectable background HR triggered by AvrBs2, a conserved bacterial effector from Xanthomonas euvesicatoria. RT-PCR and western blots show that the avrBs2 gene has been tightly regulated and that leaky protein expression is undetectable using our dual regulation. Furthermore, plants inducibly recover the HR phenotype. We plan to generate transgenic plants to investigate transcriptional changes on expression of a pathogen effector. This strategy can be used to regulate other genes with toxic effects in plants.
A NEW WAY OF MEASURING CORAL HEALTH AT LAOLAO BAY, SAIPANSean Macduff, Robert H. Richmond.
Kewalo Marine Lab, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI.
Coral reefs in Laolao Bay, Saipan, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, have deteriorated over the past several decades. Land-based sources of pollution such as eutrophication, sedimentation, and toxicant-laced runoff are somewhat to blame. However, the bay still contains a highly diverse, culturally significant, and economically important coral reef community. Corals in response to stressors will upregulate various proteins or biomarkers. Heatshock proteins and detoxification enzymes are examples of molecular biomarkers used to evaluate coral health. Local government agencies have begun to restore the Laolao Bay watershed in hopes of improving coastal water quality and associated coral reef health in the bay. Our research will investigate the change in coral health in response to the Laolao Bay watershed restoration project. Stress-associated biomarkers in Porites lobata will be quantified from samples collected before and after the restoration project. The results of this study will provide resource managers with key information on the specific stressors affecting the corals studied and provide baseline information for future comparison and for tracking the effectiveness of mitigation measures. Knowing the causal effects of coral stress is an important element in the real-time conservation and management of Laolao Bay for current and future generations.
Laparoscopic surgery gives surgeons the ability to perform complicated surgical procedures in a less invasive manner and with reduced trauma for the patient. Despite these advantages, hand-eye coordination is difficult for the surgeon who has to remotely manipulate tiny surgical tools and a small endoscopic camera. Simulators or plastic models are available for training, but no automatic system is available to show surgeons which tool position or posture is the best for a particular task. The goal of this project is to design and develop a novel augmented-reality system for training
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laparoscopic surgeons that will overlay on top of the current endoscopic view a virtual image of how the surgical tool should be positioned and oriented. In this way, the surgeon will be efficiently guided to achieve the task in the fastest time and with the best set of motions. We are developing our system to work in real time using OpenCV and ArUcO.
This is a joint collaboration with the Urology Department at the University of Texas, South Western Medical Center.
EDUCATION RESEARCH/ADMINISTRATION (EXCEPT EDUCATIONAL/SCHOOLPSYCHOLOGY) Room 217D
IMPROVING NATIVE AMERICAN STUDENTS’ INTERESTS IN MATHEMATICS AND SCIENCE USING A
COMBINATION OF AN ASTROBIOLOGY CURRICULUM AND SELECTED PEDAGOGIESMeredith Berthelson, Ke Wu.
University of Montana, Missoula, MT.
Across the nation, Native Americans are the most underrepresented racial group in science and mathematics. The Astrobiology in the Native American Classroom project was designed to provide students from an underrepresented group with opportunities to engage in scientific activities centered around the highly interdisciplinary and exciting field of astrobiology. The goal was to use the field of astrobiology as a platform to introduce concepts in astronomy, planetary sciences, microbiology, geosciences, and other related fields of study causing students with negative or apathetic attitudes towards the sciences and mathematics to consider incorporating these fields into their higher education and career goals. In order to enhance the integrative approach of the astrobiology curriculum, the use of pedagogical methods comprising place-based pedagogy, cognitively-guided instruction, the use of hands-on materials, and cooperative learning were used. This study took place on a reservation in Montana in the 9th grade biology course. Over the course of the unit, 31 students, of which 30 were Native American, participated in the study. At the completion of this project, interest in mathematics and science increased and there was a significant improvement on the pre- to post-test on the content knowledge of astrobiology. This suggested the astrobiology unit improved the students’ knowledge of the subject matter. A program that uses a balance of engaging curriculum with educational theories specific to Native American students can enhance interest in science and mathematics
GATEWAY TO THE BACCALAUREATE: THE ROLE OF DEVELOPMENTAL EDUCATION IN THE PERSISTENCE
AND GRADUATION OF LATINAS EARNING A STEM UNDERGRADUATE DEGREE AT A HISPANIC-SERVING
INSTITUTIONDiane Elizondo, Anne-Marie Nunez.
University of Texas at San Antonio, San Antonio, TX.
