Sonya Bayba, Great Lakes Environmental Science
Faculty Mentors: Professor Lyubov Burlakova, Great Lakes Center, Professor Alexander Karatayev, Great Lakes Center and Professor Robert J. Warren, Biology; Susan Daniel, SUNY-Buffalo State Great Lakes Center; Elizabeth K. Hinchey, United States Environmental Protection Agency
Invasive dreissenid mussels have altered the flow of energy in numerous non-native freshwater systems by diverting nutrients from deep to shallow benthic food-webs; thus reducing resources available to deep offshore benthos. While the effect of the nearshore-dwelling Dreissena polymorpha (zebra mussel) on benthos has been studied thoroughly, little is known about the deep-water impacts of Dreissena rostriformis bugensis (quagga mussel), a species that can live at depths > 200m. In the last two decades quagga mussels outcompeted zebra mussels and have been colonizing previously uninhabited deep lake regions. The goal of this study was to compare lake-wide benthic communities in the presence and absence of quagga mussels, and to investigate whether the positive impacts observed in the nearshore benthos can also be found in the offshore benthos due to the recent deep water quagga mussel colonization. Benthic survey data collected under the Cooperative Science and Monitoring Initiative from Lake Michigan in 2015 and Lake Huron in 2017 were used in this study. Using non-parametric multivariate analysis, we found that the taxonomic structures of benthic communities without Driessena were significantly different than those with Dreissena. Using generalized linear mixed models, we also found that increasing Dreissena abundance/biomass had a positive effect on total benthos abundance/biomass, despite the increase in depth. Our results indicate that quagga mussels facilitate both littoral and profundal benthic communities.
Prayushi Bhorania, Jackson Kubik, and Mahmud Khan
Prayushi Bhorania, Computer Information Systems, Jackson Kubik, Physics and Mahmud Khan, Computer Information Systems
Faculty Mentor: Professor Arjun Pathak, Physics
The coupling between structural and magnetic transitions is a paramount key for designing the materials that exhibit multifunctionality. During such coupling, a substantial change in magnetization occurs in the vicinity of phase transition leading to a sizeable caloric effect, a useful property for cooling, refrigeration, air conditioning, and heat-pumping applications. One of the significant challenges of the research related to magnetic refrigeration is the designing of potential materials consisting of earth-abundant as well as non-toxic elements, which gives a large caloric effect at the lower applied magnetic field. Recently, the magnetic and thermodynamics properties of several MnTX (T = transition metal X = p block elements) reported, which showed a martensitic structural transition from a low-temperature TiNiSi-type orthorhombic phase to high-temperature Ni2In-type hexagonal phase and exhibited a significant caloric effect (Samanta et al., APL 101, 242405, 2012). However, most of the earlier studies reported the compound exhibit significantly large thermal and magnetic hysteresis, an unwanted characteristic for application, or they contain expensive elements such as Ge, In, or Ga. Here we present phase transition and magnetic properties of Mn1-xFexNiSi1-yXy alloys, which are abundant, non-toxic, and the synthesis method is relatively easy and cost-effective.
The Effect of Capping Ligands on the Freezing-Induced Aggregation of Gold Nanoparticles (AuNPs) for Near-IR SERS Substrates
Carleigh Cimmerer, Forensic Chemistry
Faculty Mentor: Professor Jinseok Heo, Chemistry
Here we report the effect of capping agents on the freezing-induced aggregation of gold nanoparticles (AuNPs). Previously, we demonstrated that quick freezing-induced AuNP aggregates (QFIAA), prepared from citrate-capped AuNPs, could function as surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) substrates in the near-IR region. Near-IR SERS substrates are important for the Raman detection of low concentration analytes in a biological matrix that emits strong fluorescence. Further research showed that the SERS signals of analytes on the QFIAA strongly depended on the sizes of individual AuNPs in the AuNP clusters. In this study we wanted to examine how the capping agents, which were used to prevent the aggregation of AuNPs during the synthesis, would affect the freezing-induced aggregation of AuNPs. To test the hypothesis, three different types of AuNPs capped with citrates, tartarate, or PVP were used to prepare for the QFIAA. All these capping agents were negatively charged but had different molecular sizes. The extent of the AuNP aggregation was examined using UV-VIS absorption and Raman spectroscopy. Furthermore, four different dye analytes were tested for Raman detection in the presence of quick freezing-treated AuNPs. We found that the citrate-capped QFIAA performed the best as near-IR SERS subtrates, followed by tartarate-capped QFIAA. However, PVP-capped AuNPs did not form clusters thanks to the steric hindrance of PVP polymer. While the positively charged analytes could be detected with citrate-capped or less sensitively with tartate-capped QFIAA, the negatively charged molecules could not be detected with any types of AuNPs tested here. Further research will focus on expanding the applications of QFIAA for the detection of a broad range of dye analytes.
