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					                                              University of Miami
                                 Research and Creativity Forum 2009

    Office of Undergraduate Research and Community Outreach

                                                         The Graduate School




                                   RCF 2009
                                   http://www.rcforummiami.org




University of Miami Research and Creativity Forum 2009
                                                         Contents
                 Hayley Donaldson                                   1
                 Veronica Alvarez                                   2
                 Jennifer Boulay                                    3
                 Alexandre Lang Willar                              4
                 Vanessa Garcia                                     5
                 William Gutterman                                  6
                 Andrew Valdes                                      8
                 Robin Lucas                                        9
                 Nina Hirsch                                        10
                 Finocchio Peter                                    11
                 Sara Mow                                           12
                 Timothy Queeney                                    13
                 J. Russell Denney                                  14
                 Miles Kenney-Lazar                                 15
                 Heidi Bryant                                       16
                 Daniel Sheridan                                    17
                 Ashley Hamilton                                    18
                 William Haskell                                    19
                 Alexander Gonzalez                                 20
                 Michael Gotterer                                   21
                 Krys Foster                                        22
                 Calvin Lisich                                      23
                 Ashley Makulowich                                  24
                 Sara Garamszegi                                    25
                 Gustavo Rubio                                      26
                 John Burkett                                       27
                 Ryan McCormack                                     28
                 Kevin Willeford                                    29
                 Nestor Arita                                       30
                 Johanna Said                                       31
                 Kyle Harke                                         32
                 Alec Zabaleta                                      33
                 Almas Khan                                         34
                 Sophie Khokhawalla                                 35
                 Nauman Chaudhry                                    36
                 Amrita Singh                                       37
                 Scott Hawley                                       38
                 Dorene Niv                                         39
                 Casey Gioia                                        40
                 Amelia Rowley                                      41
                 Abraham Akinin                                     42
                 Erica James                                        43
                 Jules Rosen                                        44
                 Ashleyann Gosselin                                 45


University of Miami Research and Creativity Forum 2009
                 Marshall Holland                        46
                 Debra Channer                           47
                 Sharde Chambers                         48
                 Carolina Corrales                       49
                 Amy Altszuler                           50
                 Sara Michalski                          51
                 Katelyn Pascavis                        52
                 John Parkinson                          53
                 Gabriel Walton                          54
                 James Herlan                            55
                 Caitlin Booth                           56
                 Daniel Diaz                             57
                 Pietro Bortoletto                       58
                 Danika Brodak                           59
                 Paul Terman                             60
                 Colleen Bartley                         61
                 David Amor                              62
                 Nicholas Napoli                         63
                 Bianca Maceo                            64
                 Noris Rios                              65
                 Bridget Gamber                          66
                 Carie Bikson                            67
                 Stefanie Villarraga                     68
                 Justyna Milewski                        69
                 Jenna Spackeen                          70
                 Elizabeth Lamb                          71
                 Christie Buchovecky                     72
                 Aidan O'Dowd-Ryan                       73
                 Hammad Ghanchi                          74
                 Nicholas Napoli                         75
                 Matthew Phillips                        76
                 Emily Weston                            77
                 Nicole Budzinski                        78
                 Joshua Cantor                           79
                 Josh Bergman                            80
                 Taylor Wilson                           81
                 Aaron Weiss                             82
                 Anthony Salerno                         83
                 Sanjay Palta                            84
                 Andrew Grizzle                          87
                 Steven Schuering                        89
                 Kenden Pettit                           90
                 Jarrod Matthei                          92
                 Santas Rosario                          93
                 William O'Rourke                        94
                 Caitlin Hughes                          95
                 Marco Jovovich                          96
                 Bryan Mueller                           97
                 Patrick O'Keefe                         98


University of Miami Research and Creativity Forum 2009
                 Thomas Bartman                          99
                 Sharde Chambers                         100
                 Bryan Iorgulescu                        101
                 Philip Garza                            102
                 Sara Klaben                             103
                 Lucian van Schlun                       104
                 Matthew Fisk                            105
                 Rafael Hernandez                        106
                 Shaun Forbes                            107
                 Emily Jeng                              108
                 James Herrera                           109
                 Janice Dias                             110
                 Sharise Richardson                      111
                 Seth Levy                               112




University of Miami Research and Creativity Forum 2009
UNDERGRADUATE

Business

Hayley Donaldson
School of Business Administration

Dr. Royce Burnett, Mentor

The Value Relevance of the Nation's top 100 Nonprofit Organizations


Working with Professor Burnett I was able to participate in all five steps of the research
process: Understanding the project's objectives, gathering information, organizing the data into
spreadsheets, checking the integrity of the data, and finally analyzing all of this information. He
was studying the relationship between the timeliness and presentation of financial reporting of
the NPT-Top 100 Nonprofit Organizations and the level of donations that these entities receive.
The variables included in the research were the timeliness of the audited financial statements
and Form 990, whether these documents were present on the organizations website, the
auditor used by the entity, and the ability to accept donations online. The study included
138nonprofit organizations that appeared on the NPT-Top 100 Nonprofit Organizations for the
years 1998 through 2005. I had the chance to contact over 70 of these nonprofit organizations
asking for financial documents and website information. Organizing 8 years of data for 138
nonprofit entities at first seemed daunting, but as the weeks progressed I learned how to create
databases in Excel. I learned was to always find a way to check the work that has just been
entered, since working with such massive amounts of data leaves room for error. Using a
program that I was previously unfamiliar with, SAS, I was able to run programs on the
spreadsheets and analyze the outputs to check the integrity of the data. Finally, I used SPSS
to create tables, summaries of descriptive statistics, and graphs representing the data. The
study is ongoing so the results have not been published yet.




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UNDERGRADUATE

Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology

Veronica Alvarez
College of Arts and Sciences

Dr. Derek LeRoith, Mentor

Director of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Bone Diseases at Mount Sinai School of
Medicine


Metformin is an anti-diabetic drug that seems to function through activation of AMP-activated
protein kinase (AMPK). Along with its metabolic effects, Metformin may also influence pathways
of cell proliferation and survival. Little is known about Metformin's effect on other signaling
pathways such as Mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and Phosphoinositide Kinase-3
(PI3K), which can be upregulated in cancer cells. McNeuA breast cancer cells, which
overexpress the HER2-Neu oncogene, were treated with Metformin to further explore its
possible mechanisms of action. We hypothesized that Metformin would activate AMPK and
have an effect on the MAPK and PI3K pathways. In addition, it was proposed that Metformin
may also have an effect on cell proliferation and HER2-Neu signaling. We found that in
McNeuA cells, Metformin activated AMPK and inhibited phosphorylation of the MAPK and PI3K
pathways. Cell proliferation was reduced when the cells were treated with Metformin.
Interestingly, the drug also decreased phosphorylation of HER2-Neu. This may explain how
MAPK and PI3K pathways are inhibited, since they are downstream of the HER2-Neu receptor.
Our study suggests that Metformin acts as an anti-proliferative agent on McNeuA cancer cells
through HER2-Neu receptor signaling. Further studies are necessary to investigate the
mechanisms behind these HER2-Neu related Metformin effects on McNeuA breast cancer cells
and the results of these studies may have an impact on breast cancer treatment in HER2
positive breast cancer patients.




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UNDERGRADUATE

RSMAS

Jennifer Boulay
College of Arts and Sciences, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences

Dr. Su Sponaugle, Mentor

Larval Growth- and Size-Selective Mortality in a Common Reef Fish in the Straits of
Florida


Population structuring of marine fish can be influenced by the selective pressures on survival
during the pelagic larval phase. Larval growth is naturally variable within and among cohorts of
coral reef fish and can be under selective pressures due to high mortality during this phase. In
this study, I tested the hypothesis that reef fish larvae with faster growth rates and larger sizes-
at-age will preferentially survive as it has been suggested that "bigger is better" for survival and
a faster growth rate will allow for less time spent as a small larva. Using a series of
ichthyoplankton collections from the Straits of Florida, I extracted larvae of a common coral reef
fish, Thalassoma bifasciatum, measured their standard lengths, dissected out their otoliths
(earstones), and examined the microstructure of these otoliths to determine daily growth rates
and relative sizes-at-age. These traits were compared among three larval age groups
(youngest: 12-21d; intermediate: 22-31d; survivors: 32-42d) to determine whether mean traits
varied with age. In contrast to expectations, survivors had slower early growth and were smaller-
at-age than younger fish. These findings suggest that mortality may be selective for faster
growing, larger individuals. However, because all larvae were collected along the same transect
across the Florida Current, the differences in early growth environments may also underlie
these observed patterns.




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UNDERGRADUATE

Business

Alexandre Lang Willar
School of Business Administration

Dr. Elisah Lewis, Mentor

E-community
Andrew Ruzsa, Bruce Gomez, Dustin Doing, Robert Till, Hershal Mehta

Our business is called the "E-Community". We want to create a totally new type of community,
where everythng will be based on energy economy, unneeded waist and providing a healehier
and better environment for the people living in the community. The main purpose of this
business is to make everyone better off by using alternative energies. The people who are our
target customers are mostly middle and low-middle class people, who choose to live in a
community where security and neiborhood life prosper.

Our primary product is to to provide people with the lowest energy consumptions houses
available on the market at the lowest cost possible. Making people actually better off buying a
house from an E-community, than a regular house from another neighborhood. The principal
function of this product is to provoke a drastic change on how rewarded people are when
helping the environment. We want to actually find a way to recompense people who use
alternative energies. We believe that if people are benefited when taking ecological decision,
virtually everyone who has the opportunity would help the environment.




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UNDERGRADUATE

Engineering

Vanessa Garcia
Biomedical Engineering

Chris Bennett, Mentor

Hearing Threshold Testing Using Matlab Interface


Present day healthcare relies on the sharing of health information across integrated systems.
Current hearing threshold testing is done under the supervision of audiologists. However, the
implementation of technological advancements can change those visits. Instead, a hearing
threshold test can measure the minimum audibility threshold via a computer or internet without
supervision. This screening tool can later transmit the audiologist or doctor with the patient's
results at the time of consultation. According to audiologists, range of frequencies tested for
hearing thresholds are third octave intervals between 125Hz to 8,000Hz. A frequency-swept
sine, also known as a chirp will be introduced to the subject via calibrated headphones at low
intensity levels to determine the subject's absolute hearing threshold. A user interface program
is created in order to analyze the minimum audibility threshold. As the 1 to 2 minute chirp is
played, the program will read the data collected from the user at every third-octave interval
when questioned if the subject can hear the stimulus. If the subject responds affirmatively, the
level will be lowered by 3 dB, and if the subject responds negatively, the level will be increased
by 3 dB. The threshold curve analyzed in MatLab will be the midpoint between the last audible
and first inaudible levels, similar to a von Bekesy test. The hearing threshold curve from the
results can represent significant suggestions about conductive hearing conditions.




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UNDERGRADUATE

History

William Gutterman
College of Arts and Sciences

Dr. Eugene Rothman, Mentor

A Summer in Sderot


The southern Israeli towns of Sderot and Ashkelon experienced regular missile and mortar
attacks from Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups since Israel unilaterally evacuated the
Gaza Strip in 2005. The range of Hamas missile technology has improved over the years and
the number of Israelis vulnerable to attack has increased steadily as well. No other population
of civilians in recent history has tried to maintain a normal life under the threat of daily missile
bombardment for such an extended period of time. Children go to school, parents go to work,
farmers tend their fields and only fifteen seconds of warning is possible by a siren blast before
the missile strikes. The trauma and stress of daily missile attacks for such a prolonged period
of time has taken its toll on the health, both physical and emotional, of the population under the
threat of these attacks.

On September 7, 1940 the German Luftwaffe dispatched 348 German bombers escorted by
617 fighters to attack the civilian population of London. For the next fifty-seven days London
was bombed day and night while residents sought any shelter they could find. By the end of
1941 over 43,000 civilians were killed and a million homes were destroyed or damaged, but the
German attempt to demoralize the British into surrender was never achieved.

Much historical literature has been written on the London Blitz and the introduction of this terror
weapon on the British civilian population but very little has been written on the modern day
bombardment of civilian populations in Israel and its effects on the citizens who are trying to
maintain some normalcy under these extreme circumstances. I propose to visit Israel this
summer and conduct interviews with individuals who live under these missile attacks. I will meet
with Dr. Danny Brom, the Director of the Latner Center-Israel's Center for the Treatment of
Psychotrauma. Dr. Brom is not only a close personal friend of my current employer, but also the
foremost expert on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in the region. He will introduce me
to dozens of people I can interview. I also plan on meeting people in Southern Israel by
advertising my project in town synagogues and community centers. I have native fluency in the
Hebrew language and can communicate directly with the affected population. I will compile my
findings into a thorough handbook describing the reality of the situation and the coping
mechanisms commonly employed. This handbook will be a narrative report made up of
interviews, observations and stories of the civilians affected. I propose to conduct this pressing
research in the hopes of raising awareness on such an important issue. This is a unique
opportunity to conduct relevant research combining my interests in history, health, psychology,
communications and the Hebrew language. This topic will become increasingly vital if terrorist



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organizations spread this tactic to other hotspots around the world. The coping mechanisms, or
lack thereof, by the affected population will be important for scholarly investigation if the world
finds itself facing this threat in the decade to come. Just as airplane hijacking was popular in
the seventies and suicide bombings were introduced by Hezbollah in the eighties, missile
bombardment of civilian populations threatens to become the newest trend in terrorist warfare
and therefore must be studied.




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UNDERGRADUATE

Neuroscience

Andrew Valdes
College of Arts and Sciences

Thomas Albini, M.D. and Livia Bajenaru, Ph. D, Mentor

Optical Coherence Tomography in Experimental Autoimmune Uveitis
T.A. Albini, M.L. Bajenaru, M. Ruggeri, A.A. Sklar, A.J. Valdes, S. Jiao, C.A. Puliafito, J.L. Davis

Spectral domain optical coherence tomography (OCT) can provide high resolution imaging of
the living retina in experimental murine disease models. This study documents the findings of
OCT in murine experimental autoimmune uveitis (EAU). Twelve B10 RIII mice were immunized
with 25MUg of IRBP peptide 161-180 (SGIPYIISYLHPGNTILHVD), emulsified 1:1 v/v in
complete Freund's adjuvant. Mice were injected with a total of 0.3ml of the emulsion
subcutaneously. OCT examinations were obtained of both eyes 12 days (2 mice), 15 days (3
mice) or 18 days (7 mice) following immunization immediately prior to euthanasia. A single eye
of five animals was enucleated, fixed in 4% formaldehyde solution, and paraffin embedded
sections were stained with haematoxylin and eosin. Sections were graded according to an
established 4 point grading system.

Histology demonstrated expected findings of EAU, ranging from normal anatomy to severe
papillitis, full-thickness retinitis, choroiditis, pars planitis and serous retinal detachment. Of 6
eyes with grade 3 or greater histologic changes, 1 eye did not permit OCT due to media
opacity, and 5 eyes demonstrated irregular contour of the internal retina, retinal thickening, and
multifocal intraretinal hyper-reflective foci. In 6 eyes with grade 2 or less histologic changes,
OCT appeared normal. In animals with grade 3 and 4 EAU, disruption of normal retinal
architecture including retinal infiltration and/or increased retinal thickness can be confirmed by
OCT. OCT may prove to be a useful adjunct to clinical examination in identifying animals with
higher grade EAU prior to euthanasia.




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UNDERGRADUATE

Psychology

Robin Lucas
College of Arts and Sciences

Dr. Marygrace Yale Kaiser, Mentor

Sex Differences in Physical and Relational Aggression in Head Start Preschool Children:
Observations and Teacher Reports


Boys and girls engage in different levels of physical and relational aggression (Crick &
Grotpeter, 1995). Most studies have examined aggression in typically developing, primarily
Caucasian samples. This study aimed to replicate previously documented sex differences in a
sample of children from low socio-economic backgrounds. It was hypothesized that boys would
be more physically aggressive than girls, specifically, to other boys, and that girls would be
more relationally aggressive than boys, specifically, to other girls. It was also hypothesized that
observations and teacher reports of physical and relational aggression would agree. The
current study included 165 4 and 5 year-old preschoolers, of primarily minority status (52.7%
Hispanic, 41.9% African American, 3.9% Asian, 1.6% Mixed Race), attending Head Start.
Physical and relational aggression was measured using direct observations in the preschool
classroom (Early Childhood Play Project Observation System; Ostrov & Keating, 2004) and
teacher reports (Preschool Social Behavior Scale; Crick, Casas, and Mosher, 1997). Boys and
girls were equally physically aggressive in observations, F(1,254) = 2.08, p = .15, but boys were
more physically aggressive according to teachers, F(1,164) = 7.41, p < .01 (Fall); F(1,125) =
13.80, p < .01 (Spring). Girls were more relationally aggressive than boys in observations,
F(1,254) = 16.37, p < .01, but not according to teachers, F(1, 164) = 1.10, p = .30 (Fall);
F(1,125) = .17, p = .68 (Spring). Boy to boy peer interactions, M = 5.09(0.46), included
significantly more physical aggression than boy to girl peer interactions, M = 2.62(0.46), F(1,
254) = 4.9, p < .05. While, girl to girl peer interactions, M = 3.10(0.25), included significantly
more relational aggression than girl to boy peer interactions, M = 1.28(0.25), F(1,254) = 17.26,
p < .01. Teacher and observation measures agreed on physical aggression, rfall = .31, rspring =
.27, but did not agree on relational aggression, rfall = -.02, rspring = .07. Future research on
aggression in preschoolers living in poverty should include both subtypes of aggression and a
multi-method approach to best understand the social-emotional development of this at-risk
sample.




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UNDERGRADUATE

Neuroscience

Nina Hirsch
College of Arts and Sciences

Dr. Ami Raval, Dr. Miguel Perez-Pinzon, Mentor

Intermittent 17BETA-Estradiol Treatment Protects the Hippocampal CA1 Region Against
Cerebral Ischemia


Chronic 17BETA-estradiol treatment improves pathophysiological outcome after brain ischemia
in experimental animal models. In contrast to chronic 17BETA-estradiol treatment strategy, our
recent study demonstrated that a single 17BETA-estradiol bolus 48 hours prior to ischemia
induces neuroprotection in the hippocampal CA1 region in slice culture and rat models of global
cerebral ischemia. Based on these results, we hypothesized that chronic intermittent 17BETA-
estradiol treatment provides neuroprotection against cerebral ischemia in the rat model. Normal
cycling female rats were ovariectomized and were injected with 17BETA-estradiol or oil at an
interval of every 48 or 72 hours for 21 days. Following treatment, cerebral ischemia was
produced by 10 minutes of bilateral carotid occlusion and systemic hypotension (50mmHg).
Seven days after ischemia, rat brains were fixed for histopathological assessment. The number
of normal neurons per slice in the CA1 hippocampal region in control rats was 1100 +/- 45 (n =
4). The ischemic insult in ovarectomized rats that were not given injections decreased the
number of normal neurons by 82% (191 +/- 10, n = 6, p < 0.05) as compared to the control.
Intermittent 17BETA-estradiol treatment to ovariectomized rats increased the number of normal
neurons to 51% (556 +/- 13, n = 7, dose 5 MUg/Kg/every 48h for 21 days) and 41% (446 +/- 14,
n = 7, dose 5 MUg/Kg/every 72h for 21 days) as compared to the control ovarectomized group
(p < 0.05). This study emphasizes a need to investigate bolus intermittent estrogen hormone
replacement regimen to promote improved cardio- and cerebro-vascular health and reduce
stroke/cerebral ischemia incidents in post-menopausal women while avoiding the known side
effects of chronic estradiol treatment.




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UNDERGRADUATE

RSMAS

Finocchio Peter
College of Arts and Sciences

Sharanya J. Majumdar, Mentor

Evaluating Ensemble Track Forecasts of Tropical Cyclones
Sharanya J. Majumdar

Representing the uncertainty in a tropical cyclone track forecast has been a critical challenge
for the operational tropical forecasting community. Currently at the National Hurricane Center
(NHC), a cone of uncertainty is employed where the width of the cone is based on 5-year
averaged forecast errors for different forecast times. This study proposes an alternate
approach to creating a cone of forecast uncertainty that is based on the spread of the members
that comprise the ensemble model. The basis for such a cone is that spreading of ensemble
members has been proven to correlate with forecast uncertainty. Member spread or
dispersiveness in an ensemble can therefore be used to determine the width of an ensemble-
based cone of uncertainty. Data from the 50-member ECMWF (European Centre for Medium
Range Weather Forecasting) and 24-member UKMet (United Kingdom Meteorological Office)
ensembles for the 2008 Atlantic hurricane season are analyzed. Justifying the use of the
ensemble-based cone involves a three-tiered analysis: 1) showing the ensemble mean
forecast, about which the cone is created, has skill, 2) showing that the dispersiveness of the
ensemble members is appropriate and 3) determining whether the new cone of uncertainty is
narrower than the operational NHC cone. Both ECMWF and UKMet reveal skillful ensemble
means, with errors comparable to NHC's official track forecast at all lead times. The ensembles
are found to be slightly under-dispersive at the 67th percentile (i.e. the 67% of members closest
to the ensemble mean do not spread out in such a way that accurately represents forecast
uncertainty). Results indicate that these model-based cones are narrower than the NHC cones
however due to the under-dispersiveness of the ensembles, these results have little immediate
applicability. Fortunately, continued improvement of operational ensembles and the potential to
use multi-model ensembles suggests that ensemble-based probabilistic information may
eventually help to reduce the cone of uncertainty and thereby tropical cyclone watch/warning
areas.