Although Latinas are participating in greater numbers in higher education, they have lower levels of achievement in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). Few studies describe how Latinas perceive and experience STEM. Additionally, there is little research about Hispanic-serving institutions (HSI). HSIs graduate a large number of Latina/o STEM undergraduates, but receive less funding per student, and their students have less college preparation and financial resources. This study examined the phenomenon of the persistence and graduation of Latinas who completed developmental coursework and earned a STEM undergraduate degree at an HSI. Through the use of transcendental phenomenology, the researcher conducted qualitative interviews with Latinas majoring in STEM at a single HSI to understand the essence of their experiences by examining their perceptions about their major, coursework, expectations, peers, and the faculty at their HSI. After conducting multilevel coding and
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analyses, the findings highlight the interconnections among personal characteristics, academic preparation, STEM acculturation, and campus climate in increasing Latina STEM success. Additional themes and subthemes include the role of developmental education as a gateway to the university, gender and ethnic consciousness, mentor and family support, and finances in a student’s ability to persist and achieve in their STEM major. The research calls for expanding the study to include participants who completed developmental coursework but did not succeed in their studies in order to better inform institutional policy, practice, and program decisions such as aligning P12 and postsecondary academic curricula, programs, and services and redefining the calculation of retention and graduation rates.
PRE-SERVICE MIDDLE SCHOOL TEACHERS’ NOTICING OF STUDENTS’ ALGEBRAIC THINKINGLynette Guzman, Sandra Crespo.
Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI.
Algebra plays a prominent role in mathematics education reform efforts because it is an important conceptual category in mathematics. Stein, Kaufman, Sherman, and Hillen found that an increasing number of K-12 students are taking algebra courses, and an increasing number of these students are unprepared to take these courses.
Consequently, the STEM education communities must address issues related to broadening perspectives on algebraic thinking and learning, including support for future STEM teachers. Sherin and van Es argue that developing pre-service teachers’ capacity to notice students’ mathematical thinking is a way to support and sustain their continued learning of mathematics teaching after teacher preparation. Although noticing skills may develop through teaching experience, the demands of current reform push for addressing and shaping these skills during teacher preparation. This study seeks to better understand pre-service middle school teachers’ noticing of students’ algebraic thinking. Through one-on-one interviews, we presented a task-based video clip for pre-service teachers to interpret and respond to students’ understandings related to equivalence and variable. With a focused video clip and content-specific questions, we intended to concentrate pre-service teacher notice on student thinking and algebraic concepts. Additionally, we asked participants to self-report experiences inside and outside teacher preparation that have contributed to their own noticing skills. We will report on a design to identify pre-service middle school teachers’ noticing of students’ algebraic thinking related to equivalence and variable, findings regarding participants’ levels of noticing, and self-reported experiences that contribute to their noticing.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is currently used to treat a variety of ailments by increasing systemic oxygen, thus aiding in metabolic activity in the body. More recently, HBOT is being considered for use with neurological injuries such as traumatic brain injury. The research presented here used fMRI to characterize the effects of oxygen and highpressure conditions on neurological activity. In particular, changes in the cerebral metabolic rate of oxygen (CMRO2) in response to forepaw stimulation during different pressure conditions, was measured. Based on results from literature, it was hypothesized that high pressure, with air or O2 inhalation, would cause a decrease in CMRO2 in response to
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somatosensory stimulation. A custom-made, MRI-compatible hyperbaric chamber was constructed for use in in vivo experimentation. Sprague Dawley rats (n = 2) were anesthetized and placed into the chamber. Forepaw stimulation was performed at the following gas and pressure conditions: normal air inhalation at 1 and 3 ATA, and 100% O2 inhalation at 1 and 3 ATA. From analysis of fMRI images obtained for each condition, CMRO2 was determined. For normal pressure conditions, we observed CMRO2 of 19% (air) and 16% (O2). For high-pressure conditions, we observed CMRO2 of.32% (air) and.41% (O2). The large increase in CMRO2 from normal to hyperbaric conditions suggests that the body makes use of the increase in systemic O2 differently at high pressures than normal pressures.
These results could be beneficial in providing direction for the advancement of HBOT in medicine.
A STRUCTURAL ANALYSIS OF TWISTED VEINSJustin Garcia, Hai-Chao Han.
University of Texas at San Antonio, San Antonio, TX.
In the human body, veins can become twisted with body movement (e.g., internal jugular vein with head turning) or after surgical procedures (e.g., saphenous vein bypass surgery), thereby elevating the risk for heart attack, blood clotting, and organ dysfunction. Excessive rotation causes veins to become mechanically unstable and deform into a twist-kink. Engineers refer to this phenomenon as a form of buckling. Due to the health risks, it is necessary to determine the critical loads (i.e., torque and twist angle) and key factors associated with twist buckling. Therefore, the goal of this work was to experimentally investigate the twist buckling behavior of veins and determine the critical buckling torque and twist angle. Twist experiments were performed for both saphenous and internal jugular veins. A custom machine was built to test the twist stability of veins at various levels of pressure and stretch corresponding to each vein-model tested. The results demonstrated that twist buckling of veins is characterized by a sudden kink formation and sharp decrease in torque. In both vein models, the critical twist angle was significantly affected by the level of stretch, and the critical torque was significantly affected by pressure. Pressure had a significant effect on the critical twist angle in jugular veins only. This study provides a better understanding of vein twist behavior and will serve as a guide for improving surgical techniques. Furthermore, these results further our knowledge of vascular mechanics and help identify key factors associated with the formation of twisted veins.