Hutong Fan, GEG 518: Remote Sensing
Faculty Mentors: Professor Tao Tang, Geography and Planning and Professor Lei Deng, Capital Normal University
Nowadays, precision agriculture becomes more and more important in agricultural production. Remote sensing techniques are always used in precision agriculture to promote the productivity of crops. Although satellite-based remote sensing has been a popular method for monitoring the earth's surface, it has several drawbacks. With the improvement of drone technology, an unmanned air vehicle (UAV) is more flexible in terms of deployment, monitoring small areas, and cost effective on data collections. In this project, the first objective is to merge the UAV images of the vineyard. There are two kinds of images, RGB and near-infrared. For the near-infrared images which cannot be merged automatically using Pix4D photogrammetric software, Photoshop software was used to conduct the preliminary synthesis. The second objective is to combine both RGB and infrared images into different layers radiation bands of one image and to use NDVI (Normalized Difference Vegetation Index) to analyze the growth situation of grapes in the study vineyard. This research demonstrated that it is feasible to use Photoshop software to mosaic the images that cannot be merged in Pix4D. However, further studies are need for the accuracy issues of both spectral and locations. The significance of this study is 1) finding the alternative method to merge the near-infrared images, and 2) using the NDVI to analyze the growth conditions of the grapes in the study area.
Brooke Federko, HON 400: All College Honors Colloquium
Faculty Mentor: Professor Robert J. Warren, Biology
As a biology student, I have noticed many things about the education system, especially the way the sciences are taught. I have been inspired by some awesome educators to become one myself, and aspire to become a high-school biology teacher. Most kids are brought up through elementary and middle school with plenty of exposure to reading, spelling, multiplication and division, whereas most sciences, such as biology and physics, are neglected and aren’t touched on until later on in their educational career. With the number of career opportunities in any science, technology, engineering, or mathematical field (also known as STEM), teaching kids about this material at a younger age would benefit us as a society. Kids could find their niches earlier on, and subsequently take on apprenticeships or internships to get started on the career they want (or find they don’t want) to dedicate the next fifty or so years of their life to. In America, we tend to push high-schoolers into furthering their education and going to college. However, our high schools do a poor job at preparing kids to attend these institutions we urge them so strongly to attend. These young adults are just thrown into the real world, with no formal education on how to file and pay taxes, maintain a budget, or any other skill essential in our contemporary society. With aspirations of becoming an educator, I want to revolutionize the way we teach kids not just about STEM subject matter, but valuable life skills, as well.
Jennifer Fornell, Geology and Chemistry
Faculty Mentor: Professor Jill Singer, Earth Sciences
The Buffalo River is classified as a Great Lakes Area of Concern (AoC). This designation reflects the industrial legacy of the river that includes bottom sediments contaminated by heavy metals and organic compounds. Efforts to restore the Buffalo River and de-list it as an AoC requires the impairments to the river to be remedied and that, in turn, has led to a large scale environmental dredging project that took place between 2011 and 2015. This project resulted in the removal of >1 million cubic yards of contaminated sediment from the lower 9 km of the Buffalo River and Ship Canal. Side scan sonar surveys were conducted prior to the start of the multi-year dredging effort (2005, 2009, and 2011) and annually thereafter (2012-2019). These surveys provided an opportunity to investigate the effects of dredging on the morphology of the river channel, and in particular the destruction and reformation of sedimentary structures. Side scan sonar data were processed using Chesapeake Technology’s SonarWiz7. A field of sedimentary furrows, first identified in the early 1990’s, persisted until it was largely removed by dredging activities. Preliminary interpretations of the 2018 and 2019 side scan sonar data suggest that only a few furrows either survived and/or reformed in the years since that section of the river was dredged. The effects of dredging and the disturbance it makes to the river bottom is also being documented. This research provides an opportunity to document temporal changes in the morphology of the Buffalo River before, during, and after the end of the environmental dredging project. These findings will advance our understanding of how the Buffalo River is adjusting to channel widening and deepening due to the removal of the contaminated sediment.
