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Student Research Poster Competition Winners / Abstracts - Biological/Life Sciences

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation of Rodents
Emmanuel Abreu
SUNY College at Old Westbury

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) targets magnetic pulses at specific brain regions associated with neurological disorders. Although the first commercial TMS units have been introduced, they produce side effects that include headaches and epileptic attacks. As a result, further TMS study in animal models is required. To this end, a 500-turn coil with a 1-cm inner diameter that is capable of producing a 1-T magnetic field was constructed of fine-gauge copper wire and energized with 100-Hz electrical current. A mouse was constrained and the coil was held 1 cm from the skull for 10 minutes. Four trials were conducted—two with an energized coil and two with shams.

The behavior of the mouse was observed and coded on a ten element chart before and after each trial. Before exposure, the mouse was very active, very alert, and slightly aggressive. Following exposure, the mouse exhibited considerable hind-limb twitching, but was less active and more aggressive.


Using Carbon Dioxide as an Indicator for Glucose Levels in Different Food for Diabetics
College of Staten Island
Isaiah Baskins

The hallmark of diabetes is high blood glucose levels, diabetic neuropathy, and retinopathy. Insulin is a key hormone in regulating glucose levels in the blood. Type 1 diabetes results from a lack of insulin secretion from the pancreas, and Type 2 Diabetes results from a decreased sensitivity to insulin in target tissue. Diabetics can monitor their diet to control glucose levels. In this experiment, we use carbon dioxide through the process of fermentation to measure how much glucose is in different foods. By measuring carbon dioxide through different food and juices, diabetics can avoid certain foods that are high in glucose. This experiment proved that foods that contained simple sugars such as glucose and fructose produced higher levels of carbon dioxide.


How Caffeine Affects Heart Rate of Teenagers
Akiva Benbow, Myra Johnson, and Marius Zanou
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

This project seeks to find the affect that caffeine has on the heart rate of teenagers. In America, 90% of youth and teens consume caffeine each day. Our experiment involves giving at least ten teenagers, ages 14 to 16, a caffeinated beverage to drink, and then monitoring whether their heart rate has increased or decreased. Their heart rates will be checked at 15 minute intervals to determine the effect that caffeine has on their heart rate. We hypothesize that after 15 minutes the heart rates of the participants will increase by 15- 25 beats per minute. Some caffeinated beverages
have been shown to increase the chance of heart attacks and increase neuron firings in the brain, among other effects.

This study will help to increase teen awareness regarding the effects of caffeine on their hearts.


How is Fluoridation Affecting Local Schools?
Cerrone Cunningham and Gedielem Girma:
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Water fluoridation is the controlled addition of fluoride into a community’s drinking water supply. Fluoride has been added to water in the United States since the 1940s to help prevent tooth decay (mainly in children under 8 years old). According to the Center for Disease Control Prevention, too much fluoride in the water supply can lead to problems like fluorosis in children between 12-15 years old. Fluorosis has become more common since the 1980’s. The prolonged, high intake of fluoride can increase the risk of brittle bones and crippling bone abnormalities. We tested fluoride levels in our surrounding schools and compared them to New York State safety level requirements of 0.7 to 1.2 parts per million (0.7 to 1.2 milligrams per liter of water). We expect to find that fluoride levels in schools will meet New York State requirements.


The Emperor's New Clothes: Genes Involved in Molting, and Their Roles in Non-Ecdysozoan Phyla
Andrew Davalos and Andrea Monge
Queensborough Community College

Ecdysozoa form an entirely new cuticle beneath a pre-existing one, shed the old cuticle, expands, and then hardens the new one. Growth would be otherwise impossible. The group contains the familiar Arthropods (animals with jointed appendages and exoskeletons, such as insects), Nematodes, and the more obscure phyla. The group was first proposed using 18S ribosomal rribonucleic acid (RNA) gene sequences from the mitochondrion. Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) sequencing of hundreds, if not thousands, of genes and organisms has progressed infinitely far since that time, and almost all of that sequence information is freely available on the Genbank server, making possible studies on selected gene families and organisms. While the role of various genes in ecdysis (shedding of the cuticle) has been characterized in the phyla within Ecdysozoa, many of these genes also exist in other phyla. Our study looks at related groups of these genes in attempts to hypothesize gene evolutionary patterns.


