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Oral Presentation Abstracts - Natural Sciences

What You Don’t Know May Hurt You: Women and Breast Cancer
By Judith Belizaire, Long Island University

According to the current statistics, breast cancer is the second leading cause of death among women between the ages of 40- to 55 in the United States. It is important to inform women about lowering the risks of breast cancer by living a healthier lifestyle such as exercising, eating healthy and not smoking and drinking alcohol. The presentation will review lifestyle choices and ways in which women can detect breast cancer during earlier stages. Finally, how professionals in the field of occupational therapy can assist women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. More specifically, how Occupational therapists assist breast cancer patients in utilizing the most effective treatments to help improve their level of physical and mental function and to enhance their quality of life.

Formation and Study of [Gd(CNTA)]3- complex
By Eser Akturk, New York University

A novel ligand cystine nitrolotriacetic acid (CNTA) has been synthesized based on the preparatory method of Michealis et al. 1 With six acetate and two nitrogen groups present, CNTA has the ability to form highly stable complexes with various metals such gadolinium (III) in the same manner analogous to that of nitrolotriacetic acid (NTA). As such, CNTA has the potential to be utilized as a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) contrast agent. I will be presenting recent data related to the refinement of the synthesis of the CNTA and its complexes with various lanthanide metals.

Recently, complexation of CNTA with gadolinium (III) in the formation of [Gd(CNTA)]3- complex has been successful and determined by infrared spectroscopy. Efforts to bind CNTA to other lanthanides and attach these complexes to the surface of silver and gold nanoparticles through a method described by Roux et al.2 are currently underway.


Phylogenetic Relationships Among Australian Agamid Lizards Using Nuclear and Mitochrondral DNA Data
By Emmanuel N. Asare, Clarkson University

Australian agamid dragon lizards include notable species such as the frill-neck lizard and thorny devil. Previous molecular phylogenetic hypotheses using mitochondrial DNA loci provided support for monophyly of some genera but found strong support for nonmonophyly of others. Nuclear DNA is known to be less variable than mtDNA but may provide support for deep relationships among species that are poorly resolved using mtDNA. However, only one phylogenetic analysis has used nuclear DNA.We perform combined and separate analyses of mtDNA and nuclear DNA from the potassium voltage-gated channel (KCNA10) for about 90% of Australian agamid lizard species. Our results are entirely congruent with previous mtDNA analyses.


Conformational Switch Mechanisms of Zinc-Mercaptoacetamide Complexes
By Alicia Bowen, SUNY College at Old Westbury

The solution state behavior of a series of phenyl mercaptoacetamides was studied by 1H NMR and complexometric techniques in the presence of divalent zinc cations to determine the significance of intramolecular inductive, steric, dipole-dipole, and dipole-ion effects in complex formation. Xylenol orange (XO) was used as a competing ligand to the mercaptoacetamides in a spectrophotometric method. The initial concentration of the xylenol orange (XO) and zinc acetate reagents were 8.0 uM and 1.6 x 102 uM, respectively. The mercaptoacetamide concentrations were varied from equimolar with respect to the zinc acetate up to a 4:1 molar ratio of ligand to zinc. The Zn-XO concentrations were determined by monitoring the absorbance at lambda max (570 nm). The greatest decrease in Zn-XO concentration was observed in order for the ortho-substituted [2,6-dimethyl phenyl mercaptoacetamide], followed by the meta-substituted [3,5-dimethyl phenyl mercaptoacetamide], and lastly the unsubstituted phenyl mercaptoacetamide. These trends are associated with the nucleophilic tendencies of the thiolates. These trends are also supported by the molecular calculations of the relative conformational energies and the relative acidities of the PMA ligands. These results offer a foundation for a more descriptive examination of the role of non-covalent forces in the function of zinc-sulfur proteins such as Metallothionein and Matrix Metalloproteinases.

