2021 Program

37th Annual Diebold Symposium
May 1, 5, and 12, 2021

Student Presentations Schedule

Link to condensed schedule

Saturday, May 1, 2021

POSTER SESSIONS, Anderson Athletic Center, 1:00-4:00 PM

Opening Remarks

1:00-1:10 PM

Poster Session 1, 1:10-2:15 PM


Brooklyn Avery

Determining the Correlation between Optic Nerve Head Neuroretinal Rim Area and Retinal Functioning for Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma in Dogs with an ADAMTS10 Gene Mutation

Brooklyn D. Avery (Adv:  Dr. András Komáromy and Christine Harman) Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48823.

Glaucoma is one of the leadings causes of irreversible blindness worldwide and can be characterized by damage to the optic nerve, causing increased intraocular pressure and loss of retinal ganglion cells, resulting in a decrease in structural integrity and visual functioning. While open-angle glaucoma is well defined, it is unclear how the degradation of structural and function parameters influence each other as the disease progresses. Primary open-angle glaucoma in dogs is a type of inherited glaucoma. A glycine to arginine substitution in the ADAMTS10 gene in beagles is an autosomal recessive mutation and has been linked to the development of primary open-angle glaucoma. In this study, members of an ADAMTS10 mutant beagle colony at Michigan State University underwent optical coherence tomography imaging to measure changes in the neuroretinal rim area as a structural parameter to track progression of glaucoma. Dogs also underwent electroretinography recording to measure the changes in 10 functional parameters of the eye as glaucoma progressed. Using R, a repeated measurement correlation technique was used to determine the correlation between changes in neuroretinal rim area and age, changes in the 10 functional parameters and age, and changes in neuroretinal rim area and changes in the 10 functional parameters. Almost all structural and functional parameters showed a significant correlation with the other measured variables. These results led us to conclude that there is a significant correlation between changes in structural parameters and functional parameters as glaucoma progresses. Due to this pattern in our results, these measurements were determined to be good parameters to indicate significant changes for early detection of primary-open angle glaucoma in dogs with an ADAMTS10 mutation.

Zachary Brazil & Jake Osen

Using Citizen Science to Record Deer Populations In Kalamazoo Michigan Neighborhoods

Jake Osen and Zach Brazil (Adv: Jen Meilinger) Kalamazoo Nature Center, MI, 49009

Deer overabundance has become an issue in many urban areas across the country and in many cities across the state of Michigan. However, getting estimates of the population in urban areas is difficult as there is so much private property. Citizen science is an excellent way to get population estimates in these urban areas as you can enlist the people of the area you are in to help you with your observations. In this study, we had citizens of the Kalamazoo neighborhoods help us in obtaining data. Using images captured by citizens, we analyzed different aspects that could have affected this project, whether it was on what affects participation in a citizen science project, such as socioeconomic status, or what is affecting the deer population, such as location to a body of water.  When analyzing the data, one neighborhood had the majority of observations with over 40, and the next closest only had six observations. The neighborhood that had the most observations also has the highest socioeconomic status out of the twelve different neighborhoods that participated in the study and the closest neighborhood to one of the massive green spaces in Kalamazoo. Looking into future citizen science projects, it is crucial to ensure that participation is spread evenly between all socioeconomic groups and demographics so that the data obtained represents all areas of where the study is taking place. 

Isabelle Clark

Young, Hungry, & Ill: The Effect of COVID-19 and Food Insecurity on Children in Michigan

Isabelle Clark (Adv: Alison Geist) Community & Global Health Department, Kalamazoo College, MI, 49006. 

As of December 2020, Covid-19 has led to over 1.8 million deaths worldwide, increased health issues, and a decrease in general wellbeing. As it continues to devastate the world, it highlights existing health disparities. Some of the effects are directly due to the virus, while others are an indirect consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic, such as hunger, decreased mental health, and increased unemployment. While the impact is widespread, these indirect effects take a serious toll on low-income families and those that already face inequities. Even more significant is the impact of the pandemic on the children in these low-income families. The pandemic has dramatically increased food insecurity among families with children in Michigan. With access to quality food being a vital part of a child’s health and development, there is a risk of serious indirect effects of the pandemic. Response measures such as stay-at-home mandates, social distancing, and food hoarding can reduce a child’s access to sufficient and nutritious food. While community food assistance programs and state and national governments are responding in innovative ways, public health officials continue to see an increase in child hunger in Michigan during 2020 and 2021. As the pandemic progresses, an extensive and inclusive policy response is imperative. 

Taylor Ferguson

Comparison of pain levels and surgery time for all arthroscopic rotator cuff repair vs. a true mini open rotator cuff repair

Taylor Ferguson (Adv: Dr. Joseph Burkhardt, D.O.) Bronson Orthopedic Specialists, Battle Creek, MI 49015

As surgical techniques advance and further develop in today’s medical world, it is important to evaluate and compare methods of operation. These evaluations can indicate which surgical techniques are more suitable for shorter surgery times, quicker recovery, and less risk of infection. A rotator cuff repair (RCR) can be performed in a few ways. Two surgical techniques that are compared in this analysis are the true mini open (MO) RCR and the all arthroscopic (AA) RCR. A true mini open RCR uses an arthroscopy to determine the injury and debride any loose cartilage; next, an incision in the shoulder is made to repair the tear. The all arthroscopic technique makes very small incisions in the shoulder to insert a camera and surgical instruments which repair the tear without opening the shoulder up. It is presumed that an all arthroscopic repair would be preferable since it is the least invasive procedure to repair a tear. However, based off data collection from many cases, surgery times for a true mini open are on average shorter than those of an all arthroscopic. The difference in means for surgery time demonstrated a statistically significant p value. This conclusion allows for the plausibility that a technique with shorter surgery times will have less risk of infection, shorter recovery time, and provides a more economical option for surgery centers/hospitals. Another finding was that the average pain score last taken from each patient was slightly lower with the true mini open RCR. Though the difference in means wasn’t statistically significant, it was very close to being considered significant. Further research with a larger sample size might bring more significant results and statistical significance.

Allison Frey

Using Point Arrays to Further Analyze the Human Adenovirus Penton base and Fiber Interaction in an Oncolytic Context ; Physical Virology, Adenovirus, Ocolytic Virology, Oncology, Point Arrays

Allison Frey (Adv: Physical Virology/Dr. David Wilson) Department, Kalamazoo College, MI, 49006

Oncolytic virology is a relatively new field in the fight against cancer and has consistently shown promising results in reducing tumor sizes while maintaining low toxicity. Viruses can be genetically engineered for oncolytic properties or physically engineered through their protein capsid in order to improve target specificity. Human Adenovirus (Ad) is particularly appealing in this field due to its rather simplistic form of targeting. Furthermore, it has long fiber protrusions (~350 Å depending on the serotype) used for cell attachment; the fiber knob and shaft can be altered and/or substituted with the desired targeting protein best suited for tumor cells. Because the fiber is essential to Ad’s oncolytic properties, it is important to study its relationship to the capsid. Previous studies point to a structural change in the capsid when the fiber is bound (30), while other research has not been conclusive to how the fiber is attached. Through the use of affine extensions (22) and previous work relating point arrays with biological implications (24), the Ad capsid was analyzed with best fit point arrays in order to find a correlation with gauge points and possible attachment points of the Ad fiber. The pT25 and T1 had best fits of  .5φ’ICO2 and IDD5, respectively. Some gauge points aligned with important structural components on the Ad penton, however, there were no overwhelming patterns of gauge points and penton protrusion relationships. While rather inconclusive, it is important to further study the physical virology of Ad fiber/base interactions in order to improve its understanding and use in oncolytic virology.

Anna Gambetta

Re-Evaluating Ecotoxicology with Thermal Fluctuations

Anna M. Gambetta (Adv:  Dr. Santiago Salinas) Kalamazoo College Department of Biology, Kalamazoo College, Kalamazoo, MI 49006.

Since the industrial revolution, humans have introduced a substantial amount of greenhouse gases and other pollutants to the natural environment. These stressors are especially challenging to ectotherms, which are often highly susceptible to fluctuations in temperature. Ectotherms in the wild coping with one environmental stressor may have a diminished ability to cope with additional ones. Therefore, regulatory agencies seeking to determine acceptable concentrations of potentially harmful substances may need to alter the way in which ecotoxicological studies are performed. By challenging model species with multiple stressors at once, scientists may be able to generate ecotoxicological data that better reflect organisms’ energetic trade-offs. This study seeks to determine if exposure to a ubiquitous environmental stressor (i.e. thermal fluctuations) alters an organism’s susceptibility to a chemical pollutant. We exposed Pimephales promelas embryos reared under three temperature regimes (constant 25°C, daily fluctuations between 22 and 28°C, and 19° to 31°C fluctuations) to varying concentrations of vanadium pentoxide (V2O5), a largely unregulated industrial chemical. We quantified the interrelationship between stressors and rates of growth, survival, and incidence of scoliosis across all experimental treatments using general linear mixed modelling. During acute exposure, fluctuating temperatures and vanadium pentoxide worked individually and cooperatively to reduce survival, while only fluctuating temperatures altered growth outcomes. Further experimentation will be needed to ascertain the full scope of vanadium pentoxide’s effects.

