Alexis Wilkerson, ’21

Wilkerson, A., & Olapade, O. A. (2020). Relationships Between Organic Matter Contents and Bacterial Hydrolytic Enzyme Activities in Soils: Comparisons Between Seasons. Current Microbiology.

Abstract: Microbial assemblages in terrestrial environments, such as soils, utilize hydrolytic enzymes to function biologically in various environments including for the degradation of organic carbon compounds and cycling of nutrients that eventually contributes to the ecological and agricultural productivity of such environments. In this study, 3 soil types (i.e., sandy, loamy and clayey) with varying characteristics were collected within the premises of Albion College in Michigan, with the goal of comparing the occurrences of indigenous bacterial populations and their respective hydrolytic enzyme activities in the soils. The soils were examined for their organic matter content (% OM), while bacterial abundance was determined by combinations of viable counts and nucleic acid staining, and enzymatic activities measured using fluorescein diacetate (FDA) analysis. Results from the study showed loamy soil to have a significantly higher % OM at 30% on average as compared to 2.5% and 6.6% recorded in the sandy and clayey soils. Comparatively, bacterial numbers (both viable and total counts) were also significantly higher in loamy soils than the other two soils. The same trend was observed for FDA analysis with higher fluorescein released in the loamy soil relative to the two other soils. Overall, clear differences were observed in the relationships between % OM and bacterial numbers and hydrolytic enzyme activities among the three soil types and between the two seasons examined. The results suggest that % OM strongly influences both bacterial abundance and hydrolytic enzyme activities in loamy soil and less so in both sandy and clayey soils examined in the study. This study in conclusion revealed potential strong relationships between soil organic carbon and indigenous bacterial populations as well as their FDA activities in various soil types.


Zerick Dill, ’20

McCarthy, E. L., Rankin, A. N., Dill, Z. R., & Booker, S. J. (2019). The A-type domain in Escherichia coli NfuA is required for regenerating the auxiliary [4Fe-4S] cluster in Escherichia coli lipoyl synthase. The Journal of Biological Chemistry, 294(5), 1609-1617.

Abstract: The lipoyl cofactor plays an integral role in several essential biological processes. The last step in its de novo biosynthetic pathway, the attachment of two sulfur atoms at C6 and C8 of an n-octanoyllysyl chain, is catalyzed by lipoyl synthase (LipA), a member of the radical SAM superfamily. In addition to the [4Fe-4S] cluster common to all radical SAM enzymes, LipA contains a second [4Fe-4S] auxiliary cluster, which is sacrificed during catalysis to supply the requisite sulfur atoms, rendering the protein inactive for further turnovers. Recently, it was shown that the Fe-S cluster carrier protein NfuA from Escherichia coli can regenerate the auxiliary cluster of E. coli LipA after each turnover, but the molecular mechanism is incompletely understood. Herein, using protein-protein interaction and kinetic assays as well as site-directed mutagenesis, we provide further insight into the mechanism of NfuA-mediated cluster regeneration. In particular, we show that the N-terminal A-type domain of E. coli NfuA is essential for its tight interaction with LipA. Further, we demonstrate that NfuA from Mycobacterium tuberculosis can also regenerate the auxiliary cluster of E. coli LipA. However, an Nfu protein from Staphylococcus aureus, which lacks the A-type domain, was severely diminished in facilitating cluster regeneration. Of note, addition of the N-terminal domain of E. coli NfuA to S. aureus Nfu, fully restored cluster-regenerating activity. These results expand our understanding of the newly discovered mechanism by which the auxiliary cluster of LipA is restored after each turnover.

Caroline Manning, ’20

McCaffrey, V. P., Baker, V. L., & Manning, C. (2019). Divisional Trends in Undergraduate Research: A Data-Driven Dialogue in the Creative Arts. Perspectives on Undergraduate Research & Mentoring, 8(1).

Abstract: In this research-driven dialogue, we present an institutional case study of an undergraduate research program at Albion College — FURSCA. We analyzed twenty years of longitudinal data to understand divisional representation in this program and to initiate a dialogue about the role of creative arts in undergraduate research participation.


Lauren Rasmussen, ’17

Olapade, O. A., & Rasmussen, L. (2019). Effects of iron and copper treatments on the bacterioplankton assemblages from surface waters along the north branch of the Kalamazoo River, Michigan, USA. Journal of Basic Microbiology, 59(4), 385-391.