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UNDERGRADUATE

Health Science

Sara Mow
School of Education

Joseph Signorile, PhD, Mentor

Optimal Load for Power Development in Older Persons


Power is the most important physical attribute affecting independence and falls in older
veterans. We are examining if different resistance training exercises would generate maximal
power at different optimal loads due to differences in physiological and/or biomechanical
properties. Sixteen men, aged 80.5+/-4.4 yrs, participated in a five-day protocol. There were
two days each of maximal strength-testing and power-testing, using six pneumatic machines.
Power tests were performed at 20-80% of the patients' maximal load for each machine.

Our results showed the optimal loads that elicited peak power varied in specific patterns that
were determined by the number of joints involved, the nature of those joints, and the volume of
the associated musculature. The lowest loading patterns were for the triceps pushdown (30-
50% 1RM) and biceps curls (40% 1RM). Both exercises use joints designed for velocity, rather
than strength, due to their longer lever systems and smaller musculature. Leg press with its
long lever system and its larger muscle groups had an optimal load at 50% 1RM. This was
similar to the optimal loads for the chest press and row, both multi-joint movements (50% 1RM).
 Finally, heel raise produced its highest power at 60% 1RM, as we expected, given the fact that
the ankle joint is a short lever designed for force production rather than speed of movement.

These results indicate that joints and muscle groups critical to maintaining independence and
preventing falls require different loading patterns if their power development during preventative
exercise and rehabilitation is to be maximized.




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UNDERGRADUATE

Neuroscience

Timothy Queeney
College of Arts and Sciences

Sari Izenwasser, Elena Zakharova, Mentor

Environmental Enrichment Sensitizes Periadolescent Female Rats to Cocaine Reward in
Both Social and Isolated Housing Conditions


The focus of this study was to investigate the effects of social and physical environmental
enrichment on cocaine preference in periadolescent female rats. The housing environment of
periadolescent female rats was varied among four experimental groups: Social Enriched (SE3),
Social Impoverished (SI), Isolated Enriched (IE), and Isolated Impoverished (II). Preference for
cocaine was measured by use of a conditioned place preference (CPP) paradigm. After
housing the rats in their respective environments, the rats were subjected to CPP conditioning
with 3, 5, 10, and 20 mg/kg cocaine and preference testing. Rats housed in the IE condition
demonstrated higher sensitivity to cocaine than those housed in the II condition. IE housed rats
showed the strongest preference for the 5 mg/kg dose while II housed rats showed the
strongest preference for the 10 mg/kg dose. The greatest amount of CPP attained for the IE
rats at 5 mg/kg was very close to the greatest amount of CPP attained for II rats at 10 mg/kg,
indicating that the cocaine was more potent for the IE rats than it was for the II rats. SE3 rats
demonstrated higher sensitivity to cocaine than SI3 rats. SE3 rats showed much greater
amounts of CPP than SI3 rats at both 5 mg/kg and 10 mg/kg, indicating that the cocaine was
more efficacious for SE3 rats than it was for the SI3 rats. These data show that enrichment
increases cocaine reward in periadolescent female rats, regardless of the social condition.




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UNDERGRADUATE

Interdisciplinary Studies

J. Russell Denney
College of Arts and Sciences

Dr. Neil F. Johnson, Mentor

How Long Will It Last? Understanding the Duration of a Struggle


Fights-to-the-death occur in many natural, medical and commercial settings. In this work in
progress, my supervisor and I have calculated analytically the duration T of a war of attrition
and found some surprising results which are supported by recent empirical data. In addition to
human conflict, wars of attrition are widespread, e.g. fights among animals in Nature, a War of
the Worms on the Internet, commercial wars between companies or products, and
immunological battles against disease. The adoption of internal network dynamics greatly
prolongs the smaller group's survival time. Recruitment of additional forces by the smaller group
further extends their survival. The analytic theory also predicts how the duration of a losing
battle can be manipulated using modest third-party intervention and without the need to directly
fight either predator. In addition to its potential applications, my work helps provide a novel
demonstration of the breakdown of standard mass-action differential equations when describing
a system with dynamical internal heterogeneity.




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UNDERGRADUATE

Interdisciplinary Studies

Miles Kenney-Lazar
College of Arts and Sciences

Dr. Mazen Labban, Mentor

Dynamic Causes and Effects of Rubber Expansion in Northern Laos


While studying abroad at the Chinese University of Hong Kong I worked on an independent
research project concerning the spread of the rubber growing industry from southern China to
northern Laos. This literature review and the professor I was working with inspired me to
understand the issue at a deeper level by traveling to Laos and conducting my own fieldwork. I
had a variety of questions such as, how exactly is the industry spreading throughout the region?
What are the different forms of rubber growing and how differential levels of access to
agricultural inputs affect which form of rubber growing a farmer employs? What are the
socioeconomic effects each form of rubber growing is having upon the households? My main
method was the use of semi-structured interviews with households, villages, and rubber
companies. I also collected demographic and agricultural data from local government agencies.
I came to a number of different conclusions such as that the economic benefits of rubber
growing are not universal, and the spread of different forms of rubber growing has begun to
exacerbate pre-existing income and wealth inequalities. Most importantly, the development of
rubber throughout the region should be advanced at a moderate pace that manages the
negative effects and allows for the positive effects upon rural livelihoods.




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UNDERGRADUATE

Psychology

Heidi Bryant
College of Arts and Sciences

Dr. Melissa Hale, Mentor

Differentiating Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Comparison of Children with PDD-NOS,
Asperger's Disorder, Autistic Disorder, and Children without an Autism Spectrum
Disorder in a Clinic Sample


A retrospective chart review of 29 files from the Autism Spectrum Assessment Clinic at the
University of Miami was performed to describe and compare characteristics of children given a
diagnosis of Pervasive Developmental Disorder- Not Otherwise Specified, Asperger's Disorder,
Autistic Disorder, or a non autism spectrum diagnosis. Partially replicating Walker, et al.
(2004), children were compared on measures of autism symptomatology (Autism Diagnostic
Observation Schedule, Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised) and measures of level of
functioning (Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales, Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children,
Fourth Edition, and the Behavior Assessment System for Children). As hypothesized there
were significant differences between groups on measures of level of functioning, but contrary to
our hypotheses there were no significant differences on measures of autistic symptomatology.
These results may be useful for future diagnosis.




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UNDERGRADUATE

Psychology

Daniel Sheridan
College of Arts and Sciences

Patrice Saab, Ph.D., Mentor

Body Size and Family Structure in Adolescents


In the past 30 years, two trends affecting adolescents have become apparent in the United
States. Rates of adolescent obesity have shown a steady increase and family structure has
changed from predominantly two-parent households to an increasing number of single-parent
households. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between adolescent
body size and family structure. The sample consisted of 163 adolescents (120 boys; 43 girls)
with a systolic and/or diastolic blood pressure greater than or equal to the 90th percentile
(adjusted for age, gender, and height). The participants' ages ranged from 15 to 17 years-old
(M = 16.1, SD = .63). Fifty-nine adolescents came from single-parent households and 91
adolescents came from two-parent households. Height and weight measurements were
obtained to calculate body mass index (BMI) in kg/m^2; waist measurements were also
recorded.

As hypothesized, compared to adolescents from two-parent households, adolescents from
single-parent households had a higher BMI (p < .05) which averaged in the overweight range
and a larger waist circumference (p < .05). There, however, were no family structure differences
in parental education, caloric intake, or mother's BMI (p > .05). Although the results show BMI
and waist circumference differences in adolescents as a function of family structure, the
underlying causes of these differences are still unclear. Future research would benefit from
further investigation of socioeconomic factors, adolescent exercise habits, parental health
habits, meal preparation, and other factors that may have contributed to the observed
adolescent BMI differences in single-parent and two-parent households.




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UNDERGRADUATE

Neuroscience

Ashley Hamilton
College of Arts and Sciences

Dr. Richard Lee, Mentor

Klf4 Gene Knockout is Associated with Corneal Defects and Possible Angle Closure
Glaucoma


Kruppel-like Factor 4 (Klf4) is one of the most highly expressed transcription factors in the
mouse cornea. The conditional deletion of this gene results in ocular defects of the mouse
cornea, iris, pupil, and lens, including swelling of the cornea. Swelling of the cornea is often
coupled with high intraocular pressures (IOP) associated with glaucoma. We tested if the Klf4
knockout mutation correlates with the development of secondary glaucoma and the
glaucomatous death of retinal ganglion cells.

Measurements of the endothelial cells, epithelium, and stroma verified that the deletion of the
Klf4 gene in the mouse eye leads to corneal defects, including a decreased number of
endothelial cells, reduced epithelial width, and stromal edema. Retinal ganglion cell counts of
the KLf4 conditional null (KLf4CN) mice were approximately equal to those of the KLf4 wild type
(Klf4WT) mice, with the exception of the 310CN-30w specimen, which expressed a 50%
decrease in retinal ganglion cells, a vacuolated lens, and anterior chamber angle closure. The
glaucomatous phenotype of the 310CN-30w mouse suggests a possible population of these
knockout mice predisposed to angle closure and the subsequent development of secondary
glaucoma. If true, this population could serve as the first animal model for spontaneous angle
closure glaucoma.




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UNDERGRADUATE

RSMAS

William Haskell
Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences

David Kadko, Mentor

Relationship of Radon-222 in Ground Water to Strain in the Crust of the South Iceland
Seismic Zone (SISZ) and Possible Tectonic Implications


Precursory chemical changes have in some instances been observed in crustal waters before
large seismic events. Such observations have been limited in part because methods of
measurement have only been able to gather information with a low frequency sampling rate. In
this study, Radon -222 was measured from a 1 km deep hydrothermal well in Selfoss, Iceland
and compared with strain data acquired in the same area. Continuous flow of the subsurface
hydrothermal system allowed for constant monitoring of the amount of 222Rn present in the
groundwater with a ten minute sampling rate. The measurements reveal a correlation between
strain associated with lunar-solar diurnal tides and Radon fluxes.




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UNDERGRADUATE

Biology

Alexander Gonzalez
College of Arts and Sciences

Dr. M. Danielle McDonald, Mentor

Effect of Acute Fluoxetine Treatment on HPI Axis Function in Toadfish


The fish hypothalamus-pituitary-interrenal (HPI) axis is equivalent to the well-studied
hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis in mammals. This axis controls the secretion of
glucocorticoids such as cortisol, which are responsible for the chronic and sub-chronic
response to stress. It intersects in function with the neurotransmitter/neurohormone serotonin,
which regulates, among other parameters, mood and blood pressure. Studies have shown that
serotonin upregulates HPA activity in mammals, suggesting that an increase in serotonin could
be physiologically stressful to fish. We selected the Gulf toadfish Opsanus beta as a model
system due to its well-characterized stress response. To induce high serotonin levels, we
injected toadfish with fluoxetine, a widely available SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor)
used to treat depression and now present in measurable levels in wastewater, creating a
potential ecotoxicological issue that this study could elucidate. We took blood samples before
fluoxetine injection and at t = 1 hour and t = 2 hours post-injection and analyzed each sample
for cortisol, serotonin, glucose, and total blood protein, hypothesizing that fluoxetine would
induce increases in the first three and decreases in the latter. Our findings instead suggest that
the magnitude, timing, and even the direction of the response in all four variables is often
strongly correlated to the concentration of cortisol at the onset of fluoxetine exposure, with
significant differences in response arising most often between control and treatment groups
among those fish whose t = 0 cortisol levels were above 900 ng/mL. Future studies should
examine the effects of fluoxetine on other HPI- or serotonin-controlled parameters and/or the
effects of environmentally realistic levels of fluoxetine on toadfish physiology.




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UNDERGRADUATE

Business

Michael Gotterer
School of Business Administration

Ms. Jeanne Batridge, Mentor

Revitalizing and Revamping the Pink and Blue Gala


The Children's Home Society, one of the most prestigious child-serving nonprofit organizations
in Florida, provides a variety of services to children and families. This organization strives to
accomplish their mission of "Embracing Children - Inspiring Lives" by following the six values of
integrity, service, innovation, respect, diversity, and stewardship. Mainly, Children's Home
Society cares for suffering children, while also attempting to stabilize families. This study
analyzes Children's Home Society's fund raising efforts by focusing on one of their specific
events because maintaining the current-funding levels is the most pressing challenge in today's
environment.

The event that we studied is the Pink and Blue Gala, their largest event, which is a first-class,
formal affair that raised over $200,000 last year. Using a gala as a fundraiser is increasingly
difficult because the ordinary gala is becoming unattractive to many sponsors that attend these
events. We offer two sets of recommendations to improve funding - improve not only the event
itself, but also the sponsorship used to attract businesses. We offer various ways for Children's
Home Society to individualize itself and attract more sponsors with innovative, stimulating
enticements by amending the yearly promotion package. We also offer ways to better the
entertainment of the event to retain current sponsors and attract new ones. Thus, this plan for
Children's Home Society of South Florida analyzes and offers suggestions for revitalizing and
revamping the Pink and Blue Gala to expand upon current efforts of raising money.




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UNDERGRADUATE

Biology

Krys Foster
College of Arts and Sciences

Maria Marin-Castano, M.D./Ph.D., Mentor

Effects of Antioxidants in Human Retinal Pigment Epithelial (RPE) Cells Oxidation and
their Potential to Return Cells to Basal MMP-2 Activity Levels


Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most important cause of lost central vision in
the elderly. Histopathology of early AMD demonstrates accumulation of specific extracellular
matrix (ECM) deposits under the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE). AMD pathogenesis is
unknown but involves genetic, systemic health, and environmental risk factors. Cigarette
smoking is the most important environmental risk factor for onset and progression of AMD, but
no research has been done to identify pathogenic mechanisms.

The long-term goal of the Marin-Castano lab at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute is to determine
the mechanism of sub-RPE deposit formation and progression in early AMD. The team
proposes that the cigarette smoking compound, hydroquinone (HQ), will cause oxidative injury
to the RPE inducing ECM turnover dysregulation. As such, this research project focuses on
determining the protective effect of soluble antioxidant defenses on HQ-injury. We attempt to do
this by determining the impact of non-lethal oxidant injury (HQ) in conjunction with antioxidants
(Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, and Flax Seed Extract) on matrix metalloproteinase-2 (MMP-2) activity
and collagen accumulation. MMP-2 activity will be determined by zymography and MMP-2
protein and collagen accumulation by Western blot. We hypothesize that Vitamin B6, Vitamin C,
and Flax Seed Extract will protect RPE cells from the oxidant injury. Future studies hope to
determine specific data in regards to the mechanism of sub-RPE deposit formation, which may
essentially assist in creating proper prevention therapy for early onset AMD.




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UNDERGRADUATE

Business

Calvin Lisich
School of Business Administration

Dr. Elisah Lewis, Mentor

Hurukan: A UM Dining Experience
Barry Golden

While living on campus has been an amazing experience for our group, we have noticed one
luxury that has been absent in our lives. All of us have not had the pleasure of fancy dining off
of the campus. Our group came up with the thought of a new restaurant on campus. This
restaurant would be a place where friends can go on a weekend night to enjoy themselves in a
more formal place. It would be located on campus so it would be easily accessible to the
students, and it would be very affordable, while fancy enough for a student to consider eating
there during the weekends. The name of the restaurant will be called Hurukan, a variation on
the Spanish pronunciation of hurricane. We thought this would be appropriate because it will
mix in school spirit, and we thought the name gives it a fancier appeal to people. This business
will be student run, which will give students a chance to help work off their tuition. The main
purpose of the restaurant is to provide a place where students can eat and socialize on the
weekend. There will be a fancy setting in the restaurant, but the prices will be very affordable
and within the student's price range. We will also accept dining dollars and all major credit
cards, so students will have many different payment options. Our target customers will be the
students of the University of Miami.




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UNDERGRADUATE

Psychology

Ashley Makulowich
College of Arts and Sciences

Monica S. Webb, Mentor

Gender Differences in the Association between Personality and "Hooking Up" Behavior
among College Students
Elizabeth Baker, Denise Rodriguez Esquivel, Monica S. Webb

Research has demonstrated relationships between personality and "hooking up" behavior
among college students (Gute & Eshbaugh, 2008). Gender differences in "hooking up"
behavior and personality traits have also emerged across studies (Paul et al. , 2000). The
purpose of the current study was to examine gender differences in the relationships between
"hooking up" behavior and personality. College students (N = 395; 182 men, 213 women)
completed assessments of personality (neuroticism, extraversion, openness to experience,
agreeableness, and conscientiousness), impulsivity, and sexual behavior (number of partners,
sexual experiences, and condom use). We hypothesized that men and women with higher
extraversion scores and lower agreeableness, openness to experience, and conscientiousness
scores would be associated with more risky "hooking up" behavior. Results indicated that only
conscientiousness was related to "hooking up" behavior (e.g. using condoms during vaginal
sex) among men, such that conscientiousness was positively associated with condom usage (r
= .337, p < .001). Emotional stability, conscientiousness, and Impulsivity were related to
"hooking up" behavior among women. Emotional stability was positively associated with ever
having a sexual experience(r = .202, p < .001) and negatively associated with condom use( r = -
.232, p < .001). Conscientiousness was related to a lower number of partners among women (r
= -.208, p < .001) and lastly, impulsivity was positively related to oral sex(r =. 238, p < .001).
We conclude that intervention/educational programs about safer sexual practices should target
the gender-specific needs of college students with respect to personality characteristics
associated with "hooking up" behavior.




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UNDERGRADUATE

Biology

Sara Garamszegi
College of Arts and Sciences

David P. Janos, Mentor

Mathematical Equations Provide an Objective Estimate of Total Glomalin Content in Soil


Glomalin is a glycoprotein produced by arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, an associate of plants.
The methodology associated with glomalin extraction and measurement is subjective; we
sought to refine current procedures and develop a protocol for objectively measuring cumulative
protein content in soil. We extracted soil via the total extractable glomalin ("TEG") protocol, by
autoclaving (121C, 1.4 kg cm-2) 1 g soil in 8 ml of 50 mM sodium citrate at pH 8.0 for 60 min,
followed immediately by centrifugation (3220 x g) for 15-20 minutes. The supernatant was
collected and stored separately (at 4C), while the soil was re-suspended in fresh extraction
solution, and the extraction repeated. Each soil was extracted for 10 cycles, and the protein
content of each cycle was quantified separately; first by Bradford protein assay, then by
enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). A total of 100 soils were extracted and
measured. In order to objectively quantify total glomalin content in soil, we modeled the protein
content of successive extraction cycles with both cumulative and non-cumulative nonlinear
equations. A modified version of the Michaelis-Menten equation provided an objective estimate
of cumulative glomalin content; in addition, a three-parameter equation was used to model non-
cumulative extraction of glomalin. We determined the validity of this method of analysis by
fitting the curves to all 100 soil types, and analyzing how well the curves fit the model. The
preliminary results suggest that the cumulative and non-cumulative mathematical equations are
highly accurate, and can be used to objectively measure total extractable glomalin content in
soil.




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UNDERGRADUATE

Biology

Gustavo Rubio
College of Arts and Sciences

Richard Rotundo, Ph.D., Mentor

Alternative Functions of the Collagen-Like Tail Subunit of Vertebrate Synaptic
Acetylcholinesterase


Collagen Q (ColQ) is the non-catalytic subunit of the synaptic acetylcholinesterase (AChE)
form, the enzyme catalyzing the hydrolysis of acetylcholine at the vertebrate neuromuscular
junction. The only role associated with ColQ thus far has been to anchor the enzyme to the
synaptic basal lamina to terminate neurotransmission. We studied the pattern of ColQ
expression in mouse tissues, and whether it exists independent of AChE, to begin testing the
hypothesis that the ColQ subunit evolved separately and was later recruited to serve a synaptic
function. Total proteins were extracted from muscle, brain, spleen, gonads, skin, lung, liver,
kidneys, heart, and pancreas of adult mice. AChE enzyme activity and the distribution of its
oligomeric forms, including the form associated with ColQ, were determined by enzymatic
assays and velocity sedimentation. Western blots of mouse tissues showed positive bands for
ColQ in the pancreas, lungs, brain, liver, spleen, gonads, and muscles. Immunofluorescence
studies performed on quail lung sections using an anti-ColQ antibody gave a positive signal in a
subset of cells within the airways. However, the ColQ-associated form of AChE was not present
in any tissue examined other than muscle. These observations suggest that ColQ is expressed
in several tissues where it exists independent of AChE and serves as yet an unknown function,
possibly as a novel component of the extracellular matrix responsible for anchoring proteins
other than AChE.