ReiHam Gundy, Maddison Goodman, Merritt Hamann, & Garrett Guglielmetti

Student Perspective on Kalamazoo College Biology Program

The goal of this poster and poster presentation is ultimately to take the first steps into creating a better and more comprehensive biology composition exam and also to create a more easily understood biology major, “easily understood” being a specific term. This understanding means more knowledge in the requirements to graduate and also more knowledge in a class-to-class basis of information. For example, understanding cellular biology and evolution when starting a microbiology course. The data for this poster draws from a survey created by ourselves and our peers. As the survey works as purely the participant’s opinion, it is important to note that opinions vary from person to person. Though this is true, the trends observed are valid through a similar “opinion of the people” ideology, where the population observed is the biology majors who have gone through and are nearing the end of or are potentially in the middle of the biology major program at Kalamazoo College. We intend to incorporate possible action plans for these areas of improvement laid out by the results of this survey by looking into biology programs at other similar academically rigorous colleges/universities. Overall we just hope to encourage better understanding for all students involved in the biology major at Kalamazoo College in regard to what is required and expected from them in terms of the career they have in mind. In doing so, we also hope to better the understanding for the biology professors and staff as to how to best support students at this stage in their lives and what academic catalogue best suits the needs of a majority of our students.

Megan Heft

Parental Absence Primes Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis Activity In Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor) Nestlings

Megan Heft (Adv: Dr. Stephen Ferguson) University of Kentucky North Farm, KY, 40506.

Stress responses serve to enhance fitness by allowing individuals to deal with diverse stressors like predator attacks or food shortages. Stressors are not all equivalent in intensity or duration, and though the physiological responses to different events often overlap, the context in which stress is experienced can change the degree or duration of a given response. We conducted behavioral research on nestling tree swallows (Tachycineta bicolor) to establish average levels of parental attendance and to determine whether parental attendance (social presence) would serve as a predictor of baseline corticosterone (CORT) for nestlings. In order to determine whether parental attendance acts as a “social buffer” on nestling CORT responses, we conducted a series of parental exclusions from nest boxes before subjecting nestlings to a capture-restraint protocol. Initial CORT concentrations were elevated in our long exclusion group compared to baseline CORT in controls. Within stress-induced samples, CORT in parentally-restricted nestlings was also elevated, which suggests that the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis was primed, if not activated, by the exclusions. Parental attendance thus appears to exhibit both “social presence” and social buffering effects. We found no significant correlations between parental behaviors and nestling baseline CORT. Overall, our results suggest that both social presence and social buffering act as a proximate mechanism in the regulation of circulating CORT in nestlings.

Sandra Lizarraga

Elucidating the Behavioral Response of a Pestiferous Stored Product Insect to Microbially-Mediated Volatile Emissions in Grain

Sandra Lizarraga (Adv: Dr. William R. Morrison and Marco A. Ponce) USD-ARS Center for Grain and Animal Health Research, Manhattan, KS 66502. 

Microbes are one of the most dominant organisms on the planet. Interactions between microbes and insects are important for a range of taxa, with emissions by microbes used for mating, foraging, and dispersal by insects. Although some research has investigated the interactions among stored product insects and microbes, very little research has examined how specific fungal life stages affect the behavior of Sitophilus oryzae (the rice weevil). Additional knowledge about attraction to microbially-produced volatile organic compounds (MVOCs) may be used in integrated pest management tactics to manipulate insect behavior. Our goals were to 1) isolate, culture, and identify two fungal life stages, 2) characterize the volatile emissions from grain inoculated by each fungal morphotype, and 3) understand how MVOCs from each fungal morphotype affect foraging, attraction, and preference by S. oryzae. To accomplish this, we collected headspace to identify the compounds emitted from two fungal life stages and then sequenced each morphotype to make species identifications. Next, we conducted four different experimental assays in order to test different aspects of S. oryzae behavior including preference (e.g., 4-way still air olfactometer), close-range foraging decision (video-tracking coupled with Ethovision software), and long-distance attraction (release-recapture assay). We found that each morphotype corresponds to the asexual stage of Aspergillus flavus and the sexual stage of A. flavus and the MVOCs emitted by each were considered unique. Our results suggest that at close-range, MVOC emissions by A. flavus can affect foraging decisions of S. oryzae. Overall, our research proposes that MVOCs may have potential for inclusion in behaviorally based tactics.

Nikoli Nickson

The efficacy of the Southwest Michigan Bee Watch citizen science program and the assessment of landscape in determining bumble bee diversity

Nikoli M. Nickson (Adv: Dr. Ann Fraser) Biology Department, Kalamazoo College, MI, 49006.

Bumble bees are experiencing population declines at regional, national, and global scales. Confronting these trends requires the employment of conservation efforts; however, conservation efforts cannot be enacted without first understanding regional populations through documentation. Citizen science is a method wherein researchers recruit volunteers to aid in the collection of data, thereby expanding the range of data collection while maintaining the same seasonal timeframe. We established a citizen science project, Southwest Michigan Bee Watch, to better understand the species diversity and abundance of bumble bees in Southwest Michigan. The scope of this research is three-fold: in this study we (1) recruited volunteers and analyzed our recruitment efforts; (2) tested the efficacy and accuracy of citizen science against traditional field surveys; and (3) examined the relationship between landscape composition and bumble bee species diversity/abundance in a set of managed properties. Using a Shannon Index to compare the efficacy of citizen science against traditional field surveys, citizen science documented a greater number of bumble bee species than its counterpart. Landscape within and surrounding a public preserve was found to play no role in determining the number of bumble bee species observed; the location of each property, however, was related to the number of species observed. Taken together, these results provide evidence that citizen science is an effective tool for monitoring bumble bee population compositions in Southwest Michigan and can be used to document these populations in future seasons.

Helen Pelak

U.S. Rate of Cesarean Surgery: Medicalization of Childbirth as a Discursive Formation through the Frameworks of Intersectionality and Reproductive Justice

Helen Pelak (Adv: Dr Anne Marie Butler) Women, Gender, and Sexuality, Kalamazoo College, MI, 49006.

Cesarean surgery (c-surgery) is the most common operating room procedure in the United States. The World Health Organization (WHO) suggests an ideal national c-surgery rate between 10 and 15% (WHO, 2015). In 2018, the United States experienced a c-surgery rate of 31.9%. Of the women who delivered via c-surgery, 21.7% were primary c-surgeries, or the percentage of c-surgeries conducted on pregnant women for the first time (CDC, 2019). Such findings indicate the overuse of c-surgery in the United States. C-surgery is a major abdominal operation that incurs serious risks for both mother and child. Three of the six leading causes of maternal mortality are associated with cesareans: hemorrhage, complications of anesthesia and infection. Furthermore, c-surgery may influence the well-being of subsequent pregnancies. Keag et al. (2018) found that women who had a c-surgery were 17% more likely to have a miscarriage and 27% more likely to experience a stillbirth in subsequent pregnancies. Thus, the overuse of c-surgery motivates analysis from feminist and medical communities as to the factors that contribute to a medically unnecessary c-surgery. The purpose of this paper is to assess the United States rate of c-surgery through the frameworks of Reproductive Justice and Intersectionality. This paper argues that the overuse of c-surgery is influenced in part by principles of Evidence-Based Medicine and defensive medicine. In the evaluation of Evidence-Based Medicine and defensive medicine as factors that contribute to the overuse of c-surgery, the medicalized model of childbirth is understood through Foucault’s notion of a discourse.

Hannah Shiner

Kalamazoo College Proposed Tree Enhancement Project

Hannah M. Shiner (Adv: Dr. Sara Tanis) Kalamazoo College, Kalamazoo, MI 49006.

This study proposes the addition of 25 trees to the Kalamazoo College campus in Kalamazoo, MI, USA. Kalamazoo College is located in an urban space and currently has 1315 trees. The goal of adding trees to Kalamazoo College was to increase tree biodiversity. Increased biodiversity can improve overall ecosystem services and reduce the potential risk of pest or disease attack. Kalamazoo College was surveyed, and locations were selected based on their proximity and orientation to buildings (North, South, West, East) as well as potential space for growth. Space was favored if there was ample space for more than one tree. Proposed tree species were selected for a location based on the characteristics of the ecosystem. Trees were placed in order to attempt to maximize ecosystem services such as carbon sequestration, temperature mediation and stormwater runoff mediation. iDesign® was used to calculate the potential ecosystem services for the proposed trees. Coordinates for each proposed tree were entered into iDesign® to calculate the ecosystem services. iTree® Eco was used to calculate current campus ecosystem services with data from a previous study (Singh 2019). Current campus data was used to show the pest potential on campus and current species richness. The economic and environmental benefits of the proposed trees is outlined with the hopes of planting these trees on campus.

