Undergraduate Research Day 2024

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    Skibbereen, Ireland: A Legacy of the Famine
    (2024) Weikert, Emma; Brighton, Stephen
    The Irish Potato Famine began in the mid-19th century, claiming the lives of millions. The Famine forever changed the culture and sociopolitical relations of Irish people, and these changes are reflected in the graveyards in the past and present. Symbols, imagery, and types of grave markers give insight into the ideologies of the time they were placed there. I visited three graveyards in West Cork in the summer of 2023 and examined databases of graveyards, to compare grave markings and graveyards before, during, and after the Famine. The question was posed: What are the long-term cultural implications of the famine, and how does this manifest in graveyards?
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    Quantum Finance: Exploring Asset Management with QAOA
    (2024) Henkle, Evan; Igur, Vismay; Karnik, Sara; Velaga, Sourabh; Jabeen, Shabnam; Khan, Alex
    Quantum computers are becoming more and more applicable to a variety of applications due to their ability to exponentially speed up computation. This project aims to utilize quantum technology to build a Quantum Approximation Optimization Algorithm (QAOA), to redefine portfolio optimization in finance. We aim to conduct a series of simulations to evaluate the effectiveness of our quantum based portfolio strategy, and compare the outcomes against those achieved through traditional optimization methods. Our preliminary research indicates that the quantum approach may result in faster and higher quality portfolio solutions, leading to more profitable and risk averse investments. By translating the challenge of finding the optimal combination of assets - balancing risk and return - into a problem that can be solved by quantum computing, we unlock new possibilities for financial analysis and decision making.
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    Exploring Olfactory Cues: Behavioral Responses in Cichlid Juvenile to Food and Amino Acid Stimuli
    (2024) Leary, Maurice; Gable Parker, Coltan; Juntti, Scott
    Cichlid fish have achieved a uniquely high rate of speciation, providing researchers the opportunity to better understand the sensory systems associated with speciation. Chemosensation, which includes both taste and olfaction and is used to detect food, must have evolved as cichlids evolved different lifestyles and diets. However, the specific neural mechanisms associated with chemosensory food detection in cichlids have not been discovered. In this experiment, we aimed to determine if cichlid juveniles show behavioral preference for food associated olfactory cues when presented with two types of stimuli: amino acids and food extract. We expect that both cues should be sufficient in evoking behavioral preference, as determined by time spent in odor compared to clean water, which would confirm the ability to confirm preference for food olfactory cues in cichlid juvenile. I tested a total of 28 cichlid juvenile, and their results revealed no overall significant preference when introduced to an olfactory cue. Nonetheless, we did observe 100% of fish spending over 50% of time in food extract order when administered, suggesting further research is required to determine if a possible stage in development is crucial in confidently proving this. Further research may entail an assay with a simpler food delivery system, a finer control of water flow, and histological studies in comparison of cichlid juvenile in various stages of development, as to determine significant olfactory or brain tissue differences.