Impacts of Mercury Emissions from Coal-Fired Power Plants in Western Pennsylvania
By Carlos BuWu, Monroe Community College

Mercury, a neurotoxin, is toxic to the human especially the brain, nervous system, kidney, and liver. Power plants are the biggest source of mercury emissions in the United States. When fully implemented, the Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR) and the Clean Air Mercury Rule (CAMR), by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will lead to a reduction in mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants by 70 percent to fifteen tons per year by 2018. The EPA estimates that due to these higher restrictions mercury deposition will be reduced eight percent on average in the eastern United States. A concern exists that near power plants deposition of mercury will be much greater than average leading to a "hot spot" where exposure may be greater than desired. For this study a "hot spot" is defined as an area no less than four square miles with a mercury concentration higher than the average by one standard deviation. The goal of this study is to determine the effect of three coal-fired power plants on the surrounding environment in western Pennsylvania. During the growing season oak leaves collect deposited mercury from the power-plant emissions and have a large surface area to collect mercury. The experimentation focused on oak leaves from leaf litter within a five-mile radius of each power plant. Sample collection began with mapping of the area around the power plants to determine easy access locations within circular sampling rings, and collection of oak leaves from the leaf litter at the sampling locations. The samples collected were dried, ground into small particles, and processed using a Direct Mercury Analyzer (DMA) to calculate the mercury content in the samples. After the results were collected the data was analyzed to determine if "hot spots" occurred. The results did not indicate a "hot spot" in the region near the power plant. However, the information shows a possible effect of the power plants increasing mercury concentration in a southeast direction, consistent with the prevailing wind pattern. The data shows a possible correlation of elevation increasing deposition but the data is not conclusive. Therefore, the power plants had little impact on the presence of a "hot spot" on the surrounding area.

Indigenous Treatment of Malaria among Tribal Populations in Ewaso-Narok, Kenya
By Jessa Davis, St. Lawrence University

Rise in the use of herbal medications has yielded an increase need for ethnomedical knowledge. Such knowledge is being lost due to migration of younger generations to urban settings. Additional popularity factors include ineffective Western biomedical treatment and pathogen resistance. For malaria, this is especially pertinent. In July 2007, I conducted an ethnobotanical survey of Ewaso-Narok Swamp in Laikipia District, Kenya. Twenty-four household interviews and three key informant interviews were conducted, yielding 30 medicinal species. Species were analyzed via transect sampling and alkaloid trends in botanical families from secondary and primary literature. Data collected was submitted to the Department of Biology, St. Lawrence University as a senior thesis.


Synthesis and Characterization of Copolymer-Templated Periodic Mesoporous Organosilicas With Very Large Pores Using Hydrocarbons as Micelle Expanders
By Kristina Foulias, College of Staten Island

Surfactant-templated periodic mesoporous organosilicas (PMOs) have received much attention as well-defined periodic inorganic-organic hybrids, catalyst supports, hosts for nanoobjects and media for immobilization of biomolecules. In some applications of PMOs, it would be beneficial to enlarge the pore diameter beyond 10 nm, which is a typical limiting pore size value. Recently, it was demonstrated that this goal can be achieved by performing the block-copolymer-templated synthesis of PMO at low temperature (5-15 °C) in the presence of aromatic hydrocarbon (trimethylbenzene) as a micelle expander, following the method reported earlier for large-pore ordered mesoporous silicas. The current project is intended to further explore the opportunities in the synthesis of large-pore PMOs using a procedure similar to those previously reported, as well as modifications of synthesis procedures used for the synthesis of ordered mesoporous silicas with linear hydrocarbons as swelling agents. The work in progress includes:

  • Synthesis and/or characterization of silicas with large spherical and cylindrical mesopores using procedures previously reported.

  • Synthesis of large-pore PMOs in the presence of different hydrocarbons and under adjusted conditions, and characterization of the products.

  • Optimization of block copolymer ratios, and temperature variations in order to further increase pore diameter to a maximum.

