The Spooner Student Research Fund provides monies to enhance the academic experience and professional growth of students by offering opportunities to engage in research and sponsored activities. The program is made possible by an endowment established by the late Charles C. Spooner. For this program, sponsored activity is defined as any creative or scholarly activity relevant to a student's program of study. Sample proposals can be viewed here.

Award Information

Spooner Research Grants support projects in which a student is engaged in scholarly research. The proposed project must be under the supervision of a faculty advisor and be endorsed by the department. The proposed project period must be no longer than 12 months. A final report submitted to grants@nmu.edu is due by November 1st of the year following the award.

The maximum award for each project is $500.  All funds must be encumbered on or before the end date of the grant.

Spooner Research Grants provide funds for :

  • Materials & supplies
  • Contractual services (publication costs, lab analysis, consultant fees, etc.)
  • Travel directly associated with the conduct of the proposed project.

Funds cannot be requested for stipends, salaries or wages for the student or faculty advisor.

In addition to the funding available for the conduct of the project, requests will be considered for the support of student travel to scholarly meetings at which the applicant will be presenting a paper or creative exhibit. To be considered for funding in this category, evidence must be presented that the paper/exhibit has been accepted for presentation (e.g., acceptance letter, conference program, etc.).

Eligibility

Applicants must be currently enrolled as a full-time student in a degree program and have a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0 for undergraduate and graduate students. Applicants must provide evidence of commitment from a faculty member to serve as project advisor and an endorsement of the project by the department (see Cover Page)

Per NMU policy, students who participate in the Dependent Children Tuition Program are not eligible to receive additional University-funded scholarships or grants. University-funded means any funds deposited at the University where the University makes the decision concerning the recipient. This includes the Spooner Grant. Contact the Grants and Contracts Office with any questions.

Students receiving a Spooner Research Grant must enroll for credit in a course directly related to the project such as Special Topics, Directed Study, or Thesis during the award period.

Application Instructions

A student must submit one complete application (hard copy) to his/her Department Head. In addition, a PDF version of the application must be sent via email to grants@nmu.edu. The departments will evaluate the proposals and rate them as excellent, very good, good, or fair (see cover page). Additional comments can be attached in the form of a letter. The Grants Office will request rankings from Department Heads once the application deadline has passed and all applications are received. 

The application must contain: 

  1. A Spooner Award cover page that is signed by the advisor, Department Head, and student
  2. A project abstract
    1. Summarize your proposal in terms of: the need it is satisfying or statement and evidence of significance; the objectives you have set which will meet your designated need and produce a deliverable outcome; the methods you will utilize to achieve objectives (250 word limit). This is a summary of your narrative. Abstract is a one page document, double spaced.
  3. A project narrative
    1. Narrative Format. The narrative (not including appendices) is limited to six pages of double-spaced pages.  Any spacing less than double is not allowed.  Proposals must have one-inch margins and be printed in Times New Roman, 12 point font size. Applicants with a visual impairment should contact the Office of Sponsored Programs for information regarding alternative formatting instructions. 
    2. Narrative Body. The narrative should include the following elements:
      1. A description of the project significance to applicant’s field/subject area and objectives that lead to a deliverable outcome.
      2. A literature review of related work in the field.
      3. The methods to be used to achieve stated objectives.
      4. A timetable with expected deliverable outcomes (e.g., paper, presentation, or creative work).
      5. A detailed budget and budget justification that clearly indicates why the requested funds are essential for the completion of the proposed project.
        1. If this project requires more than the maximum grant award of $500 to complete, please indicate how you intend to secure additional funding.  Also, clearly explain the part of your project that can be completed if you fail to secure additional funding.
  4. Required appendices.
    1. A list of references cited.
    2. A curriculum vitae for the student. The vitae or an additional statement should clearly identify the student’s qualifications for conducting the project and cannot exceed two pages.
    3. A copy of the student’s most recent transcript.
    4. Any applicant that proposes to use human subjects (e.g., clinical or survey work) must have applied for approval of NMU’s Institutional Review Board (IRB). (Application for the Conduct of Research Involving Human Subjects). Any project involving the use of animals must have applied for approval of the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC). (Application to use Vertebrate Animals in Research, Testing, or Instruction). Applicants must attach a copy of their Institutional Review Board (IRB) or Animal Care (IACUC) approval letter, or confirmation of application from the Chair of IRB or IACUC, with their Spooner application to be considered for funding.

Application Evaluation

The evaluation rubric used by the Faculty Grant Committee can be viewed here. Proposals will be reviewed and rated by the department before submission to the Office of Sponsored Programs. The Faculty Grants Committee will then review the proposals based upon the following criteria:

  1. The significance of the proposed project and a sound plan for conducting the project.
  2. The potential of a publishable report presentation at a professional meeting, creative work, or other activities appropriate to the discipline.
  3. The appropriateness of the budget justification.
  4. Qualifications of the student investigator.
  5. Adherence to format and content requirements.

The members of the review committee will rank all proposals and forward their recommendations for funding to the Dean of Graduate Studies and Research, who will announce the awards. The grant funds will be under the supervision of the department of the faculty advisor.

Report Guidelines

Within 30 days after the specified completion date of the project, the grant recipient must submit a Final Project Report to their Department and to the Dean of Graduate Studies & Research.

The Final Project Report must briefly address (1-2 pages) the following:

  1. What was done? (Summarize the project activities.)
  2. What were the results?
  3. What was produced (publication, presentation, creative work, etc.)?
  4. Detail the actual budget expenditures.

Spooner Student Research Program Grant Awards

Summer 2019

Meagan Bauer, Chemistry

Kristin Twork, Anthropology


Winter 2019

Kenly Alligood, English

Max Majinska, Biology

Jordan Wallace, Clinical Laboratory Science 

Fall 2018

Sierra Gillman, Biology

Devin Rettke, Health and Human Performance

Justine Nelson, Psychological Science


Summer 2018

Carly Johnson, Chemistry and Mathematics

Dalton Bender, Clinical Molecular Genetics


Winter 2018

Mindie Clark, Health and Human Performance

Thornton Ritz, Biology

Taylor Susa, Psychology

Fall 2017

Ashlyn Jendro, Health and Human Performance

Michael Zuidema, Psychological Sciences


Summer 2017

Jenna Behnke, Biology


Winter 2017

Katie Bjornen, Biology

Dawn Marsh, Biology

Kathryn Kulju, Chemistry

Fall 2016

Andrew Adamski, Biology

Alex Graeff, Biology

Niyomi Wijewardona, Biology

Eric Miltz-Miller, Biology


Summer 2016

Collin Richter, Biology

Hannah Hawkins, Health and Human Performance

Douglas Hardy, Biology


Winter 2016

Andrew Ernst, Biology

Andrew Rankin, Biology

Taylor Sharp, Chemistry

Winter 2012

Heather Munsche

Department of Psychology

Amount of Award: $500

Project Title: Headsprout as a Remedial Intervention for Low-Performing First Grade Students (IRB Project number HS11-436)

Project Abstract: Headsprout Early Reading has been shown to be effective in teaching reading to neurotypical children. However, it has not been studied for effectiveness as a remedial intervention. Two first-grade classes at Gilbert Elementary School in Gwinn, MI will be participating in the program (total N-forty-five). Students have been identified as low-performing via Running Records and DIBELS (Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills). The bottom half of each class (twelve or thirteen students per class, experimental N=twenty-three) will receive forty lessons of Headsprout Early Reading. In this multiple baseline design, half of the experimental group (Group A, N=twelve) will begin Headsprout immediately. The other half of the experimental group (Group B, N=eleven) will begin Headsprout after Group A has completed the first twenty lessons. Group B will play Millie’s Math House, and educational math game while waiting to begin Headsprout. Group A will play the Millie’s Math House after they have completed all forty Headsprout lessons. One half-hour per day, Monday through Thursday, has been set aside in the school’s computer lab for the students to work on Headsprout and Millie’s Math House. One of the first grade teachers will supervise the computer time. The researcher will assess the students before Headsprout begins, after each group completes twenty lessons, and after all students have completed Headsprout.