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    Russian Wealth and The Invasion of Ukraine: Evidence from the Bank for International Settlements
    (2024) Bopst, Connor; Reck, Daniel
    This paper uses public bilateral deposit data released by the Bank for International Settlements to analyze the effect of Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 on Russian wealth held abroad. I find a sharp spike of over $22 billion, or 66%, in Russian nonbank loans and deposits held abroad from quarter 4 of 2021 to quarter 1 of 2022. This spike in loans and deposits fully subsides by quarter 2 of 2022. I quantify the spike mathematically and note its exemplary nature. I examine the Russian sectors that are driving the trend, finding a steep decline in Russian nonbank deposits held by households and a spike and partial reversion in deposits held by nonbank financial institutions. Deposits from non-financial corporations exhibit a spike and subsequent fall to lower than pre-invasion levels. I walk through potential explanations for these trends, beginning with a marked decline in Russian loans and deposits in Switzerland that co-trends with Russian household deposits. I further document increases in Russian loans and deposits in Belgium that start after Euroclear began to store seized Russian assets. Lastly, I note a spike and full reversion in Russian loans and deposits held in the US and discuss the possibility that the liquidation of US multinationals could cause the deposit behavior seen in the US-Russia series. This paper has implications for the offshore wealth and capital flight literatures and the effectiveness of the sanctions imposed on Russian Oligarchs after Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
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    Expressive and Receptive Language Skills of Children With and Without Mathematics Difficulty
    (2024) Singh, Durga; Fu, Yang; Chow, Jason
    Language skills had a great impact on children’s mathematics performance. Children with mathematics difficulties (MD) have poorer language skills than peers without MD (Chow et al., 2021). Little has been explored about the association between language skills and MD in early childhood. This study aims to examine the overall language skills of children with and without MD and explore the different patterns of variability across language domains. The sample is 140 kindergarteners from a large suburban school district in central Virginia. We administered the Kaufman Test of Educational Achievement (KTEA-3) for MD classification and used the Test of Auditory Comprehension of Language (TACL) and the Test of Expressive Language (TEXL) to determine receptive and expressive language skills. We will use multivariate analysis of covariance to examine the overall difference in language skills of children with and without MD, controlling for cognitive skills and other demographic variables. We predict that the overall group differences will be statistically significant and want to explore whether differences emerge across the different domains of expressive and receptive language.
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    Big Eyes in the Ocean
    (2024) Clermont, Letsky; Johnson, Lena
    Coral reefs are the central hub in supporting diverse marine life and are facing escalating threats from global warming and human activity. Reefs are important to human life as they provide protection from coastal storms, and are a source of food and scientific insight. The increased need for motoring the life reefs necessitates cameras capable of capturing reef conditions over time in shallow to deep water. This research proposes a novel approach of combining insights from the visual biology of tarsiers with previous work that created affordable depth cameras for high-fidelity imaging. Tarsiers are remarkably small primates with a length of 9–16 cm and have the largest eye-to-head ratio of any mammal. Tarsiers’ vision systems utilize their eye size to take in a large quantity of light allowing them to efficiently hunt insects in low-light conditions. Applying this heightened depth perception to ocean imaging cameras can help improve image quality at depth with low light. The standard the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration advises for reef research and restoration utilizes large-area imaging to create 3D topographic representations of the reefs using structure-from-motion software. Previous research at Disney Research found a method of modifying the software of low-cost depth cameras to create detailed 3D representations of reefs. Adapting this vision system to depth cameras can augment the resolution, accuracy, and cost-effectiveness of coral reef imaging. By contributing to more affordable reef imaging cameras, more communities can contribute to the comprehension and monitoring of coral reef ecosystems amidst mounting environmental pressures.
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    Groundwater Contamination and Property Values: A Hedonic Price Analysis
    (2024) Keane, Jack; Cropper, Maureen
    About 15% of the United States population (~43 million people) rely on private wells for their source of drinking water. This water is not regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency, and as a result, the water in these wells can contain harmful contaminants (e.g., arsenic, nitrates, and nitrites) that go undetected by homeowners unless otherwise tested. Using a dataset of housing transactions (n=3,908) in the Orlando, Florida Metropolitan Statistical Area, I examine the impact of testing well water on the property value at time of sale. In Florida, not all homes with wells are tested before sale. I address the possibility of selection bias by using a subsample of homes from this dataset (n=1,566) that had all tested their well water before being sold. Using a hedonic pricing model, I test the impact of a well water test finding a contaminant above the detectable limit on sales price, controlling for housing characteristics, geospatial characteristics, and the date of sale. My results indicate a 10% decrease in property value when a well test revealed a contaminant to be above the detectable limit, relative to properties with well tests that did not reveal any contaminant above the detectable limit. The most robust, significant effects are found when homes were tested within a 3-year window prior to transaction. This has implications for the public health and financial stability of homeowners using private well water.