Abstract: The effects of varying concentrations (ranging from 0 to 10 μM) of two different metals that is, iron (Fe) and copper (Cu) on indigenous bacterial populations and their hydrolytic enzyme activities within the bacterioplankton assemblages from the surface waters of the Kalamazoo River were examined under controlled microcosm conditions. The two metals were added to water samples collected from the Kalamazoo River and examined for bacterial abundance and leucine aminopeptidase activities at various time intervals over a 48 h incubation period in the dark. Results revealed no concentration effects on the bacterial populations in the presence of both Fe and Cu, although the bacterial numbers varied significantly over time in both microcosms. Conversely, leucine aminopeptidase activities based on post-hoc tests using Bonferroni correction revealed significant differences to increasing concentrations of both metals over the study period. These results further validate previous knowledge regarding the importance of various metal ions in regulating bacterial community structures and also suggest that aminopeptidase have the potential of effectively functioning using diverse trace and heavy metals as extracellular peptidase cofactors in aquatic systems.

Megan Wickens, ’15

Wongupparaj, P., Sumich, A., Wickens, M., Kumari, V., & Morris, R. G. (2018). Individual differences in working memory and general intelligence indexed by P200 and P300: A latent variable model. Biological Psychology, 139, 96-105.

Abstract: A robust relationship between working memory (WM) and general intelligence (g) has been well established. Nevertheless, explanations for this relationship in terms of underlying neurocognitive processes are still inadequate. This study addresses this issue using an individual differences approach in which Central Executive System (CES) and Short-Term Storage (STS) components of WM are measured comprehensively and examined for their relationship with g via event-related potentials components (P200 and P300) as mediators. Participants (n = 115) completed tests of the WM, CES and STS, as well as g. P200 and P300 components were recorded during 3-back WM task performance. Structural equation modelling showed significant negative associations between the P200 latency for target stimuli and CES shifting processes, and between the P300 amplitude for target stimuli and CES inhibition and updating processes. The relationship between CES processes and g was mediated in a localized fashion by the P300 amplitude. These findings further support the notion that the CES has a multidimensional structure and, importantly, reveal that the inhibition and updating functions of the CES are crucial in explaining the relationship between WM and g. Negative relations between ERP indices (P200 latency and P300 amplitude for target stimuli) and g support a neural efficiency hypothesis related to high intelligence.

Hannah Schoon, ’19

Wenzl, K., Manske, M. K., Sarangi, V., Asmann, Y. W., Greipp, P. T., Schoon, H. R., . . . Novak, A. J. (2018). Loss of TNFAIP3 enhances MYD88L265P-driven signaling in non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Blood Cancer Journal, 8(10), 97.

Abstract: MYD88 mutations are one of the most recurrent mutations in hematologic malignancies. However, recent mouse models suggest that MYD88L265P alone may not be sufficient to induce tumor formation. Interplay between MYD88L265P and other genetic events is further supported by the fact that TNFAIP3 (A20) inactivation often accompanies MYD88L265P. However, we are still lacking information about the consequence of MYD88L265P in combination with TNFAIP3 loss in human B cell lymphoma. Review of our genetic data on diffuse large B cell lymphoma (DLBCL) and Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia (WM), found that a large percentage of DLBCL and WM cases that have a MYD88 mutation also harbor a TNFAIP3 loss, 55% DLBCL and 28% of WM, respectively. To mimic this combination of genetic events, we used genomic editing technology to knock out TNFAIP3 in MYD88L265P non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) cell lines. Loss of A20 expression resulted in increased NF-κB and p38 activity leading to upregulation of the NF-κB target genes BCL2 and MYC. Furthermore, we detected the increased production of IL-6 and CXCL10 which led to an upregulation of the JAK/STAT pathway. Overall, these results suggest that MYD88L265P signaling can be enhanced by a second genetic alteration in TNFAIP3 and highlights a potential opportunity for therapeutic targeting.

Kylie Heitman, ’17

Heitman, K., Rabquer, B., Heitman, E., Streu, C., & Anderson, P. (2018). The Use of Lavender Aromatherapy to Relieve Stress in Trailered Horses. Journal of Equine Veterinary Science, 63, 8-12.

