Program of Spring 2011 Oral Presentations

WSC Celebration of Scholarship Undergraduate Research Symposium

Tuesday, April 19, 2011, College Center North Ballroom

 

12:15  Introduction and opening remarks

12:20  McCoy, Kimberly, Ross Metler, and Dr. Jason Mullins. Synthesis of 2-CPG, a Glutamate Analog.

Excitatory amino acid transporters (EAATs) are carrier transmembraneproteins that primarily translocate L-glutamate across the lipidbilayer of neuronal and glial cells. These carriers remove glutamatefrom the synaptic cleft and recycle them back to glutamine.  Failure toremove glutamate may result in neurotoxicity.  Because the structuresof transmembrane proteins are often difficult to obtain, the creationof a library of organic compounds that bind the protein may be helpfulin better understanding the structure of the binding site.  We aim tosynthesize novel 2-carboxyphenylglycine (2-CPG), an analog ofglutamate, along with similar analoges and analyze them as inhibitorsof EAATs1-5.  The screening will take place at the University ofMontana with the help of off campus professionals.

12:40   Finney, Conor and Dr. Robert Cohen. An interesting property of n-gons inscribed in circles 

Inscribe a regular n-gon in the unit circle and choose one of theverticies. Construct a chord from this vertex to all of the othervertices.  Surprisingly, the sum of the squares of the chord lengths is2n.  In this talk we will give an elementary proof of this interestingresult.

1:00   Fremgen, Aleshia and Dr. Patrick Magee. Herbivore Population Regulation and Culling as a Management Strategy

Populations are regulated by bottom-up or top-down mechanisms. Bottom-up regulation is when food supplies limit herbivore populations,whereas top-down regulation is when a predator limits the herbivore’spopulation size, part of a trophic cascade.  Humans are sometimes toppredators in ecosystems dominated by large herbivores, especially inthe absence of natural apex predators or in fenced refuges.  Elephantsare large bottom-up regulated herbivores without predators, thatdramatically alter their environment as a result of browsing.  Manynational parks in southern Africa are above carrying capacity and landis limited.  Bottom-up regulation has failed to stabilize elephantpopulations and culling (top-down) is an acceptable solution.  In NorthAmerica, evidence suggests elk are also regulated by bottom-upprocesses except in the presence of wolves, which cause additivemortality.  Both species cause environmental changes when they exceedcarrying capacity without management, so culling is an effective methodto avoid extensive loss of biodiversity.

1:20   Fremgen, Marcella and Dr. Jessica Young. Bison Conservation Genetics: Keeping All The Pieces

Bison have long been considered an icon of the American West andwere important both socially and ecologically.  Historically bisonperformed a number of ecological roles that maintained communityheterogeneity and species diversity.  Bison herds were large andmigratory, but after massive commercial slaughtering in the late 1800s,bison have now been divided into hundreds of small herds.  Bison havebecome ecologically extinct.  Issues facing contemporary bisonpopulations include low genetic diversity due to historic bottlenecks,small herd size, cattle gene introgression, and artificial selection offavorable traits.  The current bison conservation controversy is toeither conserve genetically pure stock (with no cattle geneintrogression) or conserve all bison, regardless of geneintrogression.  In this film, I present the argument that all bisonshould be conserved to preserve remaining wild alleles for intrinsicreasons.

1:40   Armstrong, Daniel and Dr. Robin Bingham Chemical and Physical Defense Adaptations of Plants

Plants have developed many types of chemical and physical defensesthat allow them to coexist with the herbivores that eat them.  Withoutdefenses plants would be consumed at exponential rates and theevolution of plants would not progress.  The types of defensesadaptations are a result of millions of years of evolution and thearms-race between plants and herbivores.  Plants have physicaladaptations that include thorns, bark, mimicry, and small irritatinghairs that all help to initially avoid contact.  Other plants have anintensive array of chemicals that cause affects such as false hormonalgrowth, irritations or stings, and even death.  Each interactionbetween plants and their consumers initiates a competition that leadsto specialization of each species.  We have many things to learn andchemicals to discover if we are willing to spend the time and effortthat it takes to discover what plants have to offer.

2:00   Cruz, Jesse and Dr. Christina Buchanan.  Body Fluctuations of Division II college wrestlers throughout the year

The purpose of this quantitative non-experimental study was toexamine the differences in physical health of Division II collegewrestlers before, during, and after the regular season.  Before theregular season 10 wrestlers were tested to determine their minimumwrestling weight, which is a new NCAA regulation for wrestling.  Thispre test determines the lowest weight each individual can wrestle atbased on percentage of body fat, hydration, and actual body weight. The results from this pre test were used to examine the physicalfluctuations that these wrestlers went through during the season. During the competitive season, and 3 weeks after the nationaltournament, wrestlers were tested for body weight, percentage of bodyfat, blood pressure, and their resting heart rate. 

2:20    Mahowald, Mark and Dr. Roger Drake.  Teaching Optimism and Positivity in Order to Improving Selective Well Being

Happiness rates in the United States have remained static even asdaily life has grown more technologically advanced, and personalfreedoms have expanded.  It is time for a new view on life that makeswell being and happiness top priorities.  This paper discusses researchinto the causes of optimism, helplessness, and explanatory style.  Dueto the higher level of neuroplasticity in children this paper exploresthe potential of bringing positive psychology and well being traininginto the school system.  Then it examines some scientifically proventactics for changing one's level of optimism on a personal and societallevel.  The role of parents and role models is particularlyhighlighted, due to their formative impact during adolescence.  Alsohighlighted is gratitude and journaling as stress antidotes