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Characterizing the Aging Process Using Caenorhabditis elegans and Reverse Genetics
Joslyn Mills, Brown University
Using gene silencing (RNAi) in the nemotode C. elegans, students will identify genetic modifiers of proteins with roles in aging by reverse genetics. Specifically, students will analyze the effect of knocking down genes on the level of aging-related proteins tagged with fluorophores (GFP, RFP, etc.). Each group of students will use function-specific RNAi libraries (transcription factors, kinases, etc) already established in our lab. Furthermore, students will evaluate the effect of genetic modifiers on proteostasis and lifespan. In addition to becoming familiar with C. elegans work and appreciating the use of model organisms, the students will master microscopy, genetic crosses, gene silencing, and molecular and biochemical readout assays such as qPCR and immunoblotting.

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

Using Polymerase Chain Reaction to Investigate Food
Frances Turner, Howard Community College

Discipline: Life Sciences, Molecular Biology
Core Competencies: Analyzing and interpreting data, Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering), Planning and carrying out investigations
Nature of Research: Applied Research
State: Maryland
Target Audience: Major
CURE Duration: Half a term

Evaluating Water Quality in the Elizabeth River (Eastern Branch) at Norfolk, VA
Joe D'Silva, Norfolk State University
The eastern branch of the Elizabeth River is located two miles south of Norfolk State University campus. Effluents from a ship repair site are discharged into the river. The water is polluted with oil. The quality of water below and above the shipyard needs to be investigated since the river is also home to fish, oysters, jelly fish. The research will assess the health of the river with regard to its physical properties and levels of chemical.

Discipline: Life Sciences, Ecology, Environmental Science:Water Quality and Quantity
Core Competencies: Planning and carrying out investigations, Analyzing and interpreting data
Nature of Research: Basic Research, Field Research
State: Virginia
Target Audience: Major
CURE Duration: Half a term

Dental and Retinal Physiology in Rana pipiens
Eddie Hernandez, The University of Texas at San Antonio
There is a paucity of literature regarding the characterization of Rana pipiens (leopard frog) dentition and the visual transduction pathway. The literature shows that both the Maxillary and Vomerine teeth are primarily used for simply griping their prey, suggesting they swallow their prey whole without a defined mastication process. Considering there are different teeth morphologies in the frog dentition, this might suggest a more expansive contribution to the mastication process and more broadly to frog alimentation. Another aspect of R. pipiens with scant literature is retinal organization and visual transduction pathways. Although there are some anatomical and physiological similarities between the eye tunicas of the frog and the human, there are significant differences that might help us understand the neurophysiology of how frogs perceive their environment. This CURE will elucidate new information about frog dental and retinal physiology to reveal more specific contributions of the frog dentition that may facilitate alimentation. Furthermore, the neuroretina may also have a specific cellular organization that might help the frogs perceive their environment in a way not previously known. Comparisons can be made with human dental and visual physiology. Biochemistry analysis might provide further information about the digestive and sensory processes. Characterization of frog dentition morphologies and biochemistry analysis of both the teeth and eye tunicas, will allow for more updated physiology of frog dentition and retinal visual transduction pathways. Retinal physiology research, specifically, may elucidate novel information about the frogs' visual sensory perception for predation and survival.

Discipline: Life Sciences:Anatomy and Physiology, Life Sciences
Nature of Research: Wet Lab/Bench Research
State: Texas
CURE Duration: Multiple terms

Squirrels in the City: Urbanization in a Changing World
Christopher Thawley, University of Rhode Island
Our planet is undergoing a variety of changes due to human activity, including the expansion of cities across landscapes. However, urban environments are not wastelands but functioning ecosystems where organisms encounter a variety new conditions and potential challenges. One way that animals can respond to living in cities is by changing their behaviors. In this course, we will conduct an original research project exploring whether squirrels that live in urban habitats have changed their behaviors in predictable ways.

Discipline: Life Sciences:Zoology, Ecology
Core Competencies: Planning and carrying out investigations, Analyzing and interpreting data, Using mathematics and computational thinking, Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering)
Nature of Research: Field Research
Target Audience: Introductory
CURE Duration: A full term

Survey of the Effects of Industrial Effluents on Water Quality
Patrick Kolniak, Baton Rouge Community College; Divina Miranda, Baton Rouge Community College; Dewayne Logan, Baton Rouge Community College
Water pollution is very harmful to humans, animals and water life. The effects can be catastrophic, depending on the kind of chemicals, concentrations of the pollutants and where there are polluted. The effects of water pollution are varied and depend on what chemicals are dumped and in which locations. The proposed research will investigate any significant contributions of industries to water pollution around the city. Water samples from strategic locations will be collected and ultimately analyzed using various physical and chemical methods.The results will be evaluated and compared to toxicity values published by governmental environmental agencies to make valid inferences.