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UNDERGRADUATE

Biology

John Burkett
College of Arts and Sciences

Gail Ironson and Elizabeth Balbin, Mentor

The Effects of Stress on HIV Immunity


Within the field of HIV research, the link between psychological factors and HIV disease
progression has been documented. This study focused on the link between HIV and
psychological factors by looking at Natural Killer cell levels and cytoxicity in HIV patients and
their levels of stress, specifically in relation to cortisol and also by using established written
psychological stress level tests. The results obtained showed a significant correlation between
Natural Killer cell levels and written psychological stress tests. There was no correlation
between cytoxicity and the stress measures and there was no correlation between NK cell
numbers and cortisol levels. The change over time of these variables will also be examined as
well as how the correlations are affected by this. The strong correlation found for the NK cell
numbers suggests that stress may be an important determinant of how fast the disease
progresses and this may lead to an increased emphasis of stress reduction for HIV patients to
improve their immune systems and to slow disease progression.




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UNDERGRADUATE

Neuroscience

Ryan McCormack
College of Arts and Sciences

Grace Zhai, Mentor

WLDS and NMNAT Proteins Protect Against Injury Induced Axon Degeneration


McCormack RM1, Tsoulfas P3, Zhang Y3, Ali Y2, Arenas-Valdes MS3, Zhai RG2

1 Department of Biology, University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida 33124. 2 Department of
Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology, Miller School of Medicine, University of Miami, Miami,
Florida 33136. 3 The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, Miller School of Medicine, University of
Miami, Miami, Florida 33136

Therapies that delay or inhibit degeneration of neurons offer an appealing therapeutic strategy
for neurodegenerative diseases and traumatic brain injury. The Slow Wallerian degeneration
(WLDS) protein, a chimeric product of the splicing of the two genes Ube4b and NMNAT,
significantly delays neurodegeneration. However, the exact mechanism of WLDS-mediated
protection is unclear. We hypothesize that NMNAT is the main protective factor and WLDS
protein acts in the axon. To test this hypothesis, we expressed fluorescence-tagged WLDS and
NMNAT proteins in dorsal root ganglia (DRG) neurons and monitored the process of axon
degeneration after axotomy with fluorescent microscopy. We found that both WLDS in the
nucleus, and WLDS, without the nuclear localization signal (WLDS NLS) delayed axon
degeneration, suggesting that the WLDS proteins exert their protective activity in the cytoplasm
and axons. We also observed that Drosophila NMNAT (DmNMNAT) protected mammalian
axons from degeneration, suggesting that the neuroprotective activity of NMNAT is
evolutionarily conserved. We also observed the same level of protection by WLDS, WLDS
NLS, and DmNMNAT in human DRG neurons. This conditioned response of DRG neurons
suggests they will provide a highly relevant model to study neurodegeneration. Through
understanding the mechanisms of WLDS protection, we can decipher pathways underlying
neurodegenerative disorders, which will aid in the development of novel therapies.




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UNDERGRADUATE

Neuroscience

Kevin Willeford
College of Arts and Sciences

Noelia Kunzevitzky, Jeff Goldberg, Mentor

Why don't Amacrine Cells Grow Axons?
Noelia Kunzevitzky, Jeff Goldberg MD PhD

Amacrine cells are retinal interneurons that are essential for visual function as they mediate the
signaling between bipolar cells and retinal ganglion cells (RGCs). During development, they are
born from the same progenitor at the same time as RGCs and they even migrate to the same
layer of the retina, yet RGCs grow long axons and amacrine cells do not.

Why don't amacrine cells grow axons? We compared the developmental gene expression
profile of amacrine cells and RGCs and found that a subset of polarity -associated genes are
differentially expressed during development. To further understand the failure of amacrine cells
to grow one long axon as their sibling RGCs do, here we ask:

-How do amacrine cells grow neurites in vitro?
-How does amacrine cells' neurite growth compare to RGCs?




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UNDERGRADUATE

Engineering

Nestor Arita
College of Engineering

Dr. Herman Cheung, Mentor

Inhibtion of ERK 1/2 Stimulates Osteogenesis in Pluripotent Cells Derived from
Periodontal Ligament when Treated with TGF-BETA3


There is a large demand for bone regeneration research due to the high frequency of
osteoporosis and critical size bone defect cases. Understanding the differentiation process of
osteogenesis is vital for the use of multi/pluri potent cells in cellular therapy for the mentioned
problems. In this experiment, cells cultured in fibrin gel suspensions, screened for embryonic
stem cell markers derived from the periodontal ligament were induced to undergo osteogenesis
by treating them with TGF-BETA3 while inhibiting ERK 1/2 with the inhibitor U0126. Cells
treated for 14 days were compared to cells only treated with TGF-BETA3 and to a control
group. Standard PCR analysis showed that the inhibited group expressed alkaline phosphatase
(ALP) and collagen 1 (C1) significantly more than the control groups. However, the TGF-BETA3-
only group also expressed elevated levels of ALP and C1.Therefore, according to these results
the stimulation of osteogenesis is influenced by the inhibition of ERK 1/2 but not exclusively.
However, this experiment needs to be duplicated for confirmation and future experiments will
compare these results to pellet culture. Also, there are plans to investigate whether
osteogenesis is induced in 3D suspensions with mechanical stimuli instead of TGF-BETA3
during inhibition of ERK 1/2.




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UNDERGRADUATE

Neuroscience

Johanna Said
College of Arts and Sciences

Dr. Damien Pearse, Mentor

Repair of the Injured Spinal Cord by Polysialic Acid-Engineered Schwann Cells


Schwann cells (SCs) have been demonstrated to promote regeneration, remyelination, and
functional recovery following implantation into the injured spinal cord and therefore have
significant potential as a cell-based repair strategy for clinical use in humans. However,
migration of the grafted SCs appears to be limited by their interactions with host astrocytes that
encapsulate the lesion epicenter. Based on of the known properties of cell-surface polysialic
acid (PSA) in promoting cell migration, we hypothesized that engineered expression of PSA by
SCs would promote outward migration of implanted SCs. Adult female Fischer rats with
moderate T8 spinal cord contusions were injected with SCs previously infected either with the
PST lentivirus or a control GFP lentivirus, at injury epicenter, one week post-injury.
Immunohistochemical examination of spinal cord tissue ten weeks post-implantation revealed
extensive rostral/caudal migration of PSA-expressing SCs as well as significant interaction with
host astrocytes away from and around the injury site, when compared to control GFP SCs that
remained confined to the lesion site and exhibited limited interaction with host astrocytes. In
contrast to animals receiving control GFP SCs, those receiving PSA-expressing SCs showed
improvement in open-field locomotion (BBB) testing and displayed improved hindlimb
coordination in the form of reduced foot faults in gridwalk testing. PSA expression can enhance
the ability of SCs to improve functional restitution following spinal cord injury.

This work was supported by: The New York State Spinal Research Program, NIH NINDS NS
05628-01, The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, The Buoniconti Fund and The Fa Bene
Foundation.




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UNDERGRADUATE

Business

Kyle Harke
School of Business Administration

Dr. Tie Su, Mentor

The Methodology of Credit-Default Swaps


The companies involved in the U.S. stock markets have been trading stocks and bonds for
many years, but recently a new type of security in the derivatives market has become the most
widely traded credit derivative product. These investments are called credit-default swaps. My
goal during this study was to determine the methodology behind these securities and how they
became a big factor in our economy.

At a basic level, they are credit derivatives that allow companies to hedge against a default on a
mortgage or on debt they hold. It acts as an insurance policy that if the issuer of the debt can no
longer pay, the holder of the swap receives a full payment of the swap amount. Since their
creation, they quickly became popular among large institutions because of the strong economy
creating a very low default prone market. Premiums on these swaps were easy money because
it was not anticipated a large corporation would default. This belief allowed credit-default swaps
to spread into structured finance and secondary markets. The extent of the swaps made it
extremely potent when the housing market started to tumble and many people started
defaulting. Credit-default swaps are completely unregulated and lack transparency making it
impossible to determine if the holders of the swaps are able to honor their contracts. The future
effects of these securities are still unclear and need to be examined further.




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UNDERGRADUATE

Psychology

Alec Zabaleta
College of Arts and Sciences

Dr. Heather Henderson, Mentor

Associatons Between Temperament and Compliance Behavior in Preschool Children


Children are biologically predisposed to respond to stimuli with varying levels of reactivity, along
with an additional predisposition to regulate the strength of their responses (Rothbart &
Derryberry, 1981). These variations in temperament are related to how a child complies with an
adult directive (Stifter et al., 1999). However, the question of how compliance behavior
develops over time is still debated, along with the specific aspects of temperament that relate to
compliance behavior. Thus, I examined the influence of temperament on the compliance
behavior of 374 preschoolers at 36 and 48 months of age. Maternal reports of social fearfulness
were used as a measure of temperamental reactivity, a child's strength of response to
environmental stimuli, and reports of interest/persistence were used as a measure of
temperamental self-regulation, a child's ability to manage responses to environmental stimuli.
Compliance behaviors were assessed based on recordings of children engaged in 5-minute
"clean-up" tasks. During this task, pairs of same-sex children who had been previously playing
with toys for approximately 10 minutes were instructed to put the toys away in a large bin. Left
alone in the laboratory room, children's behaviors were observed through hidden cameras.
These behaviors were later coded into time-based variables. Behavioral codes were then
compared with each child's temperament. I hypothesized that children would be more compliant
at 48 months than at 36 months. I also predicted that socially fearful children would be less
compliant than less fearful children, and that well-regulated children would be more compliant
than dysregulated children.




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UNDERGRADUATE

Biology

Almas Khan
College of Arts and Sciences

Dr. Sanjoy Bhattacharya, Mentor

Elevated Levels of Protein Deimination Associated with Neurite Outgrowth


Peptidyl arginine deiminanse 2 (PAD2) catalyze conversion of protein bound arginines into
citrulline (Vossennar et al., 2003), a process termed as deimination and often also
interchangeably referred to as citrullination. Elevated PAD2 and consequent elevated
deimination has been detected 2 months-4 year old human babies (Moscarello et al., 1994) and
studies on F1 hybrid of Fisher 344 and Brown Norway rats corroborates presence of elevated
deiminated protein in the optic nerve of young (Bhattacharya et al., 2008).

Our hypothesis is that elevated protein deimination is associated with new arborization. We
utilized a frog (Xaenopus tropicalis) ocular rotation model to determine whether increased
protein deimination is associated with neurite outgrowth (arborization). In the frog eye subjected
to rotation, the new arborization occurs at the level of nuclear isthami and at the optic tectum
(Udin, 1985). Experiments using tritiated thymidine suggests that ocular rotation results in new
neurite formation but not new neuron formation (Udin et al., 2001). Immunohistochemical and
Western blot analysis performed on optic tectum/nuclear isthami of eye rotated frogs compared
with non-rotated controls revealed increased deimination in the optic tectum/nuclear isthami of
those with rotated eyes. An antibody ( smi-312) staining for a specific neurofilament protein that
serves as a marker for neurite outgrowth (Sutton and Schuman, 2007) suggests that increased
deimination associated with.new neurite formation in the optic tectum of the frogs subjected to
eye rotation.




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UNDERGRADUATE

Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology

Sophie Khokhawalla
College of Arts and Sciences

Sari Izenwasser, Mentor

Nicotine Reward Differs in Adolescent vs. Adult Male and Female Rats.


More adolescent girls than boys smoke and quitting smoking is reported to be more difficult in
females than males. In addition, nicotine dependence rates are higher among females than
males and adolescents experience higher rates of dependence than adults at the same level of
use. Research has shown female rats are more sensitive to the locomotor stimulant effects of
nicotine than males and adolescents were more sensitive than adults; however, it is not known
whether the same is true for nicotine reward. This study was done to measure nicotine reward
in adolescent and adult male and female rats. Nicotine reward was determined in male and
female adult and adolescent Sprague-Dawley rats using a conditioned place preference (CPP)
procedure. In this procedure, the test chamber has a striped side and a white side and 0.4
mg/kg nicotine is paired with one side and saline with the other. After 3 days of pairing
(conditioning) preference for the two sides is determined. If a rat found nicotine to be
rewarding, it should spend more time on the nicotine-paired side than the saline-paired side
after conditioning. Nicotine CPP occurred in periadolescent females (PAF) and adult females
(ADF) but not in periadolescent males (PAM) and adult males (ADM) and the magnitude of
CPP was greater in PAF than ADF. Thus, nicotine produces greater reward in females than in
males and it appears that the magnitude of the reward is greater in the adolescents than in the
adults.




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UNDERGRADUATE

Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology

Nauman Chaudhry
College of Arts and Sciences

John C. Hackman, Ph.D., Mentor

5-HT Receptors Alter NMDA-Induced Depolarizations on Frog Primary Afferent Terminals


5-HT2 receptor subtypes have been shown to selectively modulate in situ frog motoneuron
NMDAR activation: (1) Activation of 5-HT2ARs depresses NMDA-induced depolarization in
Mg2+- free Ringers solution, (2) In Mg2+, 5-HT2B receptors enhance NMDA responses and (3)
5-HT2C receptors enhance NMDA-induced depolarization, whether or not Mg2+ is present. In
this study, we report the effects of 5-HT2 subunit modulation of NMDA-induced depolarization
in primary afferent terminals from Rana pipiens using non-invasive sucrose gap to record
terminal membrane depolarization from the dorsal root of hemisected spinal cords perfused
with Ringer's solution (in mM: NaCl 114, KCl 2.0, CaCl2 1.9, NaHCO3 10, and glucose 5.5)
and TTX (0.78 uM) to block indirect activity. Similar to motoneurons, the selective 5-HT2
agonist alpha-methyl 5-HT (10-300 uM) depolarized afferent terminals and reduced NMDA (100
uM, 10 s)-induced depolarizations (84 + 4% of control responses, n = 3) in perfusates lacking
Mg2+. In Ringer's containing a physiological level of Mg2+ (1.0 mM) and alpha-methyl 5-HT
(30 uM), NMDA (200 uM, 10 s) depolarizations were enhanced (139 + 7% of control
responses, n = 3). Ketanserin (20 uM), a 5-HT2A/2C antagonist, selectively blocked alpha-
methyl 5-HT reduction of NMDA-induced depolarizations of the afferent terminal. Unlike
motoneuronal modulation, on primary afferents the selective 5-HT2B antagonist SB 204741 (30
uM) and the 5-HT2B/2C antagonist SB 206553 (10 uM) did not block the enhancement of
NMDA-mediated responses by alpha-methyl 5-HT. This suggests that another 5-HT receptor
may be responsible for the enhancement of the NMDA response on primary afferent terminals.
Also dissimilar from the motoneuron, the selective 5-HT2C agonist MK-212 (10 uM) had no
effect on the dorsal root and had no effect on NMDA-mediated responses with or without Mg2+
present. Thus, 5-HT2A mediated depression of NMDA responses appears to be similar on both
motoneurons and primary afferent terminals. Unlike the motoneuron, activation of 5-HT2BRs or
5-HT2CRs had no effect on primary afferent terminal membrane depolarization and did not
interact with primary afferent terminal NMDA receptors. (Supported by the VA Medical
Research Service).




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UNDERGRADUATE

Psychology

Amrita Singh
College of Arts and Sciences

Dr. Marygrace Yale-Kaiser, Ann-Marie Faria, IES Pre-Doctoral Fellow, Mentor

Head Start Preschoolers' Responses to Relational and Physical Victimization


Research on peer victimization has revealed that physical and relational victimization negatively
impact victims' social and psychological development. My study investigated the responses
preschoolers used when relationally and physically victimized. Data was collected from 139
participants in six Head Start Centers in a large southeast city. Peer interactions were observed
during the 2007/2008 school year for a total of 80 minutes of observation per focal child.
Response strategies included active avoidance, objection, physical aggression, relational
aggression, prosocial behavior, and adult assistance. It was hypothesized that response
methods would vary, with avoidance being the most commonly used strategy. Prosocial
behavior was also hypothesized as a response to victimization. Finally, it was hypothesized that
response strategies would differ between boys and girls. Results supported the hypothesis that
the most frequently used response was active avoidance. Results also indicated that prosocial
behavior was significantly different from zero, but did not occur at more frequent rates than
other responses. Results also revealed that boys and girls engaged in similar response
strategies to physical and relational victimization. Overall, children were not frequently seeking
adult assistance but instead avoiding and objecting to victimization at greater rates. This study
indicates that children who are relationally and physically victimized are more likely to avoid the
victimization and object than seek adult assistance, be physically and relationally aggressive, or
display prosocial behavior.




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UNDERGRADUATE

Biology

Scott Hawley
College of Arts and Sciences, Marine Geology, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric
Sciences

Dr. James Klaus, Mentor

Stylophora Taxonomic Reclassification: Reconstructing Faunal Turnover


Prior to about 3 Ma species of the genus Stylophora were among the dominant corals in the
Caribbean. As many as 9 different species of Stylophora are known to have inhabited the
Caribbean and Western Atlantic during the Miocene and Pliocene (11.6-1.8Ma). By 1 Ma
Stylophora were completely extinct in this region. This extinction corresponds to a major
ecological and environmental transition in the history of Caribbean reefs. Extinctions and
originations are the primary mechanisms by which coral reefs and all other ecosystems change
and adapt to new environments. Thus understanding extinctions is essential to understanding
ecosystem stability and the ability to adapt to change. In order to better understand the
dynamics and timing of extinction in Stylophora an accurate taxonomic classification of the
species within the genus is needed. The aim of this project is to create a revised taxonomic
classification of fossil Stylophora species from the Caribbean using morphometric techniques
so that evolutionary changes can be more accurately tracked and correlated to climatic and
environmental changes. With the ultimate goal to assess how modern reefs may change due to
the current climatic and environmental changes occurring in the Caribbean.




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UNDERGRADUATE

Biology

Dorene Niv
College of Arts and Sciences

Dr. Michael Gaines, Mentor

Angiopoietin-1 siRNA Reverses Hypoxia-Induced Pulmonary Hypertension in Young Mice


Pulmonary Hypertension (PH) is a devastating and lethal disease that affects all age groups
and is especially severe in neonates, contributing significantly to morbidity and mortality in both
term and preterm infants{{252 Tino,G. 2007;254 Farrow,K.N. 2005;}}. It occurs as a result of
various lung and heart diseases which are often associated with persistent or intermittent
hypoxia {{258 Martin,K.B. 2006;256 Dakshinamurti,S. 2005;}}. The hallmark of pulmonary
hypertension (PH) induced by chronic hypoxia is increased pulmonary vascular resistance and
vascular remodeling1. Angiopoietin-1 (Ang1), a growth factor, may mediate the pulmonary
vascular remodeling seen in PH2. In adult patients, Ang1 upregulation was associated with the
severity of PH3. In pilot studies we have demonstrated that Ang1 and its receptor Tie2 were
upregulated in lungs of mice with chronic hypoxia-induced PH. Therefore, to define whether PH
induced by chronic hypoxia in mice is mediated by the Ang1/Tie2 pathway, we propose to use a
novel technique of in vivo gene silencing, siRNA, to knockdown the Ang1 expression. FVB/NJ
mice will be randomized to Ang1 siRNA or control (Placebo or Scrambled siRNA) groups and
exposed to either normobaric hypoxia or normoxia for 4 weeks. The Ang1and Tie2 gene and
protein expressions will be assessed by real time RT- PCR and Western Blot.
Immunohistochemistry and immunofluorescence will be performed for the localization of
proteins and tagged siRNA. Data will be analyzed by ANOVA. The knowledge gained from this
study will set the stage for exploring mechanistic pathways and open the prospect for designing
novel treatment strategies for PH.




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UNDERGRADUATE

RSMAS

Casey Gioia
College of Arts and Sciences

Dr. Daniel DiResta & Wade Cooper, Mentor

Small Scale vs. Large Scale Rugosity Study: Determining Connections Between
Rugosity and Reef Substrate Composition


This study will look at the connections between rugosity measurements and reef substrate
composition, using a small and large scale measurement of rugosity. The goal of this study is
to (1) compare the relationship between small scale and large scale rugosity measurements,
and (2) assess the associations between the substrate composition and rugosity measurements.

The initial part of the project will be a comparison of small scale chain rugosity with large scale
meter rugosity. Thirty meter transects were laid out haphazardly on a reef, each parallel to
each other and at least 5 meters apart. A large scale rugosity measurement (described below)
was conducted every 2 meters on alternating sides of the transect. Within each large scale
measurement 1 to 3 chain transects were conducted along with taking a picture of the substrate
at each location.      To analyze the data, the small and large scale measurements will be
correlated to see if they are similar. Hopefully, if there is a strong correlation between the large
scale measurements and the small scale chain rugosity, an extensive Lidar dataset could be
used to extrapolate small-scale rugosity measurements. Such an extrapolation would be useful
for making predictions on various biological phenomenon which small-scale rugosity
measurements are known to influence.

The second part of the project relates the rugosity data obtained in part 1 to the substrate
composition. At each site of the rugosity measurements a photograph was taken. The
substrate composition of each photo will be processed using CPCe. From this, a direct gradient
analysis (i.e., canonical correspondence analysis) will be performed to relate the multivariate
species composition to the physical rugosity.