Determination of Sex from Patella Measurements in African American and European American Populations
Eric Frauenhofer, INS 495: Independent Project
Faculty Mentor: Professor Julie Wieczkowski, Anthropology
The objective of this research was to derive discriminant functions from patella measurements to determine the sex of adult human skeletal remains in African American and European American populations. The sample consisted of 400 individuals (100 females and 100 males of African ancestry; 100 females and 100 males of European ancestry), ranging in age from 18 to 89 years old, from the Hamann-Todd Osteological Collection, a documented human skeletal collection at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. Seven measurements were taken of each individual’s left patella. If this bone exhibited an abnormality, the individual’s right patella was measured instead. The measurements taken were the maximum height, maximum width, maximum thickness, heights of the lateral and medial articular facets, and widths of the lateral and medial articular facets. Statistical analyses showed that each measurement was sexually dimorphic, and males had higher mean values than females for each measurement for both ancestries. Demarking points were established for each measurement and then applied to the sample for sex determination. The overall accuracy of this method ranged from 71% to 81% and 66% to 84% for African Americans and European Americans, respectively. Due to these low accuracy rates, using demarking points associated with patella measurements should be used with caution in forensic contexts. SPSS will be used to derive discriminant functions from the patella measurements. It is expected that discriminant functions will be more accurate than demarking points to classify sex, which would be consistent with the literature.
Eric Frauenhofer, Forensic Chemistry
Faculty Mentor: Professor Douglas Ridolfi, Chemistry
A goal of forensic anthropology is determining the identity of human remains, which can be achieved by establishing a biological profile (that is, determining the sex, ancestry, stature, and age-at-death) of the remains. This can sometimes be a straightforward process by assessing non-metric traits of the skull and pelvis. More often than not, however, that is not the case as remains are often incomplete and poorly preserved. Under these circumstances, a profile can be estimated using measurements from a single bone or even bone fragments. However, these methods often rely on mathematical formulas that can be difficult to utilize and interpret. For this reason, forensic anthropologists have developed software for practitioners to enter raw measurements and estimate a profile. One commonly used program, however, is expensive (~$395 per copy) and is limited to Windows computers. Therefore, my research project focused on developing a free app for iPhone and iPad devices that can be used in the field to estimate a biological profile (not including age-at-death) using accepted metric methods and user-supplied measurements. The app can be used by selecting an aspect of the biological profile, selecting a method, and entering measurements directly into the app, which will then perform the calculation and interpret the result (e.g., male versus female) in accordance with the selected methodology. The app also reports the standard error for the applied method. This app may supplement current software used in forensic anthropology.
Michael Grey, Physics
Faculty Mentor: Professor Ram Rai, Physics
This research project was focused on the deposition of Mn4Ta2O9 thin films and investigation of these films for their structural, magnetic, and optical properties. We synthesized Mn4Ta2O9 via solid-state reaction and pressed into a 1-inch diameter pellet of ~1.5 mm thickness. The pellet was used as a target for Magnetron Sputtering to deposit Mn4Ta2O9 thin films on c-axis Al2O3 (sapphire), (111) yttrium-stabilized ZrO2, and c-axis LiNbO3 single crystal substrates. The x-ray diffraction analysis of the bulk and thin films show a mixed phase compounds containing Mn4Ta2O9 and MnTa2O6. The magnetic measurements of the bulk sample revealed an antiferromagnetic transition temperature of 97 K, close to the expected transition temperature of 102 K. On the other hand, the thin films were shown to have transition temperatures of 137 K, which is higher than the expected value. We also measured the optical properties of the thin films by Optical Spectroscopy in the wavelength range of 190 – 2500 nm. The thin films did not absorb light with wavelengths above 500 nm and had significant absorption below 250 nm, indicating an energy bandgap of ~2.5 eV. The future research will focus on improving the synthesis process to achieve ~99% purity of Mn4Ta2O9.
Xuejing Hu, GEG 518: Remote Sensing
Faculty Mentor: Professor Tao Tang, Geography and Planning
Recently, the algae blooms in western Lake Erie has aroused people’s concern, which can cause the death of marine lives, the pollution of drinking water, the decline of fishing and tourism industries, and other problems. With the growing frequency and magnitude of algae blooms, it has been becoming a public health and ecosystem hazard. In this research, remote sensing satellite images were collected through the United States Geological Survey, including the Landsat images of western Lake Erie in the summers of 1989, 1999, 2008, and 2019. Remote sensing software ERDAS IMAGINE was utilized in pre-processing the images, extracting algae bloom area, and conducting NDVI classification to study the spatial distribution and temporal variation of algae blooms. NDVI is used to assess whether the target being observed by remote sensing contains living green vegetation or not. The NDVI classification results show that the algae blooms of western Lake Erie has the regional occupations and seasonal changes. From 1989 to 2019, the lake algae spread from the west to the middle of the lake. By 2019, the area of algae has increased significantly. With the increase of summer temperature, the coastal lake algae also increased significantly. The algae are mainly clustered on the southern coast, west coast and southeastern bay of west Lake Erie, but there are no significant algae blooms on the eastern part of the west Lake Erie. The major influence factors for the algae blooms in western Lake Erie are temperature changes during recent years, human activities, and farming.