Abstract: Competition horses are susceptible to high stress levels. Lavender aromatherapy (LA) is legal, has the potential to reduce stress, and is a relatively unexplored area of equine physiology. We hypothesis that LA has positive effects on helping horses cope with stress. We predict that these effects can be measured in lowered cortisol, norepinephrine, and heart rate levels in horses that have been subjected to lavender aromatherapy during a stressor. Eight horses were used in a crossover study and were transported for 15 minutes in a horse trailer. During the trailer ride (stressor), the horses received water aromatherapy as the control, and LA as the treatment. Three measurements of heart rates and blood draws were taken on each horse: (1) baseline—before loading into the trailer, (2) stressed—immediately after the trailer ride, and (3) recovery—50 minutes after the trailer ride. The blood samples were used to quantify serum cortisol levels. In both the control and treatment horses, the average difference between the baseline and stressed measurements of heart rate (HR) and cortisol increased when the horses were transported (control HR = 10.6 b/m ± 2.6 standard error [SE]; treatment HR = 9.3 b/m ± 2.6 SE; control cortisol = 3,747.2 pg/uL ± 864.2 SE; treatment cortisol = 2,511.8 pg/uL ± 1009.9 SE). In the control and treatment horses, there was no difference in the HRs of the control and treatment horses (P-value = .37); there was a difference in cortisol levels (P = .038), which provides evidence to conclude that cortisol levels were lower in horses that were subjected to LA during a stressor.

Amanda Bedker, ’17 and Sydney Roeder, ’17

Harnish, A., Hazlewood, J. A., Bedker, A., & Roeder, S. (2016). A Wonderfully Incomplete Bibliography of Action-Oriented Anthropology and Applied Environmental Social Science. In N. Haenn, R. Wilk, & A. Harnish (Eds.), The Environment in Anthropology: A Reader in Ecology, Culture, and Sustainable Living (Second edition ed., pp. 482-508). New York: New York University Press.


Corbin Livingston, ’16

Dominguez, C., Metz, K. M., Hoque, M. K., Browne, M. P., Esteban-Tejeda, L., Livingston, C. K., et al. (2018). Continuous Flow Synthesis of Platinum Nanoparticles in Porous Carbon as Durable and Methanol-Tolerant Electrocatalysts for the Oxygen Reduction Reaction. Chemelectrochem, 5(1), 62-70.

Abstract: The development and commercialization of direct methanol fuel cells (DMFCs) as energy conversion devices remains a challenge despite their advantages in terms of energy density and energy-conversion efficiency. The bottleneck for the development of DMFCs is mainly caused by the sluggish kinetics of the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) at the cathode of fuel cells, and the effect of the so-called methanol crossover in state-of-the-art Pt/C electrocatalysts. Herein, we report for the first time an easily scalable continuous flow method based on ultraspray pyrolysis (USP) for the preparation of Pt nanoparticles directly embedded on highly porous carbon spheres. A study on the effect that post-synthesis treatment procedures have on the level of graphitization and catalytic properties is described. Use of USP results in a substantial reduction of the final Pt content with respect to typical Pt/C electrocatalysts, while yielding also excellent durability and tolerance to methanol crossover under acidic conditions. These results demonstrate that the USP method reported herein is a good candidate for its use in the preparation of ORR catalysts in commercial applications.

Jessica Glazier, ’15

Elischberger, H. B., Glazier, J. J., Hill, E. D., & Verduzco-Baker, L. (2017). Attitudes Toward and Beliefs about Transgender Youth: A Cross-Cultural Comparison Between the United States and India. Sex Roles, 76, 1-19.

Abstract: Using an internet-based survey, we examined attitudes toward transgender youth in the United States and India, two cultures with differences in conceptualizations of gender and treatment of transgender individuals in society, law, and religion. We found generally positive attitudes toward transgender youth in our U.S. (n = 218), but moderately negative ones in our Indian (n = 217), sample. Consistent with the literature on prejudice against transgender adults in many Western societies, general social conservatism in the form of religious beliefs and political ideology, gender-specific conservatism in the form of gender binary belief, and endorsement of environmental rather than biological causes of transgender identity were the best predictors of U.S. participants’ attitudes, although personal contact with gender and sexual minorities also played a role at the bivariate level. These findings suggest that the processes underlying prejudice against transgender youth are similar to those that foster adult-directed transphobia in that cultural context. In contrast, religion-based disapproval and environmental causal attributions were the best predictors of Indian respondents’ attitudes, whereas gender binary belief played only a minor role, and political conservatism and personal contact no role at all. Our regression analyses accounted for considerably more of the variability in U.S. than in Indian participants’ attitudes, highlighting the need for additional (qualitative) work to identify the factors that promote transprejudice in India. We discuss these findings in light of cross-cultural differences between the two countries in terms of our predictors and consider implications for efforts to reduce prejudice against transgender youth.

