1. K-State home
  2. »McNair Scholars Program
  3. »Research Abstracts
  4. »Summer 2013 Research Projects

McNair Scholars Program

Summer 2013 Research Projects

Scholar: Brandy M. Carter
Mentor: Carolyn Ferguson, Ph.D.

Management of a Research Natural History Collection: KSU Herbarium

Scientists, students, researchers, and even the curious public have many resources at their disposal when it comes to the study of our natural world. By far the best and most useful of these tools is a good collection of well-organized scientific specimens. In the field of Botany, this collection of carefully cataloged and dried specimens is called an herbarium, and is used for scientific research and study as well as teaching purposes. The herbarium at Kansas State University, located in Bushnell Hall, was established in 1877 and houses approximately 200,000 specimens and is one of the oldest in the Great Plains region. The KSU Herbarium is run by a small staff of students, professors, and other workers, who perform the day-to-day tasks of sourcing specimens, their sorting and evaluation, mounting, cataloging, preparation, and imaging. The task of managing all these workers and their different duties falls to the Herbarium's curator, who oversees all the aspects of the herbarium as well as maintaining relationships with other herbaria and museums. Running the KSU Herbarium is a complex job with many different facets and tasks, most of which I learned and performed over the space of two months at the KSU Herbarium, and the techniques I learned and will detail here are applicable to the management of any natural history collection.

Scholar: Kathryn Douglass
Mentor: Philip Barnes, Ph.D.


Comparison of Environmental Effects of Agricultural Practices in Kansas and Southern Africa

In order to meet the current and future food demands, farmers will have to reexamine their practices, and have a better understanding of the ecosystem. Taking care of our natural resources will prove to be a challenge, but environmental health is a key factor to good production. Kansas is known as the breadbasket of the world, and while there is unlimited access to knowledge and resources, farmers still need to decrease their environmental impact through Better Management Practices (BMPs). Soil and water conservation are necessary with current predicted global climate models, and while Kansas has more freedom to be less conscientious, farmers in South Africa and Mozambique do not. Mozambique and a good portion of South Africa are small scale farmers, sustaining themselves and their families, and there is still a high demand for food. The only way for Southern Africa to develop to a point where farmers develop more sustainable practices is better agricultural policies, increased government involvement in terms of access to knowledge and financing, as well as a strong extension agency with more developed research. Until the education sector is developed, it will be difficult to understand the true environmental effects from their agricultural production.

Scholar: Olivia Eller
Mentor: Ted Morgan, Ph.D.


The Effect of Cooling Rate on the Rapid Cold Hardening Response of Drosophila melanogaster

Temperature is a climatic variable that is constantly changing, creating stress for organisms. We utilize Drosophila melanogaster as a model species to study how organisms respond to this stress.  One phenotypic response of interest is called rapid cold hardening (RCH).  RCH is a short-term acclimation response in which an organism is exposed to a non-lethal cold temperature before being exposed to an extreme cold temperature.  This non-lethal pretreatment generally improves cold survival.  Some previous experiments investigating the RCH response have not done so in an ecologically relevant context.  Therefore, we created an experimental environment to mimic natural conditions using thermal ramping. We compared survivorship after an extreme cold shock between flies that received a ramping pretreatment and flies that received a non-ramping pretreatment.  Our results indicate that the speed of cooling does not have a significant effect on an individual’s ability to acclimate and survive extreme cold temperatures. 

Scholar: Angelique Foye
Mentor: Joyce Baptist, Ph.D.


National Guard Youth: Influence of Family and Environmental Systems on Alcohol Use

This pilot study examines the extent behavior in school and home, academic work, and family environment influences alcohol use among National Guard youth who have experienced parental deployment. Participants were 33 National Guard youth participating in a summer camp. Results indicated that behavioral problems in school and increased difficulty with extended family were positive contributors to alcohol use while difficulty with school work negatively contributed to alcohol use. Family environment did not significantly contribute to reduced alcohol use as hypothesized.  It is possible that the attention given to the adolescent struggling with school work may prohibit the need for the adolescent to use alcohol to cope with academic stress. The role of difficulty with extended family needs to be further investigated. This pilot data served as the basis for a more comprehensive study that will be conducted in August 2013.

Scholar: Kirti Gandhi
Mentor: Craig Harms, Ph.D.


Contribution of Dysanapsis to Exercise Expiratory Flow Limitation in Pre- vs. Post-Pubescent Children

Expiratory flow limitation occurs due to the imbalance between the ventilatory demands of exercise and the capacity of the airways to meet these demands. A recent study from our lab (Swain et al 2010) surprisingly found an extremely high prevalence (95%) of EFL in both prepubescent boys and girls. Furthermore, dysanapsis has been reported to be a determinant of EFL. It is not known however how dysanapsis contributes to EFL in children from pre to post pubescence. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to determine if the prevalence of EFL was attributed to dysanapsis in pre-pubescent compared to post-pubescent boys vs. girls. It was hypothesized that 1) the post-pubescent children would have a lower prevalence of EFL compared to pre-puberty, 2) dysanapsis ratios (DR) would be greater in post-compared to pre-pubescent children, and 3) post-puberty girls would demonstrate lower DR and greater prevalence of EFL compared to post-puberty boys.