 

Jonathan Pearce

Department of Biology

Amount of Award: $500

Project Title: Genetic Analysis of the Population Structure of Brook Trout Within Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Project Abstract: Detailed genetic analysis of brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) populations residing in three streams (Hurricane, Mosquito, Sevenmile) located in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore (PIRO) will be performed in this project. Brook trout are endemic to Lake Superior and display differential use of habitat through variation in migratory behavior and morphology associated with different ecological niches. The proposed study will compare twelve highly polymorphic neutral microsatellite markers for brook trout individuals sample from three major watersheds in PIRO (Mosquito, Sevenmile and Hurricane). This analysis will provide data to characterize the genetic relationships among brook trout. The genetic similarity between populations will be predicted by correlating the genetic distance between similar neutral markers. Funding provided from the Spooner Grant will enable me to be able to lay the foundation of my project by developing and optimizing the techniques and procedures that I will use to collect data for my project by developing and optimizing the techniques and procedures that I will use to collect data for my M.S.

Fall 2011

Susan Fawcett

Department of Biology

Amount of Award: $500

Project Title: A Paleoecological Reconstruction of a Neotropical Savanna Utilizing Radiocarbon Dating and Pollen Analysis.

Project Abstract: Until recently, neotropical savannas were thought to be relatively uniform, based on their appearance as a simple mosaic of repeated physiognomic unites. We now realize that diversity was grossly underestimated. My area of study is the neotropical wet savanna of the Turtle Harbor Preserve on the island of Utilia, north of the Honduran mainland. I conducted the first quantitative floristic survey of this site, in continuation of research I began December 2010. Using stratified systematic sampling, I inventoried and described the flora, utilizing resources at the herbarium at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Honduras in Tegucigalpa and the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis. I was also able to collect peat core samples up to 3.05 meters deep and a wood sample from 2.8 meters for radiocarbon dating. Using radiocarbon dating and pollen identification I hope to complement my existing data and reconstruct the floristic history of this site in terms of relative abundance of sedges, grasses, palms and ferns to see if it has been a relatively stable community or has shifted repeatedly in the past between forest and savanna.

 

Keith Sabin

Department of Biology

Amount of Award: $500

Project Title: Glioblastoma Exosomes Contribute to Immune Evasion

Project Absract: Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is the most frequent and lethal primary brain tumor in adults. Despite intense biomedical research the median survival after diagnosis is 15 months. One factor contributing to this poor prognosis is the immune protection afforded by the tumor environment. While tumors have a diverse repertoire of immune evasive techniques, one method of evasion not well explored is the release of tumor-derived exosomes. Exosomes are tiny membrane bound vesicles of endocytic origin that contain viable mRNA and bioactive proteins which can affect the physiology of recipient cells. Exosome release has been reported for numerous cancer types including GBM. Exosomes from colon cancer have been shown to carry the pro-apoptotic molecule, Fas ligand (FasL), and are able to induce apoptosis in activated cytotoxic T cells. And while expression of FasL has been reported in established and primary glioma cell lines no one has ever reported if it is also found in glioma-derived exosomes. The aim of this study is to elucidate if the same immune evasive technique utilized by colon cancer occurs in GBM. If supported, our hypothesis could provide new insights into glioma immune evasion and could supply a possible therapeutic target.

Rachael Guth

Department of Biology

Amount of Award: $500

Project Title: Habitat fragmentation effects on overwintering brook and brown trout: fish condition and movement.

Project Abstract: Human development and disturbances impact watersheds in many ways. Urbanization near watersheds results in increased stormwater inputs, nutrient inputs, point and non-point pollution, sedimentation, surface water drainage, and loos of riparian vegetation (Marquette Township Planning Commission et al. 2002; Paul and Meyer 2001). Impacts associated with urbanization are generally detrimental to aquatic systems and their fish communities and are well documented in the scientific literature (Kemp and Spotila 1997; Morgan and Cushman 2005: Richards 1976; Weaver and Garman 1994). Additionally, winter is a harsh season with variable environmental conditions that results in changing water temperatures, flow rates, and ice conditions which influence the behavior of stream fishes and decrease important habitat availability (Brown et al. 2011; Lund et al. 2003). The main objective of this study is to research urbanization impacts on the brook and brown trout overwintering in the Whetstone Brook and Orianna Creek, two small tributaries to Lake Superior that flow through Marquette, Michigan. Both streams are suffering from sedimentation, habitat degradation, unstable flows, obstacles to fish migration, decreased water quality, pollution, and open canopies. The overwintering success of the fishes inhabiting these urbanized streams will be compared to two remote tributaries to the Chocolay River, Cedar Creek and Silver Creek. Both urbanization and wintertime are stressors on fish communities and I seek to understand how they interact. This study will be accomplished with the purpose of understanding what change in fish condition occurs from fall to spring and where the salmonids are moving in these urbanized streams.


Summer 2011

Emily Sprengelmeyer

Department of Biology

Amount of Award: $500

Project Title: Affects of coarse woody debris in aspen-dominated mesic-hardwood forests

Project Abstract:  Coarse woody debris (CWD) is an important component for many forest ecosystem functions. Many previous studies focused on relationships between CWD forest vertebrates and invertebrates, and while an understanding of these relationships is important, it is also essential to recognize the underlying connection between CWD and processes leading to vegetation changes within habitats. In anticipation of future studies, documentation and comparison of the post-harvest density and distribution of coarse woody debris currently maintained by state foresters is essential. Based on this need, I propose to quantify current CWD retention and understory plant species richness and abundance as a baseline for further research with the following objectives: determine CWD density and distribution in aspen-dominated mesic-hardwood forests 0-5, 10-20, and ≥ 50 years post-harvest, compare CWD retention between harvested stands and old-growth (≥ 50 years) aspen-dominated forests, and compare understory plant richness and abundance in harvested stands and old-growth aspen-dominated mesic-hardwood forests. The study area will be located in the west-central Upper Peninsula and will include sites in Baraga and Marquette counties, and at least three study sites of each age class (0-5, 10-20, and ≥ 50 years post-harvest) will be sampled in pre-determined aspen-dominated stands along with a corresponding number of control stands. Work in the field will begin May, 2011 and continue through July, 2011, and data analysis will begin August, 2011. Results will be summarized in a report and poster presentation. This project requires funding via a Spooner Grant for costs associated with travel for myself and field assistants.


Winter 2011

Student Researcher: Megan Jastremski

Department: Chemistry

Title: Syntheses of Radical Precursors for Replacement of Tributyltin Hydride in Organic Compounds

Project Abstract:  The objective of the proposal is to secure funds to complete the syntheses of radical precursors in order to study a replacement for tributyltin hydride in organic reactions. Tin compounds are considerably toxic, expensive, difficult to separate from the desired product, and pose environmental problems. For these reasons, compounds that could serve as replacements for tin are desirable. Dr. McCormick and her previous research students have developed a new, “greener” replacement for use in a variety of carbon-carbon bond forming reactions. The new method makes use of a technique called polarity reversal catalysis (PRC). PRC couples two non-toxic reagents to replace tin hydride: a sulfur catalyst and an organosilane derivative. The improved method uses an organosilane and a thiol catalyst in place of the tin hydride. My final goal will be to determine whether or not this new method works well for two important reactions: an aromatic radical cyclization reaction and the Beckwith-Dowd ring expansion. To accomplish my goals, I will need supplies to synthesize and characterize the starting materials and final products. Finding a replacement for tributyltin hydride that is less expensive, non-toxic, and not harmful to the environment would be a significant contribution to the field of organic synthesis.

 

Student Researcher: Justine Pinskey

Department: Biology

Title: Vitamin D as a potential therapeutic agent for glioblastoma multiforme disease

Project Abstract:  Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is an aggressive, incurable type of malignant brain tumor. Despite tremendous research efforts, the median survival of GBM patients is only fifteen months, making it one of the deadliest known cancers. Part of the challenge surrounding GBM treatment is the presence of brain tumor stem cells (BTSCs). BTSCs are stem-like cells within GBM tumors that have an unlimited capacity for self-renewal, resist standard treatments like chemotherapy and radiation, and are responsible for the tumors’ recurrence and metastasis. This study proposes the use of vitamin D, a safe, naturally-occurring substance, to disable BTSCs as a part of GBM treatment. Vitamin D works by inhibiting the hedgehog signaling pathway, a mechanism essential to BTSC function. The proposed experiments will examine vitamin D’s ability to work synergistically with temozolomide (TMZ), the standard drug used for GBM treatment. Should vitamin D be proven effective and compatible with TMZ, it could potentially be a strong addition to the GBM treatment regimen.