Grace Stier

Midwifery Past and Present: A comprehensive look at midwifery in Germany and the United States

Grace Stier (Adv:) Kalamazoo College, Kalamazoo, MI 49006.

The role and view of midwives has been molded and altered through the thousands of years of known history of this career. This work will begin by focusing on European and especially German history, looking at the regulation of midwifery and the unique opportunity it afforded women in a time when they did not have many rights. Moving into the Industrial Revolution, the effects of medical advances and expansion of hospitals on the midwife’s ability to practice their career will be discussed. At this point Germany and the United States underwent similar periods of industrialization, accompanied by leaps in the medical field, however they contrasted greatly with the handling of midwives in their respective hospitals. Jumping forward, we will discuss the role of the midwife in the National Socialist Period and the lingering effects of legislature passed during this period. The final section of this paper will focus on midwifery in Germany and the United States today. Weaving in interviews that I conducted during my Praktikum in Germany and with a midwife in the United States, the modern birth system in both countries will be critically examined, looking at the effectiveness of practices and downfalls of the system, with the goal of looking at possible solutions to ensure that the health and safety of the mother and child can be maintained.

Brianna Taylor

Validation of a Phencyclidine Oral Fluid Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assay Methodology

Brianna Taylor (Adv: Falon Markow) Screening Laboratory, Forensic Fluid Laboratories, Michigan, 49007.

Determining methodology for a procedure that can not only accomplish scientific correctness, but that can also meet industry specific demands, is key to accomplishing effective commercial science. Depending on the demands of individual laboratories in the drug testing industry, efficiency can be a major factor in choice of methodology. This study investigates if current methodology utilized at Forensic Fluid Laboratories (FFL), a commercial laboratory mainly specializing in oral fluid drug testing, can be applied to a different vendor’s enzyme linked immunosorbent assay plate than currently is in use, while still producing accurate results. This study is a validation of an OraSure ELISA phencyclidine (PCP) assay which detects PCP, an illegal hallucinogenic drug, in oral fluid. This motivation for this study is that the OraSure ELISA would be more cost effective than the current vendor. The goal was to determine if the new vendor could reach the laboratory standards for the two characteristics of validation being measured, precision and limit of detection. Precision was measured through a five day validation process to assess variation. Limit of detection was measured by testing previously confirmed positives. It was determined that the manufacturers prescribed method is precise enough to pass this laboratories standards; however, the current standard methodology could not be applied to the OraSure ELISA effectively. Due to the fact that the standard methodology used by FFL could not be applied to the OraSure PCP ELISA, the cost efficiency was determined to be insignificant when considering the additional time and possible errors that could occur if this assay were to be used in production. Therefore, the OraSure PCP ELISA was not implemented at Forensic Fluid Laboratories.




Poster Session 2, 2:35-3:40 PM

Alejandro Aguirre & Kelson Perez

Vegetation and Tree Survey of a Brownfield Site Inhabited by Unhoused People in East Kalamazoo

Kelson Perez, Alejandro Aguirre (Adv: Dr. Binney Girdler, PhD) Kalamazoo College, Kalamazoo, MI, 49006.

A brownfield located in the Eastside of Kalamazoo known as the Riverview Eastside Site (RES) is the former site of a coal ash dumping site and the current home for dozens of unhoused people. The property has been selected for the future site of the Riverview Wellness Park by a local community organization but needs to know what is there now and what remedial action must be undertaken to restore it. To help address the current state of the property, we performed a vegetation survey of the flora currently growing on the property. Over 151 sampling sites, the percent coverage of forbs, woody, woody vine, and grass species as well as percent coverage of litter and bare ground was mapped across the RES. We also performed a tree survey along the riverbank along the western border of the RES. The location of plants that are would cause irritation to humans if touched were recorded. Of the 49 different plant species we identified across the entirety of the property, at least two are potential phytoremediators, though only of these is a native species. The data collected from the sample sites categorize the sampled area as a field due to the lack of canopy coverage and strong presence of grasses and forbs.

Tyler Allyn-White

Your Role in Bird Conservation

Tyler Allyn-White (Adv:  Dr. Sharon Gill) Department of Biological Sciences, Western Michigan University, MI, 49008.

Birds are critical to the infrastructure of many ecosystems. They comprise large components of food webs, actively disperse seeds, pollinate, modulate insect populations, and contribute countless other benefits to ecosystems. Furthermore, they serve as excellent indicator species for the health of ecosystems and effects of climate change. Despite conservation and management efforts, populations are decreasing at an alarming rate. North American avifauna has experienced a net loss of almost one third of its 1970 abundance (about three billion birds lost). Declining species are not simply limited to specialists. Many common habitat generalists and introduced species are also declining, indicating a serious threat to all birds. This review serves to direct attention to our role in bird conservation and identify opportunities to contribute. Organizing and participating in citizen science programs and volunteer activities can help various aspects of conservation. We should start to view our own private land and gardens as opportunities to protect and restore biodiversity. Educating and supporting farmers could help curtail losses due to agriculture, one of the biggest threats contributing to the present decline. Countless species, not only birds will benefit from our efforts which are becoming more and more necessary before it becomes too late.

Nicole Bailey

Variation in Bumble Bee Foraging Preferences by Flower Characteristics in Southwest Michigan

Nicole I. Bailey (Adv: Dr. Ann Fraser) Kalamazoo College, Kalamazoo, MI, 49006.

Bumble bee populations are declining around the globe, and one of the largest threats to their existence is habitat loss. Agricultural intensification and urbanization limit nesting sites and reduce the abundance of high-quality forage plants available. Potential ways to improve bumble bee populations include protecting semi-natural habitats and creating urban areas of high floral abundance. This study explored the floral diversity and abundance of 11 managed wildlife conservation properties in Southwest Michigan and found 157 unique flower species, useful as a baseline of foraging resources available to bumble bees. Flower-bumble bee interaction surveys were conducted in nine of the properties, and they displayed differences in bumble bee flower interactions depending on the flower species, family, origin of flower species and flower shape. The three bumble bee-plant survey methods revealed that bumble bees preferred irregularly shaped native flowers in the Fabaceae and Lamiaceae families. Analysis of citizen science submissions found that backyard gardens and ornamental plants also provided productive floral resources for bumble bees in urban environments. Predicting which flowers will attract bumble bees is an important tool for conservation, and these results are useful for the future land management practices of nature preserves and urban environments alike.

Sela Damer-Daigle

Verification and Characterization of Copine D Mutants in Dictyostelium

Sela Damer-Daigle (Adv:  Dr.Cynthia Damer) Biology Department, Central Michigan University, MI, 48858

To develop more specific and effective cancer therapeutics, scientists are studying copines. Copines are a novel class of calcium-dependent phospholipid-binding proteins called copines. Copines have been implicated in several different types of human cancers, including leukemia, lung cancer, and breast cancer. The Damer lab at Central Michigan University is using the ameboid protozoan Dictyostelium discoideum to study copines. Dictyostelium has six different copine genes, cpnA to cpnF, and is a good model organism for studying fundamental cellular processes. The Damer lab is focused on determining the function of all six copines; most of the research has been focused on CpnA. My research focused on CpnD. My research aimed to 1) verify our mutant and control cpnD cell lines and 2) characterize the mutant phenotype. We were able to verify our cell lines with PCR and begin the characterization of the phenotype of the cpnD mutants using different growth and development assays and observing the Dictyostelium. Our results indicate that CpnD plays a role in cytokinesis, cell adhesion, and development of Dictyostelium. When compared to cpnA- cellsthe cpnD mutant cells had opposite phenotypes. cpnD mutant cells have decreased adhesion and precocious development, while cpnA- cells have increased adhesion and delays in development. After characterizing the mutant phenotype for all six copine genes, we will have a better understanding of the roles copines play in cellular functions. This will improve theories about how copines interact with cancer.

Alexa Dulmage

An analysis of bee diversity and sampling techniques in southwestern Michigan

Alexa Dulmage (Adv: Dr. Ann Fraser) Department of Biology, Kalamazoo College, Michigan, 49006.