University of Miami Research and Creativity Forum 2009
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UNDERGRADUATE

Psychology

Amelia Rowley
College of Arts and Sciences

Jennifer Durocher , Mentor

Collateral Effects of Joint Attention Intervention on Pretend Play in Children with Autism
Macarena Rufin, Jennifer S. Durocher, Anibal Gutierrez Jr., Melissa N. Hale, & Michael
Alessandri

Six children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) were randomly assigned to a joint
attention intervention or a wait list control group. The intervention targeted Joint Attention skills
(point, show, gaze shift) using social reinforcement for a period of 8 weeks (16 visits). They
were administered an examiner-child play task to measure Pretend Play and Imitation at pre-
and post- intervention assessments. It was hypothesized that both Pretend Play and Imitation
skills would improve in children who received the intervention in comparison to children from the
control group. Hypotheses were not supported, evidenced by equal increases in Pretend Play
and Imitation for both groups. When individual subject patterns of change in Pretend Play and
Imitation were compared, there was a great deal of variability in these skills over time.
Associations were found between Pretend Play, Imitation, and language. Results suggest that
children with ASD may need to be taught Pretend Play and Imitation skills directly rather than
assuming that they will improve when targeting seemingly related skills, such as Joint Attention.




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UNDERGRADUATE

Engineering

Abraham Akinin
Biomedical Engineering, College of Engineering

Fotios Andreopoulos PhD, Ramon Montero MS., Mentor

Fabrication of Aligned Bioscaffolds through Dynamic Control of Electrospinning


Electrospinning (ES) is the process of creating fibers out of polymeric solutions by means of
electrostatic attraction. I have modified the classic electrospinning set-up to include a particular
type of alternating electric field to create fibrous scaffolds with high orientabillity, or degree of
parallelity, of the individual fibers. Order at the microscale can thus be achieved cheaply and
quickly. The aim of my research project is to prepare and characterize polymeric fibrous
bioscaffolds that have many applications in tissue engineering, filtration systems and any other
application where order in the smallest scales is apparent in the body or elsewhere.




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UNDERGRADUATE

Psychology

Erica James
College of Arts and Sciences

Jennifer S. Durocher, Mentor

Caregiver Synchrony, Language and Joint Attention in Children with Autism Spectrum
Disorder
Jennifer S. Durocher, Anibal Gutierrez Jr., Melissa N. Hale, and Michael Alessandri

Ten caregiver-child dyads, involving children with autism, participated in a three minute,
naturalistic parent-child play task. Examiners coded the caregiver's toy-directed acts,
determining whether these acts matched the child's focus of attention or not. Research has
shown that caregiver synchrony may be related to joint attention and language abilities.
Contrary to the hypothesis, all dyads exhibited an equal or higher proportion of synchronous
compared to asynchronous acts. As predicted, caregivers utilized more synchronous
verbalizations than synchronous behaviors. When examining synchrony and language, there
was a positive correlation between synchronous verbalizations and language, and a negative
correlation between asynchronous verbalizations and language. These results are similar to
previous findings on the relation between synchrony and language. This study also found that
asynchronous points were positively correlated with the child's responding to joint attention
(RJA). The overall findings suggest that while there may be an association between greater
synchronous acts and language, a high frequency of synchronous acts may not necessarily be
related to joint attention skills.




University of Miami Research and Creativity Forum 2009
                                                                          43 of 113
UNDERGRADUATE

Psychology

Jules Rosen
College of Arts and Sciences

Marc D. Gellman, Mentor

The Triple Threat: The Comorbidity of Depression, Inflammation, and Obesity in Type-2
Diabetics
Michael

Over the past half-century, our indulgences as the leading consumer nation in the World have
caught up with us. 7.8 percent of the US population (23.6 million) now has diabetes (ADA,
2008). Type-2 diabetes mellitus, which is an acquired form of the disease, has been
recognized as concomitant to several other pathologies, specifically depression, inflammation,
and obesity. Much research has been done in the past, regarding these conditions, and the
correlation between them is clear. However, the functional relationship between them has yet
to be determined, due to their complex, multi-factorial nature. The present study seeks to build
upon this research by identifying, whether psychosocial (BDI) or physical (BMI) factors are
more important in correlation with inflammation (CRP and FIB), currently thought to play a
larger role in diabetes than blood sugar, the traditional staple of the disease. In order to
accomplish this, I am investigating the co-occurrence of depression, inflammation, and obesity,
in 100 low income, minority, depressed, overweight individuals with type-2 diabetes, between
18 and 70 years of age, seen at several community health centers throughout South Florida.
Data will be garnered from baseline assessments conducted by trained physicians. Such
assessments include general measures of height and weight, phlebotomy (blood work), and
psychosocial tests. Measures will include the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), which
addresses several domains of depression; the Body Mass Index (BMI), which assesses the
ratio of fat to muscle mass; and a mean combined blood concentration of two agents indicative
of inflammation, C-reactive protein (CRP) and fibrinogen (FIB). I have predicted that the three
factors mentioned interact in a variety of ways. For example, one would expect an individual
with a higher BMI to have a higher BDI, due to the known co-occurrence between obesity and
depression (Olvera, Stewart, Galindo, & Stephens, 2007). Based upon prior research, the other
factors are also thought to exacerbate one another. With a better understanding of the causes
and implications of diabetes, more effective treatment regimens may be established.




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UNDERGRADUATE

Microbiology and Immunology

Ashleyann Gosselin
College of Arts and Sciences

Dr. Arbor Ager, Mentor

Atovaquone      (Mepron)  Combinded     with    Saturated,  Monounsaturated    and
Polyunsaturated Oils at Different Concentrations to Determine Effectiveness Against
Malaria Infection in Mice


Malaria continues to be one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide. It is a
vector-born protozoan parasite that plagues most of the tropical world. Atovaquone is an
antprotonzoal agent that attaches to the cytochrome bc1 complex (III) of the malaria parasite
while in the erythrocytic stage of infection. One of Atovaquone's chemical features is that it is a
highly fat soluble drug that may work more thoroughly in the body when administered with high
levels of lipids. It is hypothesized that a diet high in fat will increase the absorption of
Atovaquone into the body and that safflower oil will allow for the most absorption into malarial
infected cells. It is also hypothesized that the concentration of the Atovaquone will have an
outcome on the survival of the mice infected with malaria with the greatest number of mice
surviving at the 4 concentration. Atovaquone 4291 a variation of Atovaquone was administered
at various concentrations with different lipids that are common to everyday use. Oils were used
because of their ability to pass easily though the double membrane bound lipid bilayer of the
cell. The project used olive oil, corn oil, and peanut oil as monounsaturated fats. Safflower oil
was used as a polyunsaturated fat and coconut oil was used as an example of a saturated fat.
The Atovaquone/oil concentrations were administered orally twice a day within six hours of
each administration. Blood smears were preformed twice a week for 31 days in order to
determine blood paracetemia concentration. Paracetemia concentrations in the mouse blood
must still be determined from analysis of the blood smear slides by individual cell counting.




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UNDERGRADUATE

Biology

Marshall Holland
College of Arts and Sciences

Dr. John Lu, Mentor

The Hearing Ability of the Zebrafish Larvae: A Structural and Functional Approach


The zebrafish larvae has become an important model animal for studying the auditory system.
Yet, with no clear agreement on a baseline threshold level, it is difficult to study hearing loss in
these animals. Using techniques developed by Dr. John Lu, zebrafish larvae ranging from age 3
days old to 30 days old are classically conditioned to provide a startle respond, a robust and
easily detectable maneuver, to a 200 Hz tone. Once conditioned, the sound level is slowly
decreased until the zebrafish show only response to the tone about 50% of the time, indicating
the threshold level. Results indicate that the rate of decline in threshold level is very large
during the first two weeks of development, followed by a slowing down in the rate of hearing
gain as the zebrafish reaches one month of age. To try to explain these results a structural
investigation was performed. Fixed zebrafish larvae inner ear hair cell tissue was stained and
then hair cells were counted by viewing under the microscope. Results suggest that the
increase in number of hair cells is mirroring the gains in hearing ability. With this information
compiled, scientists performing forward and reverse genetic experiments will be able to asses
the level of hearing loss against a wild type baseline.




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UNDERGRADUATE

Biology

Debra Channer
College of Arts and Sciences

Shyam Gajavelli, Mentor

Locating Encapsulated Chromaffin Cells After Cell Transplantation


Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami, Florida

Cell transplantation has been explored for a number of goals in the treatment of CNS disorders
including replacement of lost or damaged neural circuitry. This is done by placing cells
noninvasively into the Cerebral Spinal Fluid (CSF), where they can act as mini-pumps to deliver
therapeutic molecules to their target sites in the spinal cord.

Neuroendocrine cells, such as chromaffin cells, found in the adrenal medulla, share many
properties of neurons and, secrete neurotransmitters that help relieve pain. These
neurotransmitters include epinephrine, norephinephrine, and dopamine. In spinal cord injuries,
these neuroendocrine cells often become damaged or dysfunctional, reducing the production of
these opiates and disrupting the body's ability to manage pain.

One method that has been researched to help alleviate pain after spinal cord injury is the direct
implantation of chromaffin cells underneath the dura, the protective layer surrounding the spinal
cord. However, once implanted, these cells tend to diffuse away from the target areas reducing
its efficacy and also evoking an immune response. One potential way to overcome these
problems is to encapsulate these cells in some sort of biomaterial, such as microspheres.

At the Miami Project to cure paralysis, rats are used as a sciatic nerve chronic constriction
injury model, following sciatic nerve compression. Bovine Chromaffin Cells (BCCs) are then
transplanted underneath the dura that surrounds the spinal cord. In order to verify any
significant effects the BCCs have on the rats, they have to be located in the spinal cord tissue in
order to show that they were actually present.
We hypothesized that using encapsulated BCCs would be more effective in locating the BCCs
after transplantation. In order to test this hypothesis we used different methods to section the
spinal cord tissue following the BCCs transplantation, such as paraffin and cryostat microtomes,
as well as anti-Serotonin (5HT) and anti-Tyrosine Hydroxylase (TH) antibodies, in order to
identify the BCCs under a laser scanning confocal microscope. Using these methods, it showed
that encapsulated BCCs are in fact effective and was found to last significantly longer after the
transplantation compared to free BCCs.




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                                                                              47 of 113
UNDERGRADUATE

Biology

Sharde Chambers
College of Arts and Sciences

Dr. Barbara Lopez, Mentor

Risky Sexual Behavior in Hispanic Adolescents: Examining the roles of ADHD, Conduct
Disorder, School, Family, Peer Sexual Behavior, and Substance Abuse


This study examines the roles of poor school functioning, family functioning, ADHD symptoms,
Conduct Disorder, peer sexual behavior, and substance abuse in increasing risk for risky sexual
behavior in Hispanic adolescents. The sample consisted of 8th grade adolescents (ages 13-17)
with behavior problems from Hispanic-Latino immigrant families Structural equation modeling
will be used to examine relationships of poor school functioning, ADHD symptoms, conduct
disorder, peer sexual behavior, and substance use to risky sexual behavior. Risky sexual
behaviors include early initiation of vaginal, anal, oral sexual activity, intercourse and condom
use. We hypothesize that hyperactivity symptoms and poor school functioning will be indirectly
related to risky sexual behavior, through substance use and peer sexual behavior. We also
hypothesize that hyperactivity symptoms will mediate the relationship between poor school
functioning, substance abuse, peer sexual behavior and risky sexual behaviors. Results will be
discussed in terms of possible targets for interventions to prevent risky sexual behaviors and
other sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS, in Hispanic adolescents.




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UNDERGRADUATE

Psychology

Carolina Corrales
College of Arts and Sciences

Michael E. McCullough , Mentor

Does Religious Cognition Increase Self-Control?


Religiousness has been associated with important aspects of humans??? lives, including
mental and physical health, social adjustment, and individual success. The last eight decades
of scientific research suggest that religion's apparent influence on such variables might be due
to the close connection religion has with self-control and self-regulation.
The current study uses experimental methods to test the hypothesis that religion promotes
delay of gratification, which is one way of operationalizing self-control. I will attempt to
manipulate religious cognition, with methods used in previous studies, and examine whether
this laboratory manipulation increases participants' preferences for relatively large rewards to
be distributed in the future over smaller rewards to be distributed immediately.




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UNDERGRADUATE

Psychology

Amy Altszuler
College of Arts and Sciences

Dr. Monica Webb, Mentor

Associations Between Body-Esteem and Personality Among Female College Students
Denise Rodriguez Esquivel, M.A.

Research has demonstrated significant relationships between body image, self-esteem, and
personality traits, particularly among females. Rubinstein (2006) examined the big-five
personality traits (openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and emotional
stability) in overweight and normal weight women, and found that all five personality traits were
positively correlated with self-esteem (one's general confidence level). Self-esteem was
negatively correlated with weight. We hypothesized a positive association between body-
esteem (feelings towards one's body) and the five traits in a sample of college-aged women.
Identifying correlates of body-esteem may guide interventions for women with body related
issues.

The current study surveyed 213 female college students. The Body-Esteem Scale, a
multidimensional scale of body-esteem, was administered to each student. Personality traits
were measured using the Ten-Item Personality Inventory.

Using these measures we found that extraversion was positively correlated with feelings of
sexual attractiveness (r = .351, p<.001), weight (r = .236, p < .001), and physical condition (r =
.352, p < .001). Emotional stability was positively correlated with sexual attractiveness (r =
.221, p < .001), weight concern (r = .359, p < .001), and physical condition (r = .299, p < .001).
Conscientiousness was positively correlated with sexual attractiveness (r = .214, p < .001) and
physical condition (r = .306, p < .001). Openness and agreeableness were not correlated with
body-esteem subscales.

These results are consistent with previous research on personality traits, body image, and self-
esteem. Targeting personality traits related to body-esteem may guide the development of
interventions that target female college students with low body-esteem.




University of Miami Research and Creativity Forum 2009
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UNDERGRADUATE

Business

Sara Michalski
School of Business Administration

Barbara Kahn, Mentor

All About Location--Finding a Way for 100 Calorie Packs to be Useful for the Intended
Audience


In October 2008 research was published in JCR that found dieters actually ate more from
smaller packages, such as 100 calorie packs, than from larger packages. Since smaller
packages are pre-portioned, dieters lower their inhibitions and tend to eat more than if gauging
a desired amount of food themselves from a larger package size. We are researching methods
that use subtle perceptual cues on packaging to cause consumers to perceive pre-portioned
food as more filling, thereby causing them to eat less without having to consciously count
calories.

Our pretest survey sought information on two potential methods: First, we placed a cookie
image in a lower, heavier location on a package compared to a higher, lighter location. Recent
research in JMR has shown consumers perceive food to be more filling when an the image is in
a lower location on the packaging. Secondly, we placed a nutritional pyramid on half of the
packages to evoke healthy eating goals. Both of these methods had subtle effects on dieters.

Building on this pretest survey, another survey will test the effect of heavy versus light image
placement on different packaging. Some of the packaging will say "100 Calories," which will
replace the pyramid image of the pretest. We predict restrained eaters will relax their eating
rules when seeing the package has 100 calories and will then be affected by the heavy image
placement. We hypothesize this will allow restrained dieters to eat fewer calories without
having to consciously count them.




University of Miami Research and Creativity Forum 2009
                                                                            51 of 113
UNDERGRADUATE

Business

Katelyn Pascavis
School of Business Administration

Dr. Elisah Lewis, Mentor

Late Night Tutoring
Adekemi Akinwole, Nicole Neuman, Dylan Jones, and Melissa Katz

The idea of Late Night Tutoring arose from research that showed that a majority of college
students do their studying after 9 o'clock at night. Late Night Tutoring is a private tutoring
company that will provide highly trained and specialized tutors from 9:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m.
Monday to Friday, and on Sunday from 12:00 p.m. until 3:00 a.m. Tutoring will take place on
the University of Miami campus, wherever the student feels most comfortable studying.

Late Night Tutoring will be competitive in the market because it will not have to compete with
the free tutoring resources provided at the Academic Resource Center by the University of
Miami. It will also be competitive amongst private tutors because sessions cost only $40 an
hour, compared to an average $50-$60 that many private tutors cost.

Funding will come from the owners of the company, as well as through the use of loans as
needed. By not using private investors, and by limiting the use of loans, Late Night Tutoring will
be able to begin profiting from its services immediately. This, along with minimal outgoing
costs, will allow the company to expand with more tutors that cover more subjects within a few
years.

Our goal is to give students at the University of Miami a resource to help them succeed in
school, and to give them a place to turn to when most other tutors are not available. Our
strategy is to provide a service at an affordable price to a segment of the market that has until
now been overlooked, while creating a company that embraces the ideals of quality and
reliability.




University of Miami Research and Creativity Forum 2009
                                                                              52 of 113
UNDERGRADUATE

RSMAS

John Parkinson
Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences

Dr. Andrew C. Baker, Mentor

Effect of Elevated Temperature on the Settlement Success and Early Ontogeny of a
Coral-algal Symbiosis: a Case Study of the Brooding Coral Porites Astreoides


Symbiosis flexibility in coral-algal symbiosis has been a research focus for over a decade, but
the majority of studies have focused on adult corals and the potential response of their
symbiont communities to different environmental conditions or disturbances. Several studies
have suggested that flexibility in coral-algal symbiosis might be less common in brooding corals
that transmit their symbionts maternally, compared with broadcasting corals that acquire
symbionts from the environment. Here we investigated the degree to which brooding corals are
capable of flexibility in early ontogeny by settling larvae and rearing them at three different
temperatures (28, 30 and 32oC) and three irradiance levels (using 0, 1 and 2 layers of neutral
density mesh to reduce ambient light). We collected 900 larvae in April and May 2006 from
each of two adult Porites astreoides colonies, and introduced 100 larvae per colony to each
treatment. Temperature was increased at a rate of 2oC per day to reach target temperatures.
Symbiodinium DNA was extracted periodically from both swimming larvae and settlers, to
compare with the symbionts identified from samples taken from five locations across the parent
colony. Settlement success and mortality rates were tracked, and chlorophyll fluorescence
properties monitored using an Imaging-PAM (Walz, GmbH). Initial settlement was highest under
the high light treatment (although on the undersides of tiles), but there was no clear
temperature effect. Long-term survivorship of settlers was generally poor, with <3% of larvae
surviving to the 7-month stage under the experimental conditions. Symbiont identifications were
hampered by poor amplification success from single larvae. We plan to repeat these
experiments with larger sample sizes in late spring 2008 and combine our results with the long-
term (>12 months) results from the 2007 larvae. In a separate experiment, additional larvae
were exposed to high concentrations of symbionts (1000 per larva) from five different clades (A,
B, two strains of C, and D) in an effort to induce a clade shift. Denaturing gradient gel
electrophoresis analysis and DNA sequencing were used to determine the predominant
symbiont clade both before and after exposure. Preliminary results show that no shift took
place, indicating that overexposure alone is not an effective means of inoculation.




University of Miami Research and Creativity Forum 2009
                                                                            53 of 113
UNDERGRADUATE

Biology

Gabriel Walton
College of Arts and Sciences

Athula Wikramanayake, PhD, Mentor

Seahorse Gene and Regulation of Development in the Sea Urchin Strongylocentrotus
purpuratus


The Wnt signaling pathway is evolutionarily conserved and regulates various processes during
animal development such as morphogenesis, cell polarity, and cell fate specification.
Misregulation of this pathway can lead to malformation of mesoderm and endoderm, as well as
other developmental abnormalities and cancer. The Wnt signaling pathway is comprised of two
main branches: the canonical Wnt/Beta-Catenin pathway (cell fate specification) and the non-
canonical planar cell polarity (PCP) pathway (morphogenesis). The protein disheveled (Dsh) is
required by both pathways and it functions as a switch in regulating signal transduction between
Beta-Catenin and PCP signaling pathways. It is not known how Dsh functions in this way, but it
is suspected to involve Dsh-interacting proteins.
In sea urchin embryos, Beta-Catenin signaling is fundamental for germ layer partition, whereas
the PCP pathway regulates gastrulation. We want to identify molecular mechanisms that
interact with and/or regulate Dsh activity in the two Wnt pathways. The gene seahorse has
been found to be involved in this mechanism in the zebrafish. Seahorse binds to Dsh and can
regulate Beta-Catenin and PCP signaling. Because of the evolutionary conservation of the Wnt
pathways, we hypothesize that sea urchin seahorse also regulates Dsh function in the two Wnt
pathways. To test this hypothesis, I will carry out functional studies in sea urchin embryos.
Seahorse expression at different embryonic stage developments will be characterized and in
situ hybridizations will provide information on the localization of expression of this gene at
different stages. Future studies could include knockdown experimentations to determine if
seahorse plays a conserved role in regulating Dsh activity in the Wnt/Beta-Catenin and PCP
pathways.