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    Silicone Fish Tail Actuator Capable of Variable Stiffening
    (2024) Abrishamian, Shirah Shoshanah Ariel; Lena, Johnson; Huertas-Cerdeira, Cecilia
    This work documents the creation of a fish-inspired robot actuator - from the conceptual design to a functional silicone model. The effect between the variable stiffness of a fish body and swimming efficiency has been a research subject in recent years. Often anatomy or function of an organism will inspire technological designs, particularly within the study of robotics. Animals have flexible anatomy for a range of possible maneuvers, and why fish-inspired robots are a popular choice in research. Studies have suggested a key to swim speed and efficiency in fish has been through tunable musculature. While muscle stiffness is difficult to measure in live fish, there is strong, natural evidence from several species, such as sunfish and tuna fish, showcasing this idea. Promoting inspired designs is the next step in improving robot performance. The deceptively simple appearance of typical fish combined with the numerous species' traits provides several possible robot designs. The robots can be objectively simple, with a trivial body and motor design to observe simple caudal fin motion. Or they can be exceptionally complicated if the research chooses to explore the nuances of fish anatomy and physiology, and how the impact on fish swimming in nature translates into an engineered construct. This would be beneficial due to the close relationship between bio-inspired design and soft robotics, fish bodies make a prime testing ground for soft robotics. No matter the simplicity, these robot designs can then be tested to gather valuable experimental data. This collaboration of technology and analysis then results in robots with advanced designs and special maneuvering capabilities. This research project aims to develop a tuna-inspired tail actuator capable of variable stiffness via a pneumatic system. Once attached to a 3D-printed fish body, it will be used to observe vorticity changes in fluid.
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    Draco Lizard-Inspired Robot for Structure Collapse Search
    (2024) Phillips, Savannah; Johnson, Lena
    Many high-stress situations can be difficult to navigate for first responders. Scenes such as active fires and building collapses require precise response tactics in order to minimize risk to first responders and victims alike. Disaster response tends to leave outcomes up to chance as a result of the unpredictable nature of these situations. Introducing robots into disaster response may help reduce uncertainty. Specifically, engineering robots to perform reconnaissance and relay critical information could greatly mitigate the risk posed to first responders entering dangerous scenes. My aim is to design a robot that possesses the gliding and crawling capabilities of the draco lizard. Draco lizards have unique wings that are used to glide amongst trees. My goal is to incorporate this gliding system into the robot, enabling it to be deployed to disaster sites with ease and reducing the workload for first responders. Equipped with cameras, the robot will be able to relay footage of the disaster scene for monitoring. Additionally, a thermal sensing system permits the transmission of quantitative data on potentially hazardous conditions, aiding in the locating of victims and ensuring informed and safer rescue operations.
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    Designing a Fish-like Robot That Can Swim on Water and Walk on Land
    (2024) Garcia, Jimmy; Johnson, Lena
    The Chesapeake Bay offers a scenic escape but struggles with excessive algae growth, particularly in forested wetlands. To address this, we are developing a robotic fish with a unique drivetrain that allows it to navigate both water and land, targeting hard-to-reach landscapes - like forested wetlands - as this is where excessive algae growth concentrates. Throughout our research, we discovered the Pleco fish - a fish that can swim on water and walk on land using its tail fin. We believe replicating this locomotion system will advance the development of algae cleanup robots. Because of this, we are designing our robot to use a dual-gated system; the robot will have one drivetrain with two functions - swimming and walking. To develop our robot, we first focused on three key areas: the body, tail, and locomotion system (swimming and walking). We built a prototype that navigates water and makes rudimentary walking motions on land. However, it uses two swimming and walking movement systems, which are still limited. We tested the robot’s aquatic abilities via a trial run in a controlled, clean pool at the University of Maryland, College Park’s Neutral Buoyancy Research Facility. We are trying to iterate the design of the current drivetrain system and integrate the swimming and walking capabilities into one dual-gated system. This system should allow the robot to swim and walk on water without utilizing separate movement systems. We hope these new iterations will bring us closer to replicating the locomotion of the pleco fish and help empower researchers and engineers to develop robotic platforms for cleaning algae in forested wetlands - a future of an algae-free bay.