As one of the most important pollinators in the world, wild bees are critical for maintaining ecosystems. However, wild bee populations have been declining due to threats such as habitat fragmentation, chemical pollution, decreased floral resource availability, disease, and climate change. In order to better understand the conservation needs of wild bees, long-term trends in diversity must be monitored. The techniques utilized in wild bee monitoring are still being studied, as there are biases and limitations associated with all sampling methods. Dr. Ann Fraser’s lab at Kalamazoo College has been monitoring wild bee populations in southwestern Michigan over the past twelve years. This study analyzed data collected during years in which regular sampling took place to understand changes in regional wild bee diversity in regard to time, location, and sampling method. Sampling took place at a range of locations within the region, including Kalamazoo College campus, Lillian Anderson Arboretum, Pierce Cedar Creek Institute, Sand Creek Preserve, Augusta Floodplain Forest, and Chipman Preserve. Multiple sampling methods were employed throughout the duration of the project, including bee bowls, blue vane traps, and netting. We found that genus composition and count varied annually, and that genera count decreased in August of every year. We also found biases for certain taxa in both bee bowls and blue vane traps, emphasizing the need for the utilization of multiple sampling methods in future long-term monitoring projects to accurately assess wild bee diversity and abundance. Variations in genus composition and count were observed between sites in 2018, suggesting that it may be beneficial to use a variety of sampling sites that consist of habitats that are representative of the southwestern Michigan environment.

Stanton Greenstone

Broad-Scale Identification of white Matter Proteins and their Differential Expression in CADASIL

Stanton Greenstone (Dr. Michael Wang, M.D., Ph.D) Department of Veterans Affairs Healthcare System, MI, 48103.

Vascular dementia (VaD) is the second most common form of dementia globally. While the causes of VaD are often heterogeneous, cerebral small vessel disease (SVD) is among the most prevalent. A large portion of SVD cases arise due to cerebral autosomal dominant arteriopathy with subcortical infarcts and leukoencephalopathy (CADASIL), an inherited disorder that leads to chronic ischemic episodes which invariably occur in subcortical white matter. Although the underlying mechanisms of CADASIL pathology have been well documented, very little has been studied regarding the protein expression profile in the white matter of CADASIL patients. In our study, a team of researchers screened a large protein database to identify a novel cohort of white matter-specific proteins. From this, we selected three proteins (MAG, CACNA1A, RNF6) and, through an immunohistochemical analysis, evaluated their presence in CADASIL brains compared to controls. Though we did not see a quantitative difference in protein presence within the white matter in CADASIL versus control brains, we did observe significant protein presence in the cerebral cortex (gray matter) of CADASIL patients, with little to none in controls. Although it is difficult to determine the cause of this, the accumulation of proteins in the cortex being a hallmark of a number of neurodegenerative disorders led us to hypothesize that this was likely a deposition of white matter proteins. Ultimately, this may point to a more general malfunction of important homeostatic functions in the brain and the growing overlap between the pathological processes of neurotoxic-mediated neurodegeneration and those of vascular origin.

Emily Hamel

A Proposal for a Native-Plant Based Pollinator Garden on Kalamazoo College’s Campus

Emily Hamel (Dr. Connie Crancer) Biology Department, Kalamazoo College, Michigan, 49006. 

We are living through the 6th mass extinction, as species everywhere battle habitat loss and climate change. As the world has become urbanized, natural areas have been reduced to fragments of their original sizes. Culturally, nature is imagined to be thriving outside of cities, when in fact most rural areas have been converted to vast swathes of farmland. Within cities, most native species have been replaced by exotic ornamental species from Europe and Asia with only consideration for the aesthetic appeal. Many garden plants have escaped from the confines of lawns to become invasive species which are outcompeting native species in the natural areas that remain. Plants are the backbone of the food web, and a decrease in native plants also means a decrease in food for the local wildlife. An effective strategy for helping local wildlife is replacing exotic landscaping plants with native plants. To increase diversity of pollinators on Kalamazoo College’s campus, I am proposing planting a pollinator garden near the hoop house. The garden will provide food for pollinators at different life stages, habitat, water, and protection from pesticides. It will act as part of an educational hub for students interested in sustainability on campus.

Noah Merritt

Together — A Series on Interspecies Relationships

Noah Merritt (Adv: Professor Tom Rice) Studio Art Department, Kalamazoo College, Kalamazoo, MI, 49006

I am a biology student with a particular interest in ecology and conservation. Because of this, I have spent a lot of time thinking about the state of the world; the state of its species. We are in the midst of a mass extinction. I think that it is easy to think about that and become completely devoid of hope. The world is in a troubling state, and it is going to be hard to do anything about it. It will take mass, worldwide change, and a lot of sacrifice. But before that can happen, people need to care. We need to care outside of the scope of utilitarianism. We should care about other species because we share this space with them, and they do not deserve to lose it because of us. The most important connection between us is that we are here together. How amazing it is that we get to be here together? That is where I am coming from with these pieces. I wanted to represent our togetherness and our connection in a weird, super literal way, by creating these chimeras of humans and other species. I created these 8 digital illustrations using an Apple iPad and the program Procreate over the course of 10 weeks in the winter of 2020.

Kelly Nickelson

Susceptibility of Highbush Blueberry Cultivars to Infestation by Drosophila suzukii (Matsumura, 1931) (Diptera: Drosophilidae)

Kelly Nickelson (Adv: Mr. Steve Van Timmeren, M.S.) Entomology Department, Michigan State University, Michigan, 49408. 

Drosophila suzukii, commonly known as the spotted-wing drosophila is an invasive species that has cost American fruit growers millions in harvest damage since it arrived in 2008. Female D. suzukii have a serrated ovipositor that enables them to lay their eggs underneath the skin of ripening thin-skinned fruits, like blueberries. The eggs will then hatch into larvae that mature within the host fruit, leading to its destruction of the berry and significant financial loss for the grower. The objective of this study was to identify what cultivars of blueberries are most susceptible to D. suzukii oviposition and the stages of ripeness that are most vulnerable to D. suzukii oviposition. Utilizing firmness and no-choice testing, this study found that cultivar susceptibility was a condition of both the berry’s current ripeness stage and its cultivar. D. suzukii oviposition occurred at relatively consistent rates once the blueberries gained any form of coloration. However, the developmental rate of D. suzukii eggs into larvae and adult flies was higher in riper berries, indicating that riper berries were more suitable for development. Further studies are needed to provide greater insight into D. suzukii oviposition in highbush blueberry cultivars.  

Jordan Reichenbach

Comparison of Monarch Abundance in Prairies and Roadsides in Kalamazoo, MI

Jordan E. Reichenbach (Adv: Holly Hooper) Kalamazoo Nature Center, Kalamazoo, MI 49006.

For the past two decades, monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) have been declining in population. Conservation efforts need to be made to improve their habitat availability so that their populations can grow again. In order to do this, habitats that the monarchs can live and breed in need to be established. In this study, I looked to find out where the monarchs are located by collecting monarch data at five established prairie habitats and five roadside corridor habitats. I also collected data on habitat quality, milkweed abundance, and pest/predator abundance in order to compare the two different habitats. The resulting data confirmed that monarch abundance was greater in prairies than in roadsides. Conversely, there was no statistically significant correlation between the monarch abundance and either milkweed abundance or pest/predator abundance. Based on the results and conclusions made, it was determined that although roadsides contained less monarchs, if they are managed well in the future, they can still provide a habitat that monarchs can thrive in.

Margaret Roethler

A Study on Ecosystem Health of Kalamazoo via Bird and Arthropod Populations

Margaret Roethler (Adv: Jen Meilinger and Binney Girdler) Kalamazoo Nature Center, Kalamazoo, MI 49009.

The abundance and diversity of arthropods in a habitat can be an indicator of ecosystem health. Additionally, the complexity of plant populations in an area is often a large determinate of how much and what kind of arthropods can be supported there. Arthropods in turn can also be important sources of food for other organisms in an ecosystem. In this study, I looked at the population of arthropods as well as their avian predators using data downloaded from the Caterpillars Count! and eBird citizen science projects. I also established my own survey site to get additional information on arthropod populations in the Kalamazoo area. Using a one-way ANOVA, I analyzed if the average observational counts for each order of arthropods, as well as bird species, saw any change from 2018 to 2020. I found that only two out of six categories of arthropods saw a decline. Additionally, most species of birds saw no change. Overall, while there may be evidence that some arthropod species are declining, there is no evidence that bird species in the area are being affected by this change. 

Danielle Roof

Comprehensive Analysis of The Relationship Between Triangulation Number, Baltimore Classification, Hosts, Point Arrays, and Gauge Points of Each Type of Spherical Virus

Danielle A. Roof (Adv: Dr. David Wilson) Physics, Kalamazoo College, MI 49006.