 

Student Researcher: Melissa Seelye

Department: English

Title: European Association for Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies Conference

Project Abstract:  Like Istanbul, the Internet and the blogosphere are places where boundaries converge and new spaces materialize. Accordingly, members of many online communities, especially those with multinational or even global followings, find themselves immersed in an entirely new reality. They are confronted with people and ideas very different from their own and most must undergo a certain period of adjustment in order to become comfortable in this setting. Because blogging in particular has become one of the most popular forms of self expression on the Internet, it is a logical place to start in exploring the impact of such global networks on the individual.

In examining the English-language blogs of Turkish women, this project will first comment upon these women’s process of reconciling their national identities with their knowledge or adoption of global practices or ideas. Further, using the dialogue between each blogger’s commentators, it will explore what kind of audience the bloggers are appealing to and how the blogger’s choice to create this online identity is received by their peers. Last, questions of whether these globally-influenced identities transcend the Internet and impact these bloggers in the real world will be answered. As the culmination of this project, the student will travel to Istanbul for the triennial conference of the European Association for Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies in April. There, she will individually present her paper entitled “Return to the Blogosphere: A Closer Look at Women blogging in Turkey” and expects to return with new contacts to further her research.

Winter 2010

Student Researcher: Tori LaFleur

Department: Biology

Amount Rewarded: $500

Project Title: Epigenetic Modification at Imprinted Loci in Mus Interspecies Hybrids

Project Abstract: Mammalian genomic imprinting presents a fascinating challenge for geneticists. In addition to the rarity of imprinted loci in the genome, the mechanism by which imprinted genes are functionally silenced in offspring has only recently been tentatively identified as methylation of cytosine nucleotides. A better understanding of how this mechanism may operate in humans is critical to ascertaining the effects of its deregulation on human syndromes and in cancer pathways. In order to achieve these goals, more information is required about the deregulation of imprinted loci, also termed loss of imprinting (LOI), in mouse species of the genus Mus, the most widely used organisms in biomedical research. I propose to examine whether altered methylation state occurs in Mus hybrids at imprinted loci previously identified in the mouse genus Peromyscus.

 

Student Researcher: Rachel Koleda

Department: Biology

Amount Rewarded: $500

Project Title: Ecological Evaluation of a Gold Course Water Feature

Project Abstract: The goal of this research project is to identify aquatic organisms already living within two small ponds located on the Northern Michigan University Golf Course, and to provide recommendations as to changes that can be made to improve the appearance and ecological sustainability of the ponds. Sampling at the site began in the fall of 2009 and included electroshock sampling for aquatic vertebrates, kick-net sampling for aquatic insects and microbial sampling. In addition, chemical conditions at the site, including water depth, temperature, pH, and dissolved oxygen were recorded twice monthly at a total of twelve locations throughout the two ponds. Funding provided by this grant would be used to purchase kits to test aquatic nitrate-nitrogen, phosphate, hardness, sulfide, carbon dioxide, ammonia and alkalinity, and to print a poster to be presented at the 2010 Celebration of Student Research. The results that will be provide from this water quality testing is a critical step in understanding the current health of the site ponds, and in generating recommendations to successfully sustain and potentially enhance the site.

Fall 2009

Student Researcher: Vanessa Thibado

Department: Biology

Amount Rewarded:

Project Title: Determining PARP Expression in Glioma Cell Lines

Project Abstract:  Glioblastoma multiforme is the most malignant and frequent primary brain tumor in adults. These tumors expand quickly and tend to recur despite surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy treatments. Alkylating agents via direct DNA repair by O6 – methylguanine methyltransferase (MGMT) has arisen as a significant barrier to effective treatment. Poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase 1 (PARP) is activated by binding to DNA breaks, and has functions related to the DNA repair done by MGMT. Therefore, inhibition of PARP has been associated with increased sensitivity to DNA-alkylating agents. This project outlines research based on the potential of PARP inhibition to enhance the antitumor activity of Temozolomide in glioblastoma cell lines. There will be multiple phases to complete the goals of the overall study, which will comprise a master’s thesis. The goal of this research is to characterize the presence or absence of functional genes for MGMT and PARP, and quantify the levels of expression in multiple cell lines. This will lay the groundwork for additional studies on cell line sensitivity to Temozolomide and PARP inhibitors, and subsequently to combinations of both agents. The intention will be to characterize growth inhibitory effects and cell death rates in cell lines exposed to monotherapy versus combination therapy. Research studies such as this are important in the identification of therapies that can overcome drug resistance, less cytotoxic side effects, and ultimately improve the prognosis of glioblastoma patients.

Student Researcher: Danny LeBert

Department: Biology

Amount Rewarded:

Project Title: Neural stem cell migratory capabilities and role in tumor metastasis

Project Abstract: Brain tumors are classified using the system implemented by the World Health Organization using their source of origin and are graded I-IV based on severity. The most malignant for is the glioblastoma multiforme, or grade IV glioma. These tumors are characterized as having rapid growth and the ability to spread away from the original tumor site. This project outlines research based on the directed migration, protein analysis and identification of glioma stem cells. The study will support previous findings as to the existence of stem cells within tumor cell colonies. It will also show these stem cells are capable of directed movement toward specific chemical attractants. This is important in that it may help explain why gliomas are able to move and develop tumors in areas distal to the original tumor location. The chemical attractant-cell receptor (protein) relationship will also be observed with the goal of further understanding tumor metastasis. The data collected during this period will comprise a substantial portion of my final master’s thesis at Northern Michigan University and will be submitted for publication upon its completion.

Student Researcher: Darrin Moir

Department: School of Art & Design

Amount Rewarded: $500

Project Title: Fine Art for the People

Project Abstract: This is a proposal for a visual arts project consisting of a series of oil paintings. The purpose of the project is to create a body of work that bridges the gap between the academic arts and the general population. The paintings aim to capture and magnify quotidian moments, show vital importance of the socio-human connection, and expand aesthetic-intellectual relativity for the general public.

 

Student Researcher: Benjamin Wilson

Department: Chemistry

Amount Rewarded: $500

Project Title: Effects on the Permeability of Calcium in the Presence of Polydimethylated Siloxanes through a Semi-Permeable Membrane

Project Abstract: Polydimethylated Siloxanes (PDMSs) are commonly found in a modern lifestyle. Humans are exposed through topical products, such as deodorant, and through oral ingestion from contamination in food processing lubricants. While these compounds do not pose an immediate toxic threat, there is little research in the secondary effects of PDMSs, such as their effect on the metal absorption. PDMSs have structures and polar properties similar to crown ethers, which are known to bind to metals. As a result, it may be possible for PDMSs to bind metals and carry them through the membrane of eukaryotic cells, bypassing the natural mechanisms for controlling metal intake. Previous work has been done on toxic metals by Dr. Wickenheiser (cadmium and lithium), and now the focus has been turned to physiologically important ionic species in the human body. Work has thus far been slow due to the difficulty in quantifying the low concentrations and volumes needed for experiments. However, experiments using the Inductively Coupled Plasma/Optical Emission Spectrometer have shown useful and reproducible results which should deliver the low concentration calibration curve needed to analyze samples into the low parts per billion level. Work will continue studying the change in calcium permeability and will start to probe the mechanism of transport.

Student Researcher: Darrin Moir

Department: School of Art & Design

Amount Rewarded: $500

Project Title: Fine Art for the People

Project Abstract: This is a proposal for a visual arts project consisting of a series of oil paintings. The purpose of the project is to create a body of work that bridges the gap between the academic arts and the general population. The paintings aim to capture and magnify quotidian moments, show vital importance of the socio-human connection, and expand aesthetic-intellectual relativity for the general public.

