CURE Examples


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Genome to phenome: DNA-protein interactions involved in butterfly wing colored development
Michelle Borrero, University of Puerto Rico
We are interested in understanding the genomic mechanisms underlying morphological differences within species. We will use the wing color pattern of Heliconius erato as a model. We have developed a Course-based undergraduate research experience (CURE) that will engage undergraduate biology majors in the identification and purification of transcription factors in butterfly wing development. Through this experience students will be able to use the knowledge and concepts from the literature to make and defend decisions, explain the role of DNA binding proteins in the genome to phenome relationship and recognize the application and utility of the techniques used in the research for their career development.

Discipline: Life Sciences:Cell Biology, Evolution, Genetics, Life Sciences, Molecular Biology
Core Competencies: Planning and carrying out investigations, Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering), Analyzing and interpreting data
Nature of Research: Basic Research
Target Audience: Major
CURE Duration: A full term

BigDBee: A Big Data approach to honey bees temporal behavior.
Isada Claudio-Ford, University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras Campus; Jose L. Agosto Rivera, University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras Campus
Abstract questions and purposes

CURE Duration: Half a term

Characterization of the impact of microbiota and the immune process in behavioral responses.
Claribel Luciano-Montalvo, University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras Campus
This CURE project will expose students to analyze the effect of immunity and the role of microbiota in organism health. The project will develop the students critical thinking and analytical skills through scientific experiences that they will develop, conduct and analyzed with constant mentoring. Immune cells can a profound impact in overall health. The notion that immunity only is related to disease is changing dramatically. The immune system can alter the expression of microbiota which can have profound impact in the health of individuals. It is clear that symbiotic microbial communities have a major impact on their host's behavior, and that the composition of these communities could in turn be dramatically altered by behavior patterns of the host. Despite the major impact that understanding these host-microbe interactions will have on the fields of microbiology, animal behavior, physiology and evolution, only few behavioral phenotypes have been examined and characterized at the cellular and molecular level. A number of studies in multiple organisms, have shown that for example sleep behavior is increased upon microbial infections and helps the immune system to combat these infections. Despite the fact that animals have millions of resident microbes lining the walls of their intestines and other tissues], the role of microbial communities and the effect of immunity in behavioral aspects remains to be elucidated.

Discipline: Life Sciences:Cell Biology
Core Competencies: Planning and carrying out investigations, Analyzing and interpreting data, Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering), Developing and using models
Target Audience: Major, Introductory

DNA modification
LIZ HERNANDEZ, University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras Campus

Genome to Phenome: A Cell and Molecular Biology Laboratory Experience
Alfredo Ghezzi, University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras Campus
A fundamental question in biology is how do changes in DNA result in changes in changes in phenotype? This course leverages the morphological diversity in butterfly populations and cutting-edge cellular and molecular biology methods to explore the connection between genotype and phenotype. The goals are to understand what type of genomic changes and molecular mechanisms underlie biological diversity in butterflies and to prepare students to think critically, to develop cellular and molecular biology skills through a hands-on approach.

Discipline: Life Sciences:Ecology, Cell Biology, Evolution, Molecular Biology, Life Sciences, Zoology, Genetics, Anatomy and Physiology
Core Competencies: Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering), Analyzing and interpreting data, Developing and using models, Planning and carrying out investigations, Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering), Using mathematics and computational thinking
Nature of Research: Basic Research, Informatics/Computational Research, Wet Lab/Bench Research
Target Audience: Upper Division, Major
CURE Duration: A full term

Metagenomics revealing the fecal fungibiome from Ancient Cultures
Jelissa Reynoso Garcia, University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras Campus
Paleomicrobiology is the study of the microbiota in ancient specimens as coprolites, which are contributing information of the microbiome of ancient cultures in the Caribbean. In this CURE we want to analyze coprolites of two ancient cultures (Saladoid and Huecoid) form Vieques, Puerto Rico to determine the fungibiome and the possible presence of phytopathogenic fungi to infer their the feeding habits. After ancient DNA (aDNA) extraction, Shotgun Metagenomics sequencing with Miseq was performed, allowing us to sequence most of the aDNA within the sample. The analysis with the Basic Local Alignment Search Tool (BLAST) rwill be carry out to show sequences homology. The study can provides an insight into these ancient cultures diets, health and lifestyle. Phytopathogenic fungi sequences might able us to also determine the presence of nuisance plagues in the foods used by ancient populations. This in turn may also give us insights on extant nuisance plant plagues and the geographic space where it is distributed. The study can reveals the importance of paleomicrobiology to better understand differences between ancient cultures.

Discipline: Life Sciences:Microbiology
Nature of Research: Informatics/Computational Research, Applied Research
Target Audience: Non-major, Major
CURE Duration: A full term

Microbial ecology
Cesar Perez Fernandez

Discipline: Life Sciences:Molecular Biology, Microbiology, Ecology
Core Competencies: Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering)
Nature of Research: Informatics/Computational Research, Field Research, Basic Research
Target Audience: Major
CURE Duration: A full term

Changes in Gene Expression of Breast Cancer Cells Exposed to Cannabinoids.
Edgardo Colón, University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras Campus
It has been seen that Science, Engineered, Technology and Mathematics major students that engage in real research experience are more likely to proceed to complete graduate studies. To aid students in their careers we have outlined a project to identify changes in gene expression of breast cancer cells exposed to cannabinoids. This research program focuses on broadening the knowledge of the effects of cannabinoid in gene expression of breast cancer cells which could potentially lead to the discovery of regulation points in cancer development pathways. In addition, this program allows students to be exposed to a real scientific research experience which will impact their future STEM career decisions.

Discipline: Life Sciences, Cell 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
CURE Duration: A full term

Pyk2 promotes glioma growth and cell motility
Kimberleve Rolon-Reyes, University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras Campus