Kayla Kopinski, Geology
Faculty Mentor: Professor Gary Solar, Earth Sciences
Rocks exposed in southern coastal Maine, between Portland and Freeport, were formed over 400 million years ago, and then metamorphosed and deformed from about 400 to 280 million years ago within a more than 15 km-wide zone of continental collisional deformation known as the Norumbega shear zone system (NSZS) during the Acadian through Alleghenian Orogenies (mountain building during continent-continent collisions). Evidence of the tectonic plate collisions in question exists at the grain scale, and can be studied and measured through the use of polarized transmitted-light microscopy (petrography) of thin sections. Thin sections were prepared from specimens carefully selected from a suite of rocks collected in the field in southern coastal Maine. They were then described and measured extensively, with the main focus of the study on porphyroblasts, or larger mineral growths resulting from metamorphism. As porphyroblasts form, they overgrow the existing matrix fabric patterns, preserving parts of it as inclusions. While subsequent deformational events may alter the matrix minerals, these inclusion minerals are preserved and reflect the original matrix at the time of growth. Measurements were made of overall porphyroblast size, core and rim sizes, tail dimensions and attitudes, and inclusion trail geometry as it relates to the existing matrix fabric. All of these data are reconciled to form interpretations of the tectonic history as recorded by the rock itself. The data documented shows the extensive tectonic history within the Norumbega shear zone was long-lived as new matrix fabrics formed over old ones progressively.
Shuang Liu, Geography
Faculty Mentors: Professor Tao Tang, Geography and Planning and Professor Wenji Zhao, Capital Normal University
The North China Plain has been suffering from severe PM2.5 pollution in recent years. A series of measures have been taken to improve atmospheric conditions. An accurate assessment of the spatiotemporal characteristics of PM2.5 levels is crucial to design effective air pollution control policy and obtain the trend of PM2.5 levels. At present, the research on estimating PM2.5 concentrations has focused on urban agglomeration in plain areas and has largely ignored mountainous areas. In this research, the mountainous region of Mentougou in Beijing was selected as the study area as it has 98.5% of its area covered by mountains. Multi-Angle Implementation of Atmospheric Correction (MAIAC) AOD and ground-based PM2.5 measurements were used to estimate PM2.5 concentrations in Mentougou for 2014-2017 at 1km resolution through a stepwise regression model. According to the estimation results, we analysed the spatiotemporal characteristics of PM2.5 and key influence factors. Annual PM2.5 concentrations decreased by 15.69% from 2014 to 2017. Average PM2.5 concentrations in winter decreased by 33.64% from 2014 to 2017. This proves that the adjustment of energy structure in winter has achieved significant results for improving the atmospheric environment. Moreover, the PM2.5 level is the highest in winter, while it is the lowest in summer. The PM2.5 level is higher in east area, while it is lower in west area. This spatial distribution pattern is mainly affected by terrain. The long-term PM2.5 prediction filled the gaps left by ground monitors, which would support relevant decision-making and studies.
Devanshi Malaviya, Elaha Hashmatullah, Md Sakhavat Hossain Himel, and Mahmud Khan
Devanshi Malaviya, Computer Information Systems, Elaha Hashmatullah, Physics, Md Sakhavat Hossain Himel, Computer Information Systems, and Mahmud Khan, Computer Information Systems
Faculty Mentor: Professor Arjun Pathak, Physics
Materials that exhibit ferromagnetic/antiferromagnetic to paramagnetic phase transitions around room temperature also demonstrate interesting functionalities, including magnetocaloric effects, a property that can be exploited in a magnetic refrigerator. Magnetocaloric compounds that are constituted of abundant and non-toxic elements are especially appealing to realize the commercialization of magnetic refrigeration technology. AlFe2B2 is one such material that was initially reported by Jeitschko et al. (Acta Crystallogr., Sect. B: Struct. Sci, 25 (1969) 163). Recently, a large magnetocaloric effect near room temperature (Tan et al. JACS 135 (2013)9553) was reported for the material. While AlFe2B2 is a ferromagnet with Tc = 282 K, analogous AlM2B2 alloys with M = Mn or Cr do not show magnetic ordering up to 400 K (J. Solid. State.Chem., 224, 52, 2017). It is, therefore, interesting to explore the magnetic and magnetocaloric properties of partially M doped AlFe2-xMxB2 system. Here, we present a study on the effect of physical and chemical pressure on the magnetic, magneto-transport, and magnetocaloric properties of Al1.1Fe1.85Mn0.15B2, Al1.1Fe1.85Cr0.15B2 , and Al1.1Fe1.85Mn0.08Cr0.07B2 materials by magnetometry with and without hydrostatic pressure, and transport measurements. A detailed presentation of the experimental results is provided and discussed.
