CURE Collection

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Results 1 - 10 of 24 matches

Statistics in Physics Lab: Catastrophic Cancellation
John Walkup, California State University-Fresno
Error analysis consumes much of the focus in introductory physics labs. Catastrophic cancellation is a spike in error that occurs when subtracting two measurements of roughly equal magnitude. Often termed loss of significance or subtractive cancellation, this effect can easily relegate experimental results to utter worthlessness no matter how precise the measurements. A lab activity that exposes the ill effects of catastrophic cancellation in experimentation was carried out by undergraduate students that employs the traditional elastic collision experiment performed in countless labs across the country. Traditionally, lab designers try to lower experimental error as much as possible for students to confirm conservation of momentum and kinetic energy. In this lab activity, however, the calculations performed by the students were purposely modified to generate ridiculous levels of error based on nothing more than the order in which experimental values were summed. Students learn that measurement is not the only source of error in an experiment; that is, the order in which mathematical operations are carried out not only introduces error into calculations, but that this error can completely obscure experimental results.

Discipline: Physics, Statistics, Physics:Classical Mechanics

Design-2-Data
Ashley Vater, University of California-Davis
The D2D program is centered around an undergraduate-friendly protocol workflow that follows the design-build-test-learn engineering framework. This protocol has served as the scaffold for a successful undergraduate training program and has been further developed into courses that range from a 10-week freshman seminar to a year-long, upper-division molecular biology course. The overarching research goal of this CURE probes the current predictive limitations of protein-modeling software by functionally characterizing single amino acid mutants in a robust model system. The most interesting outcomes of this project are dependent on large datasets, and, as such, the project is optimal for multi-institutional collaborations.

Discipline: Chemistry:Biochemistry, Chemistry, Life Sciences:Molecular Biology
Core Competencies: Analyzing and interpreting data, Using mathematics and computational thinking, Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering), Planning and carrying out investigations, Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering), Developing and using models
Nature of Research: Applied Research, Wet Lab/Bench Research, Basic Research
Target Audience: Upper Division, Non-major, Introductory, Major
CURE Duration: Multiple terms, A full term

Laser spectroscopy of atmospherically relevant molecules and clusters in helium nanodroplets
Paul Raston, James Madison University
Superfluid helium nanodroplets present an ideal medium for the study of chemical dynamics at the molecular level. Their low temperature, enormous heat conductivity, and weakly interacting nature allow for the investigation of various things, such as how molecular rotation is effected by a solvent, and how molecules interact with each other. These two topics will be addressed in the lab by (1) measuring the spectra of unexplored molecules in helium nanodroplets and determining their rotational constants; this data will then be used to test known models describing the interaction between the molecule and helium solvent, and (2) synthesizing and characterizing unexplored molecular clusters in an effort to better understand molecular solvation; students will solvate the "unexplored molecule" with an atmospherically relevant species (O2, N2, H2O), and investigate the resulting clusters with laser Stark spectroscopy.

Discipline: Chemistry:Physical Chemistry
Core Competencies: Analyzing and interpreting data, Planning and carrying out investigations, Using mathematics and computational thinking, Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering), Developing and using models, Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering)
Nature of Research: Basic Research
State: Virginia
Target Audience: Upper Division, Major, Non-major
CURE Duration: Multiple terms, A few class periods

DNA cloning and protein analysis of animal-heme peroxidase within collagen IV of the extracellular matrix
Isi Ero-Tolliver, Hampton University
This CURE is to expose undergraduate students to the process of DNA cloning to identify the critical amino acids of the animal-heme peroxidase,peroxidasin, responsible for catalyzing sulfilimine bond formation within collagen IV of the basement membrane. Students will bioengineer a variety of mutants through primer design and polymerase chain reactions that contain point mutations within the immunoglobulin domain of the peroxidasin.

Discipline: Chemistry:Biochemistry, Life Sciences:Molecular Biology, Life Sciences, Cell Biology
Core Competencies: Analyzing and interpreting data, Planning and carrying out investigations, Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering), Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering)
Nature of Research: Basic Research, Wet Lab/Bench Research
State: Virginia
Target Audience: Upper Division, Introductory, Major
CURE Duration: Multiple terms, A full term