Brandon Johnson, ’16

Wilson, W. J., & Johnson, B. A. (2016). Running Wheel for Earthworms. Journal of Undergraduate Neuroscience Education, 14(2), R25-R31.

Abstract: We describe the construction and use of a running wheel responsive to the movement of the earthworm. The wheel employs readily available, inexpensive components and is easily constructed. Movement of the wheel can be monitored visually or via standard behavioral laboratory computer interfaces. Examples of data are presented, and possibilities for use in the teaching classroom are discussed.

Jessica Glazier, ’15

Elischberger, H. B., Glazier, J. J., Hill, E. D., & Verduzco-Baker, L. (2016). “Boys Don’t Cry”—or Do They? Adult Attitudes Toward and Beliefs About Transgender Youth. Sex Roles, 1-18.

Abstract: The present survey study examined the attitudes of U.S. adults toward transgender children and adolescents, as well as their behavioral intentions, in two hypothetical scenarios involving gender variant youth. Participants recruited online (N = 281) reported generally favorable attitudes toward transgender minors, but expressed some hesitation to allow a transgender child to use the restroom aligned with their gender as opposed to their birth sex or to share a room with same gender peers on a school trip, possibly due to conflating gender identity with sexual orientation in these situations. Attitudes were less positive in respondents who reported a religious affiliation, conservative social political views, and stronger conformity to certain traditional gender norms—particularly in men. Even after controlling for these factors, stronger belief in environmental versus biological causes of transgender identity was linked to more negative attitudes. Participants’ behavioral intentions were driven partly by their attitudes and causal attributions, but also by their age and, at least for women, personal connections to the transgender community. We discuss implications for the discourse surrounding transgender youth and the need for educating the public on the development of gender identity as well as the difference between gender identity and sexual orientation.

Michael Dix, ’14, Joshua Pender, ’15 and Stephanie Sanders, ’15

Metz, K. M., Sanders, S. E., Pender, J. P., Dix, M. R., Hinds, D. T., Quinn, S. J., et al. (2015). Green Synthesis of Metal Nanoparticles via Natural Extracts: The Biogenic Nanoparticle Corona and Its Effects on Reactivity. ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering.

Abstract: The optical and catalytic properties of metal nanoparticles have attracted significant attention for applications in a wide variety of fields, thus prompting interest in developing sustainable synthetic strategies that leverage the redox properties of natural compounds or extracts. Here, we investigate the surface chemistry of nanoparticles synthesized using coffee as a biogenic reductant. Building on our previously developed synthetic protocols for the preparation of silver and palladium nanoparticle/carbon composite microspheres, a combination of thermogravimetric and spectroscopic methods was used to characterize the carbon microsphere and nanoparticle surfaces. Infrared reflectance spectroscopy and single particle surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy were used to characterize Pd and Ag metal surfaces, respectively, following synthesis. Strongly adsorbed organic layers were found to be present at metal nanoparticle surfaces after synthesis. The catalytic activity of Pd nanoparticles in hydrogenation reactions was leveraged to study the availability of surface sites, and coffee-synthesized nanomaterials were compared to commercial Pd-based hydrogenation catalysts. Our results demonstrate that biogenic adsorbates block catalytic surface sites and affect nanoparticle functionality. These findings highlight the need for careful analysis of surface chemistry as it relates to the specific applications of nanomaterials produced using greener or more sustainable methods.


Lauren Rasmussen, ’17

Rasmussen, L., & Olapade, O. A. (2016). Influence of zinc on bacterial populations and their proteolytic enzyme activities in freshwater environments: a cross-site comparison. Canadian Journal of Microbiology, 1-9.

Abstract: Temporal responses of indigenous bacterial populations and proteolytic enzyme (i.e., aminopeptidase) activities in the bacterioplankton assemblages from 3 separate freshwater environments were examined after exposure to various zinc (Zn) concentrations under controlled microcosm conditions. Zn concentrations (ranging from 0 to 10 μmol/L) were added to water samples collected from the Kalamazoo River, Rice Creek, and Huron River and examined for bacterial abundance and aminopeptidase activities at various time intervals over a 48 h incubation period in the dark. The results showed that the Zn concentrations did not significantly influence total bacterial counts directly; however, aminopeptidase activities varied significantly to increasing zinc treatments over time. Also, analysis of variance and linear regression analyses revealed significant positive relationships between bacterial numbers and their hydrolytic enzyme activities, suggesting that both probably co-vary with increasing Zn concentrations in aquatic systems. The results from this study serve as additional evidence of the ecological role of Zn as an extracellular peptidase cofactor on the dynamics of bacterial assemblages in aquatic environments.

