2008 CSSF Senior High Abstracts


Organized by  Scientific Category of Project

Applied Mechanics & Structures

Michael Chu; Steven Davies; Trent Lawler

The Wing Structure Effect on Lift vs. Drag Ratio.  S0205

Objectives/Goals

There are many different types of designs of wings that can be created. However, some of these designs are more desirable then others due to the change in lift and drag of the wing. An increased lift and a decreased drag on a wing can impact the fuel efficiency of the wing. We have chosen to experiment with wing designs and hopefully find a design that will increase the fuel efficiency of a plane.

Methods/Materials

We first created 1 control wing and 5 different test wings with design tweaks. We then measured the lift of each wing by hanging the wings from springs and observing the change in distance between the original and the final length of the spring. To measure the drag we attached a spring to the wing in a horizontal direction and measured the change in distance. Then we compared this to the control wing to find out the difference in force exerted on the wing, giving us the relative drag. We kept the angle of attack constant.

Results

First, the control had a lift force of .075 N. The wing we created with bumps on the top had only a 0.0042 N increase in lift; however the wing had .061 N more drag then the control. The wing with grooves on top produced a lift of .0894 N and the wing with grooves on bottom produced a lift of .0972 N. But the drag, presumably form drag, increased slightly: in the first wing's case .0069 N and in the second wing's case, .0087 N. Furthermore we created wings with indentations on the sides of the wing, which had a lift of .0474 N and an additional drag of .006 N.

Conclusions/Discussion

Side indentations lowered lift force, possibly due to disruption of airflow because of the increase in shearing forces on the air. The drag is not very bad, but it is clearly worse, so nothing is gained. The rough, bumpy textures applied to the wings only provided beneficial forces in the case of the rough top trial. This was such a small margin that it was probably an error. As for the grooves, they increase lift dramatically, while not increasing drag significantly. Unfortunately we cannot know the actual drag, simply the relative drag, so the lift to drag ratio cannot be calculated. We believe the added lift to be due to surface area that the wind must travel through on top, increasing velocity, and the bottom grooves must add to the angle of attack on the wing. Angle of attack will usually increase drag more than additional induced and form drag, so this fits with the data.

Summary

In our experiment we tested wings with different designs to determine which wings had the most lift and drag in order to find a design that will increase the fuel efficiency of a plane.

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Biochemistry/Microbiology

Malika Kumar; Haley Zarrin

Identifying Functions of Novel Transcripts in S. cerevisiae.  S0409

Objectives/Goals

Identify the functions of five novel transcripts by replacing with a selectable marker gene (Geneticin resistance). Compare cell growth rate of those with to those without the novel transcript in their genome.

Methods/Materials

1)Select the transcripts to study; Microarray charts used to locate position of transcripts on DNA strand.

2)Knock out transcripts with Geneticin resistance gene:

a.Amplify the Geneticin resistance gene with primers specific for each transcript, so Geneticin resistance gene would line up and recombine in correct place.

b.Transform Geneticin gene into yeast cells. Standard lab transformation protocol followed. Encountered several challenges while working, and had to try five different methods to get it to work.

c.Transformation checked by exposure to Geneticin and gel electrophoresis.

3)Analyze and compare the growth phenotypes of the wild type cells and the transformants:

a.Tetrad dissection: Break up tetrad (four sister spores) and start a new colony resulting from each spore.

b.The deletion found in two of the four spores; yeast cells are diploid, and knockout takes place in only one chromosome. Distinguish between deletion and wildtype by repica-plate exposure to Geneticin.

c.Subject both wild type and transformants to different growth conditions and analyze their growth rates.

Results

We found several differences in growth phenotypes by comparing cell doubling times. However, it is difficult to say if these phenotypes are a result of our knockout or an artifact of the experiment.

Conclusions/Discussion

The biggest challenge of this project was getting the transformation to work. We spent countless hours troubleshooting and revising our procedure. We realized that this process of constantly revising our methods and looking at the problem from different angles is what science is all about. It made our project interesting, not just a project from a textbook. This realization is what made this project so meaningful to us. Because of time spent on troubleshooting, we did not get to test all the growth conditions we had hoped to. To continue experimenting, we will test the wild type and deletion cells in these other growth conditions in addition to further analyzing the growth phenotype differences we found.