Pore size is markedly increased upon the increased ratio of two block copolymers in comparison to those previously presented in the literature, with pore sizes of up to ~16nm and larger. In addition, pore distribution has demonstrated a high degree of uniformity with specific surface areas of over 100 square yards.

The Eyes as a Gateway to the Health of Our Bodies
By MaryAnn Garcia, SUNY Optometry/City College of New York

Optometrists serve a crucial role as the Primary care takers of our Eyes. Ocular testing not only provides a means of diagnosing the overall health of the eyes and vision but can also provide a tremendous amount of insight into the overall health of the body. The purpose of this presentation is to highlight the importance of optometric testing by illustrating its use in the diagnoses and treatment of systemic illnesses which often have ocular manifestations. Diabetes Mellitus and Hypertension which is often related with heart disease are two of the leading preventable causes of death in the U.S. Both of these diseases have ocular manifestations or symptoms termed diabetic retinopathy and ocular hypertension respectively.

Diabetic retinopathy is the most common diabetic eye disease and a leading cause of blindness in American adults. This disease is characterized by the growth of new blood vessels on the surface of the retina and rupturing of existing vessels. Unfortunately the disease progresses in stages that are often asymptomatic requiring yearly dilated eye exams as the best means of prevention, if the disease progresses it can be treated through a laser procedure or a vitrectomy. Ocular Hypertension is characterized by elevated intraocular pressure. Ocular Hypertension can often be used to detect if someone has high cholesterol by a ring around the cornea called arcus.

Optometric care is a key component of Primary Health Care. It’s potential in improving the overall quality of life of many individuals is often understated. It is my hope that through this presentation a greater appreciation of power that lies in Primary Care as preventative measure is recognized.

Immediate Early Gene Expression in Finch Forebrain: An Analysis of Reward Pathway Function in Performance of Learned Song
By Alain Goldman, LaGuardia Community College

The forebrain of some avian species has evolved a system of interconnected nuclei dedicated to acquiring and performing learned song. Birds that learn song syllables can therefore provide a model brain system for investigating the neural bases of vocal learning, a form of sensory-motor integration also necessary for learning human speech. As a bird learns a song it performs “undirected” singing. Once song is learned, the bird can also perform “directed” singing - singing directed to another individual, as in courtship or territorial defense. Directed singing is motivated by the presence of another bird. What is the motivator of undirected singing? It has been shown that nerve cell terminals that release opiates (neurotransmitters chemically similar to opium) target vocal control nuclei. Our study tests the hypothesis that release of endogenous opiates occurs specifically during undirected song and motivates song performance. Six birds were recorded for directed and undirected song and then sacrificed 90 minutes later. Forebrain tissue is being analyzed with immunocytochemistry for expression of immediate early gene Egr-1 (and activation marker) and the opiate methionine enkephalin (mENK). The distribution of ZENK with respect to mENK positive cells is currently being assessed with digital microscopy and NIH imaging software.

Facile, High-Yielding Synthesis of Fluorovinyl Sulfones
By Maggie He, The City College of New York, New York

The altered properties and reactivity of organic molecules by fluorine atom substitution and consequently their biological activity continue to fuel interest in synthetic access to selectively fluorinated compounds. Vinyl fluorides are not only important building blocks, but they are in many instances biologically useful entities, e.g. peptide isosteres and enzyme inhibitors. Important synthetic precursors to a variety of vinyl fluorides are (?-fluoro)vinyl sulfones. Herein, we present development of a novel reagent for mild and efficient synthesis of (?-fluoro)vinyl sulfones via the modified or one-pot Julia olefination. To our knowledge, the use of this convenient methodology for their synthesis is largely unexplored. We have successfully synthesized a new fluorinated reagent for Julia olefination and subjected it to condensation reactions with a series of carbonyl compounds to obtain (?-fluoro)vinyl sulfones in good to excellent yields (60-90%).

