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McNair Scholars Program

Summer 2003 Research Projects

Scholar: Jason DaVee
Mentor: Roy Barnett, Ph.D.

The Increase of Female Criminality and its Relationship to Abuse

The general aim of this research was to determine why there has been such a sharp increase in the number of violent female offenders. According to the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), the number of children who were victims of maltreatment between 1990 and 1994 increased twenty-seven percent. Other research sponsored by the NIJ found that the odds of future delinquency for a female child rose by 77 percent when they had experienced childhood neglect or abuse.

Since the dramatic increase in female offenders is paralleled by an even greater increase of family violence, one can hypothesize that the increase of female offenders is directly related to the increase of family violence.

Using a survey conducted by Dr. Roy Barnett of 776 college students from three Universities in Oklahoma, I discovered that individuals who were maltreated were also more likely to report having been recently depressed, to having hurt someone badly enough to need bandages or a doctor, having stole something worth more than $50, and having used illegal drugs.

Basically, the survey shows that females who are maltreated have higher levels of criminal activity and depression than females who have not experienced maltreatment. Since this survey was conducted across three different universities the chances of sectional treads is quite low. Also, traditional type factors of influence on their delinquency was limited by the fact that over 75% of the surveyed population was white, 76% grew up with two parents, and 80% of those families making 30,000 or more annually.


Scholar: Hollie Davis
Mentor: Timothy Rozell, Ph.D.


What effect does elapsed time and methods of handling have on the amount of atresia and quality of mRNA contained in the bovine ovarian follicle?

Handling methods and storage temperatures are important factors to consider when working with mRNA and follicular fluid. In past experiments consistent results were not being achieved when a RT-PCR or Northern Blot was run on the RNA aspirated from ovaries shipped from Nebraska. The purpose of this experiment was to determine if this was due to the fact that the increase of time between slaughter and aspirating the ovaries allowed the mRNA to start its degradation process before testing.

Bovine ovaries were collected from the Tyson Meat Processing Facility, in Emporia Kansas and were transported with in two hours to the laboratory. The ovaries were divided at the processing facility into three different experimental groups. One group was transported at approximately 25 C, the second group was transported in ice, approximately 4 C, and the third group was transported after being snap frozen in liquid nitrogen, approximately -70 C. Upon returning to the lab a sampling of ovaries from each experimental group was further divided into subgroups based on time; 2 hours, 24 hours, and 48 hours.

Based on the results from the experiment, the ideal time and temperature to aspirate and grade ovaries seems to be 2 hours post harvest and storage at 25 C. This group yielded the most evenly distributed numbers for grades. With this in mind I would recommend an alternate method of shipping ovaries in the future.


Scholar: Carmelita Goossen
Mentor: Larry Erpelding, Ph.D.


Effective Methods of Recruiting Minority Students to the Kansas State University College of Agriculture

Minority recruitment is a major concern in today's colleges of agriculture. This study investigated effective methods of recruiting minority students to the Kansas State University (KSU) College of Agriculture and factors influencing a student's decision to attend or not attend. Two populations were analyzed. The first population consisted of minority undergraduate students currently enrolled in the KSU College of Agriculture, and the second group consisted of minority students who were accepted to the KSU College of Agriculture, but chose not to attend. The results provided a demographic profile on the participants and data on their perceived notions of specific minority recruitment methods. The first population yielded a 21.4% response rate, while the second yielded a 13% response rate. Ninety-three percent who completed the surveys indicated a need for recruiting culturally diverse students to the KSU College of Agriculture. The three most effective methods of recruiting minority students, according to the enrolled population, were: "Scholarships", "Multicultural faculty one-on-one contact with students", and "Pre-college educational on-campus work experience for minority high school leaders." In contrast, both groups agreed "regular email updates from the college" and "video or PowerPoint presentations designed for minority recruitment" were less effective. When comparing the two groups, there was a clear difference in the influence that diversity on campus had on the students' decisions to attend or not attend KSU. "Diversity on campus" was rated higher by the students who did not enroll in KSU's College of Agriculture compared to those who did.


Scholar: Tara Hacker
Mentor: Nancy Gyurcsik, Ph.D.


Barriers to Moderate Physical Activity in Hispanic Women with Arthritis

Regular physical activity is one recommended strategy to self-manage negative health impacts of arthritis. This study examined barriers to regular moderate physical activity in adult Hispanic women with arthritis. Participants were 14 Hispanic women with arthritis who were not moderately active regularly. Subjects participated in one of two focus groups. Qualitative analyses of the data revealed that participants identified a number of intrapersonal (e.g., pain from arthritis), interpersonal (e.g., family responsibilities), institutional (e.g., cost of exercise facilities), community (e.g., safety), public policy (e.g., lack of city council attention to physical environmental barriers), and physical environmental (e.g., poor sidewalks) barriers to engaging in moderate physical activity. From a public health perspective, findings may have implications in the design of physical activity interventions needed to make a larger impact on the health of Hispanic women with arthritis by taking a multi-pronged approach to alleviate a breadth of barriers.


Scholar: Kristy Morales
Mentor: Lorena Passarelli, Ph.D.