University of Miami Research and Creativity Forum 2009
                                                                            54 of 113
UNDERGRADUATE

RSMAS

James Herlan
Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences

Diego Lirman, Mentor

The Development of a Coral Nursery Program for the Threatened Coral Acropora
cervicornis in Florida


The staghorn coral, Acropora cervicornis, was once a dominant reef-building coral throughout
the Caribbean region. Due to disease and climate-related stressors, its populations have
declined in the last few decades, causing limited recruitment and population survivorship. In
attempt to culture this species for local restoration efforts, the coral gardening procedure was
utilized for this project. Branches of A. cervicornis were clipped from donor colonies throughout
Biscayne National Park and stabilized onto 30 cinder blocks to create an underwater nursery
habitat. In total, 250 fragments of varying sizes were transplanted to the nursery, placed in
vertical and horizontal orientations, and monitored for growth and survival. From the initial
sample size, 88 fragments were monitored consistently for new growth during the first four
month period of the nursery. Fragment mortality of 17.3% was observed for the first 8 weeks
after transplantation, but decreased to <1% in subsequent monitoring intervals. Although there
was no significant difference in growth rate between the two orientations, larger sized fragments
grew significantly faster than small and medium fragments. Due to the subsequent low
mortality and relatively fast growth rates, the coral nursery has been an integral part in the
potential restoration of the staghorn coral.




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UNDERGRADUATE

Psychology

Caitlin Booth
College of Arts and Sciences

Sari Izenwasser, Ph.D., Mentor

Social and Environmental Influences on Cocaine Reward in Adult Male Rats


In the United States, 6.4% of adults, aged 18-25, used cocaine in 2007, with abuse occurring
most frequently in males. Cocaine is a highly reinforcing drug with strong abuse potential. With
chronic use, cocaine can lead to emotional disturbances and sometimes fatal health
complications. Research indicates that environment can alter the reward associated with drugs.
In the present study, the discrete effects social and physical environments were examined on
cocaine reward. Adult male rats arrived on postnatal day (PND) 60 and both social (number of
rats per cage) and environmental (availability of toys) factors were manipulated. To manipulate
social enrichment, rats were housed 1 or 3/cage. In addition, environmentally enriched rats
were housed with toys while impoverished rats had no access to toys, creating four conditions:
social enriched, isolated enriched, social impoverished, and isolated impoverished. Cocaine (3-
20 mg/kg) conditioned place preference (CPP) was measured beginning on PND 80, two weeks
after housing began. A combination of social and environmental enrichment produced the
highest level of CPP. In contrast, no dose of cocaine produced a significant CPP in the isolated
impoverished rats. Environmental enrichment alone had no significant effect on CPP. These
data show that a combination of social and environmental enrichment alters the development of
a conditioned reward to cocaine in adult males. A better understanding of the factors that
modulate drug reward could lead to the development of better preventative measures for
cocaine abuse.




University of Miami Research and Creativity Forum 2009
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UNDERGRADUATE

Neuroscience

Daniel Diaz
School of Medicine

Sagen Jacqueline, Mentor

Engineering Bone Marrow Cells to Confer Antinociceptive Properties


Some pharmacological interventions for chronic neuropathic pain require continuous
administration, which may be associated with undesirable side-effects. Synthetic equivalent of
naturally occurring W-conotoxin MVIIA found in the piscivorous marine snail, Conus magus,
and ser-histogranin (SHG), a synthetic equivalent of naturally occurring peptide NMDA receptor
antagonist found in adrenal chromaffin cells, are significantly antinociceptive when injected
intrathecally into rat pain models. However, the use of W-conotoxin is limited by severe motor
side-effects at higher doses, while analgesic effects of SHG diminish with increasing dose.
Potentially these side effects can be reduced by delivering therapeutic molecules to a specific
region in a continuous and sustained fashion. Approaches such as injection of naked genes into
the CNS leading to host expression of the peptide gene product, or transplanting cells
engineered to produce the peptide, could be employed. The current study evaluated the
possibility of recombinantly delivering naturally derived antinociceptive peptides in rat pain
models. Rats were intrathecally injected with naked DNA and tested in the formalin test, a
screening model for tonic neurogenic pain. In rats treated with DNA encoding SHG (SHG),
formalin evoked pain-related flinching behavior was attenuated. However, rats treated with DNA
encoding W-conotoxin MVIIA continued to display pain-related behavior. Thus, a cell- or vector-
based delivery may be necessary to optimize delivery of the peptides. In order to accomplish
this, AAV-2 viral constructs encoding peptides and monomeric red fluorescent protein (mRFP),
to prospectively identify the cells were generated. The constructs were transfected into human
bone marrow cells, bovine chromaffin cells, and neural precursor cells. RT-PCR revealed that
the "W-conopeptide-mRFP" and "SHG-mRFP" mRNA were synthesized as expected. Live cell
imaging demonstrated red fluorescence was vesicular, suggesting that encoded proteins were
in the secretory pathway. Cells modified by this method may be used as "cellular minipumps" of
analgesic peptides for long-term treatment of chronic pain. Furthermore, recombinant AAV
vectors may also be used for direct injection into CNS pain modulatory areas.




University of Miami Research and Creativity Forum 2009
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UNDERGRADUATE

Neuroscience

Pietro Bortoletto
College of Arts and Sciences

Dr.Aizik Wolf, Mentor

Radiosurgery Treatment of Brain Metastasis


Cerebral metastasis occur in 20 to 30 percent of patients with systemic cancer and are the most
common type of intracranial tumor. Most brain metastasis arise from lung, breast and
melanomas The median survival of untreated patients is one month. Patients treated with whole
brain radiation therapy survive between 3 to 6 months. The most important criteria for selecting
patient treatment are a Karnofsky Performance Scale score of 70 or more and systemic control
of the cancer. Surgery is indicated in patients with a single lesion located in an accessible zone.
It has long been thought that localized Stereotactic radiosurgery is a safer alternative to whole
brain radiation therapy, which impairs neurocognitive function. Radiosurgery has long been
indicated for lesions up to 3 cm of diameter, and in patients with up to 3 or 4 metastasis, no
matter their location (Sajama et al). However, the new trend in radiosurgery seems to be
straying against these guidelines. By determining the indications, and survival of radiosurgery
patients , we hope to identify clinically significant guidelines for treatment of brain metastasis.




University of Miami Research and Creativity Forum 2009
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UNDERGRADUATE

Neuroscience

Danika Brodak
College of Arts and Sciences

Mary Barlett-Bunge, Ph.D & Caitlin Hill, Ph.D, Mentor

Decreased Quantification of Minichromosome Maintenance                         Protein   (MCM2)   in
Transplanted Schwann Cells in the Injured Rat Spinal Cord


Abstract is still in progess. Contacted Daritza Berio to hold a spot for me.




University of Miami Research and Creativity Forum 2009
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UNDERGRADUATE

Interdisciplinary Studies

Paul Terman
College of Arts and Sciences

Ken Voss, Mentor

Aerosol Analysis Over Bermuda


The influence of atmospheric aerosols on climate change and temperature fluctuations is not
well understood, particularly over ocean regions. Near-surface measurements serve as the
basis for long-term measurements of atmospheric optical and chemical properties. Islands
make convenient locations for long term measuring of aerosols over the ocean over long
durations of time for near-surface observations. To extend these surface measurements to the
column requires information on the column structure and distribution of aerosols.

In cooperation with the University of Virginia and the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences, we
have been making measurements of aerosol absorption on filters in Bermuda since July 2006,
as a representation of the Atlantic Ocean. These filters have sub and super-MUm diameter
fractions have been analyzed for elemental and organic carbon, as well as other major ions.
Micro pulse lidar measurements serve to augment absorption measurements from the filters
and extend the aerosol data to the overlaying column.




University of Miami Research and Creativity Forum 2009
                                                                          60 of 113
UNDERGRADUATE

Neuroscience

Colleen Bartley
College of Arts and Sciences

Dr. Coleen Atkins, Mentor

Expression of Aquaporins in the Brain Following Traumatic Brain Injury


Aquaporins (AQPs) are integral membrane proteins that form pores in the membrane of
biological cells. These "water channels" transport water bidirectionally in and out of the cell. In
the brain, six AQPs (aquaporins 1, 3, 4, 5, 8 and 9) are found. Due to their function as water
channels, AQPs may play a role in edema formation following traumatic brain injury (TBI).
Edema is the increase of brain water content and contributes to many complications, such as
increased intracranial pressure and death. In order to better understand the role of AQPs in the
brain after TBI and their contribution to edema formation, a western blot analysis was
conducted. Adult male Sprague Dawley rats were injured using the fluid-percussion brain injury
model or sham surgery. At 6 hr, 24 hr, 48 hr, and 7 days after surgery, the animals were
sacrificed and the parietal cortex and hippocampus were dissected and the tissue
homogenized. Equal protein amounts of each sample were loaded on gels, electrophoresed,
and then transferred to PVDF membranes. The membranes were blocked and incubated with
antibodies against AQP 1, 3, 4, and 9, then with horseradish-peroxidase conjugated anti-rabbit
secondary antibodies and visualized using enhanced chemiluminescence. It was shown that
there was an increase in AQP1 post-injury in the cortex however, in the hippocampus, no
change was noted. In the cortex, AQP3 decreased although not significantly while no change
was seen in the hippocampus. AQP4 remained relatively unchanged in both the cortex and the
hippocampus. There was an increase in APQ9 at 30 min in both the cortex and the
hippocampus. These results indicate that AQP1 and AQ 9 may play a role in edema formation
after TBI.




University of Miami Research and Creativity Forum 2009
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UNDERGRADUATE

Engineering

David Amor
College of Engineering

Dr. Fotios Andreopoulos, Mentor

Design of an in-situ Polymerizing Type-I Collagen Hydrogel Scaffold for Spinal Cord
Injury Repair


Collagen is a readily available biopolymer that constitutes most of the connective tissue
proteins found in animals. Type I collagen in particular is a fibrous protein network that
constitutes tendons, spinal ganglion and bone. As a natural biomaterial, collagen exhibits
favorable biodegradation rates, biocompatibility and suppressed immunogenic response in the
human body. More importantly, collagen hydrogels have a similar morphology and mechanical
strength profile as native spinal cord tissue. Research has already verified a significant
regeneration of axonal connections in central and peripheral nerve systems with transplanted
collagen conduits. This research aims to characterize the morphology, stress/strain profile and
electrical properties of a novel in-situ polymerizing collagen hydrogel scaffold for use in spinal
cord lesion and compression injuries. Using acid soluble type I collagen in a neutral pH buffer, a
temperature sensitive hydrogel that polymerizes at an LCST above 8F will be created. An
Instron-mechanical strength testing system will record various uniaxial mechanical strength
values that will be compared with current literature values for spinal cord tissue. An ohmmeter
and ammeter will be employed to calculate the resistance and current conductivity of the
biopolymer.




University of Miami Research and Creativity Forum 2009
                                                                              62 of 113
UNDERGRADUATE

Engineering

Nicholas Napoli
Biomedical Engineering, College of Engineering

Dr. Jorge Bohorquez , Mentor

A Noninvasive System for Evaluating Myoelectric Signal's Conduction Velocity Using
Multi-Array Electrodes
Anthony Mixco, Jorge Bohorquez

Muscular electrical activity is determined diagnostically using Electromyography (EMG) for
neuromuscular disorders, rehabilitation, and training. In the field Electromyography
conventional approaches to answer complex questions have been saturated. Contemporary
ideas must be implemented in discovering such complex electrophysiological mechanisms to
enable future progression in this field. Standard bipolar myoelectric (ME) techniques are
incapable of quantifying the actual speed or location of motor unit action potentials (MUAP).
These constraints from conventional systems are induced by the nonstationarity and pulse
modulated ME signal. We are able to overcome these limitations by incorporating a Multi-Array
Electrode for spatial filtering and using a graphic user interface (GUI) to implement a recursive
process using non-linear wavelet analysis and cross correlation.

This project aims in developing a preliminary user friendly noninvasive system for evaluating
myoelectric signals to extract specific ME characteristics. This aim will allow researchers to
begin to quantify the actual propagation speeds and locations of MUAPs to gain further
understandings of neurophysiological behaviors. EMG data was collected from the Bicep
Brachii muscle during isometric contractions until fatigue. A correlation between the processed
data and its physiological relevance to a fatiguing isometric contraction were sought. Further
research can lead to more functional diagnostics for rehabilitation, treatment for neuromuscular
disorders and performance training.




University of Miami Research and Creativity Forum 2009
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UNDERGRADUATE

Engineering

Bianca Maceo
College of Engineering

Dr. Fabrice Manns, Mentor

Age-Dependent Changes in Non-Human Primate Lens Surface Curvatures During
Simulated Accommodation


The focus of this project is to better understand the role of surface curvature changes in the
crystalline lens optical and mechanical properties in presbyopia, the age-related loss of
accommodation. Accommodation is the ability of the lens to change shape to allow the eye to
focus on near objects. The studies use the Ex-Vivo Accommodation Simulator II (EVAS II), an
optomechanical lens stretching system which reproduces the natural processes of
accommodation on postmortem lenses. Lens shape and power were measured for 11
cynomolgus monkey and 9 hamadryas baboon lenses. The lens cross-sectional profiles were
imaged at each stretch increment and the anterior and posterior radii of curvatures were
determined. A linear regression was performed on the radii of curvature-power slope as a
function of age to determine age-dependency. In baboons, the anterior radii of curvature-power
slope decreased with age while the posterior radii of curvature - power slope was independent
of age. In monkeys, there was no significant age-dependent trend. These results show that a
larger change in anterior curvature is necessary to change the lens power in older primate
lenses. Thus, even if an older lens could change shape as well as a young lens,
accommodation would not be fully restored due to optical changes that occur in the lens with
age.




University of Miami Research and Creativity Forum 2009
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UNDERGRADUATE

Psychology

Noris Rios
College of Arts and Sciences

Dr.Joormann, Mentor

Brooding and Reflective Pondering Rumination in Relation to Depression


Rumination has been identified as a vulnerability factor that can predict the onset and
maintenance of depressive symptoms. The present study is aimed at determining whether all
rumination or only one of its subtypes, brooding or reflective pondering, is associated with
depression. Brooding is defined as "...passive comparison of one's current situation with some
unachieved standard," and reflective pondering is defined as "...purposeful turning inward to
engage in cognitive problem solving to alleviate one's depressive symptoms,"
(Treynor,Gonzales, and Nolen-Hoeksema, 2003). We expect a positive correlation between
depression and rumination and that clinically depressed participants will exhibit a rumination
pattern different than non-depressed and moderately depressed participants. Seventy-five
participants were brought in and run through the RSQ and BDI. To test the first hypothesis an
ANOVA will be conducted with level of rumination as the dependent variable and group as the
independent variable. To test the second hypothesis a repeated measures ANOVA will be
conducted with level of rumination as the within subjects factor and group as the between
subjects factor. If the results support the hypotheses, then future efforts against depression can
be concentrated on only one type of rumination.




University of Miami Research and Creativity Forum 2009
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UNDERGRADUATE

Psychology

Bridget Gamber
College of Arts and Sciences

Dr. Heather Henderson, Dr. Mark Jaime, Mentor

Differences in Visual Fixations Within a Joint Attention-Eliciting Context in High
Functioning Autism: An Eyetracking Study


Individuals with autism display a disturbance in the development of Joint Attention (JA), the
ability to coordinate attention with that of a social partner. Previous research suggests that the
severity of JA deficits plays a role in predicting the outcome of autism. JA deficits in autism are
also associated with difficulties in the development of Theory of Mind. Previous neuroimaging
results demonstrated that Typically Developing (TD) adults showed stronger activation in social
brain areas while observing videos of a person performing gaze shifts directed away from a
moving dot (Incongruent), than when gaze shifts were directed toward the dot (Congruent). In
contrast, this effect did not occur in participants with High Functioning Autism (HFA). Despite
substantial research on JA deficits in autism, relatively little is known regarding patterns of
visual fixations for children with autism within a JA-eliciting context. The purpose of the present
study is to explore differences between diagnostic groups in visual fixations during the
presentation of JA-eliciting stimuli using eye-tracking technology. Twenty-two TD adolescents
and 22 adolescents with HFA viewed a series of Incongruent and Congruent videos, with
instructions to follow the dot. For TD adolescents, we hypothesize a greater proportion of visual
fixation toward the gazed-at area than the face during congruent videos and a greater
proportion of visual fixation toward the face than the gazed-at area during incongruent videos.
For adolescents with HFA, we hypothesize that proportions of visual fixation toward the gazed-
at area and face will not differ significantly between congruent and incongruent videos.




University of Miami Research and Creativity Forum 2009
                                                                              66 of 113
UNDERGRADUATE

RSMAS

Carie Bikson
College of Arts and Sciences, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences

Robert Cowen, Joel Llopiz, Mentor

Larval Fish Prey Availability Along the Florida Keys: Are General Proxies Relevant for
Picky Eaters?


Zooplankton of the coastal and open ocean provide a critical link to higher trophic levels,
including the larval stage of most marine fishes. Despite the documented narrow diets and
selective feeding of larval fishes, total zooplankton abundance is commonly used as a proxy for
larval fish feeding conditions. However, very few studies have actually examined the
relationship of total zooplankton abundance to the abundances of specific zooplankton taxa to
support the validity of this assumption. In this study, using a paired multiple opening-closing net
and environmental sensing system (MOCNESS), zooplankton was collected along transects of
stations spanning nearshore to offshore environments along the Florida Keys and into the Gulf
of Mexico. Total zooplankton abundance was measured using displacement volumes, and
direct estimates of seven specific zooplankton taxa (six copepod taxa and appendicularians)
were also made. In general, the two measures were found to not correlate with each other, and
more evident were clear spatial patterns (offshore vs. inshore) in the distributions of the specific
zooplankton taxa. This indicates that displacement volume may not be a satisfactory method to
quantify prey availability for certain larval fishes.




University of Miami Research and Creativity Forum 2009
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UNDERGRADUATE

Business

Stefanie Villarraga
School of Business Administration

Dr. Yadong Luo, Mentor

A figment of their fabrication: The collapse of Enron, corporate governance,
accountability, ethical codes and behavior


"At the beginning of 2001, the Enron Corporation, the world's dominant energy trader, appeared
unstoppable. The company's decade-long effort to persuade lawmakers to deregulate electricity
markets had succeeded from California to New York... Its sales, profits and stock were soaring. "

A. Berenson and R. A. Oppel Jr.The New York Times, Oct 28, 2001

By December 2001, Enron had filed for bankruptcy. The financial scandal that broke out as
Enron imploded instilled outrage into investors, and left many skeptical of the role the
accounting industry plays as a watchdog and protector.

This study examines Enron's corporate model through the lens of corporate governance and
accountability. It calls into question the ethical codes Enron had in places, and attempts to
explain why they did not work. The findings confirm that although Enron did have fraud and
embezzlement prevention policies in place, they were not effective because the company
lacked the ability to implement and enforce them. Overall the failure of these policies was in the
inability of proper monitoring by the government, independent agencies and the company's
lawyers over Enron's upper management and over the internal accounting department of the
firm. In addition to the environment within the company that allowed the internal accountants to
use slight-of-hand tricks to put a gloss on its economic forecast, the political environment and
the deregulated market at the time allowed for verification and certification of the books by
seemingly independent accounting firms that in reality were acting in their own interest.

The conclusion will provide recommendations for implementing effective mechanisms for
corporate governance, regulation of conflicts of interest, and increased ethics education in our
school systems with the idea that laws and codes of conduct should just be guidelines, not fool-
proof methods for preventing reckless and irresponsible behavior.




University of Miami Research and Creativity Forum 2009
                                                                              68 of 113
UNDERGRADUATE

Business

Justyna Milewski
School of Business Administration

Ann Morales Olazabal , Mentor

Is the Use of Mathematical Examples in Prospectuses for Risk Protected Securities
"Deceptive" Under the Federal Securities Laws?


Risk protected securities are derivatives -usually promissory notes- marked by a promised
return of capital and the potential for equity-like earnings, dependent on an index-based
formula. Many billions of dollars of these have been sold to unsophisticated individual investors
approaching retirement. The prospectuses used to sell them frequently include numerical
examples, illustrating the return an investor might expect under a variety of market
assumptions. These quantitative examples pose interpretational problems for the target buyers,
given the level of numeracy required (Ph.D using advanced modeling software) to estimate the
probability of each example actually materializing. Consumer Information Processing studies
reveal that the most likely investor response to a set of possible outcomes is to average them.
This is clearly fallacious given that the examples provided by the issuer are skewed in favor of
impossible scenarios, for example the index trending up 10 or 20% quarterly over the five-year
life of the security.

The research question presented is: To what extent does current case law prohibit the use of
such numerical examples in securities offering documents? The method employed is traditional
legal research involving exhaustive extraction of relevant court opinions from legal databases,
in an effort to find relevant legal decisions.

The research reveals that no reported court opinion is squarely on point. However, a number of
disparate judicial decisions do address the question at least obliquely. The work discusses
these, concluding that a strong argument can be made that such disclosures are deceptive
under the federal securities laws.




