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Fall Symposium: Undergraduate Research & Internship Day

Showcasing students’ research, creative projects, and internships completed Summer and Fall 2020.

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Project Title: Evaluation of Legacy Phosphorus, Internal Loading, and Zooplankton in Loon Lake for Future Management Decisions
Author: Bennett Amberger
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Michael Chislock
Abstract: A pilot study was conducted on Loon Lake, in Steuben County, NY, to identify potential factors that may be contributing to increasingly frequent algal blooms. Three littoral zone "coves" were evaluated for their candidacy to serve as future aeration sites for a planned mitigation strategy by the Loon Lake Watershed Improvement Alliance (LLWIA). Observations of high phosphorus (P) concentrations were found in the hypolimnion that correlated with strongly reducing conditions, suggesting the release of legacy phosphorus from internal loading, and zooplankton (Daphnia species) collected during sampling at depths > 6 m displayed traits indicative of adaptation to hypoxic conditions (e.g., hemoglobin). Results of investigated "coves" found 2 sites provided adequate similarity for use as experimental and reference locations for planned aerator installation and study.

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Project Title: Comparison of lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush) fatty acid signatures in the Finger Lakes
Authors: Hyley Brown, B. Hammers, P. Austerman, E. Zollweg-Horan, M. Speziale, J. Faust, M. Futia, J. Rinchard
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Jacques Rinchard
Abstract: Fatty acid signatures (FAS) can be used to study predator-prey relationships in aquatic food-webs and provide long-term foraging patterns that can reflect the diet composition of predators based on the principle “you are what you eat”. Lake trout Salvelinus namaycush is a native species in the Great Lakes region that relies on different prey throughout the Finger Lakes and therefore we predict that they will present different FAS among lakes. Lake trout were collected from six Finger Lakes between 2016 and 2020. FAS from lake trout were quantified using gas chromatography/mass spectrometry. Our results indicate that lake trout FAS significantly differed among the six Finger Lakes (ANOSIM, global R = 0.709, P < 0.001) and were characterized by concentrations associated with pelagic and benthic foraging. These results will ultimately be compared with FAS of prey species to evaluate lake trout diet composition in each Finger Lake.

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Project Title: Experimental Evaluation of Use of Operant Conditioning to Increase Consumption of Multiflora Rose by a Goat
Authors: Molly French, Dr. Marcie Desrochers, Dr. Lori-Ann Forzano, Dr. Jim Witnauer, Dr. Katie Amatangelo
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Marcie Desrochers
Abstract: As opposition to pesticides increases, the agricultural community has shown interest in using animals to control the spread of invasive weed species. Operant conditioning, which can be defined as changing behavior by changing its consequences (Skinner, 1951) may present a solution. Operant conditioning strategies may be used to teach animals to perform a desired behavior, including but not limited to consumption of an invasive species. This study used operant conditioning of consumption of an invasive species to train a goat for successful behavioral training in consuming invasive species. During the experimental condition, subjects were positively reinforced, which is a procedure whereby when an animal performs a desired behavior the trainer presents a positive reinforcer immediately after it, which increases the probability that the animal will perform that behavior again (Cooper et al., 2020). During the experimental condition, subjects were reinforced with a highly preferred food item each time the target invasive species was consumed. During the control condition, no operant conditioning was used, and subjects consumed vegetation at their discretion. Comparison of results from control and experimental conditions over nine days showed that subjects who were reinforced consumed more invasive species than subjects who were not reinforced.

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Project Title: Development of a monolithically 3D printed reciprocating pump for HPLC
Author: Megan Palmowski
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Robert LeSuer
Abstract: There has been much research in recent years aiming to make scientific instrumentation more accessible. An increase in accessibility has many benefits including reduced costs and expanded opportunities to learn about instrumentation. 3D printing of scientific instrumentation provides an option that is cheap and customizable. This study follows the development of a 3D-printed ball check valve to be implemented in a reciprocating pump such as one used for high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). The valve was designed using OpenSCAD and printed using a Prusa i3 MK2S 3D printer. Ball check valves with both a spherical and conical design were designed, and early qualitative tests point towards the conical design being desirable. Future work includes the design of a reciprocating piston, the implementation of the piston along with two check valves to create a complete reciprocating pump, and quantifying pressures achieved by the pump.