The Effects of Catalase Pulse Chase on Regeneration in Nematostella vectensis
Jasmin Feliciano
Suffolk Community College

Nematostella vectensis is a rising starlet sea anemone that is most commonly found in the Eastern United States. This project seeks to find the effects of catalase on regeneration in cnidarians Nematostella vectensis. Based on previous studies, I hypothesize that catalase will break down hydrogen peroxide and promote regeneration after it has been inhibited. N. vectensis was exposed to lipoic acid, a proven inhibitor of regeneration. Preliminary experiments have proven that hydrogen peroxide can be utilized to “rescue” N. vectensis. After exposure to lipoic acid and hydrogen peroxide, pulse chase will be performed using a serial dilution of catalase. Results include the continued inhibitory effects of the lipoic acid on its regeneration. These findings will lead to new methods of limiting abnormal growth and provide a new tool to battle cancer.


Where’s the Body: A Study of the Decomposition of Liver and Muscle Tissues from Animals in
Northern New York
Cassadra Griffin, Rashelle Drake, and Brooke Lewis
Clarkson University

Decomposing animal bodies is common in rural New York. Do species of large animals decay in nature at the same rate? Do different organs in animals decompose at similar rates? Our hypothesis is that farm animals decompose more slowly than deer, and that liver tissue, which has a lower density, decays faster than muscle tissue.

Fresh muscle and liver tissue from cows, pigs, and deer were cut into six cubes. The mass, volume, and density of the samples were measured. Six bins were filled with moist soil for decomposition. One cube of each tissue was placed under the soil surface. At two weeks bacteria and fungi were observed. After four weeks three bins were harvested. The average density was 1.08 g/cm3 for liver, and 1.326 g/cm3 for muscle. On average, liver tissue lost 38.3% mass. Cow and pig muscle lost 20.9 % mass, while deer muscle lost an average of 60% mass. The remaining samples will be tested and processed in the same manner at eight weeks.


Which Soaps Kill Best?
Dahlia Hatab, Roba Abdelrahman, and Farjana Akhtar
Kingsborough Community College

Millions of bacteria live on bathroom doorknobs at home and at school. Antibacterial soap claims that it has the ability to kill 99.9% of these bacteria. Our hypothesis is that if we use antibacterial soap on bacteria from bathroom doorknobs, more bacteria will be killed than with regular soap. We swabbed doorknobs in our homes and at school,
and transferred the samples to nutrient agar Petri dishes. We cultured the bacteria for several days until colonies appeared. We then used the oil-immersion lens of a compound microscope to identify the species and spread colonies on separate dishes. Two soap-soaked paper disks were placed on the agar of each dish. One disk was soaked in antibacterial soap, the other in regular soap. Our observations showed that the disks with the antibacterial soap were more effective at killing bacteria, as they had a larger diameter of bacteria-free agar than regular soap disks.


How Exposure to Different Environments Affects the Growth of Tumors in Plants
Rina Hernendez
New York College of Osteopathic Medicine

The purpose of this project is to compare plants that are infected with Agrobacterium tumefaciens living under normal environmental conditions (such as proper sunlight, sufficient water, etc.), with plants (also infected with Agrobacterium tumefaciens) living in an inadequate environment. The results would be based on whether the environment played a vital role in the developmental success and overall spread of tumors on sunflower plants. This project required planting sunflower seeds and giving them proper care for approximately four weeks; when mature enough, plants were inoculated with Agrobacterium tumefaciens and the bacteria was allowed to spread. Photographs
were taken of the plants on a weekly basis to demonstrate plant development/spread of tumors.

After completing this project we assume that we will notice that sunflowers that grow in insufficient sunlight and without the proper amount of water will have a more rapid spread of tumor, as opposed to sunflowers growing in proper conditions.


Determining Current Levels of Ozone Layer on Staten Island Using Water Samples
Shreya Jain
College of Staten Island

The quality of our environment is a major factor in determining the health and longevity of ozone conditions. Staten Island, New York has been historically challenged by the vast chronological development of industrialization and by the development of the local dump and. These environmental challenges have led to repeat, chronic contamination, and have compromised local ozone levels. I will be using a water sample ozone measurement system to analyze local water samples in each area code of Staten Island. I predict that area codes on the island that are closer to industrialized areas and the local dump will present with the highest levels of ozone.


Effects of Wave Length of Light on Plant Growth
Alissa Jarvis and Alexandria Clarke
Pratt Institute

Do different colors of light affect plant growth? Will plants grow better in soil under certain colors of lights? Will changing light color produce a better crop? The purpose of this project is to find ways that different light colors effect different plants while they grow. This experiment will examine plants growing under different colors of light
(blue, red, green, sunlight, etc.). The growth of each plant over a certain period of time will be recorded, and as a control, plants will be placed in the same environment to find accurate growth measurements.