University of Miami Research and Creativity Forum 2009
                                                                             69 of 113
UNDERGRADUATE

RSMAS

Jenna Spackeen
Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences

Dan Diresta, Mentor

Analysis of Food Web Dynamis in the Northern Gulf of California Using Stable Isotopes


Stable isotope analysis of carbon (DELTA13C) and nitrogen (DELTA15N) was used to follow
the trophic linkages of organisms in the Bahia Adair estuarine system located in the Northern
Sea of Cortez, Sonora, Mexico. Four different trophic levels were found to exist in the estuary,
based upon the fractionation of the DELTA15N isotope. The DELTA15N of the top three
trophic levels was enriched by 3-4 % relative to the preceding level. The fourth trophic level is
mainly occupied by fishes indicating that fish are the top predators of the system. The third
trophic level demonstrated the widest diversity of organisms with species representation from
almost all of the groups (fishes, bivalves, crustaceans, gastropods, blue crabs, and other
invertebrates). The second trophic level contained no fish; however species of bivalves,
crustaceans, gastropods, and zooplankton were found on this level. The primary producers on
the first trophic level included phytoplankton, algae, and terrestrial plants. It was also found that
phytoplankton, particulate organic matter, and a few species of algae and terrestrial plants are
all sources of carbon input into the estuary system. Phytoplankton contributes the most carbon,
which can be determined based on the fact that the all of species in the study positioned higher
on the food chain express a DELTA13C value that is within +/-1 standard deviation of the
average isotopic DELTA13C signature of the phytoplankton. This study successfully used
DELTA13C and DELTA15N to show the trophic interactions of the Bahia Adair Estuary. This
study can be used as a base for future ecological studies of the region to determine if shifts will
occur as a result of increased anthropogenic stress.




University of Miami Research and Creativity Forum 2009
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UNDERGRADUATE

Biology

Elizabeth Lamb
College of Arts and Sciences

Dr. Michael Robinson, Mentor

Does Male Gonopodium Length Influence Female Mate Choice in the Live-Bearing Fish
Gambusia affinis?


The Western mosquitofish, Gambusia affinis, is an internal fertilizer and live-bearing member of
the Poeciliid family. This species employs a coercive mating system in which males force
copulation on the females; however, females have been shown to execute a degree of mate
choice through variation in resistance and receptivity. I investigated female preference for
gonopodial length (GL). Langerhans et al. (2005) tested female choice between video images
of males with digitally altered gonopodia, concluding that female mosquitofish preferred males
with larger gonopodia. Alternately, Deaton (2008) found that GL did not significantly influence
male mosquitofish mating behavior. In this study, surgeries were performed on male
mosquitofish to alter GL in one of four treatments - 100% cut, 1/2 cut, 1/4 cut, no manipulation.
A dichotomous tank design was used to determine female preference. Female preference was
not significantly predicted by the ratio of male GL to standard length. When presented with a
100% cut male and any other male, females associated with both equally, likely due to the fact
that 100% cut males looked like females and the female did not recognize the need to make a
mate choice. When choosing between two males with gonopodia however, female preference
showed a trend (although not significant) towards males with longer gonopodia. Preliminary
results suggest that male GL may be an important factor in female mate choice. Future studies
will investigate influences of lengthened gonopodia, male mating success relative to GL, and
predator choice relative to GL.




University of Miami Research and Creativity Forum 2009
                                                                             71 of 113
UNDERGRADUATE

Biology

Christie Buchovecky
College of Arts and Sciences

Dr. Yunqiu Wang, Mentor

What is the ecological impact of GMOs?
Faith McDaniel, Melanie DiPietro

In early 2000, the USDA issued national standards regulating what food manufacturers may
label as "organic." These standards explicitly prohibit the use of genetic engineering in "organic"
crop production. However, given the possibility of cross-pollination between fields, and the
economic impossibility of testing each plant before fruits are marketed, we suspect that some
foods labeled as "organic" may contain DNA sequences that originated in genetically modified
organisms (GMOs). We used PCR to test foods labeled as organic for novel sequences found
in the common viral vector system used to produce GMOs, specifically the 35S promoter from
cauliflower mosaic virus. If we find that organic produce has remained organic, it may warrant
renewed public discourse on the safety and effectiveness of creating GMOs. This, in turn, may
alleviate concerns over the ecological impact of genetically modified crops and stimulate
revision of the current standards.




University of Miami Research and Creativity Forum 2009
                                                                              72 of 113
UNDERGRADUATE

Biology

Aidan O'Dowd-Ryan
College of Arts and Sciences

Dr. Yunqiu Wang, Mentor

How Organic is Your Organic?
Chris Cutler, Rebecca Brave

The prohibition of genetic engineering (GE) in organic food production standards is nearly
universal. GE products, also known as GM foods, are perceived as unacceptable by a vocal
segment of consumers in almost every developed country. Over 85% of all GM crops contain a
small number of regulatory sequences (35S promoter from the cauliflower mosaic virus, and the
nopaline synthase NOS terminator sequence from Agrobacterium tumefaciens). These
regulatory sequences are used to control the expression of inserted foreign genes, which
produce novel and usually economically desired traits. Based on this information, and using
PCR technique, a highly processed food item purchased from a popular grocery store tested
positive for the DNA regulatory sequence that is normally found in the virus. We applied the
same approach to test organic foods for the presence of foreign DNA. Our objective is to
determine whether organically grown food has been genetically modified, however we do not
believe that this has occurred. The reason for completing this study is to see if people get what
they pay for. The significance and impact of genetic engineering and biotechnology to our
society is also addressed in this study.




University of Miami Research and Creativity Forum 2009
                                                                             73 of 113
UNDERGRADUATE

Biology

Hammad Ghanchi
College of Arts and Sciences

Dr. Yunqiu Wang, Mentor

Are You Eating What You Think You Are Eating?
Ramiro Rodriguez

The biotechnology industry believes genetically modified (GM) crop plants are the answer to
producing enough food to feed the growing world population and reducing the use of pesticides
and herbicides in agriculture. But, if crops have been genetically modified, do they produce the
same kind of food as we are used to? Opponents to GM crops call such foods "frankenfoods."
Currently in the US, GM foods do not have to be labeled as such. Over 85% of all GM crops
contain a small number of regulatory sequences (35S promoter from the cauliflower mosaic
virus, and the nopaline synthase NOS terminator sequence from Agrobacterium tumefaciens).
Based on this information, and using PCR technique, a highly processed food item purchased
from a popular grocery store tested positive for the DNA regulatory sequence that is normally
found in the virus. We applied the same approach to study a variety of favorite food items for
the presence of foreign DNA to find out what exactly we are eating on a daily basis. The
significance and impact of genetic engineering and biotechnology to our society are clearly
revealed in this study.




University of Miami Research and Creativity Forum 2009
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UNDERGRADUATE

Neuroscience

Nicholas Napoli
School of Medicine

Dr. Perez-Pinzon, Mentor

DELTA-PKC effect on Mitochondrial Fission


Mitochondria are the powerhouse of cells but are also involved in triggering cell death. Recent
studies demonstrated that mitochondria are continually dividing and fusing in neurons in a
reticular topology, and that excessive mitochondrial fission leads to the release of apoptotic
molecules. Our laboratory previously demonstrated that a novel isozyme of Protein Kinase C
(delta or DELTA-PKC), promoted mitochondrial cytochrome c release, an apoptotic molecule,
after cerebral ischemia. In turn, inhibition of DELTA-PKC activation after cerebral ischemia was
neuroprotective.

Therefore, we tested the hypothesis that activation of DELTA-PKC with an agonist will lead to
the disruption of the mitochondrial network. For this purpose, mitochondria were labeled in
neuronal cultures by transfecting GFP-MTS using Lipofectamine LTX. After 15 days, cultures
were exposed with a DELTA-PKC agonist (5uM) or tat-carrier peptide (control) for two hours
and immediately fixed. The mitochondria networks were imaged using two photon microscopy
and were visually graded (a full reticular topology = 3; a mitochondrial network fully disrupted.
This initial study showed that administration of 5 uM of IOTA-PKC agonist, disrupted the
mitochondrial network (grading of 2.04 +/- 0.16, n = 15). In contrast, the tat-carrier peptide
control and no treatment resulted in almost intact mitochondrial network (grading of 2.57 +/-
0.24, n = 11 and 2.86 +/- 0.06, n = 11, respectively). Additional studies are underway to
determine whether DELTA-PKC inhibition during cerebral ischemia protects the mitochondrial
network and thus leads to neuroprotection.




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UNDERGRADUATE

RSMAS

Matthew Phillips
College of Arts and Sciences

Dr. Helena Solo-Gabriel, Mentor

Determining the Mode of Enterococci Transport at Hobie Beach through use of
Microcosms
Noha Abdel, Tommy Kiger

The water at Hobie Beach enterococci exceeds regulatory guidelines with no point source of
pollution. Moreover, the amount of bacteria in the sand is much higher, suggesting the sand is
a good medium for growth of the indicator bacteria. However, Hobie Beach is a low energy
system with small; fetch limited waves providing the majority of energy on the beach. We seek
to find how the bacteria enter the water column from the sediment in such large quantities. The
pore water, high in bacteria, is transported from the sediment into the water column through
various processes including diffusion, tidal pumping, and wave action. Using a rhodamine dye
tracer, the amount of pore water transported out of sediment is tracked, and a mechanism
which this occurs can be determined. Once a viable mechanism has been confirmed, by
matching the turbidity in the microcosm with Beach samples, bacterial will be superimposed in
the model to test whether bacteria is transported in the same concentration as in vivo. The
rhodamine dye is accurately determines the amount of pore water transported into the water
column, and an efficient microcosm has been constructed for quick and easy water sampling to
ensure accurate results.




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UNDERGRADUATE

RSMAS

Emily Weston
College of Arts and Sciences

Dr. Linda Farmer, Mentor

Determination of Factors Causing Late-Term Mortality in Leatherback Sea-Turtle
(Dermochelys coriacea) Nests


Leatherback sea-turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) nesting on Sandy Point, St. Croix in the U.S.
Virgin Islands have experienced a significant decline in hatch success since 2001. Such a
decline lowers hatchling production and undermines conservation efforts in place to recover this
critically endangered species. However, a portion of the mortality may be preventable as it
occurs in the late-term stages when the embryo is fully grown. In 2006 and 2007, the "day 53"
experimental protocol significantly increased hatch success by artificially incubating late-term
eggs in Styrofoam nest-boxes. Since eggs in nest-boxes experience more controlled
environmental conditions, adverse conditions in natural nests were hypothesized to influence
late-term mortality. In this experiment, 21 nests were monitored for temperature, CO2 and O2
levels, water vapor and soil moisture. Three nests completed their full incubation in nest boxes,
10 nests were incubated naturally on the beach and 8 nests were monitored both on the beach
and as nest-boxes during their final days of development. Principle goals included determining
whether conditions in natural nests cause late-term mortality and whether conditions in nest-
boxes encourage high survival rates. In addition, weight, morphology and crawl speeds were
compared in nest-box hatched hatchlings and naturally-hatched hatchlings to evaluate any
differences in hatchling quality that the two incubation environments may produce. Results of
this study may influence leatherback nest management protocols such as the efficacy of late-
term artificial incubation as a technique to increase hatchling production. This project may also
provide some initial insight into how future shifts in environmental conditions due to global
climate change may affect leatherback hatchling fitness.




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UNDERGRADUATE

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Nicole Budzinski
Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences

Dr. Marjorie Oleksiak, Mentor

Analysis of the CYP1A Proximal Promoter Within and Among Populations of Fundulus
heteroclitus


Cytochrome P450 (CYP1A) belongs to a family of enzymes that catalyzes the metabolic
activation of a number of toxic compounds, such as polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons and
halogenated aromatic hydrocarbons. Fish inhabiting polluted waters containing high
concentrations of these toxins have been shown to express low levels of CYP1A and showed
no induction of CYP1A mRNA, protein, or activity. Fish inhabiting polluted waters have also
been seen to exhibit lower rates of developmental deformities than reference populations.
These observations suggest that polluted populations have evolved adaptations in the form of
resistance to pollutants. For this study, genomic DNA was extracted from two populations of
Fundulus heteroclitus: a polluted population from New Bedford Harbor, MA and a reference
population from Sandwich, MA. The CYP1A proximal promoter region was amplified using
polymerase chain reaction (PCR) with a forward primer at position -1621 and a reverse primer
at position 418 giving a segment approximately 2kb in length. This segment was inserted into a
T4 vector and transformed into electro-competent cells. The cells were cloned and screened for
the insert using pUC forward and reverse primers. Individuals that contained an insert were
sequenced. The sequences were aligned in order to quantify nucleotide polymorphisms shared
among polluted populations and not among reference populations. Nucleotide polymorphisms
shared among polluted individuals may cause a decreased affinity of the DNA polymerase for
the promoter region resulting in down regulating expression of the CYP1A gene.




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UNDERGRADUATE

Health Science

Joshua Cantor
School of Education

Tony Musto, Mentor

Caloric Expenditure on Cardiovascular Machines and the Effects of Improper Form
Ed Fishman

Physical activity related energy expenditure is a key component to successful weigh loss.
Individual's exercise often rely on caloric expenditure estimates displayed on cardiovascular
exercise machines; however, little is known about the accuracy of these machines. The
purpose of this case study was to test the accuracy of caloric estimates displayed on
cardiovascular equipment and test the changes that occur when "cheating" on these machines.

This project followed a 21 year-old male was measured on an upright bicycle, stepmill, elliptical
trainer and treadmill. On each apparatus the workload was increased until the subject steady-
stated at 70% age-predicted maximal heart. Once steady state was achieved we recorded the
machine's estimated caloric expenditure (kcal/min.), the actual energy expenditure determined
by the Cosmed Fitmate, and the subjects rating of perceived exertion (6-20). On a few
machines, the subject was asked to cheat so we can assess difference in RPE, energy
expenditure and heart rate.

After comparing estimated caloric expenditure with actual caloric expenditure, our results
showed that the most accurate machine was the stepmill (11.14 vs. 11.19 kcal/min,
respectively), while the other machines grossly overestimated the actual calories burned. The
machine that burned the most calories was the elliptical trainer (11.44 kcal/min.) when
performed at a high incline and high intensity. Interestingly, when the subject cheated, the
energy expenditure decreased to 9.91 kcal/min.

Our findings showed that the caloric expenditure estimates of cardiovascular machines are not
always accurate. Furthermore, we showed that improper form on these machines significantly
reduces caloric expenditure.




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UNDERGRADUATE

Business

Josh Bergman
School of Business Administration

Dr. Abril, Mentor

Repu-Taint Sites and the Limits of XI230 Immunity
Dr. Abril

With the advent of websites such as Facebook and Youtube, among others, everyone in
today's world can become a public figure to some extent.

Some of these sites, such as JuicyCampus.com and GetRevengeOnYourEx.com, invite users
to post sensitive and defamatory information. We have nicknamed these and other similar sites
as "reputaint" sites and the purpose of our research was to determine whether or not there were
sufficient court rulings on previous cases to strip these reputaint sites of their immunity, which
was granted to them from section the Communications Decency Act.

The conclusion of our research was that public policy and court rulings alike are in favor of
promoting the free expression of ideas on the internet. Although some case law does indicate
that the immunity granted by the CDA is not automatic for internet service providers who
actively promote and solicit potentially illegal and tortious material, it is not enough to conclude
that reputaint sites would be stripped of their immunity if it were ever to be brought to court.




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UNDERGRADUATE

Neuroscience

Taylor Wilson
College of Arts and Sciences

Taylor Wilson, Mentor

Human Fetal Spinal Cord-Derived Neural Progenitor Cell Transplantation into the Injured
Nude Rat Spinal Cord


Following spinal cord injury (SCI), there is little or no regeneration within the spinal tissue,
resulting in partial or total paralysis. Neural progenitor cells (i.e., neural stem cells [NSCs]) are
undifferentiated, multipotent nervous system lineage-specific precursor cells capable of
differentiating into the main central nervous system (CNS). NSC transplants perform the
function of the damaged or dead cells, and may reduce tissue loss, slow axon death, promote
axon regrowth, facilitate remyelination, decrease glial scarring, and improve motor function and
reflexes. In this study, NSCs were procured from donated human fetal tissue and cultured in
either 20% oxygen (normoxic) or 3% oxygen (hypoxic) to test for different survival,
differentiation, migration, integration, and proliferation patterns. NCSs were then injected into
injured, nude (athymic) rats with moderate C5 spinal cord contusions. Some rats received
normoxically cultured cells and others hypoxically cultured cells. Addtionally, some of the rats
that received normoxically cultured cells also received an immunosuppressant (FK506) to
decrease the immune response and the toxic, chemorepulsive molecules surrounding the
injured tissue. This may create an environment within the injured tissue that is more conducive
to cell growth than would be without FK506. The tissue is currently being examined for cell
survival, differentiation into different cell lineages (neurons, astrocytes, and oligodendrocytes),
migration, integration, and proliferation.




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UNDERGRADUATE

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Aaron Weiss
College of Arts and Sciences

Sharon Elliot, Ph.D., David Pincus, M.D., Mentor

The Effect of 17-BETA-Estradiol and Tamoxifen on Wound Healing


The impairment of cutaneous wound healing is associated with an imbalance of extracellular
matrix turnover due to the irregular activity of several critical matrix metalloproteinases (MMP),
specifically MMP-2 and MMP-9. This defective wound environment is very evident in both
postmenopausal women and individuals with type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM); however, the
molecular mechanisms for both healing deficiencies are different. In postmenopausal women,
there is a dramatic decrease in estrogen synthesis that triggers an array of physiological
responses, including impairment of cutaneous wound healing. In type 2 diabetic individuals,
previous studies have cited mechanisms, such as decreased cell and growth factor response,
which are responsible for the reduced peripheral blood flow and decreased local angiogenesis
associated with a diminished healing ability. The incidence of breast cancer and osteoporosis
is also higher in women with type 2 DM. These individuals are often treated with selective
estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs), such as tamoxifen, in an attempt to prevent these
occurrences. However, women treated with SERMs have even less success in healing diabetic
wounds. While it is known that estrogen deficiency alters the wound environment due to the
lack of estrogen receptor stimulation and action, studies of the effects of the SERMs, such as
tamoxifen, have not been elucidated. This study aims to address the dilemma of wound healing
faced by women with type II diabetes. Using a homozygous diabetic mouse model (db/db), we
examined the changes in the MMP profile as well as the effects of oxidative stress in a wound
environment. We used three groups consisting of seven mice per group as follows: tamoxifen
pellet, local estrogen cream, and placebo gel. It is hypothesized that tamoxifen prevents wound
healing by dysregulation of extracellular matrix turnover and increasing oxidant stress. This can
be overcome by the topical administration of estrogen.




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UNDERGRADUATE

Communications

Anthony Salerno
School of Communications

Jutta Joorman Ph. D. & Cathy D'Avanzato, Mentor

Emotion Regulation Strategies and Their Implications on Trait Anxiety Levels
Jutta Joorman Ph. D. & Cathy D'Avanzato

Anxiety disorders are the most common type of mental illnesses, each year affecting roughly
one fifth of the adult population in the United States. Gross (1998) defines emotion regulation
as a series of processes that individuals undergo to impact which emotions they experience, as
well as when and how they experience and express these emotions. Past research suggests
there is a link between stable individual differences in one's personality traits and the emotion
regulation strategies chosen. The present study seeks to examine how personality traits (i.e.,
extraversion and neuroticism) and emotion regulation strategies (i.e., distraction, reappraisal,
rumination, and suppression) relate to general (trait) anxiety levels. This study will examine
these factors using questionnaires designed to measure stable individual differences. In
addition, hypothetical scenarios designed to elicit a negative emotional response will measure a
participant's emotion regulation strategy in response. It is predicted that participants scoring
high in extraversion will be more likely to use distraction and reappraisal strategies and have
lower levels of trait anxiety, while those scoring high in neuroticism will be more likely to use
rumination and suppression and have higher levels of trait anxiety. Results of this study could
have implications for understanding how one's general level of anxiety can be affected by
certain personality traits and the propensity to use certain emotion regulation strategies.




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UNDERGRADUATE

Business

Sanjay Palta
School of Business Administration, College of Engineering

Dr. Elisah Lewis, Mentor

Green Monkey Interactive, LLC.
Ryan Nogueira

The Opportunity:
An article published by the Economist in 2006 stated that 3 of 4 adult Americans feel their lives
are out of
balance. Given today's economic and political climate, this portion of the population has grown
even larger. It is estimated that 1 out of 4 American consumers today are making purchases to
address a lack of wellness in their lives. By 2025 fully half of all Americans will be actively
pursuing a way to live greener, healthier, more psychologically satisfying lives. We are on the
verge of a rapidly growing $1 trillion market in 'wellness lifestyles' that will comprise segments
of the health, beauty, food, fitness, personal
growth, spirituality, and spa industries. This is one of the few areas of business in America
poised for rapid growth, and it has very few established players.

We are nearing a tipping point, where a shift in perception will make living a lifestyle with
wellness elements fully integrated into every aspect of ones' daily routine the norm. This
paradigm shift will usher in the success of a new breed of businesses, those without legacy
problems and old cultures dragging them down, that can address the growing consumer
demand for a better life - a life in balance. Green
Monkey is one of these businesses, and it is being built with that future in mind.


The Business Proposition:
Life in today's complex world of technology and information can be overwhelming. We all aspire
to be more than we are, and to find a greater sense of harmony within ourselves and with the
world around us. To live in balance is to live life to its fullest, and that is something we are all
entitled to. Enter Green Monkey, a Balanced Living Community designed to give you the tools
you need to start enjoying life as it can be.