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Project Title: Molecular Interaction of Imidazolium-based Ionic Liquids with a DNA-Oligonucleotide
Author: Joshua Raymond
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Mark Heitz
Abstract: A self-complimentary 14-mer (7-TA) double stranded DNA oligonucleotide and a representative set of ILs from the imidazolium family were selected to determine the degree to which the ILs intercalate within the DNA. Steady-state and time-resolved fluorescence measurements were made using the dye 4,6-diamidino-2-phenylindole (DAPI) in buffer solutions with varying IL concentrations. DAPI was selected because it is known to bind to the minor groove of AT-rich sections of DNA. Various control experiments were made against which we compared the results from DNA/IL solutions. Steady-state excitation and emission spectral maxima shift for DAPI/DNA in the presence of the C16mim and C10mim ILs. This shows that both of these ILs bind to the minor groove of the DNA and displace the DAPI. The observed thresholds for IL concentration were ~5µM and ~40µM, respectively. The C4mim had no significant effect on the DAPI/DNA complex. Time-resolved measurements also support the conclusion that ILs displace DAPI from the minor groove, though apparently at a lower IL concentration threshold than the steady-state measurements suggest. The lifetime and anisotropy time constants suggest that the IL threshold concentrations are ~3µM and ~10 µM. Differences between the threshold concentrations will be discussed.

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Project Title: Molecular Solvation Dynamics in Phosphonium Ionic Liquids
Author: Rachel Riga
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Mark Heitz
Abstract: The goal of this research is to determine the solvation dynamics in four environmentally-friendly, “green”, phosphonium ionic liquids (PILs) + cosolvent binary mixtures. Rose Bengal is a prototypical fluorescent molecule known for its spectral sensitivity and is used to probe the IL mixtures. Neat ILs and methanol (MeOH) solvents were used to form an array of IL mixtures in which rose Bengal was dissolved. Solvation of rose Bengal was determined using steady-state and time-resolved fluorescence spectroscopy. The solute emission intensity is quenched most effectively at a mole fraction of ~0.1 PIL suggesting that the solvent-solute interactions are most unique in this range of mole fraction. Similarly, the lifetime data shows a minimum value at ~0.1 mol fraction PIL, also implying quenching of the probe at this solution composition. Rose Bengal is better solvated, more relaxed, at MeOH-rich mole fractions. Solvation of rose Bengal occurs at a faster rate in solutions of lower mole fraction PIL.

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Project Title: How feasible is it for LA to host the Olympics in 2028 given the city's existing transportation, lodging, and other resources?
Author: Connor Stoutz
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Mario Fontana
Abstract: Hosting the Olympics is a monumental task that can negatively effect a host city. It is well established that hosting the Olympics is a costly venture. The aim of this paper is to determine how feasible it is for the city of Los Angeles to host the 2028 Olympic Games given the city's existing transportation, lodging, and other resources.
To test the hypothesis that Los Angeles is relatively well suited to host the 2028 Olympic Games, I examined three past Olympic Games in order to determine where they succeeded and where they fell short. The studied games include, London 2012, Sochi 2014, and Rio 2016 London 2012 was largely a success, while Sochi and Rio struggled. London was able to succeed by focusing on the legacy of the games, while Sochi and Rio were deterred by corruption from Game organizers and government officials. I also examined public data in Los Angeles including existing venues, budgets, infrastructure, and lodging. The results showed that showed that little construction would have to be done for sports venues.
These results suggest that Los Angeles is more well suited to host the games compared to most countries due to its existing infrastructure.

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Project Title: Assessing the Association Between Persons’ Abstraction Ability and Religious Behavior
Author: Matthew Too
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Tasneem Zaihra
Abstract: The relationship between abstract thinking ability and religiousness between atheists and Christians taken from the AddHealth Wave IV Database was tested. This relationship was also tested over the various races. Using one-way ANOVAs and Pearson correlation coefficients, it was found that abstract thinking ability and religiousness were not correlated with one another although it was found that atheists were shown to be more abstract than Christians were. No differences in abstract thinking behavior was observed among the various races although religious differences were noted. It was suggested that other factors not tested in this study were to account for this unusual behavior. The results of this study show that Christians do not understand God in terms of the metaphysical better than atheists do, thereby substantiating other findings that adults tend to anthropomorphize (attribute human-characteristics to) God in the Christian religions.

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Last Updated 2/15/21