Summary

In order to determine the functions of five novel transcripts in S. cerevisiae, we deleted these transcripts by a gene knockout and compared the growth phenotypes of the control cells to the deletion strain cells.

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Biochemistry/ Molecular Biology

Sunil C. Bodapati

New Imaging Technique Promises Higher Resolution of Brain Cancer Tumor Boundaries using Photoacoustic Imaging.  S0403

Objectives/Goals

Photoacoustic imaging is a rapidly growing imaging modality that offers higher spatial resolution and depth penetration compared to fluorescent optical imaging. However, it has its limitations when looking at tissue not treated with exogenous contrast agent. Without any external contrast agent, regular tissue and cancerous tissue show little difference in photoacoustic signal. For this reason, an imaging agent is necessary to differentiate cancerous tissues from normal ones. This study validates the use of Cy5.5 conjugated to RGD as an imaging agent for photoacoustic imaging. By targeting the avb3 integrin, a vascular target associated with tumor angiogenesis, our imaging agent should bind to the tumor cells

which express avb3 on their membrane.

Methods/Materials

A phantom study was preformed to determine the validity of the contrast agent as a viable photoacoustic agent. Live Mice Experiments were later conducted on mice with xenografted U87MG brain cancer tumors that over expressed the target avb3 integrin. A subcutaneous injection experiment was preformed in which the Cy5.5 RGD signal was measured over a period of 5 hours. An intratumoral injection was preformed in which both the signal emanating from the tumor and the signal from the control were monitored at various timepoints over a period of 20 hours.

Results

The phantom experiment yielded a linear decrease in signal with a corresponding linear decrease in concentration of the imaging agent, showing that this agent is a viable photoacoustic imaging agent. The subcutaneous injection experiment showed the clearance of contrast agent from the mouse in 5 hours, indicating that the agent clears the body in the absence of its target. The final intratumoral experiment showed strong uptake of signal in the tumor, and clearance of signal in the control, further validating this imaging agent as a viable one for brain cancer tumor demarcation.

Conclusions/Discussion

The results presented herewith support that Cy5.5-RGD shows promise as a novel imaging agent for photoacoustic imaging. The pharmacokinetic properties validate it as a useful imaging agent that will bind to the target integrins and clear out of normal tissue. The signal increase can be visualized in images that may help aid surgeons in removal.

Summary

This project aims at validating a novel imaging agent for brain cancer tumor demarcation using

photoacoustic imaging.

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Biochemistry/ Molecular Biology

Sabrina Paseman

The Ferrometer: A Device to Detect Iron Deficient Anemia via Non-Invasive Optical Measurement of Zinc Protoporphyrin.  S0499

Objectives/Goals

To build an inexpensive, non-invasive device that detects iron deficient anemia. Hopefully, it will pass WHO field trials later this year in Africa (Dakar, Senegal).

Methods/Materials

Using current technology (primarily high intensity LEDs and a spectrometer), I modified the design parameters (see results) of a 1977 device that invasively detected "Lead poisoning" to create a device that non-invasively detects "Iron Deficient Anemia". Parma Ham was used as the initial subject to verify the approach. I then obtained informed consent from several individuals, optically excited several points on their bodies and measured the resulting spectra.

Results

Parma Ham test results were consistent with those from a Japanese Food Laboratory. Human testing showed that male and female test subject spectra differ and supported previous knowledge about ZPP. Both tests help determine the best values for key design parameters, such as angular geometry (90 ° or 180 ° source detector separation), illumination technology (LEDs), illumination intensity (Automatic Gain  Control is needed), excitation wavelengths (400, 425 and 470 nm), use of a collimating lens vs built in LED Optics (built in optics are better), effectiveness of a reflectance versus a transmittance approach (transmittance is better), and the best measurement points (webbing between thumb and forefinger).

Conclusions/Discussion

The results are promising enough that UC Davis has kindly offered to provide test subjects for the initial stage of a clinical trial. The goal is to perfect the current prototype and eventually use it to test subjects in Senegal, Africa. The next technical step is to add a microcontroller to control LED intensity and fluorescence measurement.