A Comprehensive Analysis of the Familiarity of Repetitive Behaviors in Autism
Asa Jordan
Mercy College

This study examined the relationship between the repetitive behaviors of children with autism and the obsessivecompulsive traits in their parents and siblings. Studies have shown that relatives of children with autism may exhibit a variety of symptoms and traits that are phenomenologically related to autism. Repetitive behaviors are a hallmark
feature of autism and are closely related to obsessive-compulsive traits. Few studies have correlated repetitive behaviors in children with autism to obsessive-compulsive traits in their parents and sibling, yet these behaviors have been found to be familial among affected cases.


Exercise!! The Body’s Natural Defense Against Depression
Taylor Keith and Xiomara Francis
Albany Medical College

Depression affects approximately 15 million people in the United States, and 20% of teenagers experience depression before they reach adulthood. Symptoms of depression can be eased with psychiatric counseling and medication, however, exercise has also been shown to reduce symptoms. Exercise can help increase endorphins and reduce immune system chemicals that can worsen depression. Exercise can also increase a person’s confidence to help them cope with social situations. A recent study found that depressed people who exercise are more likely to have reduced symptoms of depression. To confirm these results, we evaluated six adolescents suffering from depression
and monitored them as they exercised for three days. These adolescents were monitored again while they refrained from exercise for another three days. After surveying the participants we found that depression symptoms returned after three days of not exercising, confirming the results found in the previous study.


Biological, Chemical, and Physical Properties of Urban Storm Water Runoff at a Community
College in Bayside, New York
Antonieta Lope and Angelica Rosero
Queensborough Community College

Urban areas are often prone to flooding due to a high percentage of paved surfaces and reduced amounts of vegetation. Water that collects on paved surfaces can eventually end up in natural bodies of water and carry contaminants that contribute to the degradation of water quality. Common contaminants in urban runoff include heavy metals, oils, and grease from automobile traffic; chlorides from salts applied to roads to melt snow and ice; and, other suspended solids from street dust and eroded sediments.

In this research we examined the quality of storm water that accumulated in two parking lots at Queensborough Community College during heavy precipitation. The following parameters were measured: 1) biological—detection of E. coli and other bacteria; 2) physical—temperature and turbidity; and 3) chemical—nitrogen, phosphorus, pH, and other elements. This data will be used to compare the quality of storm water runoff before and after a remediation plan is put into place.


Ethylene Glycol Inhibits Regeneration in Girardia dorotocephela
Jade Maak and Mei Chan
Borough of Manhattan Community College

Planarians (Platyhelminthes) are noted for their ability to regenerate. Transected organisms are able to regenerate an entire new organism from only a few stem cells known as neoblasts. Neoblasts congregate at wound regions and form a regenerative tissue called blastema. We discovered that exposure to ethylene glycol (EG), the main component in antifreeze and a common pollutant, inhibits regeneration in Girardia (formerly Dugesia) dorotocephela. We cultured organisms in EG (40 µg/mL or 80 µg/mL) and pond water. To assess the effect of EG on neoblasts, organisms were stained with bromodeoxyuridine and the mitotic stages and numbers of neoblasts were evaluated at
the wound sites. At both concentrations, organisms in EG regenerated more slowly than controls (pond water alone) and also exhibited developmental abnormalities such as reduced photorecptors. Organisms in higher concentrations of EG regenerated more slowly than those in lower concentrations, indicating a dose-dependent effect.


An Investigation of the Chemiluminescence Properties of Luminol and Fluorescein in the Detection of Blood
Joshua Millings
Suffolk County Community College

Forensic scientists use chemiluminescent chemicals such as luminol and fluorescein as a presumptive test for detecting blood at crime scenes. This experiment verified that fluorescein is more effective than luminol in detecting blood. Synthetic blood, luminol, fluorescein, and bleach were used, and a comparison was made of each chemical’s
ability to detect blood and its reaction to false positives. Synthetic blood was smeared on a surface, and luminol or fluorescein was later dropped on the surface to measure the duration of the resulting luminescent flash. Flash times were compared. Both luminol and fluorescein detected the blood, and their flash times were approximately equal;
however, luminol gave a false positive in the presence of bleach. Overall, fluorescein was more effective and reliable in detecting blood than luminol. These results can help forensic scientists select chemicals for detecting blood at crime scenes.


Friend or Foe: Measuring Nutrients in Stream and Tap Water
Christopher Munroe, Lauren Henderson, and Adrianna Austin
Union College

The purpose of this project is to determine whether the levels of nitrates, phosphates, and sulfates present in samples of tap water meet the criteria established by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the city of Schenectady, New York. Stream water samples were tested to gauge how the immediate surroundings of the stream impacted the levels of nutrients. Four water samples were taken from different locations along the stream and three tap water samples were taken from different homes for comparison. The levels of nutrients present in each sample were measured using a colorimeter.