Balanced living not only helps you feel better physically and emotionally, but also helps you
better manage time, stress and relationships. It increases your productivity and performance,
and has the power to fill your life with happiness and satisfaction. So instead of just existing,
you are living a fulfilled life that has meaning, purpose and value. Green Monkey is your every
day source for wellness information, products and services.

The basic construct of the brand hinges on the combination of a robust interactive web portal,



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with a network of physical locations. The physical component of Green Monkey is our Balanced
Living Club(r) concept, called Tree Houses(r). Here, people are offered a range of synergistic
services and goods in a lively setting where they can interact and experience the balanced
lifestyle first-hand. Each Tree House will include at least one studio room running a diverse
range of classes, including yoga, Pilates, aerobics,
martial arts, rehabilitation, mediation, and other mind-body practices from 6am till 10pm, an
indoor/outdoor lounge area with a light menu of healthy foods and beverages, and a retail
boutique
offering relevant wellness products. Tree Houses function as a community hub, where people
can go to take their classes, buy their products, attend events of interest, decompress, and
interact with likeminded individuals.

The online division, through Green Monkey Interactive, is a complete balanced living web portal
that houses relevant lifestyle content in a sleek, dynamic, and user friendly format. The core
functionalities
include a search engine, relevant wellness content, blogging, social networking, personal
journals, product reviews, provider directories, an online shopping mall, corporate wellness
programs, and interactive media. Online, our customers will be able to find information on
products, services and events, search directories of industry-related providers and locations,
connect with one another, book services, and make all of their wellness and green living
product purchases.

The unique proposition of Green Monkey is the integration of a network of physical business
locations with a sophisticated online experience. There is currently no business in the wellness
industry with this combined functionality. Each side of the business can work independently, but
together they deliver highly accretive results. By combining traditional business models,
practices, and wisdom with state of the art technology and information, Green Monkey is part of
a new paradigm of business.

People want more than a service, they want an experience. People want more than a product,
they want information and reliability. They want more than an average life, they want a healthy
body, a clear mind,and a happy soul. Green Monkey will be their guide to finding that lifestyle.
Delivering on these goals should enable us to capture a significant share of what is already a
$500 billion market and growing.

The Expansion Strategy:
Management has selected the city of Miami, Florida as its pilot market and the location of the
initial cluster of Tree Houses. The first Tree House opened in November of 2008, in the center
of the downtown pedestrian shopping district of South Miami, and broke even on a stand alone
basis in its third month of operations. The initial version of the Green Monkey Interactive web
portal is already being built, and will launch in mid 2009. The expansion of the business in
planned in three phases:

Phase I involved establishing the brand and rolling out initial operations.
1) The creation of a solid brand identity.
2) Building a team capable of launching and managing initial operations, the creation of a
cluster of Tree Houses in Miami, and the roll out of the GMI web portal.
3) The launch of one initial Tree House location in South Miami, and the refining of that
business model.


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4) The initial launch of Green Monkey Interactive's web portal. Phase I has been nearly
completed, and all remaining elements have been financed.

Phase II involves rolling out additional physical locations to establish a regional cluster, while
also expanding the offering of products and services in both the club locations and online. This
will include the rollout of additional Tree Houses in the greater Miami area, and the addition of
functionality and
depth of information on the web portal. This will not only bring the company into a very strong
cash position, but will establish the dynamics of managing a regional cluster of locations in
connection with the web portal, any other offerings, and any sub-brands created.

Phase III involves opening clusters of Green Monkey Tree Houses in other major markets
across the United States, first in a multi-regional and then a truly national rollout, while also
continuing to grow the online side of the business. It is entirely possible that the online side of
the business will eventually dwarf
the income from the physical locations, but the dynamic of the company depends on that
interplay of physical and virtual. With the concept proven, there is essentially no limit to how far
Green Monkey can go. International opportunities will also be considered.




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UNDERGRADUATE

Business

Andrew Grizzle
School of Business Administration

Dr. Elisah Lewis, Mentor

MyExpedition.com: A Custom Travel Marketplace
George Wayne, Danny Ratner, Andrew Fernandez, Miguel San Pedro

The name of our group's business is MyExpedition.com. Our business' design is an online
travel directory and marketplace that will connect travelers with operators who are capable of
assisting them in making their own trip. Rather than having to settle for cookie-cutter tours in
mediocre destinations, MyExpedition will encourage travelers to design "their expedition."
However, as of now, doing so required extensive searching on the internet, endless calling and
emailing operators (many times in foreign countries). Instead of having to go through the hassle
of contacting numerous operators and businesses themselves, our customers will experience a
"one-stop-shop." MyExpedition will connect these travelers directly with the operators that can
give them the trip of a lifetime.

MyExpedition will not itself run trips or guide tours. Our purpose is solely to put at travelers'
fingertips all the operators that can help them do what they want, on their own terms, in any
destination. To this end, we will have operators from all over the globe and in every field list
available trips and post an operator profile, a service for which they would pay a yearly fee
(details in the Financial Plan). This database will be comprehensively searchable, so as to give
people maximum control over their trip. In addition, travelers will be able to book their activities
(including the possibility of multiple activities with different operators on the same trip) with a
calendar tool on the site. Finally, when they return from their trip, we will ask them to rate and
review the operators they went with, as well as their particular trip. Like eBay's similar customer
vetting system, our network of travelers and operators will, ideally, be self-regulating.
Additionally, we would have additional content on the site, such as travel tips, featured trip
reviews, where-to-go-when features, etc. Such content would be beneficial to our customers,
and would also attract new customers. Ultimately, our site would be the go-to webpage for
anyone trying to plan a memorable trip.

This company is unique from any competitors in that trips would be searchable by activity,
location, price range, and name of guide service, and we would have operators of every kind all
over the globe on the site, which would make ours the site of choice for planning any
memorable trip. There are other sites that provide a similar service on a much smaller scale,
such as directories of yacht cruises in the Mediterranean or of heli-ski operations in British
Columbia, but MyExpedition would have all these activities in one place. For example, you
could search for scuba diving, and get results in the Pacific, the Caribbean, and the Red Sea.
Or, you could search New Zealand and get results for skiing, fishing, hiking, and kayaking tours.
You can choose and navigate between different activities and different locations all at one site--



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MyExpedition.




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UNDERGRADUATE

Engineering

Steven Schuering
College of Engineering

Dr. Fernando Tinoco, Mentor

Steel Bridge Project; UM Chapter, American Society of Civil Engineers


Each year, the American Society of Civil Engineers and the American Institute of Steel
Construction organize a National Steel Bridge Competition. The project consists of the design,
fabrication, and construction of a steel bridge stretching over at least 20 feet. The Steel Bridge
Project is judged based on various criteria such as economy, esthetics, and construction speed.

The design of the was first calculated through hand calculations by virtual work methodology, to
later proceed with an analytical model using STAADpro stuite, obtaining final deflections and
loads on the bridge members. Following the design, started the most challenging part, requiring
team effort and coordination to start the fabrication process, which began in February 2009.
This part of the project was key to success, since constructability meant modification in the
original design had to be made increasing functionality and practicality of both manufacturing
and construction processes (connections), while maintain the structural integrity of the bridge in
whole.

Finally, the construction team had to self-train in order to put together over sixty different
members and connections in less than 30 min, following strict guidelines and constraints during
the erection process at the ASCE Southeast Regional Conference.

All in all, this project served as a bridge to established bonds of cooperation between
professional and student individuals. The team was able to apply class engineering concepts at
all levels, which translated to creative design, and resulted into real-life steel bridge
accomplishment.




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UNDERGRADUATE

Business

Kenden Pettit
School of Business Administration

Dr. Patricia Abril, Mentor

Intellectual Property Rights: Focusing on China and Abroad


What I will work to convey in this analysis and over the following three sections is an answer to
the following legal question at-hand:
What are the ramifications of a lack regard for intellectual property rights abroad and their
impact in the global marketplace, especially those from China?

I'll begin in Part I. of the analysis with an overview on intellectual property rights to get a feel for
what they are, what they stand for, and why they are important in the international business law
context, in an attempt to answer the first half of the legal question above. In Part II. I will apply
intellectual property rights law (or lack-thereof) to the subject and issue of China, in an attempt
to finish answering the second half of the question. In the final part of the analysis, I will sum up
the legal question's solution and how the future looks regarding the topic.

Part I: Intellectual Property Rights Overview
Background on Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs)
PURPOSE AND ORIGINATION

Before delving into the issues that have been presented of late regarding intellectual property
rights (IPRs) and their implications in the international context, it is important to first understand
what they are and why they exist. Intellectual property rights are a basic part of every business
in the United States, of which are widely understood, accepted, and appreciated in this country.
The purpose of IPRs is to protect originality of a piece of work, which could range from anything
in the fine arts (music, a piece of art, or literary), to a name, a symbol, or a picture, items
pertaining to commerce, such as trademarks, copyrights, or patents. It proved necessary to
define Intellectual Property Rights in addition to the 1947 GATT for the reason that they are not
"goods", an important fact and legal responsibility.

Intellectual property rights are divided into three main areas, including trademark, copyright,
and patent laws. In a brief rundown of what each is in the United States: trademark works to
establish ownership rights of a word, image, or slogan that identifies a product. Copyright is
clearly defined as "the legal right granted to an author, composer, playwright, publisher, or
distributor to exclusive publication, production, sale or distribution of a literary, musical,
dramatic, or artistic work." Finally, patent laws can essentially grant a monopoly to an inventor
over his tangible creation.




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In the United States specifically, clear rules are in place to govern what intellectual property
rights are granted, how long they will last, how they can be renewed, what items they can apply
to, and so on. An IPR's main purpose, among others, is to credit the individual or organization
that created the subject matter as well as maintain rights over it for a set amount of time. What
is difficult to convey in the international context however, is the meaning of the rights to the
creator, and more specifically what the definitions are of the items they attempt to protect (more
on this later).




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UNDERGRADUATE

Biology

Jarrod Matthei
College of Arts and Sciences

Dr. Sandra Lemmon, Mentor

Investigating the Role of EDE1 during Clathrin-Mediated Endocytosis in Yeast
Dr. Douglas Boettner, Dr. Sandra Lemmon

Clathrin-mediated endocytosis (CME) is important for uptake of many nutrients and receptors
from the cell surface of all eukaryotic cells. The process involves many proteins which undergo
specific regulation and temporal recruitment. Coat proteins, including clathrin, assemble in an
early phase, and then actin assembly occurs during a rapid membrane invagination phase.
Clathrin contains 3 heavy and 3 light chains. In budding yeast the model system used in this
work, clathrin is also important for endocytosis. The goal of this study is to characterize the role
of Ede1, an EH domain protein related to Eps15 in mammals, during clathrin-mediated
endocytosis. Ede1 arrives at endocytic sites early with clathrin, and may function as an adaptor
or play a role in proper initiation of endocytic sites. Deletion of the EDE1 gene resembles
clathrin knockouts causing slowed endocytosis.
Since Ede1 comes onto endocytic sites early with clathrin, my project was to examine in more
detail the phenotypes of an EDE1 knockout strain. I knocked out EDE1 by insertion of a HisMx
selectable marker. Comparisons were made between cells with a wild type EDE1 gene, a
clathrin light chain deleted strain (clclDELTA,) and an EDE1 deleted strain (ede1DELTA.)
These cells were grown on three different growth media, which included YEPD, pH 5.5, and
YEPG plates. clclDELTA was very sensitive on low pH and glycerol medium. ede1DELTA was
also sensitive, but to a much lesser degree. Possibly ede1DELTA was less sensitive because it
is only involved in endocytosis, whereas clathrin is involved in both endocytosis and the
endosomal pathways. Our lab showed that clathrin light chain binds to and regulates Sla2, and
its dynamics are slowed in clathrin mutants. So we were also interested in examining Sla2
dynamics in ede1DELTA strains. I made an ede1DELTA strain containing Sla2 tagged with
green fluorescent protein (GFP) and Abp1 (actin phase marker) tagged with red fluorescent
protein (RFP). I am using live cell imaging to examine the progression of both of these
endocytic factors in movies taken on a fluorescence microscope, which will allow me to
compare Sla2 dynamics in ede1DELTA with WT and those of chc1DELTA or clc1DELTA cells.




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UNDERGRADUATE

Biology

Santas Rosario
College of Arts and Sciences

Niven R. Narain and Indushekhar Persaud, Mentor

CoQ10 Induces Bcl-2 Mediated Apoptosis in Malignant Melanoma


Cancer can be classified as a group of diseases induced by a series of acquired mutations,
one of which is the evasion of apoptosis. This can lead to limitless cell division and to the
maintenance of a sustained tumor microenvironment. Our research pertains to the Bcl-2 protein
family, the key player in a cell???s apoptotic potential. A sub-family of the Bcl-2 family, pro-
apoptotic BH3-only proteins such as Bid, recognizes cellular damage and responds by
sequestering cellular signals that initiate apoptosis. Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a lipid soluble
antioxidant that functions in the electron transport chain (ETC) of the mitochondria and resides
in every cell of the body. Its main function is to facilitate in the production of ATP, stabilize
biomembranes, and scavenge free radicals. Previous experiments conducted by our laboratory
demonstrate that CoQ10 induces apoptosis in numerous oncogenic cell lines while presenting
no adverse side effects to normal tissue. We hypothesize that Bid plays a key role in the
restoration of the apoptotic potential by CoQ10 administration. To examine the cellular
apoptotic mechanisms related to oncogenesis, the melanoma cell line SKMEL-28, was cultured
with 50uM and 100uM concentrations of CoQ10 for 3, 6, 12, and 24 hours. Following treatment,
western-blot analysis was performed. Bid expression significantly increased at 12 hours (p<.05)
in both 50uM and 100uM treatment groups. In conclusion, the data suggest that Bid plays a
significant role in Bcl-2 mediated induction of apoptosis and provide support for the use of
Coenzyme Q10 as a viable anti-cancer agent.




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UNDERGRADUATE

Business

William O'Rourke
School of Business Administration

Dr. Edward Baker, Mentor

Simulation of Recreational Boat Traffic: a Longitudinal Study


During the last decade, economic and political pressure was brought by developers and other
interests throughout the state of Florida to develop, or modify the use of, marine facilities which
would allow additional recreational boats access to existing waterways.

Increased boat traffic congestion may raise issues of boater safety and convenience.
Consequently, decision makers must balance the rtadeoff between economic growth and more
congested waterways. The models developed in this research are used to assist policy and
decision makers with the decision of whether or not to allow the development of particular
marine facilities.

The methodology of this study involved field work to collect marina capacity and occupancy
data, on-water traffic surveys, as well as the use of aerial photography to inventory recreational
vessels in private docks. This information was used to develop a computer simulation model to
assess the boat traffic patterns. The findings were compared to past data to allow a
longitudinal analysis to be made.

The results of the study showed that the full effect of marina development requires several
years to assess, but that the use of computer simulation models can provide an effective tool in
the decision process.




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UNDERGRADUATE

Business

Caitlin Hughes
School of Business Administration

Dr. Qiang Kang, Mentor

Investment Portfolio Project


The purpose of this project is to simulate a portfolio by a hypothetical investor with an initial
starting dollar amount of $1,000,000 diversified into three specifically tailored portfolios of
Stocks, Mutual Funds & ETFs, and Bonds. The assets in this portfolio were chosen according
to the available economic data as of fall 2008. The economic outlook for the U.S. has been
bleak in the eyes of many analysts. Indicators such as Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and
general consumer sentiment point toward recessionary pressures continuing through the
remainder of 2008. Problems that originated in the credit markets' and first showed up in the
area of subprime mortgages'have spread throughout our financial system. This has led to an
erosion of confidence which has frozen many financial transactions, including loans to
consumers and to businesses seeking to expand and create jobs. Due to the current economic
environment and projected trends at the time, the portfolio takes a more conservative investing
approach. Its global asset allocation model begins with an initial asset allocation of 40% Stocks,
35% Mutual Funds & ETFs, and 25% Bonds.
Hypothetically, the portfolio will take a buy and hold strategy with the goal of a long term
investment horizon. Performance has been measured over a 10-week investment period,
beginning September 12, 2008 and ending November 21, 2008. Transactions costs are 50
basis points and short-term capital gains taxes are 15%. A 1% (100 basis point) fee for
managing the assets will be deducted from the overall return performance of the portfolio.
Weekly price data was collected in tables over the 10-week period for each individual asset in
the portfolio, graphed, and then measured against a peer-group benchmark to compare total
returns. Average beta, which is a measure of systematic, or market risk, was also calculated for
each portfolio class to analyze its volatility. Upon a final analysis of the performance of the
investment portfolio, the Mutual Fund and ETF Portfolio fared the best, yielding a return of -17%
  (weighted net return) versus a more highly negative Equity and Bond Portfolio returns, as
presented in the report. This may have resulted from the diversification benefits that arose out
of economies of scale in the Mutual funds and positive returns from the two best performing
ETFs that were inverse of the market.
Throughout the remaining weeks of 2008, credit conditions in the financial markets continued to
tighten, weakening the capital positions of many major banks. Subsequently, this impacted the
Equity portfolio the most. Overall, the aggregate investment portfolio yielded at -14.63%
Weighted Net Return vs. the S&P 500 Index returns for the same period of -36.08%. This
represents a potential upside to remaining invested despite the current market conditions, and
carefully selecting the right mix of assets in a portfolio to minimize risk and maximize return.




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UNDERGRADUATE

Business

Marco Jovovich
School of Business Administration

Royce D. Burnett, Mentor

Accounting for Municipal Solid Waste Landfill Closure and Postclosure Care Costs
Chris Papa, Robert Till, Emma Florea

In 1993, The Government Accounting Standards Board (GASB) enacted Statement No. 18,
"Accounting for Municipal Solid Waste Landfill Closure and Postclosure Care Costs," which
requires that municipal solid waste landfills (MSWLF) recognize closure and postclosure costs
as expenses and liabilities during the period that the landfill is in operation. All closure and
postclosure costs should be recognized by the time the landfill is closed. However, evidence
indicates that there is a disparity in the way the Statement is addressed in that disclosure of
landfill costs varies from no disclosure, to footnote disclosure to liability recognition. The
objective of this research is to assess why some municipalities (counties) adopt better
disclosures than others. A key component of this study will be to assess the role that specific
social, economic, demographic, and political attributes play in the disclosure decision. As such,
the study will speak to both economic and social sustainability, two issues that are of key
interest to local and community stakeholders.




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                                                                             96 of 113
UNDERGRADUATE

Business

Bryan Mueller
School of Business Administration

Dr. Oscar Mitnik, Dr. Carlos Flores, Mentor

Evaluating Nonexperimental Estimators for Multiple Treatments: Evidence from a
Randomized Experiment


Rarely in economics professors have the luxury of experimental (random) data. Naturally,
economists are concerned that nonexperimental econometric techniques produce spurious or
even specious results. Hence they test the efficacy of these methods on experimental data to
produce outcomes consistent with those of a randomized experiment. Inferences can then be
made about the conditions the estimators necessitate in order to yield such results.

This experiment used the National Evaluation of Welfare-to-Work Strategies (NEWWS)
governmental program, a study on two alternative welfare policies. Consisting of seven
metropolitan areas whose constituents possessed distinct characteristics, the program
essentially randomly assigned each participant to either a control (no welfare) or treatment
(welfare) group. This provides an ideal situation in which nonexperimental estimators can be
used to eliminate the differences in the average effects of outcome variables, such as earnings
or employment after random assignment, between sites while accounting for differences in the
covariates, such as local economic conditions. In particular this experiment tested estimators
that were multiple or multi-valued, rather than binary, treatments, e.g. the generalized
propensity score (GPS), the probability of one belonging to a site conditional on his/her
observable characteristics.

The estimators were able to control for observable characteristics and bring the differences in
mean effects closer to zero for populations with relatively homogeneous populations. However,
Riverside;s local economic conditions were statistically too dissimilar for any of the estimators
to overcome. The GPS also displayed both desirable and unsatisfactory results. While this
research has yet to be finished, it has nevertheless illuminated the tempered promise of certain
nonexperimental methods and hopefully inspired further research of the topic in econometrics.




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UNDERGRADUATE

Engineering

Patrick O'Keefe
College of Engineering

Pat O'Keefe, Mentor

Quadcopter


I have been working on a quadcopter for the last few months. A quadcopter is a helicopter with
four horizontal propellors. The angular forces from the counter-rotating pairs cancel each other
out for stable flight. The electronics include a micro-controller, two gyroscopes, an
accelerometer, and an XBee wireless module with a one mile range. The gyroscopes and
accelerometer comprise a six degrees of freedom inertial measurement unit. This is necessary
because a human cannot react fast enough to keep the quadcopter level - seventy percent of
the stability is achieved automatically through hardware. Potential applications include: aerial
photography, aerial video, remote sensor deployment, transport of light objects, swarm
behavior (cooperation of multiple quadcopters), and reconnaissance.