Summary

I am creating an optical device that would non-invasively detect iron deficient anemia by measuring the florescence of Zinc Protoporphyrin.

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Chemistry

Narayan S. Subramanian

A Preliminary Investigation of the Effectiveness of Freeze Desalination.  S0517

Objectives/Goals

The purpose of this project was to determine the viability of freeze desalination (FD) as a preliminary treatment process to reverse osmosis (RO) by measuring its efficiency through theoretical analysis and assessing its effectiveness through experimentation to find the removal of salts. FD involves a process in which seawater is placed in a freezer unit circulated with a refrigerant at very low temperatures until it is partially frozen creating an ice-brine slurry. The freezing process causes impurities to be largely excluded from the ice crystals which are relatively salt free. The ice is then separated from the brine and melted resulting in a solution with lesser saline concentration. It was hypothesized that FD would be a viable feeder process to known processes such as RO because of its potential to increase overall efficiency and decrease costs by decreasing pressure and membrane requirements through its removal of salts.

Methods/Materials

The theoretical analysis was conducted by utilizing Van't Hoff's equation: pi=cRT and determining the independent energy requirements to conduct FD and RO. The experimental analysis was conducted by designing an FD apparatus consisting of a constant temperature bath and a stainless steel vessel with an external jacket to circulate a refrigerant. 500mL of synthetically produced seawater solutions were then frozen at times of 35, 40, and 45 minutes.

Results

The results of the theoretical analysis comparing the energy requirements for RO and FD, showed that RO would take ~11.6 kJ and FD would take ~370 kJ to produce one liter of filtered water proving that RO is far more efficient than FD. The experimental data showed that the volume of ice proportionally increased with higher freezing times. The entrainment ratio, the ratio of brine that adheres and freezes in the ice during the process, however, increased as freezing time progressed and the percentage of removal of salts consistently decreased showing that freezing for a lower time would allow for less entrainment along with a higher removal of

salts lowering energy costs for reverse osmosis, but would entail lesser yield.

Conclusions/Discussion

It was concluded that with current conditions, FD is not a viable feeder process to RO, but the

experimental results still prove the effectiveness of the process in removing salts suggesting its future viability with further innovation.

Summary

A study aimed to determine the efficiency and effectiveness of an unconventional desalination process which utilizes freezing.

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Chemistry

Justin To

Much Ado about Nothing: An Analysis of the Creation of Subcritical Silica Aerogel and Its Properties.  S0518

Objectives/Goals

To create silica aerogel under subcritical conditions.

Method/Materials:

In the first stage of a three-part process, tetraethyl orthosilicate is combined with methanol, water, and an acid; afterwards, it is sealed and put into a drying oven. In the second stage, an additional mixture of isopropyl alcohol and a base is added, and the mixtures remain in the oven. In the final stage, the mixture is unsealed and is allowed to dry. By experimenting with the time each stage spends in the oven, I can optimize the final result. A basic water displacement experiment was done to determine each sample's density, and I used a dual-pressure sensor to determine how much force it took to crush each sample.

Results:

The various samples that I created were not very similar to aerogel in terms of properties, and so I doubt they can be classified as aerogels. Although some of the samples looked identical to aerogel, they lacked aerogel's characteristic low density, optical traits, and mechanical strength.

Conclusion:

As I am inconclusive as to whether I have created aerogel or not, I can not properly compare the properties of that of my samples to those of normal aerogel. I am still conducting research into refining my methods and possible new methods in creating subcritical aerogel at this time. Creating aerogel under subcritical and economical conditions.

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Electronics & Electromagnetics

Nitin K. Egbert

MindMouse: A Mind-Computer Interface without Pattern Recognition Based on Biofeedback Training.  S0804

Objectives/Goals

The phrase "mind-computer interface" conjures up images of the movie "The Matrix". There have been some different attempts at building commercially viable mind-computer interfaces, and they all took the path of the matrix: the computer actually tries to read your thoughts. This involves complicated pattern-matching techniques that require a lot of processing power. This project explores the feasibility and practicality of non invasive mind-computer interfaces in which the computer does not attempt to figure out one's thoughts.