Viruses are complex nucleic acid-filled capsids that are completely dependent on their host cells’ machinery to reproduce and survive. Their self-assembling outer structural shells are called capsids, which enclose the genetic material. Spherical viruses follow icosahedral symmetry, and their capsids have geometric constraints with protruding features on the great circles. Triangulation Number is used to classify spherical viruses’ capsids while the 7 Baltimore Classification classes describe the internal genetic material. Using Triangulation Number, Baltimore Classification, best-fit Point Array(s), corresponding Gauge Point(s), and the host of each type of spherical virus, this study aimed to reveal a relationship and possible dependency among viruses’ characteristics. All data were extracted from the VIPER database (VIPERdb). MATLAB, Terminal, and VMD were used to determine Point Arrays, Gauge Points, and visual representations of the asymmetric unit. This comprehensive analysis confirmed there is no relationship between T- Number and Baltimore Classification alone. Many spherical viruses with Gauge Point 1 are either T3/pT3, Baltimore Classification I/IV/V. It also exposed that many viruses do not have Gauge Points on their 3’ or 2’ axes, suggesting this axis to be the most restrictive. None of the 144 known spherical virus structures used in this analysis had Gauge Point 6 as their best fit. Gauge Points 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, and 17 are only used by RNA viruses. Gauge Point 1 is almost always used by viruses with larger T- Numbers, suggesting that Gauge Point 1 has the least constraints and is the most easily accessible for large viruses. For further research, some interesting data analysis with Gauge Points would be host type, antibody location, and changes throughout maturation. 

Caitlin Tremewan

Teaching Children Scientific Concepts Through the Adaptation of Primary Scientific Literature

Caitlin Tremewan (Adv: Dr. Santiago Salinas) Department of Biology, Kalamazoo College, MI, 49006.

Scientific literature is often difficult for people to understand, however the concepts researched and discussed are important to build scientific understanding among the public. Youth academic journals, such as Frontiers for Young Minds, have created an opportunity to share scientific research with children in terminology they understand. For this project, an article by Kindsvater et al. (2012) was adapted and submitted to the journal Frontiers for Young Minds to teach children how maternal age and size affects offspring size in Xiphophorus birchmanni. The study found that older and larger X. birchmanni produce larger offspring demonstrating a role for life history traits in determining the size of offspring in this species. To rewrite the article by Kindsvater et al. (2012) in language that children understand, it was important to identify the main findings of the original paper and explain them clearly in the new version. Additionally, through the adaptation process, some parts of the original study were left out so a simpler narrative could be written while maintaining the overall integrity of the study’s findings. The resulting adapted article was approved by Dr. Kindsvater prior to journal submission to ensure presentation of the original material was satisfactory. This project is valuable because it allows for recent scientific research to be presented to children in a way that is understandable. This not only teaches interesting scientific concepts but also fosters an environment for young people to feel engaged with the scientific community. 

Cassandra Vogel

An Identification Booklet and Plant Survey of Species around Batts Pond of Lillian Anderson Arboretum

Cassandra Vogel (Adv: Sara Stockwood & Dr E. Binney Girdler) Kalamazoo College Department of Biology, Environmental Studies Program, Lillian Anderson Arboretum, Michigan, 49007.

COVID-19 has been a huge struggle the past year, however during this time of recommended self-isolation, families and communities have found refuge in going to parks and exploring nature as a form of escape. The Lillian Anderson Arboretum has been incredibly full during this quarantine. With an increase of visitors, people were going off the trails or picking plants to take home. This project was conducted to help those who are new to the Arboretum identify new plants and help inform people on which plants shouldn’t be touched around Batts pond. The ultimate goal is to give the Arboretum a hand drawn booklet to display as a QR code near the Batts Pond and Wood Frog trails that visitors may use while they walk around.

Madalyn Winarski

Comparison of Intraosseous and Peripheral Intravenous Vascular Device Placement in Relation to the Time of First Advanced Cardiac Life Support Medication Administration

Madalyn R. Winarski (Adv: Dr. James Paxton) Wayne State University Research Department, MI, 48202.

The American Heart Association (AHA) Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) algorithms provide guidelines for the urgent treatment of cardiovascular emergencies. According to these algorithms, cardiac arrest patients should receive ACLS medications intravascularly to ensure prompt and predictable drug delivery. Vascular access can be obtained using a variety of different devices, including a central venous catheter (CVC), peripheral intravenous (PIV) catheter, or intraosseous (IO) catheter. Central or peripheral intravenous access may require several lengthy attempts or be unobtainable due to extreme collapse of the venous system during cardiac arrest. However, an IO catheter is inserted directly into the bone marrow, providing an uncollapsible point of entry into the vasculature. Previous studies have found that first-attempt success rates for IO catheter placement during cardiac arrest are higher than those for PIV catheter placement, although the effect of this improved placement success rate on the time to first medication delivery is unknown. The present study was conducted to determine whether attempted placement of an IO vascular device before a PIV vascular device was associated with reduced time to first ACLS medication administration. To explore the proposed topic, time of emergency department (ED) arrival and time of first ACLS medication administration were collected for 62 subjects presenting to the ED after experiencing out-of-hospital cardiac arrest to compare the mean time taken to administer the first ACLS medication in relation to the use of an IO or PIV catheter. We found that the mean time to ACLS medication administration was not significantly different when an IO catheter was attempted before a PIV catheter (p = 0.29, > 0.05).

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Online Presentations, 4:10-6:10 PM, Zoom

Concurrent Session 1, Room 1
Concurrent Session 2, Room 2
Group Forum (5:20-6:10)


4:10-4:22, Room 1


Sammi Luzadre

Migration in neuronal activation into right hemisphere of stroke patients with aphasia using real-time functional magnetic resonance imaging

Samantha L. Luzadre (Dr. Olga Boukrina) Kessler Foundation, West Orange, NJ 07052.

Stroke lesions in the language dominant, left hemisphere of the brain, can impact one’s ability to speak also known as aphasia. Increasing efforts have been made to research stroke recovery to improve quality of life for individuals post stroke. The aim of our study is to (1) determine the role of the right hemisphere in reading post stroke using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) techniques and (2) determine the feasibility of using NFT to improve reading deficits by voluntarily controlling areas in the right hemisphere of the brain post left hemispheric stroke. Our study includes data from a combination of stroke patients (n=5) and healthy participants (n=2) while reading aloud words in an fMRI scanner that can be classified within specific categories (imageability, frequency, and consistency). It can be concluded that Frequency and consistency showed an overall migration of activation into the right hemisphere however, Imageability did not. Finally, NFT can be a viable technique to improve reading deficits after multiple neurofeedback sessions in the future. 

4:10-4:22, Room 2

Maija Weaver

Using reach-scale environmental factors and fish abundance to predict macroinvertebrate biomass in tributaries of the Duck River watershed

Maija E. Weaver (Adv: Dr Christopher Wheeler) Fisheries and Wildlife, Tennessee Technological University, TN 38505.

Macroinvertebrate sampling in streams and rivers is an important tool in the study of aquatic communities, water quality, and environmental changes. Despite the importance of these organisms, there is a lack of studies of freshwater invertebrates as a community, and especially their relation to fish populations in steam systems. To further research this topic, macroinvertebrate biomass was analyzed in relation to habitat, water quality, sediment, and fish abundance. A field experiment was conducted at 22 sites in tributaries of the Duck River watershed in Tennessee. The 76 macroinvertebrate samples collected at the sites were part of a larger project surveying the striated darter, which is listed as threatened by the State of Tennessee, where they are only found in the Duck River watershed. This project was conducted so that the state could determine if this species should also be federally listedas endangered. At every site, fish that were predators of, or competitors with, the straited darter were counted. In the lab, macroinvertebrate samples were weighed to determine dry and ash-free dry biomass. With weight, water quality and environmental data, the goal was to determine where biomass would be highest within a stream, and between sites. Statistical analysis was used to determine that there was no significant difference between dry or ash-free dry biomass in pools or riffles, or between bedrockand other substrates. However, there was significantly more invertebrate biomass found in areas of cobble than in areas of pebbles. Invertebrate biomass was not significantly higher at sites where the striated darter was found. There was also no significant correlation between invertebrate biomass and dissolved oxygen content, pH, or turbidity, or fish abundance. Some of the trends in these analyses supported previously published literature, however no results were conclusive


4:22-4:34, Room 1


Riley Davis

A Review of Literature on Neuromuscular Dysfunction in Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Riley Davis (Adv: Dr. Isabel Pena y Valenzuela Martinez) Biology, Kalamazoo College, MI, 49007.

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) research has been progressing recently with many new discoveries about the mechanisms behind upper airway (UA) collapse being investigated. Much of the current research on obstructive sleep apnea has been examining the role that neuromuscular dysfunction (NMD) plays in the mechanism of pharyngeal collapse. The critical pressure value (Pcrit) has been examined as a means of evaluating susceptibility of upper airway collapse in OSA. Several studies have linked neuromuscular mechanisms to UA collapse. Others have found that NMD influences Pcrit resulting in a susceptibility to OSA symptoms. While the exact function of NMD in OSA is still unknown there are many directions for future research to alleviate OSA symptoms and to improve OSA studies.