Fourteen (8 boys, 6 girls) healthy post-pubescent children, (ages 12-16 years), who were previously tested while they were pre puberty were recruited and volunteered as subjects. Subjects completed standard pulmonary function tests (PFT) and a maximal aerobic exercise test (VO2max). VO2max and PFT significantly increased from pre to post puberty (~13-25%). Dysanapsis ratio also significantly increased from pre to post-pubescence. However, prevalence of expiratory flow limitation significantly decreased from pre-boys to post-boys and from pre-girls to post-girls. Both pre-pubescent boys and girls with a DR of approximately 0.14 all experienced expiratory flow limitation. In contrast, only 12.5% of post-pubescent boys with a DR of approximately 0.17 experienced EFL. In addition, only 33.3% of post-pubescent girls with a DR of approximately 0.19 experienced EFL.

This study determined that during maturation from pre to post pubescence, prevalence of EFL in both post-pubescent boys and girls decreased, whereas DR increased. Post-puberty boys showed a lower DR and lower prevalence of EFL than post-puberty girls.

Scholar: Joshua Klarmann
Mentor: Nathan Albin, Ph.D.


Summation by parts operators of high order with diagonal H norm

Finite difference operators have been evaluated previously up to order 8 with positive diagonal norm. There are also operators of 10th, 12th, and 14th order, developed from an algorithm that proves the existence of such operators for varying block dimension and block order utilizing the Fredholm Alternative Theorem. Results were computed using a combination of Python evaluations and Matlab mathematical software. Operators of order 10 with 5th, 4th and 3rd order blocks are found as well as 12th order operators with 6th, 4th and 3rd order closures, and a 14th order operator with 7th order closure. Furthermore, lower order operators (4th, 6th, 8th) are also investigated to establish trends for lesser closure orders. All approximations are for firrst derivative only and dependent on several free variables. Operators satisfy positive diagonal norm in order to mind stability issues on curvilinear grids. Operators found were not optimized for spectral radii.

Keywords: Summation By Parts, High order finite difference methods, Curvilinear grids

Scholar: Jack Lemmon
Mentor: K.C. Olson, Ph.D.


Evaluation of Dietary Botanical Composition of Beef Cows

Visual microhistology (VMH), a laborious and time-consuming process, is used to evaluate botanical composition of grazing-herbivore diets by visually identifying plant fragments in fecal material via microscopy. Less labor intensive means to assess botanical composition of herbivore diets are desirable. We evaluated hyper-spectral reflectance spectroscopy (HSRS) as an alternative that may be useful for identifying individual plant-species fragments in fecal material; moreover, it is easily automated, allowing more rapid estimation of dietary botanical composition than VMH. We used 5 non-pregnant, non-lactating, 4-year old beef cows in a 5 × 5 Latin-square experiment. Known blends of alfalfa (Medicago sativa) and smooth bromegrass (Bromis inermis) were fed to each cow at 2.2% of BW daily in the following ratios : 100:0, 75:25, 50:50, 25:75, and 0:100. Fecal samples were collected at the end of each of five 7-day feeding periods. Fecal samples will be analyzed via HSRS and VMH to compare predictive power of the two techniques.

Key Words: beef cows, botanical composition, microhistology, reflectance spectroscopy.

Scholar: Cameron Lucero
Mentor: Garth Thompson, Ph.D.


Automated Conflict Detection & Mitigation for En Route Coordinated Flight Paths

In today's general aviation industry the number of aircraft that are occupying the nation's airspace continues to grow. This growth is causing concerns such as Air Traffic Control (ATC) management limitations. Due to human operation within ATC, their ability to detect and mitigate collisions is causing delays, which in turn is causing issues such as costs incurred within industry and the public who travel by plane. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA) have initiated many projects to resolve these issues, such as the Small Aircraft Transportation System (SATS) and now Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen), which is pushing technology in autopilot advancement.

Autopilot design involves the process of modeling a system and its states and developing a method of controlling those states autonomously. Comprised within an autopilot is a feedback control system and a complex array of sensors. In this document we will look at the components of autopilot design like modeling the kinematics and kinetics and then looking at how to implement them into a control structure, which is what controls the performance of the aircraft.

Scholar: Talus McCowan
Mentor: Mary Cain, Ph.D.


Relationship Between Novelty Seeking, Ultrasonic Vocalizations, and Incentive Salience

This study investigated the relationship between novelty, ultrasonic vocalizations, incentive salience, and drug exposure. Rats were exposed to 3 novelty screens; each measuring different aspects of novelty. Following the screens they had repeated exposures to either amphetamine (0.3mg/kg or 1.0mg/kg), or saline. Animals were then trained in a Pavlovian conditioning procedure to measure goal and sign tracking. Analysis of the results revealed there was a significant increase in vocalizations from the 2 minutes before tickling between the first and last day of the tickle screen there was also a positive correlation between the change in USVs and the preference ratio calculated from the novelty place preference. These results indicate that the animals that increased the most between days 1 and 4 of the tickle screen also were the highest novelty seekers in the Novelty Place Preference Screen, suggesting a relationship between these individual differences and reward sensitivity.