Methods/Materials

I built an EEG that acquires two signals, one from either side of the forehead, and then translates these signals into mouse movement using a very simple algorithm that does not involve pattern matching. The device can move the cursor on a computer screen in all directions. I wanted to see if it would be easy enough for people to learn how to use. I then wrote Java based software for the device. I was able to attain a fair amount of control over the cursor after spending about an hour with the device. However, it is hard to make people sit down for an hour to help with a scientific study. So I programmed in a set of training modes that first teaches one how to move the mouse in one direction at a time. It timed each attempt to move the cursor across the screen, enabling me to measure the subject's progress. This made the device easier to learn, and now most attain fairly precise control within 40 minutes.

Results

People show excellent learning curves when training with the device. The first time most people try to move the cursor in one direction; it takes about 40 seconds to move it across the screen. After practicing, it only takes about 2 seconds to move it across the screen. The best learners could select 3 objects about the size of a desktop icon in one minute. This shows incredible promise.

Conclusions/Discussion

It is fairly clear that anyone could learn how to use this. The practical applications of this device are enormous. Quadriplegics could use the device to perform tasks that they can't do otherwise. It could also be used to control vehicles. Similar devices would also be useful to people who control complex machinery, allowing them control over their work that they could otherwise only have with more than four limbs.

Summary

I created a device that allows one to control a computer with one's mind, without the computer actually figuring out what one is thinking.

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Environmental Engineering

Manali S. Sawant

Starch-Based Biodegradable Materials: It's Time to Go Green!  S0914

Objectives/Goals

The purpose of my study is to create a biodegradable packaging material using starch, glycerin, vinegar, and baking soda solution. The quality of the biodegradable packaging material is based on two major standards: usefulness or practicality and the biodegradation rate. All materials will be created using similar procedures, differing only in the type of starch and amount of glycerin used.

Methods/Materials

To create the material, water, one of the three types of starch (potato, corn, or tapioca starch), vinegar, and glycerin were mixed so that the percentage composition of water was 67%, starch 11%, vinegar 11%, and three various amounts of glycerin 5%, 10%, or 15%. The solution was heated on low. When the mixture started to thicken, baking soda solution was added and the heat was increased. The thickened solution was then poured into molds and baked in the oven at 185 degrees Fahrenheit for four hours. The material was buried in soil for 1 week, 2 week, and 3 week intervals. Observations included the surface area and weight before and after the burial, the number of bacteria on the surface, and the colonial and morphological characteristics. The physical tests on the material included elongation, tensile strength, and torsional strength.

Results

The weight after removal from soil was less than the initial weight for most materials. The average number of bacteria on the surface of the material increased with the period of time the material was buried in the soil. The greater the level of glycerin, the weaker the material was and the less load it could hold. For potato and tapioca starch-based materials, torsional strength improved with higher glycerin levels. Glycerin added to the flexibility of the material.

Conclusions/Discussion

The materials biodegraded since their surface area after removal from soil was less than the initial surface area. The tapioca starch-based materials exhibited the fastest biodegradation rate, but they were the weakest. Potato starch-based materials took the longest time to biodegrade, however, they were the strongest. The strength and biodegradation rate of the corn starch-based materials were in between that of the potato and tapioca starch-based materials. This study suggests that potato starch with 5% glycerin content may potentially be a practical component in starch-based biodegradable materials.

Summary

The purpose of this study is to create practical biodegradable packaging materials with varying concentrations of glycerin and different types of starch.

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Mathematics & Software

Kunal Agarwal

Making Plastic Stronger: Innovating Credit Card Security.  S1301

Objectives/Goals

The objective of Project Zier is the design and construction of a new security system to prevent identity theft and credit card fraud by employing a dynamic credit card system guarded by an accurate fingerprint verification process, time-stamped card number and a SMS verification process.

Methods/Materials

Materials used during the creation of this project include the Futronic FS80, one laptop, and one desktop. Exact specifications of the computers are arbitrary as it scarcely affects the project's running. This project employs IBM Cloudscape SQL database and Griaule Fingerprint SDK. All code was created on Sun JDK 1.6 in the Eclipse Java IDE running on both Windows and Ubuntu platforms. All of this software and hardware is required. The timestamp mechanism utilizes MD5 technology to properly crypt the raw time-stamped serial.