Synthesis and Charaterization of Ordered Silicas With Closed Spherical Nanopores
By Chin Ming Hui, College of Staten Island

The development of a new generation of lower-dielectric constant (low-k) insulating material has lately become an important issue. Dense silicon is an insulating material with a relatively high dielectric constant (k-value) of about 3.9-4.2. Despite this unusually high figure, silicon has developed into the most commonly used insulating material because it was never imagined that electronic products’ sizes would decrease so rapidly to the current nanometer (nm) scale.

Mesoporous materials, that is materials with pores of diameter between 2 and 50 nm, are important in heterogeneous catalysis, and separation of mixtures, for instance by chromatography. The usefulness of these materials stems from their very high specific surface areas (up to about 1200 m2 g-1) and high adsorption capacity. Mesoporous materials also became attractive as low dielectric constant insulation materials in electronics. Especially, those with pore closure could be conducted to avoid any contagion.

In our study, silicas with spherical mesopores arranged in face-centered cubic structure (pore diameter 15-26 nm) and body-centered cubic structure were synthesized using Pluronic F127 poly(ethylene oxide)-poly(propylene oxide)-poly(ethylene oxide) triblock copolymer as micellar template. These materials were then characterized by Small-Angle X-ray Scattering and nitrogen adsorption porosimetry. The pore diameter in the face-centered cubic structure was tailored by modifying the synthesis temperature and time. We also found that the spherical pores in both of these structures can be closed by increasing the temperature of a treatment used to burn out the block polymer template.

The Establishment of Cell Line Expressing Sodium Channel Nav. 18
By Dennis O. Iyekegbe, Jr., SUNY Albany

Sodium channels are integral transmembrane proteins that allow sodium ions to enter the cell. They are essential for the generation and propagation of action potentials in excitable cells. The availability of Na+
channel cDNA has made it feasible to study the structure to function relationship of the channel protein by site directed mutagenesis. A family of nine isoforms has been identified in mammals. Studies in a variety of pain models have revealed two important Na+ channel, Nav1.7 and Nav1.8 in nociception. These two isoforms have also been implicated as targets for novel local analgesic agents. There have been few reports on the characterization of Nav1.8. To gain a better understanding of Nav1.8, we plan to create a stable cell line expressing Nav1.8. The Nav1.8 expression vector containing the neomycin (G418) resistance gene will be used for the transfection. Calcium phosphate precipitation method will be used to transfect the human embryonic kidney cells. The neomycin resistance cells will be cultured and examined for the expression of Nav1.8 by electrophysiology.

Analysis of Lipids and Fatty Acids in Nuclear Fractions of NMU Rat Mammary Tumor Cells after Treatment with Dietary Fatty Acids
By Brentnol McPherson, Kingsborough Community College

Previous reports have documented the effects of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids on cell proliferation in tumor cells. Linoleic acid (LA) (omega-6) has been shown to increase cell proliferation, where as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) (omega-3) has been shown to decrease proliferation. In this study, we used subcellular fractionation techniques followed by lipid isolation and fatty acid analysis to investigate the mechanism behind these effects. Using cell fractions enriched in nuclei, we are examining the abundance of lipids and fatty acids in treated cells using the methods of thin layer chromatography (TLC) and Gas Chromatography/Mass spectrometry (GC/MS). Cells treated with DHA and LA had a similar pattern for phospholipids with all being present. Cholesterol levels varied from fraction to fraction. Fatty acid analysis revealed that only the nuclear fraction contained arachidonic acid (AA) and that the amount of AA increased 1.5 fold upon treatment with LA. Supported in part by Grants: NIH 62012-04 and NSF DUE 0524965.

