CURE Examples


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Testing the reliability of various miRNA-scanning tools to predict and establish novel miRNAs and their function in Musa sp.
Supriyo Ray, Bowie State University
Bananas (Musa sp.) are one if the world's most important fruit and forms a staple food especially for tropical and subtropical countries. It provides food security to millions of people and an important contributor to their economy. miRNAs are non-coding small RNAs that help regulate many biological processes by degrading mRNAs and stopping their expression to proteins. miRNA libraries have been well characterized in animal cells while, there is much work left to be done for plants especially bananas. Few miRNAs have been identified for bananas and their regulation have been associated with external stimuli such as infection, stress, resistance etc. yet, lot of work needs to be done to develop a comprehensive library for banana cultivars. In this CURE program the students would participate and do research to predict and establish novel miRNAs in banana cultivars.

Discipline: Life Sciences:Molecular Biology, Social Sciences:Education, Life Sciences:Plant Biology, Life Sciences
Core Competencies: Analyzing and interpreting data, Using mathematics and computational thinking, Planning and carrying out investigations, 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: Wet Lab/Bench Research, Basic Research, Translational Research, Applied Research, Informatics/Computational Research, Field Research
Target Audience: Non-major, Major
CURE Duration: A full term

Identification of transcriptional factors linked to resistance to drought stressors in Musa accessions for multiplication and maintenance using tissue culture techniques
David Igwe, Bowie State University
Musa species are the favorite fruit crops of the world and their genotypes derived from M. acuminata (AA) and M. balbisiana (BB) exist and are highly polyploidy. They are challenged by drought effect that adversely impacts its growth, productivity and yield. Interestingly, genotypes with "B" genome (in particular ABB type) are more tolerant to abiotic stresses than those solely possessing "A" genome. Drought responses are notoriously multigenic and quantitative with strong environmental effects on genotypes. Transcription factors (TFs) are major players in drought stress signaling and generally constitute major portion of transcriptionally active regions in banana genome to act as central domain for drought signaling networks. Overexpression of some of drought stress-responsive TFs constitute effects of drought tolerance and resistance. The overall goal of this project is to assess transcriptional factors responsible for phenotypic expressions of resistance of Musa accessions to drought stressor for mass production and continuous maintenance of the selected accessions for research and CURE program.

Discipline: Life Sciences:Molecular Biology, Genetics, Statistics
Nature of Research: Translational Research, Wet Lab/Bench Research, Informatics/Computational Research, Field Research, Basic Research, Applied Research
State: Maryland
Target Audience: Major, Non-major
CURE Duration: A full term

Inquiry in Biochemistry: From Gene to Protein Function
Kristina Cohen, Brown University
The central question we ask in this course is: How does a genetic change affect protein function? We explore this question using the enzyme beta-galactosidase (b-gal). Working in small teams, students formulate a hypothesis about how a single amino acid change in b-gal would affect enzyme function. They introduce this mutation, clone the modified sequence into an expression host, express and purify the experimental and control enzymes, and compare their kinetics to determine whether enzyme function was affected by the mutation. Students become a specialist in either molecular biology or biochemistry and teach their peers lab techniques. In a discussion section, they learn scientific writing and engage in peer review and iterative revisions to reflect on and refine their writing skills.

Discipline: Chemistry:Biochemistry, Life Sciences:Molecular Biology, Life Sciences
Core Competencies: Planning and carrying out investigations, Analyzing and interpreting data
Nature of Research: Basic Research
State: Rhode Island
Target Audience: Upper Division, Major
CURE Duration: A full term

Bowie State University PARE Research
Kari Debbink, Bowie State University
Treating bacterial diseases is increasingly complicated by widespread development of antibiotic-resistant strains. While many factors drive antibiotic resistance including inappropriate prescription and use in hospital settings, agricultural uses are also hypothesized to impact development of drug-resistant microbes. Antibiotics are used in agriculture to prevent and treat diseases in livestock, thus protecting our food sources. However, over half of all antibiotics used in the United States every year are used non-therapeutically to increase livestock growth, and the impact of this use in livestock on the development of drug resistance in human pathogens is not well studied. The PARE project (Assessing the Prevalence of Antibiotic-Resistance in the Environment) is an initiative aimed at involving undergraduates in measuring antibiotic resistance of bacteria found in soil samples from a variety of sites across the United States. Bowie State University students will map antibiotic resistance in and around Bowie, Maryland, comparing agricultural and non-agricultural sites as well different antibotics.

