CURE Examples


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Isolation and characterization of antibiotic-producing soil bacteria
Maria Messner, Lenoir Community College
One of the biggest threat in hospitals is the rising cases of people who harbor antibiotic-resistant bacterial strains. Therefore, it is critical to find and characterize novel antibiotics to combat the resistant strains. Most of the antibiotics used in healthcare settings come from anti-biotic producing bacteria and fungi found in the soil. The goal of this CURE will be to isolate antibiotic-producing bacteria and fungi from the soil in the local area, and to determine the chemistry of the antibiotics. An extension of the project will be to determine how the presence of antibiotic-producing microbes affect other organisms resident in the soil, as it is unclear as to why microbes use energy to produce antibiotic factors.

Discipline: Life Sciences:Microbiology

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.

College Success Undergraduate Research Experience
Andrea Fernandez, North Carolina A & T State University
The term student success has increasingly permeated the higher education landscape over the past several years. Higher education professionals define student success in various ways; however, the student's experience should always be at the nucleus of the definition. As with any institution, students entering North Carolina A&T State University experience varying levels of stress anxiety. Some of these students are successful and some students are not. Our goal is to develop an understanding of who students at NC A&T define success and what factors contributes to or hinders their success.

Encouraging Student Independence with Protein Engineering
Eric Lazear, North Carolina State University
Students will be introduced to the techniques and concepts of protein engineering, including DNA cloning, mammalian cell culture, forward genetic screens, and protein expression and purification. Students will design and carry out their own strategy to develop an engineered protein.

Discipline: Life Sciences
Core Competencies: Planning and carrying out investigations, Analyzing and interpreting data, Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering)
Nature of Research: Applied Research
State: North Carolina
Target Audience: Upper Division
CURE Duration: Half a term

Analysis of antibiotic-resistance in bacteria isolated from organic food products from local supermarkets and Farmers' markets in Fayetteville, NC
Danielle Graham, Fayetteville State University

Discipline: Life Sciences:Molecular Biology, Microbiology, Life Sciences
Core Competencies: Planning and carrying out investigations, Analyzing and interpreting data
Nature of Research: Wet Lab/Bench Research, Basic Research
State: North Carolina
Target Audience: Major, Upper Division
CURE Duration: A full term

Microbial evolution for antibiotic resistance
Sonia Singhal, Johnson C Smith University

Hunting for Microbes
Barbara Stegenga, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
In this introductory research course, students will develop microbiology skills to help them identify soil bacteria and perform co-culture screens to investigate bacterial interactions. Students will collect soil samples, predict how treatments will affect bacteria and then isolate the bacteria. The treated bacteria will be co-cultured with a reporter strain so that fluorescence among colonies can be screened to identify the organisms whose secreted compounds induced the bacteria to differentiate. Discovery of new products formed by bacteria is an exciting possibility in this course for students.

Discipline: Life Sciences:Microbiology
Core Competencies: Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering), Analyzing and interpreting data
Nature of Research: Wet Lab/Bench Research
State: North Carolina
Target Audience: Introductory
CURE Duration: A full term

Using C elegans for environmental toxicity testing
Porche' Spence, North Carolina Central University; Carresse Gerald, North Carolina Central University
This course consists of teaching the students the skills necessary to complete an independent innovative collaborative research study, which will focus on the application of environmental toxicology concepts. Learning objectives will consist of: (1) Discussing the fundamental principles and methods of toxicology; (2) Classifying the factors impacting the fate of chemicals throughout the body; (3) Discussing the potential biological effects associated with chemical exposures; (4) Analyze the impact of toxic levels of chemicals on major organ systems; (5) Explaining the complexity of toxicological issues impacting the field of toxicology; (5) applying the process of science to enhance the interpretation and integration of the environmental toxicology concepts. A group of 3- 5 students will collaborate to investigate the dose response testing of an environmental toxin on the soil dwelling nematode, C. elegans, a well-established eukaryotic model. By conducting toxicity testing with known known environmental contaminates, students will analyze the reproductive cycle and how chemicals can affect the stages of development. C. elegans have a 3 day life cycle, are translucent and have 900-1000 somatic cells. Due to the chemotactic behavior of C. elegans, they seek food (bacteria) and have the innate ability to travel through concentration gradients, which makes them easy to use in toxicity studies. Students enrolled in this CURE course will learn how to: (1) synthesize simple microbiological techniques by culturing E.coli, the bacteria that serves as the C. elegans food source and (2) utilize C. elegans for detecting toxins in soil ecosystems.

Discipline: Chemistry:Environmental Chemistry

Histological Analysis of Microglia in the Mouse Brain
Monica Gaudier-Diaz, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
The Histological Analysis of Microglia in the Mouse Brain CURE is an opportunity for undergraduate students to engage in scientific research. Prior to the course start date, the instructor will identify and establish collaborations with research laboratories that are currently overlooking the phenomenon of neuroinflammation. Through collaboration, the course instructor will have access to mouse brains from different experiment, which will be sectioned and prepared for immunostaining. For the first portion of the CURE, students will search for primary literature and develop an informed hypothesis concerning the experimental condition(s) and how it may alter microglia morphology. Then, for the practical portion of the CURE, students will stain brain slices for Iba-1, take pictures in a fluorescent microscope (if possible) and trace microglia using image j. For the microglia tracing and analysis, an image per sample (ideally N=24, 12 controls and 12 experimental conditions) will be accessible to all students, and they will be expected to trace one microglia cell per sample. Then, working in pairs, students will calculate average cell body area and extension of the processes. With these numbers, students will use excel to run statistical analysis (t-tests) and create graph representations of their findings. For the final project, students will write a report to share with the primary research group, describing the hypothesis, methods and conclusions.

Core Competencies: Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering), Analyzing and interpreting data
Nature of Research: Basic Research
Target Audience: Upper Division
CURE Duration: A few class periods

Protein Structure and Function
Anthony Mangan, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill