Undergraduate Research Day 2020

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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.


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 20 of 105
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    Simulating Speech Perception in Bilateral Cochlear Implant Users with Asymmetric Input
    (2020) Zukerman, Danielle; Goupell, Matthew; Jaekel, Brittany; Milvae, Kristina
    Understanding speech in noise is difficult for cochlear-implant (CI) users. One potential reason for this difficulty is asymmetrical hearing between the two ears; that is, when one ear can process sound more effectively and clearly than the other ear. Such asymmetry may impair some CI users’ ability to fuse speech signals from both ears into a single stream. One way to test this is with an alternating speech paradigm, which is an experimental simplification of speech moving from talker to talker in a rapid conversation between a group of people. Previous studies have shown CI users perform 40% worse on alternating speech listening than normal-hearing individuals. The present study aims to examine if reduced alternating speech perception is the result of asymmetrical hearing, which could cause a listener to only use their better ear when listening to alternating speech, and to miss out on much of the signal that is present in the poorer ear. Six young normal-hearing participants were tested using a CI simulation with varying levels of signal degradation to simulate both asymmetrical and symmetrical hearing. The hypothesis was that participants will show selective attention to the ear with the clearer, less degraded signal in asymmetrical hearing conditions, and will overall perform worse in this condition compared to the symmetrical hearing condition. The results comparing the “better ear” and the asymmetric condition suggest that there is no evidence of selective attention; therefore we can reject the hypothesis. Future directions include increasing asymmetry across ears by simulating more drastic degradation in the “poorer ear”. Speech perception in noise is one of the most common issues CI users face, and quantifying the contributions of asymmetrical hearing to this problem is important for resolving this issue.
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    Recognition of Aminated Guests by Acyclic Cucurbiturils in Biological Conditions
    (2020) Shah, Rohan; Isaacs, Lyle; Zebaze, Sandra
    The acyclic cucurbituril Motor2 has already been well documented in its binding to several types of molecular guests in phosphate buffer. However, while these tests provide a rough idea of motor2 affinity to different types of guests, they are incomplete in that they do not reflect how motor2 actually binds in body conditions. The human body contains many proteins and macromolecules that can affect the host-guest interactions of motor2, so it is important for new binding constants to be measured for motor2 in body conditions. In order to do this, Isothermal Titration Calorimetry (ITC) was used to measure motor2 binding constants to several different guest types in several different solutions, including albumin and fetal bovine serum. It was found that when tested with cyclic, monoaminated guests, motor2 binding affinity did not decrease significantly from phosphate to protein serum solvents. This retained affinity held across several different ring sizes and shapes. Motor2 binding affinity did suffer greatly in protein serum for guests that were linear, regardless of how many amines they had. The results also indicated that more hydrophobic guests do not bind as well to motor2 once albumin and other proteins ae introduced to solution, while hydrophilic, polar guests have better affinity retention. The ITC testing results indicated that motor2 binding in body conditions is heavily dependent on the shape of the guests it is binding to, and that motor2 would be most effective at its purpose in the human body if it was used to target cyclic amines and similar types.
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    Predicting facial movement using electromyography and machine learning
    (2020) Choi, Theresa; Brustad, Abby; Morales, Santiago; Fox, Nathan
    Video coding participants’ behavior is inherently a subjective and time-consuming process. The purpose of this study is to support traditional video coding methods of facial expressions by using machine learning on available electromyographic (EMG) data. For this, we tested the accuracy across four machine learning algorithms (i.e., decision tree, K-nearest neighbors (KNN), multilayer perceptron (MLP), and linear support vector classifier (SVC)). Specifically, we tested their accuracy in distinguishing between (a) any facial activity versus no movement, and (b) different facial expressions (Fearful, Happy, Neutral). Success was measured by final accuracy on a pre-chosen test set. Results showed that the decision tree and KNN classifiers had the highest potential for detecting facial activity with a test accuracy of 94%. However, after plotting their decision boundaries, both had a risk of overfitting, suggesting that the best classifier could instead be a safer choice of the MLP or SVC algorithms with 84% accuracy. For classifying different facial expressions, the MLP algorithm had the highest accuracy with 88% accuracy. Overall, the conclusion is that with further development, machine learning models could simplify the video coding process. While there were some models with very high accuracies (above 90%), they tended to risk overfitting and not generalize to larger datasets. Thus, the best use of these models would be in tandem with other coding methods, such as by quickly verifying low-accuracy classifications via video coding or by outputting cutoff parameters that can be used to facilitate other analyses.
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    Analysis of RNA Concentration of Influenza and other Respiratory Viruses from Dormitory Air Sampling
    (2020) Khan, Razeen; Bueno de Mesquita, Jacob; Milton, Donald
    Making accurate exposure assessments of airborne disease transmission is an integral part of a proactive response to outbreak events and can help track the pathway of transmission. This study aimed to assess the use of the rebreathed air equation in a dorm room setting and compare the expected exposure provided by the equation with actual viral collection determined by sampling. The study involved quantifying viral aerosol levels in the dormitory rooms of college students infected with influenza and other respiratory infections. NIOSH bioaerosol samplers collected dorm room air overnight and the viral concentration from these samples were compared against the calculated exposure value provided by the rebreathed air equation informed by direct measurements of viral shedding rates from the infected dorm residents ascertained by the Gesundheit-II bioaerosol collector. This comparison was facilitated by the rebreathed-air equation. Air samples were collected from the dormitories of nineteen participants and three participants had influenza. No virus was detected in the NIOSH samples. Data obtained from GII collection on viral shedding was then used in the application of the rebreathed air equation to predict exposure and assess how close the estimate of viral particles was to the actual results. By sampling in the dormitories of students with acute respiratory infections, we can make exposure assessments for roommates of infected students and others living in the dorms with greater accuracy by comparing actual outcomes with theoretical estimates. This work also helps improve understanding of airborne pathogen transmission in dorms and other indoor environments. The outcome of this project and future research like this helps evaluate the use of the rebreathed-air equation in predicting exposure and transmission risk under the assumption of well-mixed air.
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    Reforestation in Peru: Effects of Mercury Contamination
    (2020) AYEBAE, JADA-MERCY; Andrade, Natasha; Rodriguez, Maria
    Jada-Mercy Ayebae1*, Maria Rodriguez1, Dr. Natasha Andrade *Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742 In the Amazon Rainforest, illegal gold mining leaves water, soil and vegetation contaminated with mercury. This affects the environment and the populations dependent on the land for survival. Experiments to assess the toxicity of mercury on indigenous plant will be performed by UMD researchers next year in the Amazon. Radish and tomato seeds were used to design experiments with the purpose of understanding the effects of mercury on vegetation, specifically during germination. It was hypothesized that the control seeds (non-exposed to mercury) would grow longer and healthier than the others, to be implicated by root elongation. Seeds were treated with various concentrations of mercury (2ppm, 1ppm, 0.5ppm, 0ppm). The results showed that the seeds from the control group and those exposed to 0.5 ppm of mercury had greater root elongation than those exposed to 1 and 2ppm, after three days of germination in radishes. The tomatoes were tested in a weeklong experiment finding that, the control group had a significantly higher root length followed by 0.5 and 2ppm. These results showed that 2ppm (the greatest concentration) stunted root elongation the most in radishes and 1ppm stunted root elongation the most in tomatoes. These results support some of the hypothesis and the worries about mercury deposits in the Amazon rainforest.
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    Linker Domain Size Does Not Impact Bivalent HER3 Targeting Affibody Efficacy
    (2020) Oubaid, Jinan; Schardt, John; Jay, Steven; Jay, Steven; Schardt, John
    The Epidermal Growth Factor (EGF) family of receptors, also called ErbB or HER family, is a group of tyrosine kinase transmembrane proteins that have many regulatory purposes including regulating cell proliferation and survival. Members of the HER family rely on forming dimers upon ligand binding to promote downstream signaling. Gene mutations can result in the deregulation of the HER receptors, further resulting in cancer. HER3, a receptor that is deregulated in many cancers including ovarian, breast, and lung cancer, has been found to be responsible for drug resistance to therapeutics that currently exist to target other members of the HER family. This can occur through increased phosphorylation and overexpression of the HER3 receptor. There are many HER3 targeted therapeutics, including monoclonal antibodies (mAbs), that are currently in phase 1 and 2 of clinical studies; however, no HER3 targeted therapeutics have been approved by the FDA. In addition to this, previous studies have demonstrated that not every patient will respond to a specific treatment plan or therapeutic; therefore, the development of various treatment options is essential. An engineered protein known as the affibody, which in previous studies has shown to be highly soluble, thermally stable, and small in size allowing for effective tissue penetration, has emerged as a potential therapeutic agent for cancer. In this study, it was found that multivalent affibodies, which are affibodies with more than one binding domain, are more effective at inhibiting HER3 activation, also known as phosphorylation, and inducing HER3 downregulation than monovalent affibodies in multiple cell lines. Inhibiting receptor activation can be effective at reducing cell proliferation and survivability. In addition, other modifications were made to optimize the affibodies, such as altering the length of the linker that tethers the binding domains in a multivalent affibody together, and to test for their efficacy. Finally, an albumin binding domain was incorporated into the affibody design to help increase affibody half-life, which would be essential for in vivo testing.
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    Bisexual Women’s Female Friendships: Predictors and Outcomes of Sexual Identity Disclosure
    (2020) Parekh, Nina; Mohr, Jonathan
    This study examined identity-based predictors of bisexual women’s sexual identity disclosure and outcomes of disclosure related to individual and interpersonal well-being. The study assessed hypotheses that Asian bisexual women would be less likely to disclose their sexual minority status to Asian friends and more likely to White friends, as well as less likely to monosexual friends. The study also identified that the act of sexual identity disclosure for all participants, regardless of race/ethnicity would experience stronger interpersonal wellbeing among the friends to which they have disclosed their sexual minority status. A sample of bisexual women completed measures focused on their demographic information, personal self-esteem, self-authenticity, satisfaction with life, and perceived social support, as well as their interpersonal level of outness, validation, trust, intimacy, and overall friendship.
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    Assessing Life History Parameters of Trissolcus japonicus and Anastatus reduvii, Parasitoids of the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug
    (2020) Thomas, Namitha; Dabek, Elizabeth Z.; Shrewsbury, Paula M.; Hooks, Cerruti R. R.
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    (2019) Pierre, Yasmine; Spirito, Catherine
    Fluorescent riboswitch reporters can be used in vivo to monitor metabolite dynamics. Previous work used a fluorescent yfp reporter based on a cyclic di-GMP responsive riboswitch from Bacillus licheniformis to monitor cyclic di-GMP levels in individual Bacillus subtilis cells. The previous study found that cell fates in Bacillus subtilis are not uniform in the presence of varying cyclic di-GMP levels. It is important to further develop tools that enable single-cell imaging in Gram-positive bacteria. Fluorogenic aptamers are single-stranded RNA molecules that have been evolved via in vitro selection to bind strongly and specifically to fluorophore molecules and emit a fluorescent signal. These fluorogenic aptamers can be used instead of fluorescent proteins in riboswitch reporter systems to provide a more dynamic read-out of metabolite dynamics in cells. However, relatively little work has been done to evaluate the use of these fluorogenic aptamers as reporter systems in Gram-positive bacteria. The objective of this project is to evaluate the use of four different fluorogenic aptamers (Mango-III, Broccoli, dimeric Broccoli, and SpinachII) instead of yfp in a cyclic di-GMP responsive riboswitch reporter system in Bacillus subtilis. All plasmids containing the riboswitch reporters were constructed and successfully transformed into E. coli cells. Subsequently, the cyclic di-GMP responsive riboswitch reporter systems were successfully transformed into B. subtilis WT PY79 and a 𝝙pdeH mutant. Future work involves evaluating their performance in vivo in B. subtilis via laser confocal and fluorescence microscopy.
