2002 Research Abstracts

June 28, 2002

CHOI, JEHEE. 2002. (Dr. Myeong Lee - Biology). Identification of Alcohol-Insensitive Caenorhabditis elegans.

Mutations in organisms leads to certain uncharacteristic behavior, as well as to changes in the organ response to certain substances. In the nematode, C. elegans, mutagenized strains were tested in order to find alcohol-insensitive characteristics. After EMS mutagenesis, the F2 progeny were first tested by being exposed to alcohol fumes, then tested once again by being immersed in an alcoholic solution. The fumes had an anesthetic or numbing effect on the worms, while the solution produced a number of egg-laying insensitive strains. This will go on to assist in the locating of the specific genetic mutation that causes alcohol-insensitivity. In addition, it will work as a tool to gain a better understanding of the developmental process by using the knowledge of the specific genes that cause mutations to assist in the further awareness of inherent growth mechanisms.

NG, AMY. 2002. (Dr. Bradley Keele-Neuroscience). Serotonin and the Causes of Aggression

As the amount of crimes in the United States increases each year, the question of causes of uncharacteristically aggressive behavior has come under close scrutiny. In this study, the Keele Lab Group has focused on isolating and analyzing the role of serotonin in aggressive behavior. By injecting rats with PCPA, which inhibits the production of serotonin, we were able to conduct two main studies, one focusing on the behavioral aspect with decreased amounts of serotonin, and one on the physiological aspect of serotonin. The results supported the fact that isolated rats with lowered amounts of serotonin had marked increases in aggressive behavior. The study of rats may become a useful model for future studies of complex emotional behaviors. This study is just the first step in a series of steps that may lead us to pinpoint the exact causes of aggression and to be able to take preventive measures against it.

LAI, JENNIFER. 2002. (Professor Heidi Marcum - Environmental Science). Enrichment of Zoo Animals.

Many captive animals are in desperate need of behavioral enrichment in order to allow them to experience their natural behaviors. There are several different ways in which zookeepers can lessen the animals' stereotypical behaviors. Various enrichment devices were given to three different animal species in order to invoke their natural activities. The experiments permitted the animals to experience their innate actions such as foraging and interacting with others. It is crucial that zoos are informed of the numerous methods of enriching their animals such as predator scents and scented objects or toys. Through my research, I have found that although the zoo animals appear to be content with their habitat, they are actually lacking a lot from their natural environments. Though spectators may believe that the zoo animals are acting "normal," they actually need enhancement of their natural activities.

KAHN, LORA. 2002. (Dr. Kevin G. Pinney- Organic Chemistry). Synthesis of Dihydronaphthalene Analog as a Vascular Targeting Agent.

Vascular targeting agents have shown much promising potential as anti-cancer drugs. The Pinney Research Group has synthesized a dihydronaphthalene analog that has shown excellent biological progress in chemical trials yet has a narrower therapeutic window than is desirable. My objective this summer was to synthesize a chiral tetralin analog of the molecule, hopefully increasing its therapeutic window by reducing a double bond. Through a series of about 9 organic reactions, I was able to synthesize all but the very final product, since I unfortunately ran out of time. Someone else in the group can easily complete the final step and send the modified analog out for biological testing. Hopefully my analog will be just as effective a cancer fighting drug while exhibiting a higher therapeutic window. By synthesizing different analogs of this compound, the Pinney Group may well find the cure to cancer.

YEH, ALBERT. 2002. (Dr. Charles Garner). A New Hope?

From purifying water to treating cancer, chemistry plays a vital role in everyday life. A new substance, Combrestatin A4, has currently sparked the interests of many scientists and researchers everywhere. Although CA4 shines a new light in cancer research, it does have several unpleasant side effects. Our portion of the research is to synthesis derivatives that may be potentially more effective and/or less harmful to the human body than CA4. Many derivatives have been tested, and the one that we our currently working on is 2-Nitroso CA4. The compound has been synthesized, but there has not been enough time to test it yet. Hopefully CA4 and its derivatives, with further testing, will prove to be one step closer to curing cancer.

SHAH, ERIC. 2002. (Bob Kane, Chemistry.) Combrestatin to the Rescue.

Vascular targeting is considered a possible way to cure cancer by clogging the blood flow to tumors. A possibly toxic part of one vascular targeting compound, Combrestatin A-1, could simply destroy the tumor, as test results show that this certain one does. Another one, Combrestatin A-4, simply stunts the growth of the tumor. There were three steps to synthesizing this toxic compound, which simply started from a commercially available compound. Tests confirm that the compound is in the final product, although a method of purification has not been derived yet. This toxin could destroy a tumor rather than cutting off the blood flow and would help determine the difference between CA1 and CA4. What this means is that there could possibly be another way to cure cancer.