4:22-4:34, Room 2

Matthew Giguere

Disparities in SARS-COV-2 Vaccination: How the Historic Context of Institutional Abuse Contributes to a Failing Public Health System

Matthew Giguere (Adv: Dr. Michael Wollenberg) Biology/Community and Global Health, Kalamazoo College, MI, 49006.

For my Senior Individualized Project (SIP) I completed advanced coursework within the Biology Department at Kalamazoo College. CGHL/BIOL 495 “Topics in Biology: COVID-19” was a new course taught by Dr. Michael Wollenberg in the Winter of 2020 broadly covering the many different Biological and Public Health related topics surrounding the SARS-COV-2 pandemic. The work of this course, and my responsibilities for this course can be broken up into two sections. The first half of the class was led by Dr. Wollenberg and was focused on class discussions that provided us with the foundational biological knowledge needed to understand and discuss SARS-COV-2. This allowed us to effectively transition into the second half of the class which was composed of individual student led discussions (about 1hr10min in length) that varied in topic based on individual student research interests. Topics for these discussions included: Vaccine distribution within South Africa, SARS-COV-2 variants and the origins of these variants, the neurological effects of SARS-COV-2 infection, issues associated with “Long COVID”, and many more. My work for this class accumulated into my own discussion topic which aimed to explore disparities in coronavirus vaccine trust and vaccine distribution, taking major consideration towards the historic context of the American public health system and its treatment of marginalized populations. This presentation focused on considering historic examples of abuse by the American Public Health System (Tuskegee, Henrietta Lacks, etc) and how these events combine with present day examples of a flawed and failing health system to create the disparities in health outcomes presently observable. 


4:34-4:46, Room 1


Graham Girdler

The Effects of Induced p27 Expression in Pkd1 Mutant Mice

Graham F. Girdler (Adv: Dr. Gregory Vanden Heuvel) Associate Dean of Research and Professor of Biomedical Sciences, Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine, Kalamazoo, MI 49007.

Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) is a common genetic disease that causes formation of multiple fluid filled cysts in kidneys, severely impairing function. Onset is associated with increased rates of morbidities and mortality, typically only resolved through organ transplant. There are two inherited forms of PKD, Autosomal Recessive (ARPKD) and Autosomal Dominant (ADPKD). Mutations in the gene PKHD1 are responsible for onset of ARPKD, while mutations in either PKD1 or PKD2 are responsible for ADPKD. A downstream gene associated with PKD1 is CUX1, a homeobox gene that regulates expression of cyclin kinase inhibitor p27. It is hypothesized that Pkd1Cux1, and p27 have an epistatic relationship. The purpose of this study was to test this hypothesis using a mouse model carrying a targeted deletion of Pkd1 in collecting duct cells and a p27 transgene under the control of a tetracycline induced promoter, using doxycycline, an analog of tetracycline. We anticipate this induced expression of p27 will restore a normal phenotype in Pkd1 mutant mice. We used western blot analysis, immunohistochemical, and immunofluorescent labeling to evaluate Cux1 and p27 in Cux1 transgenic, PKD and Pkd1/p27 mouse models. Our results showed that doxycycline induced expression of p27 in cystic Pkd1 knockout collecting duct cells did not decrease the severity of PKD. These results suggest there is not an epistatic relationship between Pkd1Cux1, and p27 and suggest that alternate proteins regulated by Cux1 or gene therapies targeted for cell cycle regulation may provide more favorable outcomes for those affected.

4:34-4:46, Room 2

Samantha Vasquez

SIP on Advanced Molecular Genetics -Advanced Course

Samantha Vasquez-Casillas  (Adv:  Dr. James Langeland) Biology, Kalamazoo College, MI 49006.

This course focused in analyzing the different relationships of classical genetics, gene regulation, the identification of genes, and population and quantitative genetics. The themes were divided throughout the trimester. This experience achieved the ability to further investigate the different techniques and the depth of how you can approach an issue with a genetic perspective. The course was offered online, and meet weekly through Zoom with Professor Langeland. There were discussions about the ways in which a genetic disease could be passed down to different generations. The different outcomes needed to be discussed and analyzed as well as the different genotypes that represented who could be affected and who could not. Primarily this course worked in group discussions and then individually the students had to assess a case study. These case studies were then reviewed as a class in order to further analyze the concept or introduce a new topic. Students worked along with Professor Langeland with the online resources available. In order to assess comprehension, worksheets were provided and responses needed to be well thought out. Mainly these worksheets were done individually, but group work was also encouraged. As a final for this course, each student had a to write a review paper on a topic discussed in class of their choice. The topic I chose was monogenic and polygenic traits specifically dealing with diabetes, 3 different studies needed to be used as references. The studies needed to be approved by the instructor. Throughout this experience the ability to research and gather information using scientific literature and the skills needed to have an effective discussion greatly increased. 


4:46-4:58, Room 1


Austin Webb

Review of SARS-CoV-2 Survivability on Surfaces

Austin Webb (Adv: Binney Girdler) Biology, Kalamazoo College, Michigan, 49006.

This is a comprehensive review on SARS-CoV-2 survivability on different surfaces. This review was a requirement of my Advanced Course Work SIP and was carried out in a BIO-495 Covid Topics course at Kalamazoo College. This review encompasses many conclusions found amongst the literature regarding the topic. Most of the data looked at when compiling the review was comparing survivability of the SARS-CoV-2 virus on different surfaces as well as against other coronaviruses and prominent viruses. The ability of SARS-CoV-2 to survive on different surfaces comparatively to other viruses helps to explain the increased transmissibility of the virus. Also, some studies looked at during the review observed the effects of disinfectants on the survivability of SARS-CoV-2. The objective of most articles regarding this topic were to attempt to deepen the understanding in hopes to help steer the population towards safer viral transmission habits and practices. Common and general conclusions found throughout the literature was the importance of disinfectants. The second general conclusion was the much longer survivability rates on stainless steel. This is incredibly important because commonly touched objects such as doorknobs and handrails are made of stainless steel.  Also, the low survivability rate of SARS-CoV-2 on copper and aluminum is represented with great frequency throughout the literature. These findings have led many scholars to promote the idea of reducing the amount of stainless steel used in public spaces. Finally, the idea of incorporating copper and aluminum nanocoating’s in public spaces to combat indirect transmission of viruses was frequently referred to. Understanding viral survivability on surfaces is important to uncovering safer and more effective methods of combating indirect transmission in the future. 

4:46-4:58, Room 2

Julia Dobry

Quantification of G-quadruplex motifs in human PKD1 gene as indicator of genetic instability

Julia K. Dobry (Adv: Dr. Erik D. Larson) Department of Biomedical Sciences, Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine, Michigan, 49006.

Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) is a prevalent genetic disorder that leads to the development of fluid-filled cysts on the kidney and other organs, causing enlargement of the kidney and potentially renal failure. The disease can be inherited as the recessive or dominant form. The dominant form, ADPKD, is one the most common genetic diseases, and is linked in mutations in the PKD1 and PKD2 genes in humans. Previous studies have shown that in murine models, none of the genetic forms of murine PKD can be traced back to the murine ortholog Pkd1 gene, suggesting that it is genetically stable. This means that the murine ortholog has a low vulnerability to mutation, unlike the human gene. Other studies have determined that G-quadruplexes, secondary DNA structures characterized by stacked tetrads of coplanar guanine, are able to interrupt DNA replication causing genetic instability and increased vulnerability to mutation. Through in silico analysis of the genes, it was determined that the human PKD1 had a higher frequency of G/C triplets and G4 motifs relative to the mouse or rat Pkd1 gene. It was also observed that the G4 motifs within the human gene were widespread throughout the gene with the exception of two clusters. These observations support the hypothesis that instability of the human PKD1 gene may be related to the presence of G-quadruplex structures. Further investigations must examine the roles of alternative DNA structures in vivo in this pathway. Elucidation of the mechanisms of G-quadruplex structures in PKD1 may offer a potential avenue for drug therapy for ADPKD. 


4:58-5:10, Room 1


Stefan Cabrera

Applied Ecology Advanced Course Work at George Mason University

Stefan Cabrera (Adv: A. Alonso Aguirre, DVM, PhD) Environmental Science and Policy, George Mason University, Virginia, 22030.

During my studies at George Mason University (GMU) in the Summer of 2020 I learned about various aspects of Applied Ecology. We covered invasive species, species endangerment, extinction, and revitalization, habitat revitalization, and many more topics surrounding environmental and climate impacts humans have on the world. During my presentation I will give a brief summary of each topic we covered throughout the summer semester of 2020. I will also cover my personal growth throughout the class as well as similarities and differences between teaching styles at GMU and Kalamazoo College. The Applied Ecology course furthered my understanding of the field and how intertwined the subject is with various other subcategories of Biology. The skills obtained during my studies at GMU will be great steppingstones for applying my knowledge to the field of Ecology.