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    Interpretable Deep Learning for Toxicity Prediction
    (2020) Banerjee, Aranya; Boby, Kevin; Lam, Samuel; Li, Jeffrey; Polefrone, David; San, Robert; Schlunk, Erika; Wynn, Sean; Yancey, Colin; Feizi, Soheil
    Team TOXIC (“Understanding Computational Toxicology”) seeks to apply interpretability techniques to machine learning models which predict drug safety. Currently, such models have been developed with relative accuracy and are used in industry for drug development. However, because they are not sufficiently rooted in chemical knowledge, they are not widely used in regulatory processes. To contribute towards a solution, we evaluate existing explanation methods for toxicity predction models trained on open-source data sets. Additionally, we are working towards models involving the usage of more interpretable data representations. Ultimately, we hope to demonstrate a proof-of-concept for an interpretable model for predicting drug safety which can illustrate its reasoning.
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    The Effects of DMPF on Honey Bee Pathophysiology
    (2020) Moon, So Eun; Nearman, Anthony; vanEngelsdorp, Dennis
    Varroa destructor is a parasitic mite that is the leading cause of honey bee colony loss in the United States. To mitigate these losses, beekeepers apply acaricide treatments. N-(2,4-dimethylphenyl) formamide (DMPF), the active metabolite in amitraz, was the highest detected pesticide in the 2017 US National Honey Bee Survey (NHBS), where samples of bees and wax were taken from 300 different apiaries across the United States. Although amitraz is relatively non-toxic to bees, very little is known about its effects on honey bee physiology, which has shown to be a useful tool in predicting overall colony health. This study investigates the potential effects of DMPF in adult honey bees across 19 pathophysiological traits. Samples of adult bees were necropsied from colonies with known levels of DMPF in the comb wax and compared to bees from colonies with no DMPF detections. The statistical results indicate potential associations between physiological symptoms in honey bee organs such as the ventriculus, Malpighian tubules, rectum, sting gland, and venom sac to varying DMPF concentrations. These findings serve to identify preliminary evidence for future work quantifying the overall effects of DMPF on colony health.
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    The Roles of Body Surveillance, Feminist Beliefs, and Feminine Norm Adherence in Women's Reproductive Health Efficacy and Behavior
    (2020) Pekosz, Madeleine; Le, Thomas; Iwamoto, Derek; Iwamoto, Derek
    While accessibility to reproductive health resources has increased for women, challenges related to sexual self-efficacy and contraceptive use remain prevalent. Factors including feminist beliefs, empowerment, and adherance to feminine norms have predicted positive and negative health behaviors, but less is known about how they relate to reproductive health, specifically sexual self-efficacy and contraceptive use. This study aimed to examine gender-relevant factors that predict sexual self-efficacy and contraceptive use, specifically, body surveillance, feminism, empowerment, and feminine norms. A survey consisting of these measures was administered to 247 women. Results showed empowerment was positively associated with both sexual self-efficacy and contraceptive use. The feminine norms of appearance, modesty, and sexual fidelity were negatively associated with sexual self-efficacy, while sexual fidelity was also negatively associated with contraceptive use. Findings highlight the importance of addressing the important roles of empowerment and feminine norms in women’s reproductive health beliefs and behaviors.
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    Troublesome Parents? An Exploration of the Relationship between Anxiety, Parenting, and Ethnicity
    (2020) Farooq, Tayyiaba; Seddio, Kaylee, PhD CFLE; Fox, Nathan, PhD
    The role parents play in their children’s lives has been debated for quite some time now, as paralleled by the nature vs. nurture debate. In this investigation, we look at the relationship between parenting and anxiety during adolescence in order to understand the potential consequences and differences in parenting style later in life. Based on the current literature there is a consensus to the fact parenting plays some role in the manifestation of the anxiety of their children during adolescence, the however full extent of this is not known. The link between ethnicity on parenting and anxiety during adolescence as well have not been well-established among this sample. For this analysis, we looked at the relationship between parental restrictiveness within the Temperament Over Time Study; 366 subjects (169 male, 197 female; 122 minority, 244 Caucasian/White) participated. Data were collected when participants were 12 and 15-years of age. It was concluded there is a statistically significant relationship between ethnicity and parental restrictiveness within the sample. Specifically, minority parents indicated more restrictive parenting strategies than do Caucasian or white families, F(14, 141)=2.442, p = .004. For future research, other confounding variables affecting adolescent anxiety should be measured as well as taking into account cultural implications when studying parenting style, as well as the limitations of the sample population used for this investigation.
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    Mindfulness Interventions for Trauma-Exposed Civilians: A Scoping Review
    (2020) Lanthier, Margaret; Puett, Robin; Tchangalova, Nedelina
    Aim: Meditation, mindfulness, and yoga interventions have been shown to be promising treatments for mental illness, including posttraumatic stress disorder. The purpose of this scoping review is to synthesize studies investigating the effects of meditation and yoga interventions for non-veterans and non-military personnel recovering from traumatic life events and to compare the efficacy and the conditions in which the interventions were implemented. Method: A structured search of PubMed and four EBSCO Databases (PsycINFO, Academic Search Ultimate, CINAHL, and SPORTDiscus) was conducted using a combination of free text keywords and controlled vocabulary terms. Eligible studies were included if: (1) treatment is specifically a form of meditation, mind-body therapy, or yoga (2) study participants were reported to have experienced a traumatic life event, (3) study population includes at least 20 subjects, (4) studies measured changes in PTSD symptomology through qualitative or quantitative measures, and (5) studies were published between 2000 and 2020 in English, peer-reviewed journals. Results: Of the 1,583 articles identified in the initial search, 919 titles and abstracts were reviewed after duplicates have been removed. 26 articles met the inclusion criteria. Seventeen studies found significant reductions in PTSD symptomology in participants enrolled in a meditation or yoga intervention. Four found qualitative improvements in symptoms and quality of life in participants. Five found no significant differences between participants in the intervention compared to the control. Sixteen of the interventions were performed in a group setting, nine included group and individual components, and only one was entirely individual. Conclusions: Meditation, mindfulness, and/or yoga interventions have great potential for reduction of PTSD symptomology in trauma-exposed civilian populations. However, environmental conditions including trauma-informed yoga instruction and a group or personal intervention are not highly considered in these studies. Further studies investigating the consideration of the environment for practicing mindfulness interventions are needed to determine how mindfulness interventions can be most effective and trauma-sensitive for participants.
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    Effect of Left Hemisphere Damage on Verbal and Visual Short Term Memory
    (2020) Shi, Caitlin; Goodridge, Rebecca; Faroqi-Shah, Dr. Yasmeen
    Individuals with left hemisphere damage, such as from a stroke, experience difficulty in speaking, a condition called aphasia. Testing short-term memory (STM) in these individuals is complicated by their verbal deficit because most memory tests require participants to verbally repeat digits or words. This study examined the pattern of verbal and spatial STM performance in aphasia as well as the impact of a nonverbal response mode such as pointing. Specifically, this study sought to investigate three questions: 1. Does left hemisphere damage impact both verbal and visual STM? 2. Is there a difference in verbal STM (digit and picture span tasks) scores with oral versus pointing responses? 3. How does STM performance relate to the profile of language impairment in aphasia, especially for comprehension, repetition, and word finding? Analysis of STM performance from 45 persons with a diagnosis of aphasia after a left hemisphere stroke and 12 age-matched healthy adults showed that persons with aphasia are impaired in all verbal STM tasks (digit and picture span tasks) irrespective of whether they used speech or pointing to indicate their responses. In contrast, spatial STM was preserved. Further, there was a strong correlation between STM and language impairment in aphasia.
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    Analysis of animal use of "4-Poster", a commercial host-targeted tick control device
    (2020) Pineda Hernandez, Estefany; Li, Andrew; Mullinax, Jennifer
    In the mid-1800s there were 500,000 white-tailed deer. By 1992, the deer population rebounded to an estimated 18 million. The expanded deer population has facilitated black-legged tick expansion throughout the northeast of the United States which has resulted in an increased incidence of Lyme Disease. The main objective of the USDA-ARS Area-wide Tick Control Project is to manage deer and tick populations, as an effort to reduce the number of ticks, thus decreasing Lyme disease transmission potentials. The “4-Poster” is a host targeted tick control device used in USDA's Areawide Tick Control project in Howard County, Maryland. The device has a bait dispenser surrounded by paint rollers coated with permethrin- based “Tickicide” solution. While feeding, deer will brush against the rollers applying permethrin to their ears and neck. The objective of this project is to help evaluate the use of the "4-Poster" device by deer and non-target animals.