 

Student Researcher: Benjamin Wilson

Department: Chemistry

Amount Rewarded: $500

Project Title: Effects on the Permeability of Calcium in the Presence of Polydimethylated Siloxanes through a Semi-Permeable Membrane

Project Abstract: Polydimethylated Siloxanes (PDMSs) are commonly found in a modern lifestyle. Humans are exposed through topical products, such as deodorant, and through oral ingestion from contamination in food processing lubricants. While these compounds do not pose an immediate toxic threat, there is little research in the secondary effects of PDMSs, such as their effect on the metal absorption. PDMSs have structures and polar properties similar to crown ethers, which are known to bind to metals. As a result, it may be possible for PDMSs to bind metals and carry them through the membrane of eukaryotic cells, bypassing the natural mechanisms for controlling metal intake. Previous work has been done on toxic metals by Dr. Wickenheiser (cadmium and lithium), and now the focus has been turned to physiologically important ionic species in the human body. Work has thus far been slow due to the difficulty in quantifying the low concentrations and volumes needed for experiments. However, experiments using the Inductively Coupled Plasma/Optical Emission Spectrometer have shown useful and reproducible results which should deliver the low concentration calibration curve needed to analyze samples into the low parts per billion level. Work will continue studying the change in calcium permeability and will start to probe the mechanism of transport.


Summer 2009

Student Researcher: Allison Hahn

Department: Psychology

Amount Rewarded: $500

Project Title: Effects of Equipment Type on Dog Walking Behavior and Adoption Rates in Shelter Dogs

Project Abstract: Many factors can influence the adoption of dogs from animal shelters. One factor that may affect adoption is a dog’s behavior while on a walk with the potential adopter. At the Marquette County Humane Society, potential adopters often walk a dog before adopting. This study will consist of three six-week periods. During the first six-week period, anyone coming to the shelter to walk a dog will use a nylon buckle collar, which is routinely used by the shelter. If a potential adopter walks one or more dogs, they will be given a survey to fill out, regardless of whether or not they adopt a dog. During the second six-week period, dogs will be walked using the Easy Walk Harness, which is designed to discourage a dog from pulling on the leash while on a walk. The same survey as before will be given to potential adopters after they walk a dog using this harness. During the third six-week period, dogs will again be walked using the nylon buckle collar, and potential adopters will be given the same survey as before after they have walked a dog. The survey will ask questions regarding their experience walking the dog(s) and whether the walk differentially influenced the decision to adopt, in order to see whether or how using an anti-pull harness affects the adoption process.

 

Student Researcher: Elizabeth Holly
Department: Psychology

Amount Rewarded: $500

Project Title: Neurotensin Analog Effects on Working Memory

Project Abstract: Schizophrenia is a severely debilitating disease that affects approximately 1.1% of the population. The disease is characterized by its positive symptoms (e.g. hallucinations, delusions), its negative symptoms (e.g. social withdrawal, anhedonia) and its cognitive symptoms (e.g. impaired memory, short attention span). Current antipsychotic drugs are able to treat the positive and negative symptoms, but fail to improve the cognitive symptoms. Drugs classified as neurotensin analogs have been shown to produce antipsychotic effects and have been hypothesized to improve cognitive deficits as well. However, more research needs to be done in this field. The proposed study aims to evaluate the effects of the neuotensin analog PD149163 on working memory using a delayed non-match to sample memory task in a radial arm maze.


Winter 2009

Student Researcher: Julie Howard

Department: Biology

Amount Rewarded: $500

Project Title: Diet overlap between native brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis), nonnative coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) and nonnative steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss) in Sevenmile Creek, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Project Abstract: The introduction of two nonnative salmonids, steelhead and coho salmon, is thought to be negatively affecting native brook trout numbers in tributaries of Lake Superior. These tributaries are used for spawning and rearing habitat by all three species; space and food resources are shared between brook trout and non-native fish. While in streams, salmonids are known to feed mostly on drifting invertebrates. Experiments in the field will be performed in order to determine the composition of both the invertebrate drift and diet for the three species. Sampling of both the invertebrate drift and stomach contents will occur in three different habitat types on Sevenmile Creek and in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and will take place once per month for 12 months. Comparisons between the invertebrate drift composition and invertebrates found in stomach samples may show selectivity by fish species for prey items. Using the selectivity information, a comparison between brook trout, steelhead and coho stomach contents will be used to calculate an overlap index by habitat and month which may help illustrate the feeding strategies of these species. The theory that non-native salmonids are negatively affecting the native species will be supported by showing similar feeding strategies between the native brook trout and the non-native steelhead and coho. If the results show that feeding strategies are different between the three species, then negative interactions may not be dependent on diet. Results will be presented at scientific conferences and will serve as my M.S. thesis.

 

Student Researcher: William Severud

Department: Biology

Amount Rewarded: $500

Project Title: Can stable isotope analysis reveal diet patterns in American beaver diets?

Project Abstract: The relative use of aquatic and terrestrial food resources by American beavers (Castor Canadensis) may be influenced by predation risk. Beavers may increase their use of aquatic resources to avoid predation, and this may affect their relative fitness. In Voyageurs National Park in northern Minnesota, I will use a combination of live-trapping, vegetation surveys, and stable isotope analysis to estimate the associations between body condition and available resources, body condition and proportion of aquatic-based diet, and body condition and recruitment. My objective is to estimate the relative proportions of terrestrial and aquatic vegetation in beaver diets using stable isotope analysis. My results will elucidate whether beavers reduce predation risk by increased use of aquatic resources, and whether these aquatic resources are suitable alternatives to terrestrial resources in terms of relative fitness.

 

Student Researcher: Michael Peters
Department: Biology

Amount Rewarded: $500

Project Title: Bio-control as an Agent for Disease Control of Potato (common) Scab Disease

Project Abstract: The potato is a major food source for people worldwide. Tuber development and marketability of potato crops can be decreased by damage caused by infection with the bacterium Streptomyces scabies, the causal agent of potato (common) scab disease. Currently, prevention of this infection relies on planting seed potatoes certified free of disease, spraying fields with water, and treating the crops with chemicals. Biological control has been studied as a way to reduce damage caused by potato scab disease infection. Early in vitro experiments, which used single strains of bacteria to hinder S. scabies development, proved effective in decreasing pathogenic growth on petri dishes. This proposed research will further study biological control by planting potato tubers in pots filled with soil that has been inoculated with pathogenic and suppressive bacteria, and then raising the plants in a greenhouse setting. Previous studies of biological control used single strains of suppressive bacteria. The proposed research used two strains of suppressive Streptomyces, to verify that using pairs of suppressive bacteria are able to decrease potato scab disease better than a single strain. The presence of absence of disease symptoms will be noted and soil samples will be removed for counting of bacterial (pathogenic, suppressive, and other) populations using serial dilution. Least significant difference (LSD) (SPSS version 16.0) will be used to compare treatment (Control, A, B or A+B) versus scab disease rating. This research is the first known study to use paired suppressive strains for reduction of S. scabies populations.

 

Student Researcher: Olabisi Lashore

Department: Chemistry

Amount Rewarded: $500

Project Title: The effect of Polydimethylsiloxanes of the magnesium movement across a cell membrane

Project Abstract: This research project is based on the study of the effect of polydimethylsiloxanes (PDMS) on the transport of magnesium ions across a cell membrane. An adapted technique, called Parallel Artificial Membrane Permeability Assay (PAMPA), which is used by the pharmaceutical industry to test the intestinal absorption of drugs, will be used to create a simulation of the human intestinal membrane. The membrane created will be used to estimate intestinal cell membrane absorption of magnesium ions. The hypothesis is that PDMS affects the transport of magnesium ions because of their ability to attach to metal ions just like crown ethers do. The crown ethers form circular chains that have oxygen atoms present in the inner ring. These oxygen atoms are able to form links with metal ions, there by keeping the metal ions in the center of the ring. PDMS are used as part of a medium in cosmetics for treatment of hair and skin. If it could be shown through this experiment that dimethylsiloxanes improve cell absorption of magnesium, it might be possible to create a medication that will enable the administration of magnesium ions through the skin to affected arthritis. The skin cell membrane and intestinal cell membrane are similar because they both are epithelial cells. The analysis of magnesium ions will be determined using the flame method available in Atomic Absorption Spectrometry where the atomic absorptions of ionized (gaseous excited atom) magnesium are determined.