Connor McGrath, Biology
Faculty Mentor: Professor Gavin Leighton, Biology
The evolution of both diverse and similar phenotypes has long been a goal in evolutionary biology. Recent research in evolutionary biology has identified the presence of pairs or groups of mimicry among woodpeckers. This project was conducted to investigate whether Downy woodpeckers evolved a similar appearance to the more dominant Hairy woodpecker in order to trick third-party species into relinquishing resources. This was studied by recording the reactions of local birds to models of each species placed at feeders. We discovered that, while responses to the two model types were far from identical, birds avoided feeders with attached models more than unmodified feeders in both cases. However, interaction rates between individual species of birds at the feeder hinted that there may be some birds which are more dominant than Downy woodpeckers but less dominant than Hairy woodpeckers, leading them to disregard only the Downy model. The effects of this instance of mimicry seem to be more complicated when dealing with the reaction of multiple species, it is possible that only certain third-party bird species are targeted, while others judge dominance based on size as well as pattern. These would be more inclined to avoid Hairy woodpeckers, while remaining comfortable around Downy woodpeckers. Overall, Downy woodpeckers appear to accrue at least some of the benefits of dominant Hairy woodpeckers based on their appearance. This study adds more support to the hypothesis that several third-party native birds, not Hairy woodpeckers themselves, are the main target of Downy woodpecker mimicry.
Gregory O'Brien, Patrick Parnel, Kanwal Asif, and Victoire Grace-Karambizi
Gregory O’Brien, Independent Study, Patrick Parnel, Biology, Kanwal Asif, Forensic Science and Victoire Grace-Karambizi, Biology
Faculty Mentor: Professor Sujit Suwal, Chemistry
The arylureido peptoid isobars undergo distinct fragmentations in MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry depending on the relative substituents disposition around the benzene ring. Using two commercially available chlorophenylisocyanate isobars, recently we demonstrated the synthetic compatibility of arylureides on the solid support and proposed SS1 and SS2 fragmentation mechanisms. The compounds isolated from the pool of libraries were successfully identified using mass spectrometry without isotopic labeling or internal molecular encoding. To this point, we extended our study towards the synthesis of olioarylureides using 2-chlorophenylisocyanate submonomer, which results in 1, 2 di-substituted arenes having urea backbone. Due to ortho-substituent disposition in the molecule, we hypothesized the resultant oligomers could potentially adopt secondary structure, similar to polyproline helix. To affirm our hypothesis, we synthesized a series of arylureides--trimer to nonamer, without any synthetic challenges. The purities of the compounds are determined by HPLC and authenticated using LC-MS. Under MS condition, the compounds larger than pentamer showed enough stability without undergoing significant fragmentation. Based on this evidence, we presumed the arylureides that are larger than pentamer possibly exist in unique 3D conformation that prohibits the molecular fragmentations under LC-MS. To confirm the structures of the oligomers, we further carried out molecular modeling of oligomers and corroborate our evidence by NOESY experiment.
The Response of the Buffalo River to Perturbations Related to a Multi-Year Environmental Dredging Project
Skyler Paternostro, Earth Sciences
Faculty Mentor: Professor Jill Singer, Earth Sciences and Science Education
The Buffalo River discharges into Lake Erie near the upper end of the Niagara River. The lower 9.2 km of the river has been designated as a Great Lakes Areas of Concern (AoC) because of a number of environmental impairments including contaminated sediments. As the river undergoes remediation in order to be delisted as an AoC, a management decision was made to remove the most contaminated sediment in an environmental dredging project that took place between 2011 and 2015. To verify the volume of sediment removed from each dredge cell, the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) annually conducted high resolution bathymetric surveys. GIS ArcMap was used to create DEM layers for the period spanning 2010 to 2017. Bank-to-bank cross-sectional profiles both within and outside dredge cells were created using tools in ArcMap. These GIS tools have allowed me to examine DEM layers using a single polyline. After exporting these polyline data into Excel, the X, Y, and, M (elevation) values are being used to create graphs representing the channel profiles. Using Excel, we are able to calculate sediment changes from year-to-year allowing me to make interpretations about deposition/re-deposition of sediment, sediment erosion, and slumping of sediment from the edges of the dredge cells. This study should provide a temporal record that spans the period before, during, and after the environmental dredging project to document how channel geometry changed as a result of sediment removal and how the river has responded since this perturbation. My findings can also offer insights into how other urban rivers might respond to similar disturbances.