Investigating the effects of altered thyroid hormone levels on neural stem cell proliferation in the larval zebrafish hypothalamus.
Priyanjali Ghosh, University of Massachusetts-Amherst
The central nervous system of most vertebrate species consists of zones of neural stem cell (NSC) proliferation which retain the ability to undergo neuro/gliogenesis well into adulthood [1]. The two primary regions of adult neurogenesis in mammals are the ventricular and subventricular zones (V-SVZ) of the lateral ventricles and the subgranular zone (SGZ) of hippocampus [2–7]. Additionally, adult neurogenesis in the mammalian hypothalamus has also been reported [8–11]. Unlike mammals, neurogenesis is more abundant in reptiles, amphibians and fish [3, 12]. In fact, studies have identified 16 different regions of proliferation and neurogenesis in the adult zebrafish brain, and unlike mammalian species, neurogenesis occurs in all of these subdivisions in the zebrafish brain [2, 13, 14]. This makes the zebrafish a fantastic model organism for studying NSC proliferation and neuro/gliogenesis. Recent studies show that there are striking similarities and differences across all vertebrate species in the factors and mechanisms that regulate NSC proliferation and neuro/gliogenesis [1]. Thus, understanding these mechanisms is critical to understanding regenerative neurogenesis and to developing treatments for neurodegenerative diseases. One such interesting factor known to regulate NSC behavior throughout vertebrate life is thyroid hormone (TH). Appropriate amounts of TH are necessary for proper brain development in all vertebrates and studies have shown that TH plays an important role in maintaining NSC proliferation and fate determination in the central nervous system [15]. However, studies performed in rats and mice to understand the effects of TH on NSC proliferation reveal contradictory results. For example, low levels of TH are shown to decrease the proliferative rates of NSC in SVZ of mice [16] whereas the opposite effect is observed in the rat SVZ [17]. Not only does this suggest that the effect of TH may vary between species, it encourages us to explore the role of TH in the zebrafish brain. Specifically, for this CURE course, we are interested in studying the role of TH on NSC proliferation in the zebrafish hypothalamus. Why the hypothalamus? For one, the hypothalamus is the most ancient and evolutionarily conserved part of the vertebrate brain [18]. Second, life-long hypothalamic neurogenesis has been documented in rodents, zebrafish, and likely humans [5, 11, 19]. Lastly, very little is known about the role of TH in regulating the NSC proliferation in the hypothalamus (including that of the zebrafish), making the goal of thus CURE course novel.

Discipline: Life Sciences
Core Competencies: Analyzing and interpreting data
Nature of Research: Wet Lab/Bench Research, Basic Research
State: Massachusetts
Target Audience: Upper Division, Major
CURE Duration: A full term

Worms Rule- Investigating variation in isoform function
Anna Allen, Howard University
Integrating research into undergraduate science courses has been a long-term goal of many institutions. Research-based laboratory courses provide students with authentic research experiences while also helping them develop their analytical thinking and problem solving skills. Through these type of courses, students begin to understand and apply many fundamental concepts in biology while also contributing to the scientific field. To provide a research experience consisting of many common laboratory skills and the current buzz technique of CRISPR/Cas9 endogenous genome editing, we designed a one-semester research experience for undergraduates. By the end of a single semester, students enrolled in our upper level biology elective course successfully edited the genome of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans). Throughout this course, students were exposed to molecular biology techniques (PCR, gel electrophoresis), imaging techniques (confocal microscopy), and CRISPR/Cas9 concept and techniques in C. elegans. Ultimately, the goal of this course was to provide students with a meaningful undergraduate research experience while generating reagents (namely C. elegans strains) that assist the instructor's personal research objectives.

Exploring the Structure-Function Relationship in RNA Biochemistry

Discipline: Life Sciences:Molecular Biology, Chemistry:Biochemistry
Core Competencies: Planning and carrying out investigations, Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering), Developing and using models, Analyzing and interpreting data, Using mathematics and computational thinking, Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering)
Nature of Research: Basic Research
State: Colorado
Target Audience: Upper Division, Major
CURE Duration: Half a term

Get the Lead Out: Impacts of Toxins from SuperFund Sites on Human Health, Ecology, and Socioeconomic Conditions, with an Evaluation of Environmental Racism in Regional Communities
Jessica Smith-Rohrberg, Massachusetts Bay Community College
Students in a community-college introductory Environmental Studies course will extract soil samples from a Massachusetts-based SuperFund site. They will analyze toxins and perform research to enhance and promote scientific literacy, to examine impacts of environmental toxins on human health and development, and to discuss equity and environmental racism.

Characterising the prokaryotic ATPase-ome
Alice Robson, University of Bristol
Students work in teams of 3-4 trying to identify and characterise putative ATPase enzymes from prokaryotic organisms. Each student identifies a putative uncharacterised ATPase gene from a range of prokaryotes (archaea and bacteria), and uses bioinformatic methods to characterise the gene. They then work in teams in the lab to clone, express and purify their chosen proteins; finally they characterise the protein using spectrophotometric ATPase assays. The team presents a poster on their work, then each student individually writes a report in the style of a short paper. The student grade is based on three assessed pieces: the lab book (20%), poster presentation (10%, graded as a team), and the report (70%). This course is compulsory for year 3 of our MSci Biochemistry programme, and counts for 20 credit points (out of 120 for the year). The course has been running since 2017 with an intake of 20-30 students per year, all of whom have passed the course.

Discipline: Life Sciences:Microbiology, Chemistry:Biochemistry, Life Sciences:Molecular Biology, Life Sciences
Core Competencies: Planning and carrying out investigations, Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering), Analyzing and interpreting data, Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering)
Nature of Research: Basic Research, Informatics/Computational Research, Wet Lab/Bench Research
Target Audience: Major, Upper Division
CURE Duration: A full term, Multiple terms