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    Defining how two avian double-stranded RNA viruses affect lipid droplet (LD) formation and lipid metabolism in vitro
    (2024) Liu, Ying-Rong (Megan); Kehlbeck, Declan; Egana-Labrin, Sofia; Brodrick, Andrew; Sunny, Nishanth; Broadbent, Andrew; Broadbent, Andrew
    Some mammalian and fish double-stranded (ds)RNA viruses hijack lipid droplets (LDs) during their replication cycle, however, our understanding of how avian dsRNA viruses interact with LDs is incomplete. Here, we report data from avian reovirus (ARV) and infectious bursal disease virus (IBDV)- infected cells. Following ARV infection, there was a significant increase in the number (p < 0.0001) and size (p < 0.0001) of LDs compared to mock-infected controls, 6-24 hours post infection (hpi), in both immortalized LMH cells and primary gut cultures. Treatment with the ACCA inhibitor, TOFA, reduced ARV-mediated LD induction, indicating de novo lipogenesis was partially involved in their formation. Moreover, ARV infection decreased the expression of PGC-1α (p < 0.05) and ELOVL2 (p < 0.001). Previous reports demonstrated that inhibition of PGC-1α and ELOVL expression in mice led to cellular lipid accumulation and hepatic steatosis, suggesting ARV could upregulate LD synthesis by decreasing expression of these genes. However, it is unclear whether LD induction was pro- or anti-viral, since both TOFA treatment to inhibit LD synthesis, and oleic acid/palmitic acid treatment to overexpress LDs did not significantly alter ARV replication. In contrast, infection with IBDV did not substantially increase the size or number of LDs, or significantly reduce the expression of PGC-1α and ELOVL2. In contrast to some other dsRNA viruses like rotavirus and mammalian orthoreovirus, neither ARV nor IBDV cytoplasmic puncta colocalized with LDs. Taken together, our findings demonstrate that the two dsRNA viruses had distinct effects on cellular lipid metabolism.
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    Extended Reality Teleoperation and Simulation of Space Robotics Using Unity
    (2024-04) Perlstein, Romeo; Carignan, Craig
    The use of extended reality (XR) for enabling “telepresence” of robotic systems has become more prevalent in the past decade. However, the technology leap from commercially available robots to more extreme environment robotic systems, such as industrial and space robots, has yet to be widely demonstrated. The Space Systems Laboratory at the University of Maryland is developing XR control interfaces using the Unity game engine to more intuitively command dexterous space robots. Utilizing the Unity game engine lends several benefits, such as high fidelity dynamic physics simulation, customizability through the use of C# scripting, and the built-in robotic features provided through the Unity Robotics Hub. Unity, being a game engine, is able to simulate different environments, such as microgravity and the surfaces of celestial bodies such as the Moon or Mars. This allows for the creation of immersive scenes that robots can be simulated in to demonstrate the intractability of the system in the desired environment. Accurate robotic models can be generated in Unity using ROS’s Unified Robot Description Files (URDFs) and Unity’s “ArticulationBody” component for joint simulation, which provide state feedback such as joint position, velocity, and torque, as well as forces and torques being applied to the robot body. The robot model can then be used to either visualize a robot by sending state data from a control program to Unity, or to command a robot by sending state data from Unity to the control program. Incorporating XR devices such as the Microsoft Hololens or the Oculus Quest allow for immersive control and visualization of space robotic systems in a desired environment.