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UNDERGRADUATE

Business

Thomas Bartman
School of Business Administration

Dr. Andrea Heuson, Mentor

An Analysis and Valuation of Xilinx inc. (NASD: XLNX)


Xilinx, Inc. designs and develops complete programmable logic solutions including
Programmable Logic Devices (PLD), Complex Programmable Logic Devices (CPLD) software
design tools, intellectual property cores, customer training and field technical support. This
report is an analysis of Xilinx's financial performance. The valuation metrics include a multiplier
analysis that measures equity performance and value based on a multiple of financial estimates
including book value per share and earnings per share. The valuation is also based on a
discounted cash flow (DCF) analysis that estimates Xilinx's free cash flow to equity out 10 years
and builds an estimated price based on the after-tax returns to equity holders.




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UNDERGRADUATE

Biology

Sharde Chambers
College of Arts and Sciences

Dr. Barbara Lopez , Mentor

Risky Sexual Behavior in Hispanic Adolescents: Examining the roles of ADHD, Conduct
Disorder, School, Family, Perceived Peer Sexual Behavior, and Substance Abuse


This study examines the roles of poor school functioning, family functioning, ADHD symptoms,
Conduct Disorder, perceived peer sexual behavior, and substance abuse in increasing risk for
risky sexual behavior in Hispanic adolescents. The sample consisted of 8th grade adolescents
(ages 13-17) with behavior problems from Hispanic-Latino immigrant families. Structural
equation modeling will be used to examine relationships of poor school functioning, ADHD
symptoms, conduct disorder, perceived peer sexual behavior, and substance use to risky
sexual behavior. Risky sexual behaviors include early initiation of vaginal, anal, oral sexual
activity, intercourse and condom use. We hypothesize that hyperactivity symptoms and poor
school functioning will be indirectly related to risky sexual behavior, through substance use and
perceived peer sexual behavior. We also hypothesize that hyperactivity symptoms will mediate
the relationship between poor school functioning, substance abuse, perceived peer sexual
behavior and risky sexual behaviors. Results will be discussed in terms of possible targets for
interventions to prevent risky sexual behaviors and other sexually transmitted diseases,
including HIV/AIDS, in Hispanic adolescents.




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                                                                            100 of 113
UNDERGRADUATE

Neuroscience

Bryan Iorgulescu
College of Arts and Sciences

Damien Pearse, Mentor

Cannabinoids and Microglia: Implications for Spinal Cord Injury Therapy
Julian

Recent research has implicated involvement of the endocannabinoid system in modulating the
inflammatory response following traumatic injury to the nervous system. Manipulating the
endocannabinoid system directly modulates the activation states of microglia, which in turn play
an important role in mediating the secondary, inflammatory injury that follows spinal cord injury
(SCI). The molecular pathways underlying the relationship between cannabinoids and microglial
activation are investigated in this project, with particular interest paid to the involvement of the
cell secondary messenger cAMP. Previously my laboratory discovered that there are significant
reductions in cyclic AMP signaling within the CNS following trauma, and that increasing cAMP
levels following SCI promotes the survival and regeneration of neuronal axons. There is
evidence that cannabinoid agonists can suppress microglial activation, and subsequent
inflammatory damage, as well as promote neuroprotection through signaling pathways that may
also be coupled with cAMP. Those cannabinoid components that demonstrated the most
ameliorative effects on microglia in culture will then be systemically and locally administered to
rat models of spinal cord injury to determine their efficacy, safety and potential therapeutic
applications in suppressing the detrimental inflammatory response following SCI and in
promoting neuroprotection and neuroregeneration of spinal cord neurons in order to reverse the
debilitating effects of paralysis.




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                                                                              101 of 113
UNDERGRADUATE

Neuroscience

Philip Garza
College of Arts and Sciences

Dr. Julia Dallman, Ph.D., Mentor

The Zebrafish Glial Glycine Transporter Mutant: A Model for Stroke Recovery?


The development of new treatments that stimulate recovery after stroke requires improved
understanding of the mechanisms that govern neuronal plasticity (the reorganization of
neuronal connections). The limited recovery that occurs after stroke in humans and other
mammals results from remapping of damaged neural circuits onto healthy brain regions
bordering the infarct through neuronal plasticity. In mouse models, stroke-induced plasticity
correlates with waves of growth-promoting gene expression in peri-infarct tissue. We
hypothesized that the same growth-promoting genes are upregulated in the recovering nervous
system of the zebrafish glial glycine transporter (GlyT1) mutant. GlyT1 mutants are initially
paralyzed by elevated glycine levels but recover motor function over a well-defined time course.
Like stroke recovery, GlyT1 mutant recovery involves periods of axonal sprouting followed by
synaptic modification (i.e., neuronal plasticity). We are using quantitative real-time RT-PCR to
assay expression patterns of the growth-promoting genes Stathmin, RB3, SCG10, GAP43, and
CAP23 during GlyT1 mutant recovery and compare them to expression patterns in stage-
matched wildtype controls. Preliminary data suggest that expression levels of the five genes
differ in mutant and wildtype fish at several time points during mutant recovery, consistent with
the expression changes observed in mice after stroke. We are working to describe these gene
expression differences in greater detail, with the goal of establishing the GlyT1 mutant as a new
model organism for stroke research. Because zebrafish CNS activity is easy to manipulate
electrically and pharmacologically, this new model could eventually be used to determine how
rehabilitative strategies in humans might promote plasticity and thus maximize recovery after
stroke.




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UNDERGRADUATE

Psychology

Sara Klaben
College of Arts and Sciences

Dr. La Greca, Ryan Landoll, Mentor

Associations Between Relationship Quality Perspective and Social Anxiety
Adam Margol, Johayra Bouza

Past research has examined the interplay between peer relationships in adolescence and
internalizing distress, such as social anxiety. Research has established that adolescence is a
time in which much social anxiety is experienced. Yet, research has not examined how
perspectives of relationship quality between close relations (best friends and romantic partners)
may differ between raters, and how these discrepancies may be associated with an individual's
social anxiety. Looking at discrepancies of relationship factors between friends and romantic
partners will provide a different, and potentially more informative representation of the
relationship compared to any one individual's perspective. The current study examines the
relationship between discrepancies of ratings of friendship quality between individuals in a close
relationship and the associations between these discrepancies and social anxiety. We
hypothesized that the bigger the magnitude of discrepancies between the participants the more
social anxiety will be experienced because discrepancies in ratings of friendship quality may
translate to discrepancies in behaviors and thoughts. Discrepancy scores were calculated by
subtracting the peer rating of positive friendship quality from the self rating of friendship quality.
  Participants completed measures of relationship quality (Network of Relationships Inventory-
Revised), and social anxiety (Social Anxiety Scale for Adolescents). A discrepancy score was
taken by calculating the absolute value of the difference between each partner's rating of
positive and negative relationship quality within the dyad. There were 79 adolescents' dyads
(62.5% female; 53.8% White, 28.8% Hispanic). 70.9% were best friends and the rest were
romantic relationships. The participants ranged from 18 to 23 years old (M =18.9). Regression
analyses were conducted with demographic variables entered on the first step, and then
positive and negative relationship quality on the second step, with the discrepancy score
entered on the final step. Contrary to study hypotheses, results indicated that larger
discrepancies between peer and self report of positive friendship quality were associated with
fewer symptoms of social anxiety (BETA= -.17 p=.45). No significant results were found for
negative friendship quality discrepancies. Post Hoc analysis seeking to understand the
directionality of these discrepancies showed a trend effect indicating that the more positive
friendship quality reported by an individual compared to their best friend or romantic partner, the
less social anxiety they were experiencing. (BETA= -.16 p=.08) Implications for research and
future directions will be discussed.




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UNDERGRADUATE

Business

Lucian van Schlun
School of Business Administration

Mr.Tsiros, Mentor

Relation between the Golden Mean and the Halo Effect regarding product design


In today's fast-pace world with its huge variety in products and services consumers are forced
to evaluate products quickly in order to come to a buying decision. Research has shown that
several factors influence the consumers' quality judgment and preference .The purpose of this
study is to examine the correlation between the "Halo Effect" (a psychological phenomenon)
and the "Golden Mean" (a specific mathematical proportion (1:1.618) that appears pleasurable
to the human eye and can be found in world famous art and architecture, like the Parthenon
and da Vinci's Mona Lisa). The purpose of this study is to examine whether a product designed
based on the Golden Mean will cause a Halo Effect in the consumer perception and lead to
higher probability of purchase. To empirically test this hypothesis two generic products (e.g.
shampoo, soda) will be used with the only difference between them being their proportions (with
one being elongated (1:4) and the other having the Golden Mean proportions).




University of Miami Research and Creativity Forum 2009
                                                                          104 of 113
UNDERGRADUATE

Business

Matthew Fisk
School of Business Administration

, Mentor

Valuation of McDonald's Corporation Stock
assisted by Jeremy Turim

The purpose of this project was to evaluate the share price of McDonald's Corporation, as of
May 5, 2008, using both a multiplier analysis and a discounted cash flow model. A thorough
analysis of McDonald's and its positioning in the industry was conducted to determine how well
each model represented McDonald???s prospects for the future.

Stock prices for the end of the last 16 quarters were collected, and multiplier analysis showed
that 12 month revenues per share, on a rolling basis, was the variable most highly correlated
with McDonald's share price. McDonald???s stock price was forecast using this variable and a
one quarter lag was assumed between the 12 month rolling revenues per share and the stock
price. This model showed McDonald's stock to be efficiently priced, as the forecast price for the
end of the 2nd quarter of 2008 was $60.75, and the actual price at May 5, 2008 was $60.95.

For the discounted cash flow model, the weighted average cost of capital was calculated using
the CAPM and Built-Up methods. McDonald's was experiencing significant growth in
international sales, so an 8% supernormal growth rate, with it slowing to 5% after five years,
was projected. The incremental investment and funding rates that were built into the model
were based upon the company's spending over the past eleven years. The model determined
the share price should be $68.98. This model appeared to more accurately forecast the stock
price because it factored in McDonald's current, super-normal growth. However, the discounted
cash flow model was very sensitive to changes in the normal growth rate and weighted average
cost of capital, so the stock price was not undervalued enough to make a buy recommendation
as of May 5, 2008.




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                                                                            105 of 113
UNDERGRADUATE

RSMAS

Rafael Hernandez
College of Arts and Sciences

Dr. Helena Solo-Gabriele , Mentor

Microbial Characteristics of Sub/tropical Recreational Marine Waters
Yasiel Hernandez, Dr. Helena Solo-Gabriele

In recreational marine bathing waters with no obvious point source of microbial pollution, there
may be an increase in human health risk. Microbial water quality indicators are used to
determine whether or not recreational water is safe for human use; these indicator organisms
are used as a surrogate for the presence of potential fecal contamination of environmental
samples produced by human and other animal microbial wastes. The purpose of this study is to
evaluate the association between beach sand and the microbial characteristics of non-point
source sub/tropical recreational marine waters.

Collect sand samples and pore-water samples from the intertidal zone, one foot away from the
shore. Extract the microbes from the sand vigorously and lightly. Filter dilutions of the extraction
liquids through .45MUL filters. Place filters on agar plates in an incubator for 24 hours. Count
the colonies present.


The levels of microbes are higher towards the surface of the sand, and decrease as you
increase in depth. The levels of microbes in the sand increase with proximity to the shore-line.
The amount of microbes in the pore water is exponentially higher than that in the sand.


The higher levels of microbes in the sand closer to the shore-line may be attributed to its higher
frequency of contact with beach water. It is possible that the moving pore water within the sand
keeps the levels of microbes at the lower depths in low numbers and a constant flux; while the
levels of microbes towards the surface of the sand are higher and mostly remain constant.




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                                                                              106 of 113
UNDERGRADUATE

Business

Shaun Forbes
School of Business Administration

Dr. Steven Ullmann, Mentor

Caribbean nursing migration: A focus on the implementation of universal healthcare in
the midst of a nursing shortage


This study will provide an in-depth analysis into the nursing shortages facing the Caribbean
region. Special attention will be given to those that are currently enacting or have previously
established a universal healthcare program. This focus is determined to show how the stresses
of universal healthcare and a developing economy affect countries that have concurrent nursing
shortages. The analysis will consist of various secondary data sources coupled with a primary
data collection; which will consist of a survey of nurses that have emigrated from their
respective countries to the Miami-Dade region. The survey will be in the form of a questionnaire
with the purpose of trying to identify a nurse???s reason for leaving his/her home country and
what could have been done to retain them. The study has the overall intent of identifying the
unique factors of nursing migration in the Caribbean, in the context of a universal healthcare
system, and to provide some solutions that could be the subject of further research.




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                                                                           107 of 113
UNDERGRADUATE

Biology

Emily Jeng
College of Arts and Sciences

Dr. John Bixby, Mentor

Identifying Effective shRNA Constructs in Reducing Mayven Expression


Mayven is a protein localized in the cytoplasm that belongs to the kelch family of proteins that
were first discovered in Drosophila melanogaster. Mayven is predominantly expressed in the
brain, containing a BTB (broad complex, tramtrack, bric-a-brac)/POZ (poxvirus, zincfinger)
domain-like structure in the N terminus and kelch repeats in the C terminus. Mayven plays a
role in binding actin, in cytoskeletal rearrangement and is associated with oligodendrocyte
precursor cell process formation necessary for myelination. In addition to its functions described
above, research indicates that several proteins containing the BTB domain and Kelch repeats
are Cullin-based E3 ligases that are part of ubiquitin-dependent degradation pathway.
Furthermore, evidence suggests that some BTB-Kelch proteins function as substrate-specific
adaptors of Cul3-based E3 Ubiquitin ligases.

RNA interference is a process used to silence target genes with RNA molecules. Using the
mechanism of RNA interference, we tested the effectiveness of 4 microRNA shRNA plasmids in
reducing the expression of Mayven in HEK 293T cells, each targeting different regions of
Mayven mRNA. Preliminary results from testing knockdown of exogenously expressed Mayven
by co-transfection with a single shRNA vector and Western blots indicate that two out of the
four shRNA constructs reduced the expression of Mayven. Determining effective shRNA
constructs could help us control gene expression of Mayven, which could lead to examining its
phenotypes and for testing reagents in future studies. Previous research has shown that
overexpression of Mayven induces c-Jun expression and cyclin D1 activation in breast cancer3
cells, possibly promoting tumor growth. The implications for studying Mayven are that it would
allow for further understanding of diseases involving the degeneration of the myelin sheath
such as multiple sclerosis, mutations in the BTB-kelch protein Gigaxonin leading to neuropathy
and breast cancer. Future studies will be done to replicate the experiment, to detect
fluorescently tagged Mayven in cells with immunoflourescence microscopy and to utilize
densitometry in quantifying the knockdown of Mayven.




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                                                                             108 of 113
UNDERGRADUATE

Biology

James Herrera
College of Arts and Sciences

Linda Taylor, Mentor

Vocal repertoire of Nancy Ma's owl monkeys (Aotus nancymaae): preliminary analysis of
individuation in vocalizations
L.L. Taylor, B.C. Furfey, C.K. Wolovich, S. Evans

J.P. Herrera1,2 L.L. Taylor1, B.C. Furfey4, C. K. Wolovich3, and S. Evans4. 1Departments of
Anthropology and 2Biology, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL, 3Department of Biology, St.
Mary College of Maryland, St. Mary's City, MD, 4 DuMond Conservancy for Primates and
Tropical Forests, Miami, FL.

Little is known about acoustic communication in owl monkeys (Aotus). As part of a larger study
documenting the repertoire of several Aotus species, we recorded the vocalizations of 25
(15:10) Nancy Ma's owl monkeys (A. nancymaae) at the DuMond Conservancy (Miami, FL)
from January 2008 to March 2009. We identified 10 vocalizations in the repertoire: peep, chirp,
hoot, grunt, chuck, squeal, trill, purr, moan, and resonant whoop. The repertoire contains two
more vocalizations than were previously described in Aotus, peep and chirp. Because other
nonhuman primates have been shown to emit vocalizations that are individually and sexually
unique, we hypothesized that the same would be true in owl monkeys. To test this hypothesis
we analyzed five vocalizations using Praat software: peep (n = 25), chirp (n = 12), hoot (n= 73),
trill (n = 16), purr (n = 17). Two temporal variables (duration, note rate) and three spectral
variables (peak frequency, lowest frequency, bandwidth) were measured by cursor inspection
for each. Call variables did not differ between individuals (Kruskal-Wallis, p > 0.05) or sexes
(Mann-Whitney U, p > 0.05); however, discriminant function analyses were significant in peeps
(LAMBDA = 0.009, x^2 (5, N= 7) = 11.813, p = 0.037) and hoots (LAMBDA = 0.039, x^2 (2, N=
7) = 17.13, p < 0.001). Our study is the first documentation of the vocal repertoire of this
species. Also, our findings suggest that some vocalizations are sexually dimorphic, as one
might predict in a monogamous species.
   This research was supported in part by a General Research Grant and a Provost's Innovative
Teaching Award from the University of Miami (LLT).




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                                                                            109 of 113
UNDERGRADUATE

Engineering

Janice Dias
Biomedical Engineering

Dr. Parel, Mentor

Design and Implementation of a Collagen Minicapsulorhexis Valve for Phaco-Ersatz
Procedure


Phaco-Ersatz lens refilling procedure is a surgical technique used to correct cataract in eyes by
replacing the lens material of the eye with a biomaterial. The closing of the lens capsule during
this procedure involves the implementation of a minicapsulorhexis valve (MCV), made up of
PDMS. This valve enables the cannula to enter and exit the capsule and seals the capsule
shut. Compositional modification of the MCV is needed due to the hydrophobic nature of
PDMS, which adheres to the artificial lens polymer and causes leakage of the artificial material
as the cannula exits the lens. The main purpose of this project is to design and implement type
IV collagen, of which the lens capsule is made, as the composition of the MCV. Due to its
elastic and hydrophilic nature, type IV collagen is hypothesized to be an effective makeup of the
MCV.




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                                                                            110 of 113
UNDERGRADUATE

Neuroscience

Sharise Richardson
College of Arts and Sciences

Ian Hentall, Mentor

Possible Role for SIRT1 in Diet Effects on Arthritis in Mice


Calorie restriction (CR) is the only experimental manipulation known to extend lifespan and
slow the onset of age related diseases. CR has been shown to induce the physiological
changes in every organism tested to date, including but not limited to yeast, spiders, fish and
rodents. A moderate decrease in calorie intake of 20-40% is enough to bring about
physiological changes (e.g decreased adipogenesis and increased insulin sensitivity)
associated with CR. It has recently been postulated that the potency of CR lies in it ability to
attenuate the age-related increase of reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation. ROS have
been linked to tissue damage and Inflammation.
SIRT1 is a NAD+ -dependent class III histone deacetylase that is the mammalian homolog of
yeast Sir2. SIRT1, aside from its role in chromatin remodeling and gene silencing, also
deacetylates a number of substrates and has been associated with the life extending effects
observed in calorie restriction. Among its active substrates is nuclear factor kappa-B (NF-
kappaB) a ubiquitous transcription factor responsible for regulating the production of several
proinflammatory proteins. Among the proteins affected by NF-kappaB is cyclooxygenase-2
(COX-2) a key enzyme in the prostaglandin pathway that produces a significant amount of the
cell's ROS, and a well known target for analgesics drugs.

Our previous research has shown that COX-2 is downregulated in both normal mice and
arthritic mice on CR diets. The same study also showed that CR has anti-inflammatory and
analgesic effects on arthritic mice. To date, however, no study has been performed to examine
a possible relationship between SIRT1 expression and the analgesia observed in arthritic mice.
In this study we plan to use visible histochemical staining techniques to observe and compare
the expression of SIRT1 in arthritic mice on ad libitum and CR diets. We hypothesize that
SIRT1 is upregulated in the mice on CR diets but not in their ad libitum cohorts.




University of Miami Research and Creativity Forum 2009
                                                                           111 of 113
UNDERGRADUATE

Business

Seth Levy
School of Business Administration

Dr. Lewis, Mentor

Peace through entrepreneurship


My research is aimed at resolving conflict through entrepreneurship and business relationships.
  The question I am asking is: Can business and, more specifically, entrepreneurial endeavors
that cross political and cultural lines bring peace where diplomacy and war have failed? I am
using a case study for research, focusing specifically on the complex conflict between Israel
and its neighbors by starting a multinational enterprise which essentially requires cooperation
between Jewish Israelis and their Arab neighbors, whether they are Jordanian, Palestinian,
Egyptian, or even Israeli Arab. The company, Sela, is an action sports development business
that has several divisions, all of which cross borders. The Sela Park subsidiary makes the most
visible difference. Its job is to help municipalities build action sports parks in their community,
with an intentional focus on communities that are politically and culturally segregated. Another
subsidiary, Sela Development, is given the task of helping local entrepreneurs open and
manage their own retail store to serve their local community. By focusing specifically on the
relationship between all of the players in Sela, including the customers, I will be able to prove
(or disprove) my hypothesis. So far, preliminary results are looking good. For example, at our
first park built between the Jewish and Arab neighborhood of Tel Aviv, it is not uncommon to
find Arabs and Jews skateboarding together, some travelling all the way from Egypt at a time
when it is taboo for an Egyptian to travel to Israel for pleasure.




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