Investigating the Localization of PCP Proteins in Migrating MCF-10a Cells
By Ujunwa Cynthia Okoye, SUNY Stony Brook

A group of proteins which includes are known to be involved in the beta-catenin independent Wnt signaling pathway, migratory events during development, and the metastasis of tumors. These proteins were primarily identified using genetic techniques that defined their role in these cellular events but provided little insight as to the mechanistic details of these events. When a Scratch Assay is performed on a mono-layer of MCF-10a cells, sheet-like migration of the cells is observed and this makes them a good model. We will be designing and constructing eGFP and mCherry fused lentiviral expression constructs for the set of proteins. Lenti-virus containing these constructs will be generated and used to infect MCF-10a cells to make stable lines. Cells expressing low levels of these fusion proteins will be selected using fluorescence activated cell sorting. Once the cell lines are generated a confluent monolayer will be scratched and the localization of these proteins in the migrating cells will be visualized in real time using the Nikon Delta Vision microscope. The goal of this project is to characterize the localization of these proteins in migrating MCF10a cells. The results of these experiments will be useful in determining the specific role of each protein in migration and may provide additional information about the development of epithelial tumors/carcinomas.

The Social Olfactory in Maternal Separation in Infant Mice
By Kia Hope Shine, Syracuse University

The objective for this research is to measure preferences for nest odors in mouse pups ten to fourteen days old. Early Postnatal stress such as inconsistent care taking from the mother can influence infant mice. This current study examines odor preferences in maternally separated mice compared to handled mice. The Maternally Separated infant mice are separated for three hours daily in an incubator away from the mother. The inside of the incubator is 25-27 degree Celsius. On Postnatal day 10 and Postnatal day 14 there will be testing for odor preference. There are Handled infant mice, Maternal Separated Clean infant mice, and Maternal Separated Soiled infant mice. The main basis for this study is to see, if taking away the odor of the mother changes or has an effect on the mouse pups. The underlying question that this study will answer: Is the mother’s odor important even if she is not present and what effects does it have on the mouse pups? In this experiment the Maternally Separated Nest Odor did not show any significant effects for familiar odors. Our hypothesis is that the Handled mice will be so attach to their mother that they are going to have an odor preference of the Soiled Hardwood. The Maternally Separated Clean will be more likely to branch off to different odors because they have no real attachment to their mother because they are separated from them three hours a day. The Maternally Separated mice are more likely to have an odor preference of Pine or of the Clean Hardwood shavings. The Maternally Separated Soil will also be able to branch out and smell other odors because they are not attaching to their mother.

Amplification of the Promoter Region of Arabiclopsis Terpene Synthase 12
By Marlissa Villette, St. John’s University

Terpenes biosynthesis is regulated in plant roots. Terpenes are secondary metabolites which aid in the fitness and root production of plants such as Arabidopsis. Terpenes not only are essential to plants, but also beneficial to the everyday life of humans. The extraction of terpenes from plants helps in the development of natural remedies that are used in medicine, as well as in fragrances, flavors and oils. For example diterpene taxol is an anticancer drug which is used in the treatment of breast cancer. Terpenes also serve an active role in the development of plant defenses against insects and microorganisms by the release of volatiles.

Arabidopsis thaliana has been regarded as one of the key model plants in the study of plant molecular biology. It has many scientific advantages which include short seed maturation and a complete gene sequence. Of the stated gene sequences the promoter region of interest is its regulation in diterpene synthesis in plant root tissue. The promoter region is a specific nucleotide sequence in DNA that binds RNA polymerase and indicates where to start transcribing RNA. It can also determine when genes are expressed. In order to study the cell specific tissues we fuse a protein reporter which gives off a green fluorescent or EGFP and a blue color staining that allows you to see the sub cellular compartments within the gene. The promoter and primers used are chosen by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and a large scale of DNA samples. PCR amplifies the promoter region and gene product. Isolating the promoter region of the root expressed terpene synthase geneTPS12 will be done by the gateway system which is based on a recombinant system. The follow up of the PCR product is integrated into a specific plant transformation vectors to conduct GUS and EGFP in future experiments.



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