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    The Influence of the Ideals of the French Republic on Immigration and Cultural Diversity in Contemporary France
    (2020) Munson, Hannah; Baillargeon, Mercedes; Scullen, Mary Ellen
    France was given liberté, égalité, and fraternité by the French Revolution and they have become the three main values of the country ever since. Additionally, there are four piliers de la nationalité, language, a shared memory of the Revolution, égalité and laïcité, to make these three values possible. France is one of the most culturally diverse countries in Europe with around 6 million immigrants making up about 10% of the country’s total population. The four piliers are shared traits that supposedly bring people together, but they do not factor in the complex reality of cultural diversity in contemporary France where the immigrants do not necessarily share the same values. This creates a tension. I am looking at how these different tensions are expressed in Salut Cousin, Entre les murs, and Dawa; two recent films and a contemporary novel that express a new shift in reality.
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    Weakly-Mixing Systems with Dense Prime Orbits
    (2020) Benda, Aaron; Kanigowski, Adam
    We provide the first examples of smooth, weak mixing dynamical systems for which all points have dense orbits along primes.
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    Maternal Anxiety, Temperament & Brain Morphometry in Infancy
    (2020) Margolis, Emma; Filippi, Courtney; Ravi, Sanjana; Bracy, Maya; Pine, Daniel; Fox, Nathan; Filippi, Courtney; Fox, Nathan
    Maternal factors (e.g., maternal anxiety) and infant temperament (e.g., distress to novelty) shape children’s social-emotional development. However, we know relatively little about the impact these factors have on ​infant brain​ development. This study investigates associations between maternal anxiety, distress to novelty (i.e., negative reactivity) and brain morphometry at 4-months. At 4-months, infants’ temperament was assessed by identifying distress in response to novel stimuli. Mothers completed the Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI) to measure maternal anxiety. Within 2-weeks, high-resolution structural MRI data were acquired during infants’ natural sleep. MRI data were processed using the iBEAT (Dai et al, 2013) pipeline to obtain subcortical and cortical volume estimates. Regression analyses were conducted to investigate whether infant temperament moderated the relation between maternal anxiety and brain volume at a priori selected regions of interest, controlling for total intracranial volume. Results indicate that there was no significant interaction or main effect of temperament. However, there was a main effect of maternal anxiety in all ROIs tested. Greater maternal anxiety predicted larger hippocampus (β=.417,p<.036), amygdala (β=.429,p<.031), superior frontal gyrus (β=.410,p<.041), middle frontal gyrus (β=.411,p<.039), inferior frontal gyrus (β=.404,p<.039), dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (β=.416,p<.039) and posterior cingulate cortex (β=.407,p<.042). This study provides novel evidence that increased maternal anxiety is linked to differences in child-brain morphometry.
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    Investigating Magainin through Computational Molecular Modeling
    (2020) Holoman, Tyla; Klauda, Jeffery
    Magainin is a 23-residue, helical, antimicrobial peptide found in the skin of the Xenopus laevis, also known as the African Clawed Frog. Magainin is important because it can disrupt electrochemical gradients in the cell membranes of many bacteria, tumors, and fungi, which is extremely useful in pharmaceuticals for killing these organisms. Understanding how Magainin interacts with cell membranes is an important part of understanding how it could work medicinally, and one of the best ways to understand these reactions is through computational protein modeling. Ten membrane protein systems containing Magainin and a membrane bilayer were constructed to analyze Magainin’s behavior and interactions with a model for the outer skin membrane. These systems were simulated by a supercomputer for about 300 ns each to allow the peptide to fully interact with the membrane bilayer. Now that the simulations have been completed, they are being analyzed to determine exactly what patterns of behavior were exhibited by Magainin when placed near a model skin membrane.