Scholar: Marian Mersmann
Mentor: Mary Cain, Ph.D.


Environmental Enrichment and Pavlovian Conditioned Fear: A Role for pCREB

It is well established that environmental enrichment produces a number of behavioral and neurobiological differences in animals, including performance on learning and memory tasks, synaptic plasticity, efficacy of synaptic transmission, and levels of cyclic adenosine monophosphate response element binding protein (CREB). Because of its importance to learning, and because of the capability of enrichment to increase it, this study examined whether differential rearing altered the expression of phosphorylated CREB (pCREB) following the extinction of Pavlovian-conditioned fear. Behavioral results indicate no differences between the enriched and isolated groups during extinction. Analysis of pCREB expression revealed significant differences in expression in the nucleus accumbens, but not the medial prefrontal cortex of enriched versus isolated animals. This suggests that regional specificity of pCREB may contribute to behavioral differences between enriched and isolated groups in the extinction of classically conditioned fear.

Scholar: Jeffrey Murray
Mentor: N. Sanjay Rebello, Ph.D.


Visual Cueing and Feedback Influencing Undergraduate Students' Reasoning Resources on Conceptual Physics Problems

Research has demonstrated that attentional cues overlaid on diagrams and animations can help students attend to the pertinent areas of a diagram and to facilitate problem solving. In this study we investigate the influence of visual cues and correctness feedback on students' ability to activate and coordinate the cognitive resources that they currently possess. The participants (N=90) were enrolled in an algebra-based physics course and were individually interviewed. During each interview students solved four problem sets each containing an initial problem, six isomorphic training problems, and a transfer problem. The cued conditions were given visual cues on the training problems, and the feedback conditions were told whether their responses (answer and explanation) were correct or incorrect, but the interviewer did not distinguish whether the source of their incorrectness was because of their explanation, or their answer. We found that the combination of both correctness feedback and visual cueing, were the most effective means to assist participants in not only the activation of the proper reasoning resources to successfully solve the problems, but also in the coordination of those resources.

Scholar: Fernando Roman-Garcia
Mentor: David Auckly, Ph.D.


Exceptional Surgeries on Montesinos Knots

Exceptional surgeries on Montesinos knots have been extensively studied in the last few years. Such surgeries have been completely classified with the exception of Seifert fibred surgeries on Montesinos Knots of length 3. A list of surgeries yielding small Seifert fibred spaces was provided by Wu, together with a conjecture that the list is complete. In this expository paper we introduce some basic concepts in knot and Dehn surgery theory, and discuss Seifert fibred surgeries on Montesinos knots. We look at a specific family of knots and try to determine which surgeries on this knots yield a small Seifert fibre space.

Scholar: Alexia Sampson-Bellot
Mentor: Christopher Reinhardt, Ph.D.


Translation of Shiga Toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) Mitigation Research to Field Implementation

Shiga Toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) is a type of bacteria that is currently a threat to food safety and has been linked to livestock production management practices. In collaboration with the Beef Cattle Institute, we will be researching effective ways to implement control and prevention strategies that can be utilized in various stages of beef production in the form of online training modules. The online training modules will be approximately 8-12 minutes long and will include diagrams, images, video, and an end of the module quiz to ensure the information has been understood. The purpose of this project is to bring awareness to the threat of STEC in all stages of beef production and to provide useful training tools to the beef industry that will aid in enforcing safe and effective practices in their facilities or operations, thus improving overall food safety.

Scholar: Jacar Union
Mentor: Cheryl Ragar, Ph.D.


Unconstitutional Government Endeavors and its Effect on the Disbandment Of the Radical White Panther Party

This research looks at how unconstitutional government endeavors effected the dismantlement of the radical White Panther Party. The WPP sought cultural revolution by radicalizing youths through the sounds of rock n' roll, spearheaded by the band MC5. The WPP fully supported other radical organizations, like the Black Panther Party, Students for a Democratic Society and the Weather Underground Organization, and they influenced many individuals. Because of this, President Nixon and FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover "ordered that actions be taken to monitor, disrupt, and damage the WPP" (Hale). The Party was subject to illegal wiretapping, infiltration, raids, harassment, multiple arrests, etc. These government efforts were too much for the WPP, and the group eventually collapsed completely.

Scholar: Graham Weaver
Mentor: Robert Linder, Ph.D.


Resistance Beneath the Surface: the Prohibtion Movement in Manhattan, Kansas, 1880-1900

Prohibition became unpopular social reform. While many people, in the name of reform, attempted to better society with the elimination of liquor, many others wanted the free flow of booze. Ultimately, those who were against the Prohibition Movement, prevailed. As a result the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution is the only amendment to be repealed. Manhattan, Kansas, is a good case study, demonstrating the ultimate fate of national prohibition. One could say that in this case the Big Apple could have learned something from the Little Apple. This study examines the role of the churches of Manhattan of promoting prohibition and The Manhattan Mercury and George Harrop for fighting against prohibition.