Discipline: Health Sciences, Geoscience:Soils, Life Sciences:Ecology, Life Sciences, Microbiology, Environmental Science, Soils and Agriculture
Nature of Research: Field Research
State: Maryland
Target Audience: Major
CURE Duration: Half a term

Using long-term data sets to investigate space weather and its effects on technological and biological systems
M. Chantale Damas, CUNY Queensborough Community College
Society is increasingly dependent on technology. Just as with terrestrial weather, the need to be able to predict and forecast space weather cannot be overemphasized as the economic impacts of severe space weather events—such as major electric power outages, or the disabling effects of costly communication satellites. Space weather is so important that it is listed as a natural hazard by the Department of Homeland Security on it's Ready.gov website. Lessening the impacts of space weather on Earth should be of interest to all stakeholders.

Discipline: Physics:Astronomy, Environmental Science:Natural Hazards, Environmental Science, Geoscience:Atmospheric Science, Geoscience, Physics
Core Competencies: Planning and carrying out investigations, Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering), Analyzing and interpreting data
Nature of Research: Applied Research, Basic Research
State: New York
Target Audience: Major, Introductory, Non-major
CURE Duration: A full term, Multiple terms, A few class periods, Half a term

Using gene editing tool CRISPR/Cas9 to study activating and deactivating mutations and their role in pancreatic cancer.
irfana muqbil, University of Detroit Mercy
This lab project will allow undergraduate students to conduct actual bench research to understand gain-of-function and loss-of-function mutation in relation to cancer. The project will be a team driven effort in which each student will be involved and responsible for the completion of the project. students will be trained in basic lab skills, safety and techniques with the hope that students will be able to apply these in gene editing projects.

Discipline: Biochemistry

Substrate specificity investigations using bioinformatics, site-directed mutagenesis, and in vitro enzyme assays
Carol Price, University of Virginia-Main Campus
Can the function (substrate specificity) of an enzyme be changed via site specific mutagenesis? For this question, students are provided with a plasmid encoding an enzyme with a demonstrated function (in vitro). They are then charged with choosing a mutation in the active site that they believe will change substrate specificity, introducing the mutation, purifying the mutant protein, and studying the enzyme activity of that mutant relative to the wild-type.

Discipline: Chemistry:Biochemistry, Chemistry
Core Competencies: Analyzing and interpreting data, Planning and carrying out investigations
Nature of Research: Basic Research
State: Virginia
Target Audience: Major
CURE Duration: Multiple terms

Identifying dubious ORFs in species (Bioinformatics and Data Analysis)
Gaurav Arora, Gallaudet University
There are many open reading frames in genomes that are classified as dubious since they lack orthologs or are not asscoaited with function. With the advent of sequencing and other technologies we would like to identify ORFs in new genomes and check whether the criteria used to classify these ORFs as dubious still holds. Knowledge in this field will help understand how genes evolve and gain function.

Discipline: Life Sciences:Evolution, Cell Biology, Genetics, Microbiology, Computer Science, Statistics, Environmental Science:Ecosystems, Chemistry:Biochemistry
Core Competencies: Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering), Developing and using models, Analyzing and interpreting data
Nature of Research: Applied Research, Informatics/Computational Research, Basic Research
Target Audience: Major, Upper Division

CRISPR-Cas9, Pancreatic Cancer, and Science Identity
Latanya Hammonds-Odie, Georgia Gwinnett College
At GGC, we have a history of providing all biology majors with meaningful laboratory experiences. For example, in our Cell Biology course that all majors are required to take, students learn to culture mammalian cells and design their own experiments using these cells. We plan to extend the in silico research of students into "wet bench" investigations for another course. Each student group would develop a rationale for their selection of gene(s) based on differential expression and on the current human pancreatic cancer research literature. They would design and implement a CRISPR-Cas9 deletion strategy to reduce specific gene expression that would be confirmed using immunoblotting and/or immunocytochemistry. Students would measure the proliferation, migration, and apoptosis of the control and the modified pancreatic cancer cells to assess the impact of their genetic manipulation. Harnessing the power of next-generation sequencing analysis with the ability to target specific genes for a reduction in expression will add to the knowledge base in the field; while allowing students to perform techniques that they have only explored in a lecture setting. For the students, the degree of ownership in the project, the stated confidence in the ability to "think like a scientist" and the ability to perform specific techniques should increase to a level comparable to a one-on-one mentored research experience.

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

I4: Incorporating Immunology in Introductory Biology to STEM majors
Devyn Gillette, Bowie State University
This CURE will utilize common techniques found in immunology to instruct first-year introductory biology students on how to conduct and answer biological research questions.

Discipline: Life Sciences, Cell Biology, Molecular Biology, Microbiology
Core Competencies: Analyzing and interpreting data, Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering), Planning and carrying out investigations
Nature of Research: Basic Research, Wet Lab/Bench Research
State: Maryland
Target Audience: Introductory, Major, Non-major
CURE Duration: A full term