4:58-5:10, Room 2

Rachel Gallap

Eastern Equine Encephalitis: Population Age Structure of Culiseta melanura at EEE Foci in Michigan

Rachael Gallap (Adv: Dr. Edward Walker) Entomology and Microbiology, Michigan State University, Kellogg Biological Station, MI 49060.

Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) is a deadly virus that causes swelling in the brain. The EEE virus (EEEV) gained traction in the 1900s and made its way to Michigan from the Gulf Coast. As the virus proliferated in Michigan, outbreaks of EEE occurred more frequently. The most recent outbreak in Michigan totaled 10 confirmed human EEE virus cases; the largest outbreak Michigan has ever experienced. Michigan has continuously struggled with EEEV for almost a century, with Cs. melanura mosquitoes being the main vectors of transmission. The purpose of this study was to generate a population age structure of adult female Cs. melanura at a EEE foci in Michigan. The study spanned the months of August to October, sampling from three Kalamazoo county locations. CDC miniature light traps and black, resting boxes were distributed at the start of the investigation. The Cs. melanura population fluctuated over the seven weeks and ended with very low population density. Based on Michigan’s geological features and the history of the EEEV, I hypothesized that the age structure of female Cs. melanura mosquitoes at the EEE foci in Michigan will be more aged. We found that the female Cs. melanura population was aged, and from there inferred that there was a higher likelihood of EEEV transmission. Additionally, there was no significant difference between using black, resting boxes or the CDC miniature light traps to trap the species of interest. To decrease the prevalence of EEE in our community I suggest alternative methods for virus control that are geared towards prevention and education. 

5:10-5:20 PM



5:20-6:10, Room 1


Alexandra Davis, Kathryn Levasseur, Sierra Moore, Khang Nguyen, Grace Patton, Hope Vanzo-Sparks

Group Forum on Experiential SIPs

Many benefits to students can be derived from practical applications of information learned in a classroom setting, particularly in terms of hands-on learning. In this forum we discuss six distinct experiences in the biological fields that directly served as an accumulation of years of study in the Department of Biology. The experiences being showcased can more or less be categorized as biomedical in origin, following unique subdivisions of the field. We as a forum aim to emphasize the wide array of available pursuits when studying biology and to engage in meaningful discussion on how diversely applied a biology degree can be. Some discussion topics include; medical scribing, literature review of speech pathology combined with personal experiences, training and in-person training as an EMT, volunteering at a therapeutic riding center, working as a protocol intern at a cancer institute, and shadowing a general practitioner.  Through such a diverse group of experiences, there was something for all of us to take away. Whether that was in a positive or negative direction for our future, we each had something to gain from our unique opportunities.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Due to technology issues at the college, the May 7 sessions have been rescheduled to Wednesday, May 12 beginning at 4:10 pm.

Online Presentations, 4:10-6:10 PM, Zoom

Concurrent Session 1, Room 1 (4:10-5:10 pm)
Concurrent Session 2, Room 2 (4:10-5:10 pm)
Group Forum (5:20-6:10 PM)


4:10-4:22, Room 1


Joy Hunziker & Hannah Wolfe

Light Pollution in Urban Areas Affect Fireflies and Bats

Joy Hunziker & Hannah Wolfe, Biology Department, Kalamazoo College, Kalamazoo, Michigan, 49006.

A majority of the world population lives in urban areas.  As urbanization continues, organisms must learn how to adapt.  Urban ecology looks at the relationship between organisms and the urban environment.  Throughout this course we looked at several ways the urban systems both impact and are impacted by ecological organisms, as well as how to manage those interactions. We learned about the major impacts that humans have on the environment, especially in urban areas.  One major impact we discussed was pollution and its harmful effects on the ecological world. In the urban setting, this can include air, water, land, light, and noise pollution.  We delved into the topic of urban light pollution and looked at its effects on different organisms, specifically bats and fireflies.  Since these animals are nocturnal, the artificial light has a harmful impact on their wellbeing.  The artificial lights alter their eating, mating, sleeping, and traveling behaviors. By taking Urban Ecology as our upper-level Biology coursework SIP, we were able to deepen our understanding on light pollution and how it impacts organisms within the urban environment.

4:10-4:22, Room 2

Owen Bersot

Implementation of Psycholytic Therapy (Psychedelic-Assisted Psychotherapy) for Treatment of Climate Activist Burnout

Owen C.P. Bersot (Adv: Dr. Binney Girdler) Environmental Studies Department, Kalamazoo College, MI, 49006.

The past decades have made it abundantly clear that the current nature and behavior of human society has disrupted the sustainable existence of life on Earth. The arrival of new technologies and the enactment of pro-environmental public policy may be promising, but these external changes will be insufficient unless internal transformations in consciousness in the form of human cultural attitudes, personal worldviews, values, and empathic concern are achieved in parallel. Many are drawn to activism out of just such an empathic concern, but the intense burdens of this work have led to high rates of burnout among climate activists. This text proposes the implementation of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy and a psychedelic therapy integration paradigm as a means of treating burnout among climate activists. In doing so, the text performs the dual role of creating a novel treatment paradigm for climate activist burnout, as well as integrating transformations in consciousness into the conversation of climate change remediation as a whole, with the aim of addressing the epistemological crisis beneath the climate crisis. Integral Metatheory and Integral Ecology are utilized to provide a framework capable of organizing the information needed in fulfilling these proposals. Ultimately, the implementation of a psychedelic paradigm for burnout treatment and the broader instantiation of an Integral climate activism is a significant step in achieving ecosystem-level climate remediation. 


4:22-4:34, Room 1


Samantha Jacobsen

An exploration of pre-existing conditions, COVID-19, and Type 2 diabetes in America

Samantha Jacobsen (Adv: Alison Geist) Community and Global Health, Kalamazoo College, MI, 49006.

Undoubtedly, COVID-19 has altered ways of life around the world, and for generations to come, we will be permanently changed by this pandemic. It is key to understand many intersections of day-to-day life with the COVID-19 pandemic in order to understand how we can best recover moving forward. This literature review sets out to explore the interactions between pre-existing conditions and COVID-19 in the United States. This is done first through a discussion of what pre-existing conditions are and their significance in America, followed by an examination of how the COVID-19 pandemic and pre-existing conditions have interacted, with special attention paid to health disparities. The specific case of Type 2 diabetes and COVID-19 is used to highlight a particular pre-existing condition in more depth. Finally, suggestions are made regarding solutions and areas of further study. 

4:22-4:34, Room 2

Dana Schau

The Role of Medical Knowledge and Intervention in Shaping the Course and Experience of Addiction Recovery

Dana Schau (Adv: Dr. Adriana Garriga-López) Department of Anthropology and Sociology, Kalamazoo College, Michigan, 49006. 

In this paper, I analyze the ways medical knowledge and intervention influence one’s experience in addiction recovery. Addiction engages in the political, social, economic, and scientific spheres, thus offering a significant and relevant area of anthropological study. Knowledge on addiction, and the way it transfers into different institutions, is continuously growing and altering, enabling new developments in treatment strategies. Furthermore, the expansion of bioscientific knowledge on addiction has led to new types of medical treatments and therapeutics. Thus, addressing the ways individuals experience this knowledge and intervention helps uncover their impact and role. Examining the lived experiences of those in addiction recovery uncovers the ways individuals accept, utilize, and/or challenge the role of the medical field. I conducted interviews with people living in Kalamazoo, Michigan, who identify as in addiction recovery. Participants discussed the ways medical treatment shaped the course of their recovery through interactions with medical professionals and different types of therapeutics. This study highlights how conflicting discourse and understandings of addiction within and between treatment modalities shapes one’s recovery. The findings also demonstrate how individuals feel toward medication, and the ways medication can create new forms of control and discipline over one’s body and self. Furthermore, participants disclosed several instances of demonstrating agency in navigating the medical system and highlighted the ways they utilized their own knowledge. In general, medical treatment led individuals to develop new meanings of recovery that informed them on how to best achieve their desired outcomes. It is important to address the lived experiences of those in addiction recovery, as it is a crucial, yet often overlooked, factor to recognize in developing and improving treatment strategies.


4:34-4:46, Room 1


Rachel Madar

Experiential SIP: Job Shadowing a General Dentist

Rachel Madar (Adv:  Dr. Barbara Vuillemot, D.D.S) Trilium Dental, Lansing, MI 48912.

For my experiential SIP, I was allowed to job shadow a general dentist for a duration of four months. During this time, I was able to observe the daily tasks and functions that are required to run a general dentist practice effectively. I learned how to perform common dental procedures such as crowns, fillings, extractions, implants, and even some orthodontics. In addition to these procedures, I was able to focus on patient interactions, as well as beneficial dynamics between dentists and dental assistants. With this in mind, I learned that every patient has a different story, and that treatment should be tailored personally to their needs. I also learned that this profession requires extensive collaboration with one another to ensure the best quality of work possible. The field of dentistry is always changing because of new technologies and techniques being used. It is a profession where there is always room for improvement, and it is also a profession where one never stops learning. These techniques and lessons are what will set me up for success in dental school, and throughout the rest of my professional career. 