Results

The program Zier was successful in providing safer transactions compared to that of a standard verification. After thorough testing and trying to break the fingerprint verification, SMS verification, and the time-stamped hash, there were no weaknesses that could be found in the system. The fingerprint algorithm holds the lowest false acceptance rate in the world and has won an award for its ingenuity. The only possible way of breaking the system to make unverified purchases in any scenario with Zier is to gain access to the card's owner, most likely under duress. Another way to exploit the system would be to inject packets into network streams to and from the station. This has not yet been tested, but a simple encryption mechanism can be added on later to deter any possible break-ins.

Conclusions/Discussion

After thorough development and execution it is clear that the Zier is a robust security system that can't be broken into unless the secure servers housed by the bank are compromised in which case there would be very little point of security on anything as attackers would have free reign on all sorts of accounts and funds. In an ideal scenario the Zier would be able to generate a hash on call and an e-paper type interface would display the hash to speed up the process of timestamp generation. Nevertheless, the basics of the system in place would be unaltered with some basic modifications and the introduction of a more intuitive GUI.

Summary

Project Zier is the foundation of a brand new credit card security system that deters fraud by incorporating dynamic credit card numbers, biometrics, and cellular text notification.

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Mathematics & Software

Dhruv R. Garg

Real-time Feedback Modules to Enhance User Learning in Surgical Simulation.  S1306

Objectives/Goals

The objective of a surgical simulation is to (a) Simulate as precisely as possible a real surgical procedure

(b) Gauge user performance based on a set of metrics, and (c) Augment user learning through accurate and intelligent feedback.  Advancements in (a) and (b) suggest that surgical simulators today are viewed more as a practicing tool for those already familiar with surgical procedure complexities, than a teaching tool in which a user, new to a procedure, can learn that procedure from scratch. Progress in (c) has been confined to basic textual and visual feedback, both of which are not utilized as instructional tools but as directional ones. Their remains an untapped potential for surgical simulators to teach novice surgeons and medical students the intricacies of surgical procedures rather than merely provide a platform to practice.

Methods/Materials

This 12-month research study focuses on the innovative design and construction of three unique and open-source feedback modules: step-by-step monitoring system, audio-assisted commands, and an intelligent video assessment system, whose main focus is to augment the user learning of a specific surgical procedure. The workflow monitoring system aims to break down a complex procedure into a dynamic chart of easy-to-follow steps that the user can comprehend. Audio-assisted commands aim to communicate and convey procedural information with the user, ingraining the contents of the procedure in their mind. Lastly, the video assessment system intends to replay the users action accurately and intelligently pinpoint areas that need improvement.

Results

Formative research on a working prototype have validated a positive combinatorial of feedback configurations on end user performance and learning. The metrics measured include time, path length, size of operating site, number of errors, and error recognition time; an improvement of 22.2%, 90.3%, 13.7%, 58.3%, and 37.6% was observed in these metrics, respectively.

Conclusions/Discussion

In the future, my plan is to license these open-source feedback modules as additional features to commercial simulators in the market today. The prototype is highly versatile and can also be leveraged across a multitude of surgical procedures as well as other industries. Several components of the prototype have also been proposed to be patented.

Summary

The design and implementation of three unique real-time feedback modules to enhance user learning and foster a "teaching" environment in virtual reality surgical simulators.

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Mathematics & Software

David C. Liu

Content-Based Image Retrieval.  S1314

Objectives/Goals

With the astounding number of digital images available, there is an increasing need to search image collections. Many systems such as Google and Flickr use text-based search, but the vast majority of photos (particularly family albums) have no text description available. Content-based image retrieval searches images using visual similarity, rather than text. This research investigates methods to improve the performance of image retrieval systems.

Methods/Materials

A novel technique is presented for automatic combination of features using machine learning to improve retrieval accuracy. Perceptual characteristics (color and texture signatures) are extracted as a mathematical representation of images. Color signatures are extracted based on k-means clustering of Lab color space coordinates, and texture signatures are extracted using k-means clustering of Gabor filter dictionaries of 4 scales and 6 orientations. Signature dissimilarities are measured using the Earth Mover's Distance, and integrated through normalized linear weighting. k-nearest neighbor supervised learning is used to predict weights based on statistical characteristics of color and texture signatures: "color spread" and "texture busyness".  Unlike other research in which entire images are analyzed, this research indexes images by using specifically tagged regions. This eliminates irrelevant content and backgrounds and allows users to specify what they are looking for and make more precise queries.