A Spatial Analysis of Toxic Release Sites in Buffalo, NY and Socioeconomic Characteristics of Surrounding Neighborhoods
Cecilia Pershyn, GES 529: Environmental Field Methods and Analysis
Faculty Mentor: Professor Elisa Bergslien, Earth Sciences and Science Education
Buffalo built its economy by being an industrial powerhouse throughout the second half of the 19th century. In its heyday, Buffalo was home to a booming shipping industry, grain mills, steel & iron plants, and numerous other factories. Businesses & manufacturers were drawn to Buffalo for its prime location at the end of the Erie Canal and on the Great Lakes. Although Buffalo has seen a decline in manufacturing over the decades, many industries, especially those whose manufacturing processes are water-intensive, continue to operate in Buffalo. Many of these facilities pose an environmental threat by releasing toxic chemicals into the air or water surrounding their sites. The communities in close proximity to these facilities are at risk of exposure to environmental contaminants. According to historic redlining maps, most residential areas surrounding industrial zones were characterized as “definitely declining” or “hazardous” as they were made up of working-class, non-white or foreign-born individuals and families. A spatial analysis of toxic release sites in Buffalo will be conducted to determine which geographic areas of the city are most at risk for exposure from contaminants released from these sites. Data from 2010 census zip codes will be used to conduct an inquiry of socioeconomic characteristics in at-risk neighborhoods. Educational attainment, annual income, homeownership and race will be used to determine which demographic is most at risk for exposure from toxic substances releases as reported in the TRI. At-risk neighborhoods will be compared to the historical 1937 redlining maps of Buffalo to determine if these areas predominantly fall in “hazardous” or “definitely declining” characterized neighborhoods. Finally, the 2010 census data from at-risk neighborhoods will be compared to socioeconomic characteristics from the 1937 redlining maps to determine how the demographics of these neighborhoods have changed over time, with the prediction that neighborhoods that were deemed “hazardous” or “definitely declining” in the redlining maps are the ones still at risk for toxic substance exposure in contemporary times, and that the socioeconomic characteristics have not significantly changed over time. The importance of this study is to determine how historically disadvantaged neighborhoods may still be at risk for exposure to environmental contaminants, which has environmental justice implications that should be considered as Buffalo undergoes its economic resurgence.
Laquesha Phillips, BIO 495: Special Project
Faculty Mentor: Professor Robert Warren, Biology
The research question that I studied is whether an invasive species has a negative or positive effect when it is introduced to a native species in an environment, and if this interaction has an effect on intraspecific and interspecific competition. Invasive species are non-native species that are not native to a given environment and may have a positive effect or negative effect on the ecosystem. Native species are native to an environment or habitat and thrive in that ecosystem. These species can be affected by the introduction of a new species; for example, invasive species that can produce a negative effect on the ecosystem. My project focus is important because these invasive species have the potential to destroy the ecosystem that we depend on to carry out multiple actions, such as purifying the air we breathe, cycling nutrients, and also pollinating crops that we eat. Cycling nutrients is essential because it connects the living with the living, the living with the nonliving, and the nonliving with the nonliving. This is very significant because all organisms in an ecosystem are dependent on each other and it is key for the living to survive. The techniques that I used to carry out the project were to maintain multiple plots of invasive species with invasive species, invasive species with noninvasive species, and noninvasive species with other noninvasive species. In this way, we could test the effects of noninvasive species with invasive species, noninvasive species with noninvasive species and invasive species with invasive species. My observations are that when seeds from a different country, when introduced in the same plot to another seed from a different country, for the most part do not both successfully germinate; only the seeds from a specific country flourish. Also, when seeds are placed in the same plot together, one seed typically thrives better than the other. The presentation includes my hypothesis formulated before I carried out the experiment, background information on the experiment, description of methodology, results, and my conclusions.
Surface/Subsurface Soil Contamination Levels and Past Uses of Recreational Parks in Buffalo, New York
Dylan Putnam and Nicolo Alagna
Dylan Putnam and Nicolo Alagna, GES 460: / 529: Environmental Field Methods and Analysis
Faculty Mentor: Professor Elisa Bergslien, Earth Sciences and Science Education
For this project, publicly available surface/subsurface soil sample analyses from different recreational parks throughout Buffalo were looked at to determine the different contaminants within the soil and compare the parks to each other. All parks had been previously exposed to contaminants and comparisons were made between the parks to see which sites were safest, which sites had gotten better, and if any sites had gotten worse. The selected parks that were fit best for comparison were Franczyk Park, Trinidad Park, Boone Park, Diarsenol Co., Kingsley Park, and Houghton Park. These parks were all registered under the Environmental Restoration Program, are all in residential/commercial areas, and all had previous uses. The contaminants of highest concern are those known to have an impact on human health such as arsenic, lead, chromium, and copper. The available data will then be compiled into graphs and compared to historic Redlining Maps created by the agents of the federal government’s Home Owners’ Loan Corporation between 1935 and 1940 in order to determine if there is a relationship between the soil quality of the parks and the classification of the surrounding neighborhoods, with the prediction that the most contaminated parks will be associated with a lower assigned neighborhood ‘quality’ grade.