Lindsay Ciastko, ’15

Horch, E. P., van Belle, G. T., Davidson, J. W., Jr., Ciastko, L. A., Everett, M. E., & Bjorkman, K. S. (2015). Observations of Binary Stars with the Differential Speckle Survey Instrument. VI. Measures During 2014 at the Discovery Channel Telescope. arXiv:1509.03498.

Abstract: We present the results of 938 speckle measures of double stars and suspected double stars drawn mainly from the Hipparcos Catalogue, as well as 208 observations where no companion was noted. One hundred fourteen pairs have been resolved for the first time. The data were obtained during four observing runs in 2014 using the Differential Speckle Survey Instrument (DSSI) at Lowell Observatory’s Discovery Channel Telescope. The measurement precision obtained when comparing to ephemeris positions of binaries with very well-known orbits is generally less than 2 mas in separation and 0.5 degrees in position angle. Differential photometry is found to have internal precision of approximately 0.1 magnitudes and to be in very good agreement with Hipparcos measures in cases where the comparison is most relevant. We also estimate the detection limit in the cases where no companion was found. Visual orbital elements are derived for 6 systems.

Allison McClish, ’15

Erhard, K. F., Talbot, J., Deans, N. C., McClish, A. E., & Hollick, J. B. (2015). Nascent Transcription Affected by RNA Polymerase IV in Zea mays. Genetics, 199(4), 1107-U1355.

Abstract: All eukaryotes use three DNA-dependent RNA polymerases (RNAPs) to create cellular RNAs from DNA templates. Plants have additional RNAPs related to Pol II, but their evolutionary role(s) remain largely unknown. Zea mays (maize) RNA polymerase D1 (RPD1), the largest subunit of RNA polymerase IV (Pol IV), is required for normal plant development, paramutation, transcriptional repression of certain transposable elements (TEs), and transcriptional regulation of specific alleles. Here, we define the nascent transcriptomes of rpd1 mutant and wild-type (WT) seedlings using global run-on sequencing (GRO-seq) to identify the broader targets of RPD1-based regulation. Comparisons of WT and rpd1 mutant GRO-seq profiles indicate that Pol IV globally affects transcription at both transcriptional start sites and immediately downstream of polyadenylation addition sites. We found no evidence of divergent transcription from gene promoters as seen in mammalian GRO-seq profiles. Statistical comparisons identify genes and TEs whose transcription is affected by RPD1. Most examples of significant increases in genic antisense transcription appear to be initiated by 3′-proximal long terminal repeat retrotransposons. These results indicate that maize Pol IV specifies Pol II-based transcriptional regulation for specific regions of the maize genome including genes having developmental significance.

Erin Sovansky, ’13

Sovansky, E. E., Wieth, M. B., Francis, A. P., & McIlhagga, S. D. (2014). Not all musicians are creative: Creativity requires more than simply playing music. Psychology of Music.

Abstract: Musical training has been found to be associated with increased creativity. However, it is not clear whether increased creativity, particularly divergent thinking, is associated with music expertise due to knowledge and skill, or if increased creativity arises from participation in the creation of music through practices such as improvisation and composition. This study investigated how level of music expertise and engagement in the creation of music relate to divergent thinking in musically trained adults (musicians). Sixty participants of varying music expertise were tested for divergent thinking using a modified version of Guilford’s (1967) alternative uses task, in which participants listed creative uses for two music items and two non-music items. Results indicate that musicians who create music listed more creative uses for music items than non-musicians and musicians who do not create music. For non-music items, participants did not display differences in divergent thinking.

Sarah Erdman, ’14

Hooks, J., & Erdman, S. (2014). Turnover And Closed-End Fund Discounts. Journal of Business & Economics Research, 12(4), 335-338.

Abstract: This paper seeks to further investigate the quandary of closed-end fund discounts known as the “four-piece puzzle.” While other researchers have taken a behavior approach (investor sentiment, etc.), this study will explore empirical data on several variables, including some Fama-French factors. Using a fixed effects model, the effects of turnover, three-year-beta, price/book, median market capitalization, expenses and income were measured in this study.