Results

It was found that the learning model significantly improves retrieval accuracy: by 9.32% (6.56 percentage points) over using color signatures alone, and 37.06% (20.81 percentage points) over texture signatures alone. This is a statistically significant improvement (p-value < 0.001). An extensible framework is also presented, which visualizes color and texture signatures. This helps researchers understand the relationship between the optimal weights and signature characteristics. It also includes an intuitive user interface for tagging regions and querying.

Conclusions/Discussion

Content-based image retrieval is a very active research topic that has the potential to significantly change digital image management as well as image search engines. This research contributes a new technique to improve retrieval accuracy.

Summary

This project explores image searching by visual similarity. A novel algorithm is presented to improve retrieval accuracy through machine learning of color and texture characteristics.

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Microbiology

Aaron E. Lin

The Effects of Superinfection on Virulence.  S1411

Objectives/Goals

Because superinfection has clinically been shown to have different effects under various conditions, this research project attempts to determine whether virulence of multiple strains on average increases or decreases and by what degree for selected initial conditions during superinfection.

Methods/Materials

A Java computer simulation, which consisted of a 20 x 20 grid of susceptible cells, was coded based on a combined mathematical model. One control group contained only an avirulent virus on a grid, and the other contained only a virulent virus. The baseline superinfection experimental group contained both viruses on the same grid. Three other test groups included superinfection but varied either initial virulence, competition factor, or mutation rate compared to the superinfection baseline group. Based on multiple simulation runs, the data from the controls and from test groups with different conditions were separately compared to those from the superinfection baseline group.

Results

The computer simulation suggested that both viruses limited each other in superinfection since the virulences and transmissions in the control groups were higher those in superinfection. Additionally, different conditions did impact virulence; lower initial virulence caused more variation in virulence, lower competitive asymmetry decreased virulence over time, and lower mutation rate led to quicker extinction of the virulent virus, greater leaps in average virulence, but more overall consistency in virulence.

Conclusions/Discussion

At almost all medium to high initial virulences for the virulent strain, the virus killed off cells too quickly, so virulence severely decreased. However, the virulence of the avirulent strain increased without causing its extinction, most likely because its transmission was above some threshold. The data suggest that virulence of one strain increases if initial transmission exceeds some threshold but decreases if below that threshold, especially with little competitive asymmetry, a high mutation rate, or an initial virulence that nearly maximizes the transmission.

Summary

My computer simulation suggested that initial virulence, competitive asymmetry, and mutation rate help determine numerical outcomes of superinfection, but superinfection itself limits the virulence and transmission of all viruses involved.

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Pharmacology/ Toxicology

Wesley Leung; Ivy Nguyen

Pro-, Pre-, and Synbiotics: Analyzing the Effects of L. acidophilus with Lactulose as a Novel Approach to Weight Control.  S1512

Objectives/Goals

Human gastrointestinal flora includes probiotics, which are beneficial bacteria that participate in a wide variety of metabolic processes that confer good gastrointestinal health. Prebiotics, non-digestable food ingredients, are used to selectively stimulate the growth and activity of probiotics. The combination of the two is called synbiotics. To address the growing issue of weight control, this research focused on developing a probiotic treatment to induce weight loss in laboratory mice. It was hypothesized that the probiotics will consume glucose in the GI tract to induce weight loss and the efficiency with which it does so will be enhanced by increased dosage and the addition of prebiotics.

Methods/Materials

Four groups of mice were administered probiotic Lactobacillus acidophilus. Lactulose was used as a prebiotic in conjunction with l. acidophilus to aid probiotic survival in the GI tract. Weight was monitored daily. Additionally, l. acidophilus was cultured in glucose, lactulose, a combination of both, and simulated stomach acid (0.1 M HCl) to determine the viability of the strain in those mediums.