The measurements taken confirmed our hypothesis that the levels of nutrients found in the stream were highest near a cultivated garden. All of the tap water samples were below the maximum contaminant level established by the EPA. However, the nitrate levels found in Schenectady tap water were higher than the values reported by the city of Schenectady.


The Negative Effects of Genetically Modified Crops in Humans and Animals
Joshua Nickerson
Hofstra University

The purpose of this research is to show that consuming and handling genetically modified (GM) crops is detrimental to the health of humans and animals. The Bt pesticide genetically implanted into soy and corn crops has been shown to produce dangerously high levels of toxins, and when fed to laboratory rats they caused a decrease in fertility and altered proper immune system functioning. Studies in India have shown that after grazing on GM cotton plants, cattle became ill and died days later, and farmers handling GM cotton experienced an increase in allergic and asthmatic symptoms. The implications of extremely few human trials are that GM crops have not been proven to be safe for consumption, and should not be used for food by humans or animals.


The Success in Germination of Centaurea stoebe and Centaurea nigrescens
Johana Pena
Suffolk County Community College

This study looked at the growth of two highly invasive European species in the United States—Centaurea stoebe and Centaurea nigrescens—and demonstrated which of the two has a greater germination percentage and how it can be altered. Invasive weeds were tested to determine those that are noxious to the environment after they have been stressed. First, 20 seeds of C. stoebe and C. nigrescens were separated into four petri dishes. When the seeds grew large enough, they were transferred into biodegradable trays. After the seeds exceeded 3cm, they were transferred into bigger cups. The plants were watered once per day until the soil was saturated; this was performed 5 days per week for 10 weeks. The height of each plant was recorded in centimeters (cm). It was hypothesize that C. nigrescens will outperform the C. stoebe under optimum conditions, and based on the conditions of the seeds, C. stoebe will
outperform C. nigrescens under stress.


Antibiotic Properties of Common Fruits and Vegetables
Slimane Rabout and Mouramani Kaba
New York City College of Technology

The benefits of a well-balanced diet include lower blood pressure, reduced risk from diabetes, improved cardiac function, and overall healthy living. Fruits and vegetables are integral components of a balanced diet and provide important minerals, vitamins, proteins, and antioxidants. On a day-to-day basis we are plagued with harmful bacteria
that our immune system usually keeps from harming us. Besides strengthening the immune system, what are the antibiotic properties of some common fruits and vegetables? This project will examine the antibiotic properties of a few common fruits and vegetables. We will assess the inhibition of the growth bacteria when Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus, and Bacillus subtillis are exposed to extracts of selected fruits and vegetables. At the conclusion of this project we will obtain information on the ability of fruits and vegetables to directly prevent microbial growth.


The Effects of Car Fluids on Grass Growth
Sasha Richards
Kingsborough Community College

There is not much plant growth in the community where I live; there is mostly grass that looks unhealthy. I believe that fluids leaking from cars are preventing the grass from properly growing. I hypothesize that grass will not grow well if antifreeze or motor oil is added. Four grass seeds were sprouted in three separate cups of potting soil, watered everyday with four tablespoons of water, and placed on the windowsill. Two teaspoons of motor oil were added to one cup, two teaspoons of antifreeze to another, and the third was left alone (control). The length of the grass blades’ were measured once per week. The control grass grew an average of 6.3 cm. The grass with motor oil was shorter, and the grass with antifreeze died. The hypothesis is supported, but more data will be collected.


The Effects of Different Concentrations of Rock Salt Solution on Plant Growth
Abigail Rois and Tien Troung
Medgar Evers College

This project was designed to test the effects of different concentrations of salt solution on plant growth. Roads are heavily salted during the winter, creating an environmental problem. High concentrations of salt solution can cause damage to plant cells. This investigation seeks to determine which concentration of salt solution has the worst effect on plants. Four groups of plants were used for the experiment. The first group of plants were watered with distilled water and observed for 14 days. The second, third, and fourth groups were watered with salt solution of different concentrations and observed for 14 days. The average height for each group was calculated. The salt solution with the highest concentration caused the greatest harm to the plants. The drought like environment created by the salt caused the stomates to close and interfere with photosynthesis by blocking carbon dioxide.