WISE, CYNTHIA. 2002. (Dr. Manzanares- Physical Chemistry). Fluorescence Spectroscopy.

Fluorescence spectroscopy deals with the energy absorbed and emitted from molecules following irradiation. The emission spectrum provides us with data about the structure of the molecule and other qualitative as well as quantitative information. In my experiment, I studied the quantitative effects of different solvents and the addition of different quenchers on the fluorescing abilities of the solute molecules. In order to do this, I performed fluorescent analysis using different concentration of two different quenchers, carbon tetrachloride and chloroform, in two solvents, ethanol and cyclohexane. Following the analysis, I plotted the four graphs to measure the linear relationship between the concentration of the quencher and the intensity of the fluorescent peaks. Fluorescence spectroscopy is a rapidly growing field with applications in biomedical fields where it is being used to analyze proteins and enzymes. Fluorescence testing is now used to examine the efficacy of cancer drugs by allowing doctors to track the drugs in humans. Fluorescence also has applications in the field of laser optics with dye lasers that have increased the spectrum abilities of lasers by utilizing the unique fluorescing abilities of substances. By using fluorescence to study and analyze molecules, we are able to find new applications for our future.

DESAI, VIRENDRA. 2002. (Dr. Cleaver, Physics). String Theory.

String Theory is an area under intensive research currently to discover a Theory of Everything (T.O.E.) that will unite all physical theories into a single, overarching framework. Of the five different models presently under research, I have been working on the "Heterotic String Model," which is the research specialty of Dr. Cleaver. At my resource was a computer program written in FORTRAN 77 created by Dr. Cleaver that simulated real world results when certain variables were altered (in the form of large matrices). This research has as yet brought no important results, due to the field's relative youthfulness and difficulty, other than a solid understanding of the basics of String Theory. This field of study may in fact, if triumphant, be the greatest discovery of our time because it would set a firm groundwork for later research areas. The Heterotic String Model is just one of six different components of M-Theory and thus, if solved, will provide a great insight into M-Theory, which in turn would draw the world ever closer to a T.O.E.

PATEL, SHYAM. 2002. (Dr. Kenneth T. Park, Laboratory for Surface Analysis and Modification)

Surface analysis, quite simply, is the study of elements and the compounds they form. However, this differs from other elemental and compositional methods of analysis in that this process is only concerned with the nature of substances one nanometer deep. In surface analysis, a variety of complex mechanisms are used both for the actual analysis of substances as well as for pre-lab preparation. Among these, the ion-gun is of particular import because it often plays a key role in the cleaning process used to remove impurities from the surface of the substance being studied. The ion gun, though very effective in cleaning tainted surfaces, is a very delicate piece of machinery and, in order to work properly, must be calibrated very carefully. The purpose of my experiment was to determine the settings of the ion gun that would yield the most energetic and potent stream of ions. The ion gun, if adjusted correctly, can be fitted to specific beam sizes and profiles. The efficacy of the ion-gun is vital to the whole process of surface analysis for the reason that impurities left embedded into the surface of the sample can completely invalidate the results of any surface analytical experiment.

TAYLOR, MICHAEL. 2002. (Dr. Truell Hyde, CASPER) CASPER's Linear Dust Accelerator. Since there are micrometers constantly bombarding all spacecrafts, it is necessary to develop protective shielding. The purpose of CASPER's linear dust accelerator is to speed up copper dust, microns in diameter, and propel it down the tubes into a target. The properties of the particle will be studied through the use of laser fans currently under construction and testing. Before any data can be taken, the linac must first be calibrated. This is currently being done using an Aluminum plate with a piezoelectric crystal (PZT) attached. The PZT emits a voltage when compressed. When the plate is struck by dust, the crystal emits a voltage, which is read by an oscilloscope and then transferred into a signal analysis computer program. In order for the linac to be calibrated, the plate needs to be mapped. The goal of my project was to devise a way to ping the plate and read the resonant frequencies. A second PZT was use to ping the plate. A pulse generator causes the second PZT to expand and tap the plate. The plate is moved in half-centimeter increments and at each point pinged three separate times. The signals thus far have been almost exactly the same. The highest frequency is in the KHz range. The signals off the plate in the linac are also in this range. At this point, testing is still underway to find the best method for pinging the plate. Once the data sets are compared, the linac will be calibrated if needed and then material testing will begin. The first materials to be tested are aerogel and carbon nanofibers for possible use in tethers. This will allow for materials to be placed under space like conditions without the expense of space travel.