Blake Schuetz, ’13

Hill, E., Terrell, H., Arellano, A., Schuetz, B., & Nagoshi, C. (2014). A Good Story: Using Future Life Narratives to Predict Present Well-Being. Journal of Happiness Studies, 1-20.

Abstract: The present research examined the predictive and nomological validity of a narrative method for assessing goals. College students (N = 337, 158 women, M age = 19.08) from a large, public university wrote short narratives about their best possible selves in the future, imagining that they had realized all of their life dreams. Narratives were coded in terms of the number of statements reflecting each of fourteen types of goals. Intercoder reliability was strong. With regard to predictive validity, intrinsic goals, particularly spiritual and intimacy goals were positively related to well-being. Extrinsic goals, power goals in particular, tended to be negatively related to well-being. With regard to nomological validity, the spiritual goals-well-being relationship was mediated by frequency of religious service attendance and self-report measures of religiosity. Interestingly, intrinsic goals were negatively related to life satisfaction. Results are discussed in the context of self-determination theory and the internalization of extrinsic motivations.

Jason Martin, ’12

Wickre, B., Martin, J., & McCauley, A. (Eds.). (2014). Images of Women in the Albion College Print Collection. Albion, MI: Celandine Press/Albion College Department of Art and Art History.

Abstract: Images of women in prints from the 15th century to the present in the Albion College Print Collection. Contributions from students and faculty.

Adam Ronk, ’13

Olapade, O. A., & Ronk, A. J. (2014). Isolation, Characterization and Community Diversity of Indigenous Putative Toluene-Degrading Bacterial Populations with Catechol-2,3-Dioxygenase Genes in Contaminated Soils. Microbial Ecology, 1-7.

Abstract: Indigenous bacterial assemblages with putative hydrocarbon-degrading capabilities were isolated, characterized and screened for the presence of the catechol-2,3-dioxygenase (C23O) gene after exposure to toluene in two different (i.e., pristine and conditioned) soil communities. The indigenous bacterial populations were exposed to the hydrocarbon substrate by the addition of toluene concentrations, ranging from 0.5 % to 10 % V/W in 10 g of each soil and incubated at 30 °C for upwards of 12 days. In total, 25 isolates (11 in pristine soil and 14 in conditioned soil) were phenotypically characterized according to standard microbiological methods and also screened for the 238-bp C23O gene fragment. Additionally, 16S rRNA analysis of the isolates identified some of them as belonging to the genera Bacillus, Exiguobacterium, Enterobacter, Pseudomonas and Stenotrophomonas. Furthermore, the two clone libraries that were constructed from these toluene-contaminated soils also revealed somewhat disparate phylotypes (i.e., 70 % Actinobacteria and Firmicutes to 30 % Proteobacteria in conditioned soil, whereas in pristine soil: 66 % Actinobacteria and Firmicutes; 21 % Proteobacteria and 13 % Bacteroidetes). The differences observed in bacterial phylotypes between these two soil communities may probably be associated with previous exposure to hydrocarbon sources by indigenous populations in the conditioned soil as compared to the pristine soil.

Nicole Ferrara, ’12, Amanda Blaker, ’12, Charisa Giddings, ’12

Wilson, W. J., Ferrara, N. C., Blaker, A. L., & Giddings, C. E. (2014). Escape and avoidance learning in the earthworm Eisenia hortensis. PeerJ, 2, e250.

Abstract: Interest in instrumental learning in earthworms dates back to 1912 when Yerkes concluded that they can learn a spatial discrimination in a T-maze. Rosenkoetter and Boice determined in the 1970s that the “learning” that Yerkes observed was probably chemotaxis and not learning at all. We examined a different form of instrumental learning: the ability to learn both to escape and to avoid an aversive stimulus. Freely moving “master” worms could turn off an aversive white light by increasing their movement; the behavior of yoked controls had no effect on the light. We demonstrate that in as few as 12 trials the behavior of the master worms comes under the control of this contingency.

Cassandra Waun, ’13, Erica Bennett, ’13, Erica Earl, ’14

McCaffrey, V. P., Zellner, N. E. B., Waun, C. M., Bennett, E. R., & Earl, E. K. (2014). Reactivity and Survivability of Glycolaldehyde in Simulated Meteorite Impact Experiments. Origins of Life and Evolution of Biospheres, 1-14.