4:34-4:46, Room 2

Alexis Gonzalez

Interviewing Health Professionals for Pre-Health Insights

Alexis M. Gonzalez (Adv: Dr. Mariano Salinas) Conducted over Zoom.

This experience came to me due to COVID-19. For my Senior Individualized Project (SIP), I interviewed people in the medical field about their lives regarding their studies and career paths. This allowed me to learn more about the medical field, being a doctor, and different health professions in health care. I was able to reflect on the new insights I had received to benefit me, and my career, in the future. Through my mother, Alejandra Gonzalez, I was able to get into contact with different health professionals. She worked at DHR Health Hospital in Edinburg, Texas as a Registered Nurse. Through her connections, I was able to interview a diverse group of health professionals during a pandemic via Zoom. In addition, they were also able to get me in contact with other people. Through this project I was able to improve my networking skills, confidence, and advocating for myself. Furthermore, I was able to determine if I truly wanted to put in a lot of time, money, and effort into going to medical school after graduating from undergraduate school. During a time of chaos, I was still able to work on a project that is meaningful to me and taught me so much. I am grateful for the experience and knowledge that I gained.  


4:46-4:58, Room 1


Yuridia Campuzano

Theories of Personality

Yuridia Campuzano (Adv: Dr. Gary Gregg) Psychology Department, Kalamazoo College, Kalamazoo, MI, 49006.

The course Theories of Personality focused on differences in personalities, how personality is measured, different theories and their history, and authoritarianism. In this course we discussed different factors that can shape a person’s personality: genetics, culture, and experiences. We also discussed different ways in which a person’s personality can affect those around them, positively or negatively. 

4:46-4:58, Room 2

Brandon Wright

Assessing Antibody-Bound Capsid Stability and Localizing Epitopes Using Point Arrays for Canine Parvovirus and Human Rhinovirus-14

Brandon S. Wright (Adv:  Dr. David Wilson) Kalamazoo College Department of Physics, 1200 Academy St, Kalamazoo, MI, 49006.

Spherical viruses utilize icosahedral symmetry structure in order to best approximate a sphere. These viruses have traditionally been classified by a Triangulation Number, but recently icosahedral point arrays have provided a more wholesome depiction of capsid proteins and genetic material orientations. Point arrays allow for the reduction of entire capsid structures to a more simply understood Asymmetric Unit (AU). Point arrays and their AUs have been used to isolate capsid protruding features and to trace structural changes during maturation. This study expands the use of point arrays to assessing the stability of antibody-bound and unbound canine parvovirus (CPV) and human rhinovirus-14 (Rhino-14) capsids. The ability to localize epitope regions within the AU and radially was also investigated. Both capsids revealed transitions in point array fitness, with better conformation when bound to antibodies. Epitope residues were also localized within the AU and radially using algorithms. All epitope for CPV existed along one symmetry axes of the AU and above the mean residue radius for the capsid. For Rhino-14, one sequence overlaps two symmetry axes with another over a single axis. Radially, the epitope residues for Rhino-14 were nearly equally distributed around the mean residue radial value for the entire chain. Results suggest that CPV’s Fab-E and Rhino-14’s Fab-17-1a antibodies may play a role in neutralizing capsid structure. The study demonstrates that point arrays may be utilized to investigate the neutralization properties of antibodies. With weaknesses in algorithmic spherical virus epitope prediction, the study also demonstrates that the regions may be isolated within the AU. These localizations will drastically improve viral classifications and immunological applications.


4:58-5:10, Room 1


Laken Rivet

In Vitro Characterization of Small Molecule Inhibitors of Early-Stage Alpha-Synuclein Aggregation

Laken N. Rivet (Adv: Dr. Jessica Fortin) Pathobiology and Diagnostic Investigation, Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine, MI, 48706.

Amyloidosis, a disease caused by the misfolding of amyloid proteins and their derivatives, remains one of the most difficult ailments to treat in the human body. This study focuses on the amyloid protein, a-synuclein, which plays a major role in well-known diseases such as Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), Parkinson’s Disease (PD), and multiple system atrophy (MSA). a-Synuclein is known to aggregate into neurotoxic fibrils in two main stages: early and late. Early-stage aggregation involves the formation of protofibrils or oligomers while late-stage aggregation is the formation of polymers or fibrils from the early-stage aggregates. We examine the effectiveness of our patent-pending, novel molecule family on the inhibition of early-stage a-synuclein aggregation. After diligent screening, prior to this paper, we’ve selected 27 of our most successful compounds to test. Utilizing photo-induced cross-linking (PICUP) assays, ThioflavinT (ThT) fluorescence assays, and transmission electron microscopy (EM) we measure oligomerization and fibril formation of a-synuclein after being treated with our novel compounds. Based on these results, compound 2 was demonstrated to be an effective inhibitor of early-stage a-synuclein aggregation. Further research is needed to demonstrate the full effectiveness of compound 2, but this molecule has the potential to become an invaluable tool in the therapeutic treatment of amyloidosis. 

4:58-5:10, Room 2

Emily Canas

eGEMS: Review of Student Perspectives of a Virtual Summer Program Post-Participation

Emily Canas (Adv: Dr. Debra Yourick and Dr. Binney Girdler) Science Education and Fellowship Programs, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, MD 20910.

As the United States continues to have an increased demand for a college educated STEM workforce, the Gain in the Education of Mathematics and Science (GEMS) at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research provides an accessible STEM-based summer program for middle and high school students led by undergraduate near-peer mentors that aid underserved students in following a STEM career trajectory and increased persistence within these fields. Although GEMS is traditionally held in person, due to circumstances brought about by the international spread of SAR-CoV-2, GEMS was moved to a virtual platform during the summer of 2020. This study aimed to better understand student attitudes towards STEM and their satisfaction towards this program’s virtual component as reported on surveys taken after participating in the 2020 WRAIR virtual GEMS (eGEMS) program. Analysis of post-participation survey data found student attitudes were favorable towards STEM following participation in eGEMS and that students were overall satisfied with the virtual components. This study also uncovered areas of growth encompassed by students in-person preference and technical difficulties amongst participants.

5:10-5:20 PM



5:20-6:10, Room 1


Angel Banuelos, Jacob Graham, Lillian Schmidt, Kaitlyn Schultz

Group Forum: Student Perspectives of Kalamazoo College’s Biology Program

Lillian Schmidt (Adv. Dr. Binney Girdler) Biology, Western Michigan University, MI 49006

Angel Banuelos (Adv. Dr. Binney Girdler) Biology, Kalamazoo College, MI 49006

Kaitlyn Schultz (Adv. Dr. Binney Girdler) Biology, Kalamazoo College, MI 49006

Jacob Graham (Adv. Dr. Binney Girdler) Biology, Kalamazoo College, MI 49006

Merrit Hamann (Adv. Dr. Binney Girdler) Biology, Kalamazoo College, MI 49006

In collaboration with: Madison Goodman, ReiHam Gundy, Garret Gugliemetti, and Hannah Shiner

This presentation will be a panel of 4 senior biology students in conversation with the audience critically examining the experiences of students participating in K College’s Biology Program. For their part in the discussion, students on the panel will be drawing from their personal experiences as well as the results of a survey open to students that have participated in some portion or the entirety of the biology program. The presentation is accompanied by a second panel consisting of biology professors that have agreed to a session explaining the ‘behind the scenes’ aspects of the program and a poster session outlining the results of the Bio Program Survey. This is a project being done in an effort to support professors and underclassmen in sculpting an educational program that’s responsive to biology as a transforming field of study within an ever transforming society. Speakers on the panel include: Angel Banuelos (He/Him), a latinx student who did his SIP in alternative biology pedagogy (Adv. Dr. Binney Girdler), worked 2 ½ years under Dr. Silvia Rossbach in a microbiology lab at Western Michigan University, served as an SI leader/TA for 3 quarters of the Evolution and Genetics class, attended Sukuma DOW, and upon leaving K will enter the Genetics PhD program at University of Wisconsin-Madison with the end goal of becoming a professor of biology. Lillian Schmidt (she/her), did her SIP by taking an advanced BioEthics course at WMU. Upon leaving K, she plans on furthering her education by entering into a master’s program for public health. Jacob Graham (he/him) completed his SIP with an advanced course of Entomology at Kalamazoo college. Upon graduation he plans to further his education in plant biology and pursue a career in botany. Kaitlyn Schultz (she/her) completed her SIP by taking Entomology at Kalamazoo College. Upon graduation she plans to take a gap year and work toward continued education and a career as a PA.