Mahmuda Rahman, Gregory O'Brien, Christa Baker, and Victoire Grace-Karambizi
Mahmuda Rahman, Chemistry, Gregory O'Brien, Independent Study, Christa Baker, Chemistry and Victoire G Karambizi, Biology
Faculty Mentor: Professor Sujit Suwal, Chemistry
Buchwald–Hartwig amination (BHA) is the palladium-catalyzed coupling of amines and aryl halides. The synthetic utility of BHA stems primarily due to the shortcomings of other aromatic C-N bond formation methods, that often suffer limited substrate scope and functional group tolerance. BHA is widely used in organic synthesis to create a variety of molecules that have medicinal and pharmaceutical essence. In this prospect, we explored BHA towards restructuring several heterocyclic halides into highly functionalized amino acid surrogates that could fuel syntheses of novel peptidomimetics having better pharmaceutical indices. Most importantly, these building blocks allow us to design conformationally constraint oligomers that are cell-permeable, proteolytically stable and potentially offer high-affinity protein ligands. To date, we are successful in synthesizing more than a dozen amino acid surrogates. Currently, we are optimizing solid phase syntheses of hybrid peptides/peptoids that contain surrogate amino acids. Also, we are exploring the MS-based sequencing method that can deconvolute subunits within the oligomers.
Sheana Ramcharan, ANT 322: Research Methods in Primatology
Faculty Mentor: Professor Julie Wieczkowski, Anthropology
For primates in captivity, it is important to maintain natural social organization, which meets the social needs of the animals and can keep them healthy, as they are no longer in their natural environment. Leontopithecus rosalia (golden lion tamarin) are monogamous primates. In golden lion tamarins, studies have found that the males are more responsible for maintaining proximity to the female and for grooming the females more often. I studied a pair-bonded couple of golden lion tamarins in the Eco-station exhibit at the Buffalo Zoo in order to understand the roles that grooming and proximity play in their monogamous relationship. Thirty-minute focal animal samples were used to record proximity, and behavior every one-minute and 10-minute all occurrences samples were used to record approaching and leaving events. Results indicated that the adult male, Lua, groomed the adult female, Matea, more often (72.4 % of the time) than she groomed him. The results also reflected that Lua was more responsible for maintaining proximity to Matea (+36 on the Hinde Index scale). This knowledge of the relationship between the male and female golden lion tamarins is useful for maintaining their health while in captivity. By understanding how and why the male is more responsible for the relationship between the pair-bonded tamarins, we can place them in suitable environments that meets the needs of them being in proximity and grooming.
Kalina Rice, BIO 498: Honors Research
Faculty Mentors: Professor Derek Beahm, Biology and Professor Stephen Thompson, Biology
Cells actively regulate their volume to maintain normal function. Osmotic challenges will cause net water movement across the plasma membrane such that cells swell in hypotonic solutions and shrink in hypertonic solutions. Cells respond to volume changes by activating different channels and transporters to move ions and small molecules across the membrane to restore normal volume. We show that cell swelling under reduced external calcium conditions increases the membrane permeability to a small fluorescent molecule, Lucifer Yellow, in Normal Rat Kidney (NRK) cells. Fluorescence microscopy was used to show that Lucifer Yellow is excluded by cells in normal isotonic conditions but enters cells in hypotonic solutions. This swelling induced dye uptake is shown to be calcium sensitive, and only occurs under reduced external calcium levels. There are several different types of channels that could account for the transfer of Lucifer Yellow, including connexin and pannexin hemichannels formed by gap junction proteins and/or volume-regulated anion channels (VRACs). A pharmacological approach was used to help identify the channel by assaying dye uptake in the absence or presence of drugs known to block certain classes of channels. Preliminary data shows that probenecid, a drug thought to be effective in blocking pannexin channels but not connexin channels, did not block dye uptake whereas drugs used to block hemichannels, such as carbenoxolone and oleamide, do block the dye uptake. However, these drugs may also affect VRACs and so further testing using a larger panel of drugs will be needed to help identify the channel responsible for swelling-induced dye uptake in NRK cells.