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    CerviCare: A Point of Care Screening Device for Cervical Precancer
    (iGEM, 2024-04) Bansal, Navya; Firdaus, Sarah; Jocić, Mia; Meyer, Jonathon; Valdés, Trinidad Cubillos; Wu, Jonathan; Jaranson, Renee; Zhang, Kevin; Ferguson, Graham; Adu-Osei, Krista; Namputhiripad, Aditi; Harel, Dana; Lu, Rebecca; Hussain, Haider; Wang, Miranda; Gadigi, Aditri; Senthilkumar, Abhi; Kahn, Jason; Eisenstein, Edward
    Cervical cancer remains a significant health burden, especially in regions with limited access to diagnostic facilities. To combat this, the UMaryland iGEM Team is developing an inexpensive point-of-care cervical precancer screening tool. Utilizing red fluorescent protein (RFP), this tool will provide a reliable color-based output upon detecting specific miRNAs (miR-21, miR-199a, and miR-155-5p) associated with cervical precancer. Our detection approach combines toehold switch and novel synthetic RNA technologies. Toehold switches serve as recognition elements, enabling target miRNA detection with high sensitivity and specificity. Our synthetic RNA ribozyme device will utilize both a novel miRNA sensor and self-cleaving properties to achieve similar sensitivity and specificity. Utilizing two cell-free devices in tandem will allow us to increase the accuracy of our screening device, which will be a paper assay system. Finally, through careful design and optimization, we aim to produce this device at low-cost and simplify it to require minimal training, enabling its use in resource-limited areas.
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    Does Religious Identity Influence the Racial Categorization of Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) Americans?
    (2024) Moghaddam, Sarah; Zou, Linda
    Despite Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) Americans experiencing marginalization due to their race and ethnicity, the U.S. Census still classifies them as White. There may also be ambiguity among other people of color (POC) as to how MENA Americans should be racially classified. Previous research has found that Muslim MENAs are less likely to identify as White than Christian MENAs. Our research explored whether MENA religious identity affects their classification as POC by other POC. Participants of color were shown a series of profiles of MENA individuals that manipulated their religious identity (i.e., Christian, Muslim, or none listed). Participants rated the extent to which they viewed the individuals, and MENA Americans as a whole, as POC. They also rated the extent to which they perceived individuals and MENA Americans as experiencing racial discrimination and being prototypical of POC. Religious identity did not have an effect on the ratings of MENA individuals or MENA Americans as a whole. Future research should continue to explore if religion intersects with race to influence who is more likely to be perceived as a POC.
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    Generating Algorithms for Hot Spots Policing
    (2024) Versace, Nathan Rios; Arellano, Trina; Chen, Alex; Du, Allen; Eichstadt, Andrea Maria; Lin, Aaron; Samuels, Coley; Tao, Grace; Tasneem, Zoya; Hajiaghayi, Mohammad Taghi
    Large police departments have come to rely on algorithms to predict where crime will occur, such that they can better allocate resources to communities that need them. While these algorithms have been shown to reduce crime, they are not built to account for historical bias in training data, especially against racial and class minorities. As a result, they run the risk of reinforcing historical prejudice against these already persecuted groups. The aim of team GAHSP is to address these inherent issues with predictive policing while also improving on crime-prediction accuracy. Using modern Machine Learning techniques, better data cleansing/weighting, and algorithm stopgaps such as unfairness penalties, we aim to construct an algorithm which has the benefits of better crime prediction while minimizing bias in ways that past algorithms have not attempted or succeeded at doing.
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    Examining Convective Froude Number as a Fire Spread Rate and Plume Structure Predictor Using WRF Model
    (2024) Maynard, Nichola; Eghdami, Masih
    Fire responders and local authorities face significant challenges when dealing with extreme wildfires. These fires are unpredictable and exhibit varying spread rates and plume structures depending on whether the fire regime is plume-driven or wind-driven. To better predict fire spread in these uncertain scenarios, it is crucial to gain a deeper understanding of the drivers of the fire regime. Here, we examine the Froude Number to predict the plume structure and fire spread rate using idealized simulations run with the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model. Changing levels of relative humidity in the atmosphere as well as different fuel types can provide further insight into how fire spreads in varying conditions. The intensity of wildfires has greatly increased over the past several years and that trend is predicted to continue in the near future. By improving predictions of fire spread and plume structure during wildfire events, our results directly help the work of firefighters, potentially leading to less infrastructure damage and more lives saved.