Abstract: Sugars of extraterrestrial origin have been observed in the interstellar medium (ISM), in at least one comet spectrum, and in several carbonaceous chondritic meteorites that have been recovered from the surface of the Earth. The origins of these sugars within the meteorites have been debated. To explore the possibility that sugars could be generated during shock events, this paper reports on the results of the first laboratory impact experiments wherein glycolaldehyde, found in the ISM, as well as glycolaldehyde mixed with montmorillonite clay, have been subjected to reverberated shocks from ~5 to >25 GPa. New biologically relevant molecules, including threose, erythrose and ethylene glycol, were identified in the resulting samples. These results show that sugar molecules can not only survive but also become more complex during impact delivery to planetary bodies.


Stephanie Sanders, ’15, Anna Miller, ’13

Metz, K. M., Sanders, S. E., Miller, A. K., & French, K. R. (2014). Uptake and Impact of Silver Nanoparticles on Brassica rapa: An Environmental Nanoscience Laboratory Sequence for a Nonmajors Course. Journal of Chemical Education, 91(2), 264-268.

Abstract: Nanoscience is one of the fast growing fields in science and engineering. Curricular materials ranging from laboratory experiments to entire courses have been developed for undergraduate science majors. However, little material has been developed for the nonmajor students. Here we present a semester-long laboratory sequence developed for a nonmajors course, where students investigate the potential environmental impacts of nanoscience. Students synthesize and characterize silver nanoparticles using green synthetic methods. They then use the suspension of silver nanoparticles to “water” Wisconsin Fast Plants, Brassica rapa, over a three to four week period to simulate environmental exposure. Possible impacts are examined throughout the growth period, and silver uptake by the plants is quantified at the end of the growth period. This lab requires design input from the student, making it an open-ended experiment. Although designed for nonmajors, this lab could easily be adapted for an environmental chemistry or chemical nanoscience course.

Ryan Walker, ’12, Ori Shewach, ’14, Zach Kribs, ’15

Walker, R. J., Kribs, Z. D., Christopher, A. N., Shewach, O. R., & Wieth, M. B. (2014). Age, the Big Five, and time-of-day preference: A mediational model. Personality and Individual Differences, 56, 170-174.

Abstract: This research examined the extent to which the Big Five personality factors mediated the relationship between age and time-of-day preference. A sample of 491 Americans (M-age = 32 yrs) completed the 240-item NEO-PI-R, the 19-item Home and Ostberg’s (1976) Morningness-Eveningness Questionnaire (MEQ), and provided demographic information. As demonstrated in previous research, correlations revealed that older people expressed a stronger morning preference. More importantly, using bootstrapping procedures, it was found that the Big Five factor of conscientiousness attenuated the relationship between age and time-of-day preference. These findings indicate that conscientiousness plays a significant role in the relationship between age and time-of-day preference.

Haley Sztykiel, ’09

Brandt, A. E., Sztykiel, H., & Pietras, C. J. (2013). Laboratory Simulated Gambling: Risk Varies Across Participant-Stake Procedure. Journal of General Psychology, 140(2), 130-143.

Abstract: This study investigated whether risk taking on a laboratory gambling task differed depending on whether participants gambled with earned or experimenter-provided game credits. Participants made repeated choices between two options, one to wager game credits on a game that produced probabilistic gains and losses, and one to gain game credits with certainty. Choice was investigated across stake and no-stake conditions and condition order was counterbalanced across conditions. Risk taking was higher under stake than no-stake conditions, but only when stake conditions were experienced first. There was no effect on risk taking of the amount of the certain gain. Results are consistent with previous research showing that participant-stake procedures promote greater risk taking than procedures that allow participants to gamble with their own earnings, and also show that experience gambling with earned credits has an enduring effect on risk taking.

Lyndsey Reynolds, ’12, Stephanie Sanders, ’15

Duffy, P., Reynolds, L. A., Sanders, S. E., Metz, K. M., & Colavita, P. E. (2013). Natural reducing agents for electroless nanoparticle deposition: Mild synthesis of metal/carbon nanostructured microspheres. Materials Chemistry and Physics, 140(1), 343-349.