Results

L. acidophilus flourishes in glucose, lactulose, and a combination of both, covering an area over ten times that of the null treatment control group. Furthermore, the simulated stomach acid culture survived, covering a total area of about a third of that of control. A chi-2 test for significance indicates that these differences are statistically significant.  Mice weights show negative correlation for all treatment groups, indicating consistent weight loss. The average weights of mice administered synbiotics showed 60% and 370% greater loss than the control for single and double doses, respectively. Mice administered probiotics displayed similar results. In both treatments, increased dosage increased the rate of weight loss. There is, however, no statistically significant difference in weight lost between probiotic and synbiotic groups administered the same dose.

Conclusions/Discussion

L. acidophilus' effective metabolization of glucose and survival in simulated stomach acid lent support to the hypothesis that the species can promote weight loss. Though prebiotic lactulose did not lead to greater weight loss, an increased dose of either treatment did. Thus, while synbiotics have no added benefit, probiotics show promise as an effective approach to promoting weight control.

Summary

This research tested the ability of probiotic bacteria to metabolize glucose in the GI tract to an extent that would induce weight loss and analyzed the effects of prebiotic lactulose in increasing the effectiveness of the probiotic dose.

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Physics & Astronomy

Eric Casavant; Alex Marshall

Measuring the Speed of Gravity using Ocean Tide Models in Conjunction with Solar and Lunar Position Tracks. S1603

Objectives/Goals

The speed at which gravity (or the graviton) is exchanged is one of the last unknown fundamental constants of nature.

Methods/Materials

By using ocean tide data in conjunction with solar and lunar position data, we can measure the speed of gravity. The height of the tide implies a position of the sun and moon, because the tides are primarily caused by solar and lunar gravitational gradients. Let this position be known as the "tidally implied" position. We can then find the position of the moon and sun implied by visual evidence or an ephemeris. Let this be known as the "visually implied" position. Any difference between the tidally implied and visually implied position of the sun and moon can be accounted for by a difference between the speed of light and the speed of gravity.

Results

Our results indicate that gravity is exchanged nearly instantaneously.

Conclusions/Discussion

If our experimental results are correct, we have placed severe limits on Brane Theories and Superstring Theories. However, we would like to collect more data and run further error analyses to reduce our margin or error and increase our certainty. We measured the speed of gravity (the speed at which gravitational force is exchanged between two objects).

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Plant Biology

Priyanka V. Athavale

The Effects of TMV on Pinto Bean Plants after the Initial Innoculation of a Weaker Strain

S1701

Objectives/Goals

The tobacco mosaic virus is a very common plant virus which infects more than 100 types of herbaceous, dicotyledonous plants including many vegetables, flowers, and weeds. The virus causes mottling of leaves, de-veining, and local lesions on the plant. The main goal of this project was to determine the effects of TMV on pinto bean plants after previous exposure to a weaker strain. If a weak strain of TMV is inoculated into a susceptible (or hypersensitive host) host, then the host will become more resistant to the common strain after inoculation. Due to naturally occurring cell-by-cell defenses within the plant, the host will develop immunity to the common strain after being exposed to an initial weaker strain.

Methods/Materials

To weaken the virus, the TMV was diluted to various concentrations and heated to different temperatures. First, plants were inoculated with the stock solution of TMV, various dilutions of TMV, and TMV that was heated to different temperatures. Then, for the plants that were inoculated with the diluted and heated strain of TMV, after exactly five days, the same plants were inoculated with the stock solution of TMV. The effects of TMV were measured by counting the number of local lesion per leaf.

Results

ANOVA and standard t-tests were used to determine the difference between the variables. The plants that were inoculated with an initial weaker strain had significantly less lesions than those inoculated with the stock solution of TMV. When the plant is exposed to an initial weaker strain of TMV, it develops resistance to the virus due to salicylic acid. Salicylic acid aids in plant defense by signaling pathogenesis related proteins, and is only synthesized by local lesions. Thus, the plant only developed resistance after exposure to an initial weaker strain.

Conclusions/Discussion

This experiment shows how plants, despite of a lacking a somatic immune system, can develop some immunity to a toxic virus. This means that if plants can use internal defense systems to protect themselves from viruses, they can probably also do similarly against bacteria and other pathogenic organisms.