Fall 2008

Student Researcher: Patricia Zornio

Department: Psychology

Amount Rewarded: $500

Project Title: Discriminative Stimulus Properties of Idazoxan

Project Abstract: Schizophrenia is a life debilitating disorder which affects approximately 1% of the population. As the current treatments for schizophrenia leave much to be desired, it is imperative for more effective treatments to be pursued. In order to best improve these treatments, the pharmacological properties of the current antipsychotic drugs must be assessed. Subsequently, the current proposal seeks to uncover the behavioral and pharmacological properties of two prototypical antipsychotic drugs (clozapine and haloperidol) by using a commonly accepted method in behavioral pharmacology called drug discrimination. Clozapine and haloperidol are complex drugs that act upon a variety of systems in the brain, many of which are largely unknown. Recent literature suggests, however, that the two drugs may act upon the alpha2 noradrenergic receptors, indicating part of what may make them effective. Thus for this proposal the drug idazoxan, a characteristically classified alpha2 noradrenergic receptor antagonist, will be tested for similarity to each antipsychotic drug, resulting in the ability to conclude the importance of alpha2 noradrenergic receptor antagonism in the current antipsychotic drug model. In turn, the proposed project will aid in providing a more comprehensive understanding of what constitutes an effective antipsychotic drug for the treatment of schizophrenia.

 

Student Researcher: Trisha Sippel

Department: Biology

Amount Rewarded: $500

Project Title: The effect of glycosylation on HER2 presentation by antigen presenting cells

Project Abstract: HER2 is a protein overexpressed in some breast cancers, making it a target for cancer immunotherapy. A new target therapy is the presentation of HER2 to the immune system so that it is recognized as a foreign antigen and therefore the immune system will attack the cells overexpressing HER2. To make the immune response even more effective against HER2, the protein will be altered through glycosylation. Glycosylation has been shown to allow antigen presenting cells to present antigens more efficiently to the immune system and therefore allow for an increased immune response. The immune response will then be tested through a luminescence assay, using glycosylated and nonglycosylated HER2 presented by mouse splenocytes (antigen presenting cells) to B3Z cells (T cells that when activated produce  SHAPE  \* MERGEFORMAT -galactosidase.

 

Student Researcher: Rachel Hovel

Department: Biology

Amount Rewarded: $500

Project Title: Distinguishing hatchery and wild Chinook salmon diet using stable isotope

Project Abstract: Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) is a critical species to the Pacific Northwest region, both economically and ecologically. In recent decades, native Chinook salmon have experienced steep population declines, and viable fisheries are now supported primarily by supplementation with hatchery-raised fish. Several wild Chinook salmon populations, including those off the Washington coast, have been listed under the Endangered Species Act and concerns are on the rise over the genetic and competitive effects of hatchery raised fish on native wild stocks. This study seeks to examine the impacts of aquaculture fish on wild Chinook salmon in Skagit bay of north Puget Sound; stable isotope analysis is used to evaluate diet overlap between wild and aquaculture fish and to identify possible predation on wild salmon by larger hatchery individuals. Ultimately, this study will contribute to an understanding of the complex factors leading to the decline of this vital species.


Summer 2008

Student Researcher: Beth Webb

Department: Biology

Amount Rewarded: $500

Project Title: Do Signals Released into the rhizosphere by Chemically Challenged Agropyron sp Affect In situ Bacterial Degradation of Trichloroethylene and Toluene?

Project Abstract: Do signals released by chemically challenged Hycrest crested wheatgrass (Agropygron sp) affect in situ plant-microbe relationships? It is hypothesized that increased in situ degradation of trichlorlethylene (TCE) and toluene by Pseudomonas putida that contain Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP-P. putida) (biodegradation) will occur due to these signals when wheatgrass is grown in the presence of extracts from the rhizosphere of chemically challenged wheatgrass. Previous studies have shown wheatgrass grown in the presence of TCE/toluene release signals into the rhizosphere that enhance in vitro TCE/toluene biodegradation. GFP-P. putida will allow the accompanying plant-microbe relationship to be visually observed. Wheatgrass seeds sterilized with a Clorox solution will be inoculated with GFP-p. putida and grown on chemically modivied agar. Non modified agar will be used for control plants. Triplicate two-week-old wheatgrass plants will be treated with a 100 ppm TCE/toluene solution and extracts from control soil, control plant soil, treated soil and treated plant soil from the rhizosphere of TCE/toluene challenged wheatgrass. After 24 hours, TCE and toluene will be extracted from the agar using hexane. The TCE and toluene remaining in the hexane layer will be analyzed and quantified using Hewlett Packard/Flame Ionization Detector Gas Chromatograph with Mass Spectroscopy software. The GFP-P. putida will be quantified by visual counting. Average degraded TCE/toluene and average GFP-P. putida will be statistically analyzed using ANOVA to determine if experimental results are significantly different than control results. These data will be incorporated into a master’s thesis, presented at a public seminar and submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal.

 

Student Researcher: Amber Keusch

Department: Psychology

Amount Rewarded:  $500

Project Title: Effects of AMPAkine compounds on memory

Project Abstract: Memory deficits in schizophrenia, which are key determinates of outpatients success and quality of life, are not adequately treated with current medications. However, a novel class of experimental drugs called AMPAkines may offer improved efficacy for these deficits in schizophrenia. Studies are needed to investigate the effects that these compounds have on memory function. We recently obtained permission to test, and publish the results, for three AMPAkine compounds that were discovered by Eli Lilly Pharmaceuticals. The proposed studies will assess the ability of these three compounds to improve memory performance using a standard memory model in rodents (performance in a radial-arm maze) which we have recently setup and validated in preliminary studies. In the first of two experiments, the effects of a drug called MK-801 (a memory disruptive drug which mimics the memory deficits of schizophrenia) will be studied in order to replicate preliminary studies that found memory impairment in this task. In addition, Experiment 1 will also replicate the previous findings that nicotine reverses MK-801-induced effects in this memory task. Next, in Experiment 2 each of the AMPAkine compounds will be tested in rats treated with MK-801. This study will help illuminate the effects of a novel class of drugs on memory, which, if effective, could improve treatment for schizophrenia.

 

Student Researcher: Alicia McCauley

Department: Modern Languages and Literature

Amount Rewarded: $500

Project Title: Portuguese Language Study in Higher Education

Project Abstract: I am co-authoring a report with Dr. Susan Goodrich on the expansion of Portuguese language teaching in the Midwest and the use of authentic Brazilian music in the curriculum to enhance cultural connections among students. NMU has been able to run an accelerated sequence for students who have previously mastered Spanish for almost ten years now, offering it every other year. Its survival has been due to various programmatic factors, the increasing relevance of Portuguese in international economic and cultural fields and the growth of the Portuguese-speaking immigrant populations of the US. Within this context of enrollment trends, the paper considers the role of music-accessed through Brazilian websites- in enhancing second language acquisition (SLA) in the students of this less-commonly-taught language (LCTL). The paper also will deliver specific model lessons oriented toward the incorporation and adaptation of online music offerings for intermediate-level students, proved as a portfolios appendix for attendees. My work involves compiling statistics, researching the role of music in SLA and helping to construct the music-based portfolio. In addition, I will reflect upon the role of music in my own Brazilian Portuguese education thus far. The results have been accepted as a co-authored paper at the American Association for Teacher of Spanish and Portuguese (AATSP) which is held in July, 2008 in Costa Rica. This organization is the larges…


Winter 2008

Student Researcher: Avni Nimani

Department: Chemistry

Amount Rewarded: $500

Project Title: Sequencing and Modeling of an Anti-2’-deoxy-N^6-Methyladensosine Fv

Project Abstract: The 7C7:c5 monoclonal antibody (mAb) from the 7C7:c5 hybridoma cell line is expected to bind to DNA sequences containing the unusual nucleotide N^6 –methyladenine with high affinity (high Kz) and, thus, may prove useful for more rapid genotyping of DNA and potentially RNA. Rapid genotyping is quintessential for fast diagnoses of any type of genetic disease, which includes not only inherited diseases and cancers but also diseases caused by infection with pathogens such as viruses, bacteria, and fungi. In addition to diagnostic uses, the 7C7:C5 mAb may someday be used therapeutically in the delivery of small interfering ribonucleic acids (siRNAs) to prevent viral replication of cancer gene expression. The first major goal of this study is to obtain the genetic sequences for the 7C7:C5 mAb variable fragment (Fv). The second major goal of this study is to build a reasonable three-dimensional (3-D) computer model of the 7C7:c5 Fv based on the translated amino acid sequences. Molecular modeling requires amino acid sequence alignment to similar Fv sequences with known crystal structures. A model for antibody-antigen binding may also be possible since the specific antigen for the 7C7:C5 mAb is known. Estimations for the antibody-antigen energy of interaction can be calculated based on the computer models.