Abstract: Composite materials are of interest because they can potentially combine the properties of their respective components in a manner that is useful for specific applications. Here, we report on the use of coffee as a low-cost, green reductant for the room temperature formation of catalytically active, supported metal nanoparticles. Specifically, we have leveraged the reduction potential of coffee in order to grow Pd and Ag nanoparticles at the surface of porous carbon microspheres synthesized via ultraspray pyrolysis. The metal nanoparticle-on-carbon microsphere composites were characterized using scanning electron microscopy (SEM), energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS), X-ray diffraction (XRD) and thermal gravimetric analysis (TGA). To demonstrate the catalytic activity of Pd/C and Ag/C materials, Suzuki coupling reactions and nitroaromatic reduction reactions were employed, respectively.

Kayleigh Pung, ’11

Olapade, O., & Pung, K. (2012). Plant-associated bacterial populations on native and invasive plant species: comparisons between 2 freshwater environments. Canadian Journal of Microbiology, 58(6), 767-775.

Abstract: Plant–microbial interactions have been well studied because of the ecological importance of such relationships in aquatic systems. However, general knowledge regarding the composition of these biofilm communities is still evolving, partly as a result of several confounding factors that are attributable to plant host properties and to hydrodynamic conditions in aquatic environments. In this study, the occurrences of various bacterial phylogenetic taxa on 2 native plants, i.e., mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum L.) and cow parsnip (Heracleum maximum Bartram), and on an invasive species, i.e., garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata (M. Bieb.) Cavara & Grande), were quantitatively examined using nucleic acid staining and fluorescence in situ hybridization. The plants were incubated in triplicates for about a week within the Kalamazoo River and Pierce Cedar Creek as well as in microcosms. The bacterial groups targeted for enumeration are known to globally occur in relatively high abundance and are also ubiquitously distributed in freshwater environments. Fluorescence in situ hybridization analyses of the bacterioplankton assemblages revealed that the majority of bacterial cells that hybridized with the different probes were similar between the 2 sites. In contrast, the plant-associated populations while similar on the 3 plants incubated in Kalamazoo River, their representations were highest on the 2 native plants relative to the invasive species in Pierce Cedar Creek. Overall, our results further suggested that epiphytic bacterial assemblages are probably under the influences of and probably subsequently respond to multiple variables and conditions in aquatic milieus.

Soe Yu Nwe

Nwe, Soe Yu (“Joy”). “House.” Michigan Ceramic Art Association Michigan Mud Conference Award Winner: Michigan Ceramic Art Association, 2011.

Description:  Junior Soe Yu Nwe (“Joy” on campus) took one of the top four student  awards at the biennial Michigan Ceramic Art Association Michigan Mud conference held in October 2011.

Soe Yu Nwe’s winning sculpture, “House,” was inspired by a childhood spent on both sides of the border between Thailand and the Union of Myanmar.   Many Thai families have “spirit houses,” small structures which are decorated and sometimes furnished for spirits tied to that land.  Click on the image below for more information.

'House,' Soe Yu Nwe's winning entry

Derek Burkholder, ’04

Burkholder, D. A., Heithaus, M. R., Thomson, J. A., & Fourqurean, J. W. (2011). Diversity in trophic interactions of green sea turtles Chelonia mydas on a relatively pristine coastal foraging ground. Marine Ecology-Progress Series, 439, 277-293.

Abstract: Adult green sea turtles Chelonia mydas are often the largest-bodied herbivores in their communities and may play an important role in structuring seagrass and macroalgal communities. Recent studies, however, suggest that green turtles might be more omnivorous than previously thought. We used animal-borne video and nitrogen and carbon stable isotopic analysis of skin to elucidate diets of green turtles in the relatively pristine seagrass ecosystem of Shark Bay, Australia. Stable isotope values suggested that despite the presence of abundant seagrass resources, turtles assimilated most of their energy from a combination of macroalgae and gelatinous macroplankton (cnidarians and ctenophores). Video data suggested that macroplankton might be the most commonly consumed food source. Also surprising was the considerable variation in delta(13)C values, suggesting long-term dietary specialization by individual turtles. Overall, green turtle foraging under natural conditions may be less stereotyped than previously thought, and diets of green turtles inhabiting apparently similar ecosystems (e. g. seagrass-dominated ecosystems) may vary considerably across geographical regions. The apparently high degree of individual specialization in diets suggests that conservation efforts should account not only for the potential importance of non-benthic food sources for green turtle populations, but also for the possibility that subsets of the population may play different ecological roles and may be differentially vulnerable to anthropogenic impacts.

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