Interaction between late expression factors 8 and 9 in a virally-encoded RNA polymerase

The Autographa californica M nuclopolyhedrosis (AcMNPV) late expression factor-9 (lef-9) gene encodes a subunit of the virally encoded RNA polymerase specific for the transcription of late and very late genes. This subunit contains 5 of the 7 residues in a conserved motif present in large subunits of other polymerases. In these polymerases, the motif is part of the catalytic center of the enzyme complex. Alteration of this motif in lef-9 revealed that it was necessary for late promoter expression, suggesting that it is a potential catalytic center. Lef-8 also contains a conserved motif that has been shown to be essential in the expression of late and very late genes. We suggest that the catalytic center of the RNA polymerase is formed by different subunits interacting to bring the catalytic motifs in close proximity and in the correct spatial arrangement for proper function. Additionally, there is preliminary evidence that LEF-8 and LEF-9 interact in a related baculovirus, Bombyx mori nucleopolyhedrovirus (BmNPV). Although additional experiments are needed to complete our proposed work, we have optimized conditions for the expression of the desired proteins and we will proceed to test their interaction in AcMNPV.


Scholar: Aaron Wech
Mentor: Charles Cocke, Ph.D.


Electron Capture from Atomic and Molecular Hydrogen by O8+ at Low to Intermediate Impact Energies

This experiment measured single electron capture from atomic and molecular hydrogen targets by O8+ ions at projectile velocities ranging from 0.5 to 0.95 a.u. The energy gain as well as the projectile transverse momentum gain was recorded through the use of cold target recoil-ion momentum spectroscopy. For this capture reaction, the reaction window was found to increase as the projectile energy increased. The angular distributions for the atomic hydrogen interactions center at the half Coulomb angle over the lower velocity range, but higher scattering angles for the lower energy gains were found at higher velocities (vp = 0.95 a.u.). These higher scattering angles for lower energy gains were also prevalent over the entire projectile velocity range studied in the molecular hydrogen interaction. In the atomic hydrogen collisions at all velocities, the n = 5 states were dominantly populated, as predicted by theory (Teck Lee), though the n = 6 state was also heavily populated, contrary to theory. Also, differing from theoretical predictions, the presence of both n = 7 and n = 4 populations were measured at all velocities with the relative cross section of each increasing with increasing velocities due to the reaction window increase. The close-coupling calculations for the over- the-barrier model are able to accurately describe the dominant channel of capture, but this theory shows little evidence of its ability to accurately describe the relative cross sections of the final captured states.


Scholar: Kai Wong
Mentor: William Kuhn, Ph.D.

Low Cost Microwave Network Analyzer

In today's high technology market, manufacturers are looking to build better products for wireless applications such as mobile phones, pagers and cordless equipment. Testing of these high frequency components requires a Microwave Network Analyzer, which costs around $45,000 or more -- a major obstacle for many microwave circuit researchers and designers at engineering colleges. This paper provides a way to own a similar set of instruments with about one tenth of the funding.

A LabVIEW program can perform SOL calibrations and acquire/display the reflection coefficients of the device under test on the computer screen in a Smith chart. With the addition of a LabVIEW program to our older Hewlett-Packard network analyzer set, calibration correction factors can be applied, accomplish the same task as today's one-piece system, but at very low cost.

Comparing the SOL standards re-measured after completing the calibration results to our theoretical results of the SOL standards, this paper shows, they were well matched. Comparing the measurements taken with the reference plane modified using the 8743B line-stretcher to our theoretical values, we concluded that our LabVIEW program is working accurately with our network analyzer set. For economic reasons, the tradeoff of our system is taking more time than the modern machine to calibrate the network analyzer and collect the data points is acceptable. Since our project LabVIEW VI only applies to One Port calibration, further enhancement is needed to make it available for Two Ports, to make a complete "microprocessor-equipped" Microwave Network Analyzer set. Source code has been published on the Internet to allow others to both use our existing product and extend it to 2-port measurements if desired.


Scholar: Russell Yarnell
Mentor: Philip Barnes, Ph.D.

Determining Nitrogen and Phosphorus Losses from Urban Lawns

Fertilization of lawns places tons of nitrogen and phosphorus on the earth's surface, making it susceptible to runoff. Environmental concerns arise when nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations in streams and lakes promote rapid growth of plants, disturbing the natural ecology. Determining parameters that contribute to nutrient loss is important. The study investigated the correlation between soil moisture and nutrient losses in runoff. A 9.1 m x 18.3 m area was prepared with Kentucky bluegrass. Nine random plots, 1.5 m x 1.5 m (5 ft. x 5 ft.) consisted of three soil moistures: dry, normal, or moist. After achieving proper soil moisture, fertilizer was applied and then simulated rainfall proceeded. Two series of tests used 10-10-10 concentrations, one with dry granules, and the other using liquid formulation. The simulator provided an intensity of 5 cm hr-1 (2 in hr-1) for 1 hour. Analyzing nutrient concentrations in runoff samples showed significance in ammonium and phosphorus for dry soil conditions. Nitrates showed no significance for dry fertilizer. Phosphorus losses with the dry fertilizer ranged 2.96% to 6.50% while the nitrogen losses ranged 2.25% to 4.09%. For the liquid fertilizer, phosphorus, ammonium, and nitrate all showed significant difference for the moist plots. Phosphorus also showed significance between all three ranges of soil moisture. In the plots fertilized with a liquid formulation, phosphorus losses ranged 1.20% to 16.52% and nitrogen losses ranged 0.73% to 11.55%. From the observed results, allowing the soil to dry before fertilization will reduce the nutrient loss in runoff.