Viviana Angeles Ruiz
Viviana Angeles Ruiz, ANT 418: Seminar in Physical Anthropology
Faculty Mentor: Professor Julie Wieczkowski, Anthropology
Previous studies have been conducted on longevity and survival rates. In the United States, it was found that black foreign-born males were expected to have the longest life expectancy at 18.73 years after the age 65 (Dupre, Gu, & Vaupel, 2012). Based on these results in males above the age of 65, I asked the question if there would be a similar discrepancy between foreign-born and native-born individuals aged 20-65. My research took a look at age at death in foreign-born and native-born male individuals aged 20-65 who are buried at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo, New York. I hypothesized that male individuals buried at the cemetery who are foreign-born would have a higher mean age at death than native-born individuals. Data was collected at the Margaret L. Wendt Archive and Resource Center. A total of 100 records that met my criteria were collected from the years 1895-1900 from Death Register E with dates from 1894-1902. The individual’s name, place of birth, date of death and age at death were recorded. As a result, the mean age at death for foreign-born male individuals was 53.9 (range=25-67; SD=10.2). The mean age at death for native-born males was 37.4 (range=20-65; SD=12.4). Furthermore, place of birth had a large effect on age at death of the individuals. In conclusion, foreign-born male individuals between the ages of 20 to 65 had a higher mean age at death than native-born male individuals from 1895-1900.
Kelly Strong, ANT 322: Research Methods in Primatology
Faculty Mentor: Professor Julie Wieczkowski, Anthropology
Western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) have slower life histories compared to other animals. Life history traits are flexible and can vary depending on factors such as resource availability. For this reason, captivity has a significant impact on developmental milestones like weaning and age at first reproduction. Understanding this influence on life history is key to identifying significant developmental stages, such as when a juvenile becomes a subadult. Mother-offspring relationships change drastically, particularly regarding proximity, as the offspring grows up and transitions between age classes. This study examines gorilla offspring at the Buffalo Zoo and their proximity relationships with their mothers. Additionally, this study investigates the different behaviors that gorilla offspring engage in and how this might change depending on their age and company. I observed three gorilla offspring in different age classes in order to further understand their proximity relationships with their mothers. The offspring are the subadult Amari, the juvenile Nyah and the nursing infant Kayin. They are nine, six and three years old, respectively. Data was collected using a 30-minute focal animal sample, followed by a 10-minute ad lib/break. My results show that Kayin spent the most time in proximity to his mother and Amari spent the least time in proximity to her mother. For the greatest percentage of time, Amari did not have a nearest neighbor. Kayin's nearest neighbor was usually his mother. Kayin also engaged in the widest variety of behaviors while in proximity to his mother and Amari engaged in the least.
Lila Toczek; Brianna Gawronski; and Michael Ciepluch, Jr.
Lila Toczek, Brianna Gawronski and Michael Ciepluch, Jr., BIO 495: Special Project-SUMO Chain Signals
Faculty Mentor: Professor Xiang-Dong Zhang, Biology
Small ubiquitin-related modifier proteins (SUMOs) are reversibly conjugated to various protein substrates and regulate many different cellular processes including DNA damage repair, ubiquitin-dependent proteolysis, and the cell cycle progression. SUMOylation represents an essential mechanism in control of target proteins’ activity, stability, and interaction with other protein molecules. Among three SUMO paralogs expressed in mammalian cells, SUMO2 and SUMO3 are 96% identical (thereby referred as SUMO2/3), but their identity to SUMO-1 is less than 50%. In contrast to modification of protein targets largely by monomeric SUMO1 in vivo, SUMO2/3 are attached to protein targets in forms of both monomeric SUMO2/3 and polymeric SUMO2/3 chains. Although SUMO2/3-specific antibodies are able to detect both monomeric SUMO2/3 and polymeric SUMO2/3 chain signals, rather than SUMO1 signals, on their target proteins using immunofluorescence microcopy, no approach is currently available to monitor the polymeric SUMO2/3 chain signals in vivo. Here, we developed a novel approach for analyzing polymeric SUMO2/3 chain signals by transfecting cells with the DNA construct encoding GFP-tagged four tandem SUMO-interacting motifs (SIMs), which display a specific high-binding affinity to polymeric SUMO2/3 chain signals, instead of monomeric SUMO-2/3 signals, followed by analysis of the transfected cells using immunofluorescence microscopy. We demonstrated that GFP-SIMs detects polymeric SUMO2/3 chain signals largely concentrated at the midbody of the intercellular bridge in cytokinetic cells with a defect in resolution of the chromosome bridge. Particularly, we elucidated that the polymeric SUMO2/3 chain signals are present in the central section of the midbody, called Flemming body, using the antibodies specifically recognizing the different midbody proteins, including ANCHR, Vps4, Aurora B kinase, phosphorylated Aurora B kinase at Threonine 232, and Plk1 kinase.
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