Think Before You Drink
Hadjer Sahraoui and Asmae Aitnajim
Syracuse University

Most people drink beverages throughout the day without a second thought, but they may not know that their actions are detrimental to their teeth. The Minnesota Dental Association states that sugar in drinks combines with bacteria in the mouth to form an acid. Diet or sugar-free drinks contain their own acid, and this further contributes to enamel loss. The Association also states that using fluoride toothpaste protects teeth against these “acid attacks.” Our experiment will determine which beverage causes the most tooth decay and the role of fluoride toothpaste in preventing such damage.

Our study consists of submerging two teeth in eight different beverages for four weeks. One tooth in each drink will be brushed daily with fluoride toothpaste. We will record the mass of each tooth every week. At the end of our study we will calculate the percentage of tooth enamel loss to determine which beverage contributes most to tooth decay.


What’s the Benefit of Consuming Garlic?
Fateemah Saleem, Anisah Baaith-Mercado, Roiqueita Johns, and Nijah Rambo
Monroe Community College

This project focused on the success of garlic in killing, or preventing, the growth of bacteria (E. coli). This particular topic is important because garlic is rich in the antioxidants that help destroy free radicals. This experiment required three petri dishes with blood agar (labeled A, B, and C), milk, E.coli, and juice from fresh garlic. All three petri dishes contained equal amounts of milk. Petri dish B also received E. coli, and dish C received garlic juice and E. coli. The growth of bacteria colonies was measured over a five day span. Tables and graphs were used to analyze the data collected. Results showed that once garlic was introduced into the petri dishes, the growth of bacteria did not take place. Based on experimental findings, garlic has the ability to fight E.coli bacteria.


Crude, Crude World
Jeffrey Spring, Matthew Schleich, Suleiman Noor, and Syed Hussnain
Union College

The project sought to examine the effects of an oil spill on aquatic organisms. The secondary purpose of the project was to raise awareness about ecosystem devastation caused by the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. We hypothesized that the larger the concentration of oil, the lower the survival rates of the zooplankton. The experiment involved recreating oil spill effects on marine ecosystems by exposing Daphnia Magna zooplankton, which is close to the bottom of an aquatic food web, to different oil concentrations added to the water in which they live. All trials of the experiment (control and four different oil concentrations) were completed in a controlled environment. We observed the Daphnia over a period of 24 hours and recorded their survival rate. The observations and measurements supported our hypothesis that the larger the oil concentration, the lower the survival of Daphnia.


Spices and Inhibition of Bacterial Growth
Alicia Thompson and Cheyenne Thompson
SUNY Potsdam

What is the value of spices? Household spices help to inhibit bacterial growth. Traditional medicine for the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe has utilized sage to treat mild illness. Rationale engages the principle that spices have been used for centuries to help preserve food. Spices have a variety of compounds. A household spice might not be sterile and may contain many compounds. We seek to find whether there is a bacterial growth effect on spices used at home. A small amount of a household spice will be added to the agar at 40° Celsius using an antiseptic technique. If one gram of spice is added to nutrient agar, it is believe that the result will be fewer bacterial colonies growing on that plate. We will also use aseptic technique to add bacteria. If the growth of colonies is reduced, our hypothesis will be supported.


Why Blacks Dominate Sports
Alexandria Walters, Simone Arrington, and Jasmin Butler
Albany Medical College

Running is a worldwide sport practiced in almost every country around the globe. The universality of running allows exceptional runners to come from a wide range of countries and racial groups; however, athletes of African descent lead the rankings. Our research efforts in finding the difference between an athletic person and an athlete lead us to the theory of genetic advantages in athletes of African descent. The data suggested that athletes and athletic people of African descent surpassed the times of all other participants in the study. Tests such as the 100-meter dash, which tests fast-twitch muscles, and the mile, which tests slow-twitch muscles, assess the capability of muscle fibers in sports performance. A review of literature and collected data will vindicate the theory of genetically advantaged athletes. The results imply that race is a contributing factor in an athlete’s performance, and it influences future research in sports medicine.


Electricity’s Effect on Plants
Corey Winney and Nicole Ruiz
LeMoyne College

Biology classes teach that photosynthesis requires an input of energy (usually the sun), which creates glucose for plant growth. We inquired about electricity’s effect on plants growth. If the electrical effect is found to increase the growth rate in plants, it could be further developed to help diminish world hunger.

We set up two groups each of hydroponic and dirt containers, and a 12-volt current was applied to our electric subjects. Each container contained Sweet Basil seeds. Daily, we measured and recorded the tallest plant in the pod, the amount of rainfall, and high and low temperatures. Results show that electricity does affect the growth rate of plants. Electricity increases the germination process, but once sprouted, the electricity stunted the growth of the basil and eventually killed the plants. Further experimentation with the amount and timing of electricity could prove practical.




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