 

Student Researcher: Ben Wilson

Department: Chemistry

Amount Rewarded: $500

Project Title:  Determination of the effect on calcium transport of PDMS.

Project Abstract: The research project is aimed at studying the effects of polydimethylated siloxanes (PDMS) upon metal transport, specifically calcium ions, across a semi-permeable membrane. The membrane mimics the intestinal membrane in humans, and provides an estimate of human intestinal absorption. The procedure used is called Parallel Artificial Membrane permeability Assay (PAMPA), and is currently used in pharmaceutical development to test the intestinal absorption during drug development. The hypothesis is that PDMS affect the transport of calcium because of their ability to bind with metal ions, similar to crown ethers. People are exposed to PDMS through silicone implants, prosthetics, and external applications (such as deodorant). Also, they can be found in residue from food processing and in various inhalants. The analysis of calcium will be determined using a spectrophotometric method where the calcium will bind to a colorimetric agent (murexide) and then absorb light in the visible spectrum. A Multi-Scanner spectrometer will be used to quantitatively determine the absorbance. The absorbance will be related to the concentration of calcium through Beer’s Law, which states that the absorbance equals a constant times the length that the light travels through the sample times the concentration of the sample, giving a direct relationship to absorbance and concentration.

 

Student Researcher: Grant Slusher

Department: Biology

Amount Rewarded: $500

Project Title: Non-invasive population estimation of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) in Presque Isle Park, Marquette, Michigan using microsatellite genetic markers.

Project Abstract: This proposal outlines research that will refine field collection and molecular laboratory techniques used in population estimation of white-tailed deer (odocoileus virginianus). The significance of the study is that it will help establish precision of population estimates based on population genetic data, it will provide local community parks and recreation department staff with another estimate of park deer population size, and finally it will demonstrate the utility of a non-invasive technique for sampling large mammals. The research will entail a two-week period of collecting deer hair from six snares set up in Presque Isle Park of Marquette, Michigan followed by several months of molecular genetic analysis in the Lindsay Conservation Genetics Laboratory of Northern Michigan University. Data analysis will include: establishing individual genotypes of hair samples, generating a robust estimate of overall park white-tailed deer population size and comparing the genetic-based estimate to an exact count of deer made by volunteers during another researcher’s (Dr. John Bruggink’s ) drive census.

Student Researcher: Kyle Vrtis

Department: Chemistry

Amount Rewarded: $500

Project Title: Optimization of glutathione S-Transferase Assay for use in Phytoremediation Studies of Hycrest Crested Wheatgrass

Project Abstract: Organic contaminants in the ground are often removed by excavation of the soil and/or the addition of chemicals to the contaminated soil. An alternative to these treatments is an ecologically and aesthetically pleasing solution called phytoremediation. Phytoremediation is the removal of contaminants such as metals or organic toxins from the soil through the use of plants. In this experiment, hycrest crested wheatgrass will be tested for its ability to metabolize organic toxins in the soil. One enzyme the plants use to metabolize the soil contaminants is glutathione s-transferase (GST). An increase in the activity of GST would indicate the plant is a successful candidate for phytoremediation because it is producing more enzymes to cope with the surroundings. The activity of GST produced by the crested wheatgrass will be measured using a standard GST assay. The assay will be optimized for use with a 96-well plate reader to increase the efficiency and accuracy, while decreasing the costs of regents required for the assay.

 

Student Researcher: Steven M. Davis

Department: Biology

Amount Rewarded: $500

Project Title: Temozolomide and O6—methylguanine—DNA methyltransferase (MGMT) expression in Glioblastoma cell lines.

Project Abstract: Brain tumors (gliomas) include astrocytic, oligodendroglial, mixed, and ependymal tumors, with glioblastoma multiforme being the most malignant form (Markert et al. 2005) Patients with glioblastoma multiforme typically have survival rates of approximately 12 months and this number has not changed dramatically over the past 30 years despite advances in treatment with surgery, irradiation, and chemotherapy (Kew, Levin 2003). Temozolomide (Temodar) is an orally ingested chemotherapy agent recently approved by the FDA for use in the treatment of glioblastomas. Temozolomide chemically damages DNA. The DNA repair protein, O6—methylguanine—DNA methyltransferase (MGMT), specifically repairs this type of DNA damage in the cell. Increased levels of MGMT reduce the effectiveness of temozolomide. Increased cancer survival rates have been linked to low levels of MGMT or by blocking the activity of MGMT. This project will provide insight to MGMT expression and the effectiveness of temozolomide. Glioblastoma cell lines will be selected for positive or negative MGMT expression and will be cultured with temozolomide to determine response. RNA interference will be used to interrupt MGMT expression and temozolomide sensitivity will be assessed.

 

Student Researcher: Matt McFalls

Department: Biology

Amount Rewarded: $500

Project Title: Isolating and Sequencing Homologs of the Prawn DDS Gene

Project Abstract: The DD5 gene from the Kuruma prawn (Marsupenaeus japonicas) has been found to contain multiple tandem repeats of a chitin binding domain. In most crustacean genes, this chitin binding domain is found in small numbers, but in the DD5 gene the sequence repeats 13 times. This suggests that the DD5 gene may be an important contributor to the crustacean exoskeleton. Genes similar to DD5 may be present in other crustaceans, and DNA sequences from these homologs could be compared to the current DD5 sequence from M. japonicas. This project seeks to isolate the DD5 gene from M. japonicas using PCR, and then apply this isolation technique to crayfish and shrimp DNA. Homologs of the DD5 gene found in these crustaceans would undergo DNA sequencing for comparison to the original DD5 sequence. The DNA sequence of genes similar to DD5 in both shrimp and crayfish will provide useful data for understanding the crustacean exoskeleton.


No Summer 2007


Winter 2007

 

Student Researcher: Sara Ruiter

Department: Biology

Amount Rewarded:

Project Title: The emigration of spawning-phase lamprey (Petromyzon marinus) from the Middle River, WI and its relationship to ambient temperatures.

Project Abstract: Sea lampreys (Petromyzon marinus) are an invasive parasitic fish of the Great Lakes that feeds on other fishes. Lamprey spend their juvenile period within streams and their subadult stage out in the Great Lakes. I will look at their movements at the time of spawning, when they leave the lake and enter a stream, and what happens when they encounter a barrier. I plan to insert passive integrated transponders (PIT tags) into spawning-phase sea lamprey. The study river, Middle River, is a tributary of western Lake Superior with a low-head barrier dam. The sea lamprey will be collected using traps, fitted with PIT tags, and subsequently released. In order to assess sea lamprey movement, a stationary antenna will be placed approximately 1.2 km upstream from the mouth of the river to determine if lamprey are emigrating from the river and I will be walking the river with a portable PIT tag reader to detect sea lamprey that have stayed in the river. Lamprey will be released during four 8 day periods to see if there is a relationship between how many sea lampreys are spawning compared to the temperature. I hypothesize that if a barrier is encountered, redirected sea lamprey will still spawn within the river below the barrier since the Middle River contains a lengthy stretch of suitable downstream spawning habitat. I also expect those lampreys that migrate early in the spawning season will be more likely to emigrate out following an encounter with the barrier compared to late season migrants.

 

Student Researcher: Alex Hansen

Department: Art and Design

Amount Rewarded: $500

Project Title: “With Nothing Left” Publicity and Marketing Campaign

Project Abstract: I am currently working on a short film that I have produced, written, and directed. The film is entitled “With Nothing Left”. The film is set to be completed in early March. Because filmmaking is a highly competitive vocation, I am hoping to utilize this grant to promote this short film so that others will have an opportunity to view this creative work. Film making as an art is a highly personal endeavor but the ultimate goal is to create something that will be viewed by others and hopefully impact their view of the world. I am applying for this grant so that I may have the resources to promote this film so that it may reach an audience and thus, its full potential.