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    Mitochondrial Morphology in Orbitofrontal Cortical Neurons During Incubation of Oxycodone Craving
    (2024) Luo, Xiang; Olaniran, Adedayo; Matheson, Chloe; Lin, Hongyu; Li, Xuan
    Mitochondrial morphology in orbitofrontal cortical neurons during incubation of oxycodone craving Relapse is a major challenge in treating opioid addiction, including oxycodone, a commonly abused prescription opioid. In rats, cue-induced oxycodone seeking progressively increases during abstinence. Our previous work demonstrated that orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) plays a critical role in this incubation of oxycodone craving. However, the molecular mechanisms in OFC that contribute to this incubation are unknown. Here, we focus on mitochondrial dynamics in OFC and characterize the mitochondrial morphology in OFC neurons during incubation of oxycodone craving. We used a dual-virus approach to sparsely label mitochondria in OFC neurons by injecting the adeno-associated virus (AAV)-hSyn-GFP together with AAV-CMV-mitoDsRed bilaterally into OFC. Next, we trained male rats to either self-administer saline (as the control group) or oxycodone (0.1 mg/kg/infusion) for 6 h/day over 10 days. On abstinence day 15, we perfused both groups of animals and processed the brain for confocal microscopy. Our image analysis showed that in the somas of OFC neurons, there was a significant increase in the size-frequency of the smallest mitochondria, accompanied by overall increased mitochondria density, in oxycodone rats compared with saline rats. This finding suggests that mitochondria in OFC neuronal cell bodies enhanced fission after 15-day abstinence from oxycodone self-administration. In contrast, we did not observe the differences in primary dendrites of OFC neurons between the two groups. Studies are underway to examine whether enhanced mitochondrial fission in OFC somas is time-dependent after abstinence and whether there are sex differences in mitochondrial morphology during incubation of oxycodone craving.
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    Pawsitive Impact: How Pets Enhance Our Psychological Well-Being
    (2024) Bagni, Sokun; Tomlinson, Tracy
    Research into psychological well-being (PWB), a multidimensional construct that includes self-actualization and healthy relationships (Adler et al., 2017), is fundamental for improving the positive functioning of individuals and communities. Therefore, this research considers the ability of pets to improve an individual's quality of life and PWB. Interacting with pets can offer emotional support, alleviate stress, and encourage physical activity, which can directly improve PWB (Gaied, 2022). Using a naturalistic observational research design, pet owners in a public park were assessedon their level of engagement and care towards their pets, and their PWB as measured by Duchenne smiles and laughter. The results indicate that those who have high-quality interactions with their pets have significantly better PWB than those who showed low-quality interaction. This study emphasizes the importance of meaningful interactions with pets in promoting PWB, suggesting that active engagement beyond the mere presence of the animal is crucial. This underscores the need for future research on pets in PWB, as their interactions could boost both individual and community well-being. The implications of this research support expanding traditional views on pet involvement by encouraging alternative engagements such as fostering pets and participating in pet cafe experiences. Future research should explore the causal pathways of this relationship and consider broader, more diversified samples to increase the generalizability of the results. Quality interactions with pets have the potential to greatly benefit individuals and society as a whole, making it an important area of future research. References Adler, A., Unanue, W., Osin, E., Ricard, M., Alkire, S., & Seligman, M. (2017). Psychological wellbeing. Happiness, 118. https://www.bhutanstudies.org.bt/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Happiness-transform_Final_with-cover .pdf#page=123 Gaied, J. Y. (2022). Relationship between Pets' Possession and Psychological, Physical and general wellbeing of Community dwelling older adults. Alexandria Scientific Nursing Journal, 24(4), 37-47. https://asalexu.journals.ekb.eg/article_280353_671675a72acfe748e3881cc9e2cfda83.pdf Link to OSF Project: https://osf.io/q5y72