Discipline: Environmental Science:Sustainability, Chemistry:Inorganic Chemistry, Environmental Chemistry, Analytical Chemistry, Environmental Science:Oceans and Coastal Resources, Soils and Agriculture, Chemistry, Environmental Science, Chemistry:Physical Chemistry, Environmental Science:Waste, Water Quality and Quantity
Core Competencies: Planning and carrying out investigations, Analyzing and interpreting data, Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering), Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering)
Nature of Research: Wet Lab/Bench Research, Applied Research, Basic Research, Field Research
State: Louisiana
Target Audience: Introductory
CURE Duration: A full term

Types of Probiotic strains and their concentrations
Luda Bard, Howard Community College
In this CURE, students are going to research what types of probiotics are found in the probiotics that are available in grocery stores for purchase. They will investigate the concentration of those probiotics depending on expiration date.

Discipline: Life Sciences:Molecular Biology, Genetics
Nature of Research: Basic Research
Target Audience: Major, Introductory
CURE Duration: Multiple terms, A full term, Half a term

Resequencing of Commercial Microorganisms
Jessica Kaufman, Endicott College
Students choose a probiotic pill or product with labeling that indicates the species and strain of bacteria in the product. Products are chosen so that a high quality reference genome sequence is available on NCBI. After DNA isolation and library preparation, high-quality student samples are pooled for next-gen sequencing on an Illumina MiSeq. The following semester, students in the required bioinformatics course will analyze the FASTQ files from the NGS run with a simple variant call workflow on usegalaxy.org. Then, each student will use a R Shiny app developed for this CURE to convert the VCF output from Galaxy to a FASTA file for an assigned gene in the resequenced genome. Students will complete their research experience by submitting the FASTA file to the NCBI Nucleotide Database.

Discipline: Life Sciences, Genetics
Core Competencies: Using mathematics and computational thinking, Analyzing and interpreting data, Planning and carrying out investigations
Nature of Research: Wet Lab/Bench Research, Informatics/Computational Research
Target Audience: Major
CURE Duration: Multiple terms

BIO195: Lab-Based Biological Inquiry: Poisons
Larissa Williams, Bates College
This is a course-based research experience in the biological sciences. Students will build research skills through open-ended, authentic experimentation or observations of the natural world. Students will gain practice reading scientific literature, formulating and testing hypotheses, analyzing data, interpreting results, communicating in disciplinary style, and working in teams. The 'Poisons' version of the course is focused on historical and emerging poisons, with an emphasis on lead. Students will investigate the molecular and behavioral effects of developmental lead exposure using the zebrafish model. Intended for students majoring in Biology, Biochemistry, Neuroscience, or Environmental Studies, or preparing for a health-related career; it is recommended that students taking BIO 195 simultaneously enroll in CHEM 107 or CHEM 108.

Discipline: Environmental Science:Human Population, Environmental Science, Life Sciences:Molecular Biology, Life Sciences, Health Sciences, Environmental Science:Water Quality and Quantity
Core Competencies: Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering), Planning and carrying out investigations, Analyzing and interpreting data
Nature of Research: Basic Research, Wet Lab/Bench Research
State: Maine
Target Audience: Major, Introductory
CURE Duration: A full term

Prooxidant effects on C. elegans
Joshua Gray, United States Coast Guard Academy
Students assess the effect of novel prooxidant or redox cycling compounds on C. elegans. Over the first five laboratory periods, students learned culturing methods for C. elegans and several experimental techniques such as LD50, lifespan, chemotaxis, rigor mortis, and quantitative real-time RT-PCR assays, while developing a novel research hypothesis focused regarding the mechanism of action of their compound. After peer reviewed proposal presentations, students spend subsequent weeks designing and performing experiments, trouble-shooting difficulties they encountered with their peers, researching and applying additional experimental techniques from the literature, and reporting their findings each week at the beginning of each lab period, mimicking a lab meeting format. The final presentation highlights outcomes from the semester and proposed plans for future experiments.

Discipline: Chemistry:Biochemistry
Core Competencies: Analyzing and interpreting data, Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering), Planning and carrying out investigations, Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering)
Nature of Research: Basic Research
State: Connecticut
Target Audience: Major, Upper Division
CURE Duration: A full term