 

Student Researcher: Emily Pyle

Department: Biology

Amount Rewarded: $500

Project Title: Examination of Dendritic Cell Surface Molecules during Vesicular Stomatitis Virus Infection

Project Abstract: Early, antiviral T cell-independent responses during infection are essential for control of disease. However, the exact mechanisms of the immune system leading to a T cell-independent response are not yet known. My research focuses on a T cell-independent, vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV), and the roles that various immune system cells play during VSV-infection on a molecular and chemical level. The importance of dendritic cells in the immune response to various pathogens, including VSV, is well established. The results from the project described here will show if any difference exists between non infected and VSV-infected dendritic cells. Based on experiments using other pathogens and preliminary experiments in our laboratory with VSV, we predict that certain molecules expressed on the surface of dendritic cells will differ between infected and non-infected cells. Because each molecule plays a role in activating various cell populations, this could help explain the T cell-independent nature of VSV. In this project, I propose to grow dendritic cells, infect a portion of them with VSV, and study changes in cell surface molecules.

Fall 2006

 

Student Researcher: Katie Anderson

Department: Biology

Amount Rewarded: $500

Project Title: Songbird Response to Human Activity in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Project Abstract: As recreational human use of wild areas becomes more widespread and frequent, it becomes more important to quantify the impact of human disturbance on wildlife. Human disturbance can affect reproduction, survival, and habitat use by birds. Forests in parks and preserves are often managed for both wildlife use and human recreation; however, both goals cannot be met without knowledge of how one affects the other. This project will quantify human use and bird communities along 10 experimental trail transects in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Human activity will be quantified with infrared trail monitors. Transects will be surveyed for birds seen or heard weekly to obtain data on abundance, diversity, and density by date and seasonally. Mean human activity will be calculated for each transect by date and seasonally. The results will be analyzed using regression to identify any relationships. I am requesting funds to cover the cost of 2 infrared trail monitors. The rest of the budget will be covered by funds and equipment from the National Park Service.

 

Student Researcher: Sarah Jacobson

Department: Psychology

Amount Rewarded:  $500

Project Title: Importance of Serotonin for antipsychotic drug-induced cortical dopamine release

Project Abstract: Schizophrenia is a severe and debilitating mental disease. Atypical antipsychotic drugs are successful in treating most symptoms of schizophrenia. An important basis for atypical antipsychotic drug action may be an increase of dopamine in the prefrontal cortex of the brain. It is not well known why atypical antipsychotic drugs are capable of enhancing dopamine levels in the prefrontal cortex, but stimulation of a receptor in the prefrontal cortex called the serotonin 1A receptor may be important for this effect. Because atypical antipsychotic drugs also increase and release of serotonin in the prefrontal cortex, the increased release of serotonin may stimulate the serotonin 1A receptor, and thus, increase the release of dopamine in this region. However, this link between serotonin release and dopamine release in the prefrontal cortex has yet to be determined. In this proposal, I intend to use a technique called microdialysis to assess the effects of an atypical antipsychotic drug on dopamine and serotonin release in the prefrontal cortex of rats. In order to assess the link between serotonin and dopamine release in the prefrontal cortex, I will treat rats with a drug called MDMA, which is known to deplete the brain of serotonin. Thus, in serotonin-depleted rats, atypical antipsychotic drugs will not be able to increase serotonin release in the prefrontal cortex, and therefore, may not be able to increase dopamine release in this region either. These studies may aid in understanding the mechanism that may explain the efficacy of these drugs n schizophrenia.


Summer 2006

 

Student Researcher: Rachel Holman

Department: Biology

Amount Rewarded: $500

Project Title: Evaluation of Coaster and Resident Brook Trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) Metabolic Biochemistry

Project Abstract: Brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) exhibit highly variable life history traits within. There often exist both anadromous (migrant) and nonanadromous (non-migrant) forms within a population. Some Lake Superior brook trout commonly called coasters occupy near-shore areas at one time or another during their lives. The mechanisms involved in the determination of migration orresidency are not well understood, however, the metabolism of the fish likely plays an important role. Metabolic patterns can be involved with morphological traits, and therefore, life-history strategies. Four strains of brook trout are being sampled once a month over four consecutive days. Sixteen fish from strain are sampled per day by placing eight in a salt water challenge tank and another eight in a freshwater tank. After twenty four hours, the fish are prepared for measurement and tissue sampling. Lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), citrate synthase (CS), and pyruvate kinase (PK) activities in liver and white muscle will be measured using microplate spectrophometer colorimetric assays. It is expected that there will be observed spikes of enzyme activity suggestive of metabolic shifts in migratory fish as the fish move toward adulthood. There may also be an increase in CS levels indicative of higher aerobic capacity/activity in coaster strains. I expect to observe an evident difference in metabolism that will relate to life history patterns in brook trout.

 

Student Researcher: Beth Webb

Department: Biology

Amount Rewarded: $500

Project Title: Development of Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP) Transformed Pseudomonas putida into a Phytoremediation Bacterial Marker

Project Abstract: The soil bacterium Pseudomonas putida will be developed into a visual aid that will be used to determine if increased bacterial root colonization occurs in the presence of soil contaminants. Pseudomonas putida will be transformed with Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP) from Aequorea Victoria (jellyfish) using BioRad Bacterial Transformation Kit. Hycrest crested wheatgrass seeds (Agropyron sp.) will be inoculated with GFP-P. putida and grown on modified agar plates. Experimental plates will be modified with µL of Trichloroethylene (TCE) and toluene. Chlorine-ion free agar will be prepared when testing for bacterial degradation of TCE. Increased root colonization by P.putida will be determined by visually counting the fluorescent bacterial colonies using an Olympus BX-41 Fluorescent Microscope. Data from this study will be used to supplement results from a current Masters Thesis Project that determined Hycrest crested wheatgrass releases a signal that enhances in vitro bacterial degradation (bioremediation) of TCE and toluene.


Winter 2006

 

Student Researcher: Lindsey M. Larson

Department: Chemistry (Water Science)

Amount Rewarded: $500

Project Title: Physiological response to salinity challenge in coaster brook trout juveniles

Project Abstract: Migratory freshwater brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis), commonly called coasters, are a vital part of the Lake Superior watershed, but with limited data available on their life history it has been difficult to classify their role within the Salmonidae family. A common indicator of a fish’s preparation for migration, osmoregulation, or the control of plasma electrolytes and water entering and exiting the body, is a key factor in the freshwater to saltwater transition for many salmonids. In our experiment, we will be measuring Na+, K+-ATPase enzyme activity in fish gills, an indicator of osmoregulatory ability, as well as Na+ and Cl- concentrations in fish plasma. The results of this experiment will allow us to better understand coaster brook trout that are preparing for migration and place them in the context of the published literature on migration of salmonids.

 

Student Researcher: Benjamin Van Handel

Department: Chemistry

Amount Rewarded: $500

Project Title: Synthesis of Materials with Non-Linear Optical Properties Based on Propellane

Project Abstract: Expedient and efficient methods for information transfer and storage have become increasingly important as the world has progressed into the digital era. Not surprisingly, traditional technological capabilities are becoming insufficient in the face of the rapid growth in the information sector and the demands made by infrastructure users. To this end, organic molecules with non-linear optical (NLO) properties have been developed to act as second generation materials in data transfer and storage devices, as well as for projected uses in new technologies. Generally, molecules exhibiting NLO responses are highly polarizable, transparent to visible light, and stable under thermal and chemical stress. This project will attempt to synthesize and quantify the properties of a novel class of molecules designed specifically with the aforementioned properties in mind, based on propellane. Using computer modeling techniques, molecules containing the propellane nucleus and having an electron-donating group on one end and an electron-accepting group on the other end have been predicted to exhibit a high degree of NLO response. Progress toward the synthesis and characterization of these novel compounds will be presented at the national American Chemistry Society meeting in Atlanta in March. These data will be compared with literature values of other organic compounds exhibiting NLO responses.