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    Identification of fikk gene expression specific to severe malarial syndromes in Malian children
    (2023-10-13) Kapadia, Sarika; Lawton, Jonathan; Stucke, Emily; Travassos, Mark
    Plasmodium falciparum is the most common and virulent malaria parasite. As the primary species responsible for severe malaria, it continues to be a leading cause of mortality in the developing world. Children under the age of five are overwhelmingly affected, accounting for most deaths from malaria. P. falciparum is unique among Plasmodium species for having multiple members of the fikk multigene family, which encodes serine/threonine kinases. During intra-erythrocytic infection, P. falciparum actively exports 18-26 FIKKs into the infected erythrocyte. These kinases are predicted to facilitate the activation and trafficking of membrane proteins within infected erythrocytes, contributing to the remodeling of the erythrocytic membrane and its highly variable surface antigens. Given the association of parasite erythrocyte surface antigens and severe malarial disease, we hypothesized that severe malaria cases feature elevated expression of a subset of fikks compared to matched uncomplicated malaria controls. We investigated the differential expression of fikk kinases in severe clinical syndromes of P. falciparum malaria in a matched case-control study in Mali. Using a custom pipeline, we compared fikk expression in cases of cerebral malaria (CM), severe malaria anemia (SMA), and a combined syndrome featuring both CM and SMA (CM+SMA) to matched uncomplicated malaria controls (UM). Preliminary findings with 64 total subjects indicate the differential expression of several fikks in severe disease compared to matched controls. One fikk gene had significantly increased expression in CM cases compared to matched uncomplicated malaria controls (N=14 pairs, P<0.02; Wilcoxon signed-rank test). We identified a characteristic fikk expression profile specific to the combined CM+SMA syndrome involving four FIKKs. We are examining host immune responses to FIKK proteins using a custom protein microarray. We are assessing the suitability of a subset of FIKKs as targets for vaccine and therapeutic development for severe malaria, particularly if they are natural targets of the host immune system.
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    Gluten Quantitation in Fermented Sourdough Using a Multiplex-Competitive ELISA
    (2024) Parimi, Manasvini; Galanis, Christina; Panda, Rakhi
    Background: Gluten in wheat, barley, and rye can cause adverse reactions in individuals with Celiac disease, who need to follow a strict gluten-free diet. There are regulations in place that defines gluten-free. Accurate quantification of gluten in different foods, including fermented and hydrolyzed foods, is necessary to comply with the gluten-free regulations. Here we report a multiplex-competitive ELISA for the quantification of gluten in fermented sourdough. Methods: Gluten-incurred sourdough using four types of sourdough starters were prepared. The starter cultures were combined with rice flour, water, incurred with 8, 20, and 100 ppm wheat gluten, and fermented for 72 hrs. Samples collected every 24 hours were analyzed by a multiplex-competitive ELISA that uses a gluten-incurred yogurt calibrant and six gluten specific antibodies. Gluten concentrations in the samples were estimated using a four-parameter logistic (4 PL) regression. Results: The quantitative values from two out of six antibodies used in the ELISA were used to estimate the gluten concentrations in the sourdough samples. The average gluten recovery was between 55-195% for all samples. The coefficient of variation (%CV) ranged between 2-31%. Implications: The average % recovery for most sourdough samples were within acceptable range of 50-150%. Few samples showed recovery up to 200%. The %CV for most samples were ≤ 20%. These results indicate that the multiplex-competitive ELISA can provide accurate and precise quantitation of wheat gluten in fermented sourdough. The effects of heat treatment and several other variations in sourdough preparation on quantitation is currently being evaluated.