Undergraduate Research Day 2021
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With students involved in so many research opportunities, Undergraduate Research Day provides the perfect opportunity for them to share their work with the campus community. Held each April, Undergraduate Research Day showcases current research, scholarship, and artistic endeavors.
- ItemThe Deprioritization of Gender and Protection During UNRWA’s 2018 Financial Crisis(2021) Greenwald, Erica; Kosko, Stacy; Tuke, DanielOn August 31, 2018, the United States Department of State announced their termination of all funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). Prior to 2018, the United States government was UNRWA’s largest donor and a leading advocate for the agency’s role in stabilizing the Middle East. Though UNRWA has historically faced funding challenges, the termination of U.S. funding plunged the agency into an unprecedented financial crisis. During emergencies—health, economic, military, or otherwise—gender work has often been relegated to non-essential status, limiting the quality and inclusivity of humanitarian response. This research considers how UNRWA’s gender and protection work was impacted by the agency’s 2018 financial crisis. Ultimately, I find that UNRWA’s institutional structure did not sufficiently value gender work, relegating this approach to non-essential status in crisis and making it especially vulnerable during budget cuts. As a result of these vulnerabilities, UNRWA dismantled gender and protection, ending targeted interventions, oversimplifying mainstreaming efforts, and exporting their work to non-experts. This paper also considers the implications of deprioritizing gender work: increasing gender-based violence, regional instability, and a self-reinforcing cycle of vulnerabilities. Moreover, this paper examines the connection between community and gender-based violence and its relation to violent extremism. Despite the vital importance of gender and protection work, as well as efforts to integrate this work in with other program lines, these programs are seen as nonessential and are routinely hit first and worst during budgetary crises.
- ItemPieces of Lakeland: Using Augmented Reality Technology to Share History(2021-04-26) Dolan, Fiona; Fenlon, KatrinaLakeland is a historically black neighborhood located in College Park, Maryland. Ravaged by a plan for ‘urban renewal’ in the end of the 20th century, many current residents are unaware of the neighborhood’s unique history. The Lakeland Community Heritage Project has been working for over a decade to gather and preserve documentation of the fascinating history of this neighborhood. Through their collaboration with the Maryland Institute of Technology in the Humanities, they’ve built a sizable collection - but few other than those who have built it have any idea that it exists. How do we mobilize a digital, community-built archive to be present and visible in the public realm? I focused on the technology of augmented reality applications, a unique way of placing the digital in the scope of the physical. By focusing on a few carefully selected physical sites within Lakeland, I built timelines from images and data relating specifically to those sites. These narratives were woven into three different miniature collections, unique to each site. Users are able to explore them in an augmented-reality guided tour that shows them a timeline of the site’s history, as well as information about Lakeland itself. This project is a fresh way to bring archival collections directly into the public sphere, offering a novel opportunity to explore local history. It builds upon the work of Maryland Institute of Technology in the Humanities and the Lakeland Community Heritage Project, offering a new way to share their data with the public.
- ItemBiomarker Research Applications in Alzheimer's Disease(2021-05) Cieslak, Zofia; Acha, Beatrice; Hemani, Danny; Kubli, Anjali; Lee, So Min; Mgboji, Rejoyce; Nallani, Madhulika C.; Park, Michael J.; Samson, Mahalet; Wu, Benjamin; Smith, J. Carson; Smith, J. CarsonAlzheimer’s Disease (AD) affects millions of older individuals and is a growing problem without an accessible diagnosis method, drug target for treatment, or model of the longitudinal progression of the disease. The project, led by University of Maryland Gemstone Team BRAIN, aims to determine how changes in memory, visuospatial ability, the plasma amyloid β 42/40 ratio, and the total hippocampal volume can be used to accurately predict the onset and progression of AD. Using the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative, a database that compiles data from nationwide studies, we analyze cognitive function (memory and visuospatial ability), plasma biomarkers (amyloid β 42/40 ratio), and brain imaging (hippocampal volume). Data analysis consists of using programs such as Python and JASP to analyze data from the ADNI database, and finding significant relationships between variables through statistical analysis. Our results suggest that the impact of the e4 allele on memory and visuospatial ability over time may be strong in people who show early cognitive decline, independent of age, sex and education, and that hippocampal volume loss is greater in people who carry the e4 allele independent of covariates. Furthermore, it is unclear if plasma biomarkers reflect brain pathology. Team BRAIN’s future research goals include addressing disparities in AD development among different demographic and socioeconomic groups, using our findings to work towards a novel and cost-effective approach to diagnosing and treating AD to eradicate boundaries in the access to care, applying machine learning to propose a model of prediction and longitudinal progression, and expanding the variable set to include more biomarkers.
- ItemDeveloping a Gaucher Disease Pharmacological Model of the Blood-Brain Barrier(2021-04) Selvadoss, Andrew; Muro, Silvia; Solomon, Melani; Feldman, Ricardo; Srikanth, Manasa; Gray, KevinGaucher disease is a genetic disorder that leads to the lysosomal enzyme glucocerebrosidase (GCase) being unable to function correctly. The enzyme breaks down glucocerebroside (GluCer) and in the case of Gaucher disease, a buildup of GluCer leads to various conditions which can often be neuropathic. A common treatment for Gaucher disease and other lysosomal storage diseases is enzyme replacement therapy, which consists of intravenously delivered recombinant enzymes. However, this treatment has an inability to treat the central nervous system (CNS) because of its inability to cross the blood-brain barrier (BBB). In vitro studies with Gaucher afflicted BBB cellular systems are needed to test the delivery of novel recombinant enzymes across the BBB. These experiments however are severely limited by the scarcity and expense of Gaucher endothelial cells, astrocytes, and neurons, which compose the BBB. This project's goal was to develop a pharmacological model of Gaucher disease using cellular systems involving treating healthy endothelial cells, astrocytes, to exhibit the Gaucher phenotype, and iPS service Gaucher neurons. First, cellular systems were treated with conduritol beta-epoxide (CBE), an inhibitor of GCase. Treatment with CBE lowered GCase activity and increased GluCer accumulation in both cell types, and to a similar extent as a genetic model- Gaucher skin fibroblasts. An in vitro model of the Gaucher BBB was created using a transwell system with CBE treated endothelial cells on the apical side, astrocytes on the basal side of the filter and iPS service Gaucher neurons in the basal well. Transport of GCase, modified to transcytose more efficiently was tested on the Gaucher BBB model, where more efficient transcytosis, lysosomal colocalization, and effects were observed when compared to control GCase. This model presents a promising step towards testing potential therapeutics for Gaucher disease.