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2006 McNair Alumni Research Abstracts

Validation of Headspace GC Method for the Analysis of GHB Analog

McNair Scholar: Sewit Araia

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Susanne Bell

Gamma-hydroxybutrate (GHB), a central nervous system depressant, also known as Liquid Ecstasy has become a popular recreational drug in the Unites States. Previous published results have studied the headspace gas chromatography and flame-ionization detector (headspace GC-FID) and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) methods in the study of GHB and gamma-butyrolactone (GBL) in biological fluids. Utilizing headspace GC-FID, the objective of this study is to modify the existing analytical method for the identification and quantification of the other analogs of GHB: gamma-hydroxyvalerate (GHV) and gamma-valerolactone(GVL). The developed analytical method will be used to identify and quantify the aforementioned drugs from beverages in toxicological investigations.

An Investigation of Crocodilian Genomics: DNA Transposons and LINEs

McNair Scholar: Lauren Dembeck

Faculty Mentor: Dr. David Ray

The study of mobile DNA is becoming more prevalent in genomic research. The first objective of this research is to determine if the Class I elements such as Long Interspersed Elements (LINE) are present and actively shaping the genomes of crocodilians by analyzing CR-1 like sequences for family structure and evidence of recent activity. If so, we will investigate whether they can provide information on crocodilian phylogeny. By aligning various known transposons to find common regions and designing degenerate primers to amplify any potential transposons from crocodilian DNA, the second objective is to see if transposons, such as the chicken transposon, Galluhop, are components of crocodilian genomes. If so, we will attempt to determine if they are active. Analyzing crocodilian genomes will help us better understand their evolution and may be helpful in their conservation. It is also important since crocodilians are the only extant relative of birds, which are integral to the environment and a widely used model system for research in areas such as development, evolution, and adaptation.

Prevalence of Morbidity Types Associated with Cause of Death within Ethnic Groups

McNair Scholar: Heather Gomez

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Edward Keller

This research project will be carried out to determine if there is a significant correlation between cause of death and ethnic origin within populations of West Virginia, since there is evidence suggesting associations between genetic components and certain diseases. In continuation of Dr. Keller’s previous studies, data that has been collected from the West Virginia census records of 1910 will be used to determine ethnicity and death records from 1959-1994 to determine cause of death. SAS or JMP will be used to analyze both data sets to find the correlations between groups within the two sets.

Financial Planning Services in the Struggle for Equality in Divorce

McNair Scholar: Kelly Hale

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Richard Riley

Divorce results in a much more negative financial impact on the divorced woman than on the divorced man, as previous studies have presented. However the guidance method that financial planning services use for assisting divorce clients should help to lessen this existing imbalance. Little is known about the recent differentiation of divorce consequence between genders. This research proposes to measure the current variation in the standard of living of divorced males versus divorced females compared to the historical gender gap in the standard of living to measure the degree of difference that still exists today.

Biomolecular Motors Powering Protein Cargo Polymer Spheres

McNair Scholar: Lenin Leon

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Parviz Famouri

The use of biomolecular motors, elements that transform chemical energy in living organisms into mechanical energy, is used for cells to transport important proteins to different locations. The study of biomolecular motors has become one of the most important areas of research in nanotechnology, the discipline based on the utilization of invisible particles. Understanding how biological motors work is key for developing innovative devices that will imitate the natural functioning of these motors or combine them with manmade mechanisms to create hybrid nano-devices. This research is a part of a joint effort to transport a useful cargo to a specific site for release using biomolecular motor pair known as actin and myosin. A method will be developed to harness protein cargo to actin, via polymer beads, and how these structures move in a liquid environment called a motility assay will be tested.

Preferences of Vegetation Levels among Young Adults

McNair Scholar: Ian Lutz

Faculty Mentor: Charlie Yuill

For reasons that we cannot explain sometimes, we begin to feel different due to a change in our surroundings. When standing in a given space, each element of said space can affect not only our physical movement or point of focus, but also our state of mind. Emotions ranging from stress to serenity can be experienced, just by standing in the right spot. This study will examine how these elements, specifically volumes of vegetation, can affect young adults’ preferences of outdoor spaces ranging from spaces with no built human influence to heavily built spaces with no vegetation. Participants in this study will be shown slides with images of two outdoor spaces. Questions will be asked regarding each space individually and then questions comparing the two images. A comparative analysis using The Scenic Beauty Estimation Method will be utilized to measure these data and results will be based on participants’ psychological responses to questions asked regarding the images on the slides. Data collected will be utilized to better design outdoor spaces where vegetation will be a part of the overall design. 

Relations among Family History of Hypertension and Anxiety in College Students

McNair Scholar: Nnenna Minimah

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Kevin Larkin

A positive family history of hypertension is one of the strongest indicators for developing cardiovascular disease. The purpose of this research is to determine the relationship between family history of hypertension and anxiety in college students. The current study is a re-analysis of data collected in a previous study conducted at Dr. Kevin Larkin’s lab atWVU in 1993. The study will use the Spielberger State Trait Anxiety Inventory to assess the subjects’ trait and state anxiety and the Social Avoidance and Distress scale to assess social anxiety.

An Examination of the Role of Social Support and Religiousness as Agents in the Reduction of Suicidal Behavior

McNair Scholar: Alee Robins

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Amy Fiske

This study will examine the role of social support and religiousness in suicidal behavior. Social support has been associated with higher levels of religiousness and decreases in suicidal behavior. An understanding of the role of religiousness and social support in suicide could be beneficial in developing effective suicide prevention programs. In the proposed study, a survey consisting of Likert-type scales measuring religiousness, social support, suicidal ideation, and suicide attempts will be given to a minimum of 75 undergraduate students. It is expected that religiousness will be associated with decreased suicidal ideation and suicide attempts and that social support will mediate that relationship.

Developmental sensitivity of the Corpus luteum to Prostaglandin F2 alpha (PGF2α) and Endothelin-1 (ET-1) Endothelin-2 (ET-2), and Endothelin-3 (ET-3): is ET-2 and ET-3 also mediators of the luteolytic effect of PGF2α

McNair Scholar: Tembele Yangandawele

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Jorge Flores

This study will examine the effect of endothelin-2 and endothelin-3 as anti-steroidogenic mediators of Prostaglandin F2 alpha (PGF2α) during luteolysis by observing their potency to reduce the concentration of LH stimulated progesterone. Samples of Corpus Liteum from Day 4 and Day 10 will be collected from non-lactating cows. The study will then compare the potencies of ET-2 and ET-3 to that of ET-1, which is strongly believed to be a mediator of PGF2α luteolytic effect. It is hypothesized that ET-2 and ET-3 has a minimal effect than ET-1, because it binds to both ETAand ETB receptors while ET-2 and ET-3 mainly bind to ETBs.