Summary

A study on the effectiveness of TMV on pinto bean plants after the initial inoculation of a diluted or

heated strain.

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Plant Biology

Van Tran; Katerina Trinh

Quantitative Determination of Pigments in Phaeseolus vulgaris and Spinacia oleracea: Chromatography and UV-vis.  S1723

Objectives/Goals

The purpose of our experimentation is to find out whether or not the conditions at which green beans and spinach are packaged affect the quantity of their pigments. We want to find this out by using thin-layer chromatography, paper chromatography, column chromatography, and ultra-violet visible spectrophotometry. We hypothesized that canned green beans and spinach will contain the least amount of pigments and that fresh green beans and spinach will contain the most pigments.

Methods/Materials

By utilizing three different methods of chromatography and a UV-vis, we extracted pigments from fresh, frozen, and canned green beans and spinach, and quantized the amounts of chlorophyll a, chlorophyll b, beta-carotene, and lutein.

Results

Our results yielded from analyzing the vegetables with the UV-vis supported part of our hypothesis. As we predicted, canned green beans and canned spinach showed the most degraded pigments because their peaks barely showed up on the spectrophotometer graphs. Fresh and frozen of both types of vegetables showed very similar peaks in chlorophyll a, only differing by less than 1.0 nanometer and 0.2 absorbance. With chromatography, we were not able to receive exact measurements, but we found that fresh and frozen green beans and spinach's pigments showed up more darkly and clearly than canned green bean's pigments.

Conclusions/Discussion

Canned green beans and canned spinach's pigments degraded the most, and fresh and frozen green beans and spinach retained about the same amount of pigments. Canned green beans and spinach visibly showed the least pigments when we conducted the chromatography experiments. In addition, fewer peaks were observed with the UV-vis than fresh and frozen vegetables. On the other hand, when we compared fresh and frozen green beans and spinach's pigments to the absorbance spectrum of chlorophyll a, we found that there were very few differences in quantity between the two conditions. In conclusion, the conditions at which green beans and spinach are packaged do indeed affect the quantity of pigments, and canning these kinds of vegetables reduces the amount of pigment the most while packaging them fresh or frozen allows them to retain the most pigments.

Summary

Our project involves applying ultra-violet visible spectrophotometry and various types of chromatography to compare the amounts of certain photosynthetic pigments in fresh, frozen, and canned phaseolus vulgaris and spinacia olercea.

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Zoology

Jeannie N. Tran

Aromatic Effects on Calorie-Restricted Gryllus bimaculatus.  S2016

Objectives/Goals

Caloric restriction, limiting an organism’s calorie consumption, can increase certain organisms’ lifespan. Many scientists hope that understanding caloric restriction may provide clues to slowing the aging process in humans, but recent studies in fruit flies have shown that olfactory stimulants may diminish caloric restriction’s life-lengthening effect. Some scientists believe that only the odors of rich foods (foods that the particular organism might enjoy) will harm the effect of caloric restriction. The objective of this experiment was to test a set of olfactory stimulants and their effects on caloric restriction in Gryllus bimaculatus (a species of field crickets) and deepen the understanding of when and how caloric restriction might prolong lifespan. The hypothesis was that the odors of foods that crickets are regularly attracted to would diminish caloric restriction’s life-lengthening effect.

Methods/Materials

In this experiment, crickets under various conditions were raised over a period of four to five months in separate habitats. The crickets were raised either on or not on a calorie-restricted diet and were either exposed to or not exposed to an odorant stimulant.

Results

Crickets on a calorie-restricted diet and not exposed to any of the tested olfactory stimulants were found to have a lifespan that was at least over 20 days longer on average when compared to the control group. Most of the olfactory stimulants tested significantly shortened the average lifespan of crickets on calorie-restricted diets.

Conclusions/Discussion

This experiment provides data that odors may have a noteworthy effect on caloric restriction. Further study of the olfactory system could lead to underlying mechanism that causes lifespan extension in calorie-restricted organisms and could answer the question as to how caloric restriction can be used for humans’ advantage.

Summary

My project's objective is to test how olfactory stimulants affect the life-lengthening effect of caloric restriction and to determine whether the olfactory system may contain clues as to how to slow down the aging process in humans.

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