 

Student Researcher: Mary Katherine Leewis

Department: Biology

Amount Rewarded:  $500

Project Title: Assessment of Aquatic Macrophytes on Ecoli & Pathogenic Bacterial Concentrations of Recreational Beaches

Project Abstract: The indicator organism used in beach monitoring for most Great Lakes is Escherichia coli, as high levels of this organism have been correlated with recent fecal contamination events. These events may contain other, more pathogenic, bacteria and pose a risk to human health. Another serious problem at many beaches are stands of aquatic macrophytes. It has been recently hypothesized that these stands may harbor high concentrations of E.coli, in manner similar to the green alga Cladophora, and allow for the proliferation of these indicator bacteria. The objectives of this project are to determine a relationship between macrophyte presence and E.coli levels and to determine the clonality and diversity of bacteria found on macrophyte leaves. This project examines the relationship between aquatic macrophytes and E.coli concentrations in a laboratory setting.

Fall 2005

 

Student Researcher: Samuel Graci Jr.

Department: Chemistry

Amount Rewarded: $500

Project Title: Expression of a Recombinant Cuticle Protein in Insect Cells

Project Abstract: The insect cuticle, also known as the xoskeleton, is a complex composite composed mainly of fibers and proteins. The major fiber component of the insect cuticle is chitin, a sugar polymer of N-acetyl-glucosamine. Chitin provides the mechanical and structural properties to the cuticle and is held in place by chitin binding proteins. Approximately half of all sequenced cuticle proteins share a consensus region, first identified by Rebers and Riddiford (1998). The consensus sequence, known as the R&R consensus, is a 35-36 amino acid sequence which has been shown to be sufficient and necessary to bind chitin (Rebers and Wilis 2001). In previous studies conducted by Rebers and Willis only a small percentage of the protein was able to bind chitin in the experiments. One possible explanation is the way the proteins were made and purified. The proteins previously investigated were made by bacteria cells, which lack some of the protein processing mechanisms that more complex eukaryotic cells (cells with a nucleus) possess. If cuticular proteins are produced in eukaryotic insect cells, they are more likely to be processed correctly and their chitin binding efficiency should be restored. If positive results are obtained further work can be done on the structure and mechanism of chitin bonding.

 

 

Student Researcher: Meggin Weinandt

Department: Biology

Amount Rewarded: $500

Project Title: Assessing the Conservation Implications of Common Loon (Gavia immer) Parasites: Black Flies, Haematozoans and the Loon Immune Response.

Project Abstract: Loons are top-level predators of nearctic lacustrine habitats, and loon populations are often monitored as indicators of overall habitat quality. Loon productivity is notably affected by human disturbance and habitat modification, yet variability in nesting success remains partially unexplained. Despite the observation that parasitic associations can dramatically modify host population dynamics, parasites have often been overlooked in population studies of many organisms, including loons. The effects of blood parasites on loon reproductive ecology have been considerably understudied. Through a serious of field and lab experiments designed to 1) document blood parasite prevalence and density, and 2) determine immune function in common loons, this study ultimately will provide a clearer picture of the factors affecting loon productivity. Further, by exploring these host-parasites interactions, wildlife managers will gain an increased knowledge of factors that affect common loon conservation.

 

Student Researcher:Renee Kirchewitz

Department: Art and Design

Amount Rewarded: $500

Project Title: Foamie Furniture

Project Abstract: Since beginning the furniture design program at Northern Michigan University I have been forming compound curvilinear pieces of furniture using the wood and metal available. However, being a designer requires looking for new innovative ways to reach the desired product. Experimentation has led me to research different mediums. My goal is to create compound curves, but also to have lightweight furniture for easy transportation and rearrangement. Through research I have discovered chemicals that produce flexible polyurethane foam. The chemical that will be used is I-Skin produced by Utah Foam. The greatest benefit to using this liquid chemical is that it can be cast. This process allows for the desired production of compound curves while the attributes of foam will allow for ease of transportation and arrangement. Also, this particular chemical produces a tough surface guaranteeing durability. Another benefit to the process is beyond purchasing the polyurethane chemicals, no complex materials or equipment is needed. Northern Michigan University has the materials and equipment for casting and only a drill, bucket, and pair of hands is required for mixing the chemicals. Using learned techniques and the University’s facilities the best process for utilizing this new medium will be discovered. Experimentation will then lead to production of at least three pieces of furniture which will be presented to classmates and a panel of professors at 303 Art Review on November 14th. Throughout the semester I will be sharing my work with classmates and introducing a new medium into the Furniture Design program. 


Summer 2005

 

Student Researcher: Rebecca Swett

Department: Chemistry

Amount Awarded: $500

Project Title: Binding Studies on P450 3A4

Project Abstract: P450 3A4 found in human liver and intestine tissue is a critical enzyme in the metabolism of numerous xenobiotic compounds including many commonly used drugs. There are three features of 3A4 that contribute to its role as a drug metabolizing enzyme. It is highly abundant and it can metabolize many types of compounds as substrates. Its metabolism is allosteric, which means that its behavior is dependant on the number of substrate molecules present inside the enzyme at any given time.  The focus of the proposed research is to examine a possible mechanism for the behavior of the enzyme. Using computational techniques, we will test the hypothesis that the observed allosteric behavior results from the ability of 3A4 to bind two substrate molecules in or near the active site. The substrate chosen for the study is progesterone. An animated video of the progression of progesterone from the exterior of the molecule to the two binding pockets in the interior of the molecule will be created. This video will allow frame by frame analysis of the movement of the substrate as it moves into both binding pockets and calculation of the associated binding energies of each step. Automated docking calculations will also be used to determine binding energies for progesterone with 3A4 allosteric binding will allow fore more efficient drug development and better predictions of drug metabolism rates.

 

 

Student Researcher: Jessica Straczowski

Department: Education

Amount Awarded: $500

Project Title: The Effect of Inquiry Teaching on Elementary-level German Instruction

Project Abstract: This research focuses on using the Inquiry Method to teach German to two second-grade classes at Vandenboom Elementary. The classrooms include both regular education students and students with learning Disabilities (LD) and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). Using pre-posttests, observation, videotapes, and interviews the research will attempt to measure if Inquiry Learning results in 1) more student enjoyment of learning and 2) better retention among both regular education students and those with LD and ADD. The research project will involve collaboration among the second grade teachers, German majors at NMU, and special education majors at NMU and will further the Inquiry Research already being done at Vandenboom by Dr. Kathy Heikkila. Research results will be shared at a conference, and will hopefully also result in the publication of a curriculum guide for teaching foreign language to elementary students. Permission to conduct the research has already been obtained from the Vandenboom principal and teachers, and parents have signed a relsease for their children to be involved.


Winter 2005

 

Student Researcher: Beth Webb

Department: Biology

Amount Rewarded: $500

Project Title: Identification of signal compound(s) produced by hycrest crested wheatgrass (agropyrons) duing phytoremediation of trichloroethylene and/or toluene.

Project Abstract: Results from a preliminary phytoremediation study (Webb and Putman, 2004 unpublished work) with Hycrest Crested Wheatgrass (Agropyron s.) support the hypothesis that during phytoremediation plants produce a “signal(s)” that encourage microbial degradation of contaminants (bioremediation). This greenhouse study will investigate further by looking for small, non-enzymatic signal compound(s) produced by wheatgrass in response to Trichloroethylene (TCE) and/or Toluene. Treatments consist of 50 mL of a 100 ppm 50/50 TCE/Toluene solution applied to 3 pots without wheatgrass and 3 pots with wheatgrass, once every other day, for a total of 4 days. Six untreated pots (3 without and 3 with wheatgrass) will be watered using 50 mL of tap water. Methylene chloride will be used first to extract nonpolar compound(s) from all soil samples followed by methanol to extract less nonpolar compound(s). These 12 soil extracts will be included with Pseudomonas putida in an in vitro degradation assay to determine if wheatgrass released a compound(s) that enhanced the bacterial degradation of TCE and/or Toluene. Degradation amounts will be determined by extracting TCE/Toluene from the viable cultures with pentane and using a Hewlet Packard-HP 6890 Series, Flame Ionization Detector Gas Chromatograph to analyze these extracts. The TCE and Toluene peak areas on the resulting chromatogram will be compared. The sample mean and standard deviations of the sample means will be graphed using Excel. Extracts indicating enhanced degradation will be separated into fractions using Sephadex LH-20 size exclusion Chromatography and then analyzed by Thermal Electron Corporation Gas Chromatograph/Mass Spectrometer (GC/MS)/MS Database Library.