Feb. 22, 2022

Time: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Location: Virtual

With disciplines ranging from philosophy to history and chemistry to economics, the breadth of the subject matter presented here represents the wide range of student learning that occurs every day at Minnesota Private Colleges. With our virtual event on Feb. 22, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., the Showcase scholars will share what they’ve been learning and be eager for your questions. Join us — for one or several sessions.

Format

The Showcase will feature six concurrent, proctored sessions at any one time. Students will present on their research projects and be eager for your questions. And presentations will begin every 15 minutes. (Each presentation will be offered twice, consecutively.)

Session details

Abstracts and information on the student presenters with their project focus areas — along the zoom links to use — are posted below. Click on the times to see details. Then save time on your calendar between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Feb. 22 so you’ll be able to take part!

11:00 - 11:15 A.M.
► TABLE 1
Fibrolamellar Hepatocellular Carcinoma — the Elusive Liver Cancer

Attend this virtual session ]

Student researchers: Hope Wiley, Heenu Kamboj and Young Vue
Faculty advisor Mong-Lin Yang
Concordia University, St. Paul | Department of Biology

Keywords: FLHCC, liver cancer, western blot, enzyme dysregulation, proline

Research project:
Fibrolamellar Hepatocellular Carcinoma (FLHCC) is a rare type of liver cancer that occurs in teens and young adults under the age of 40. This disease is caused by a deletion between two genes PRKACA and DNAJB1 on Chromosome 19. Our Mayo Clinic collaborator has performed a proteomic comparison analysis to understand the molecular ramification caused by this deletion. Their result suggests dysregulations of the proline pathway enzymes in the FLHCC tumors. This project works on verifying the proteomic result by comparing the proline pathway enzymes’ expression levels between FLHCC liver samples and normal liver samples via the Western Blot analysis. Our data revealed significant differential expression of various proline pathway enzymes in the tumor samples when compared to normal samples. These results can help provide unique biomarkers for the diagnosis of the disease and help in the development of targeted drugs for treatment.


► TABLE 2
The Effect of Social Housing on Learning Ability in the Rat Model

Attend this virtual session ]  [ View presentation slides ]

Student researcher: Paisley Buchanan
Faculty advisor: Rachel Anderson
Bethel University | Department of Psychology

Keywords: stress, isolation, motivation, learning, memory, rats

Research project:
Standard practice for the study of learning and memory is to isolate individuals and deprive them of food, in order to increase their motivation. However, it is well known that rats experience stress when socially isolated. The goal of this study was to examine learning in paired animals to see if they could learn by way of other means of motivation, and thereby reduce the psychological stress they experience in isolation. The results suggest that the learning of both paired and isolated animals is equivalent and support the idea of social housing in future learning and memory experiments.


► TABLE 3
Welcoming the Dear Neighbor?

Attend this virtual session ]  [ View presentation slides ]

Student researchers: Anastasia Rousseau and Ava Griswold
Faculty advisor: Rachel Neiwert St. Catherine University | Department of History and Department of International Studies

Keywords: racial covenant, housing discrimination, Black history

Research project:
“Welcoming the Dear Neighbor?” is a project focused on understanding the history of housing inequality in Ramsey County, Minnesota during the twentieth century. Currently Minneapolis (Hennepin County, Minn.) and St. Paul (Ramsey County, Minn.) have the largest disparities in homeownership between Black and white residents. Our research focused on detailed reading of newspaper articles between 1900 and 1968 to identify the debates that emerged over the twentieth century concerning housing and racism. This careful reading of newspapers, particularly Black newspapers from St. Paul, made evident how white people claimed space for white people, utilizing racial covenants, harassment, violence and legal and political maneuvering. Black community members combated these efforts at neighborhood segregation by utilizing Black community groups, such as churches and the NAACP, and the Black press to support their efforts against racist housing practices. Our project exhibits the efforts Black homeowners undertook to claim space as their own and brings to light the hidden stories of Black history in St. Paul.


► TABLE 4
Drug Discovery and Computational Chemistry: Blocking Generating Cancer Cells with Newly Designed Molecules

Attend this virtual session ]

Student researcher: Sara Parent
Faculty advisor: Pablo Palafox
The College of St. Scholastica |Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

Keywords: phenyl, ligand, monocarboxylate transporter

Research project:
Drug discovery is a multimillion-dollar industry, and the process of developing a new drug can take decades. In addition to the traditional discovery methods in the laboratory, computer-aided drug design (CADD) is a tool that can significantly decrease the cost and time associated with finding a new drug candidate. Previous studies suggested that blocking the monocarboxylate transporter (MCT) could stop the proliferation of cancer cells. Our group has simulated the process of ligand binding into MCT1. Using computational chemistry binding sites were located, and the identities and distances of the closest interacting amino acid residues were determined. The effect of the transporter structures was studied by comparing an MCT1 human structure and two rat MCT1 structures. The comparison of the docking structures indicates that the closest residues differed among all the structures. Molecular dynamics studies could lead to a more comprehensive understanding of binding, likely also assisting experimentalists in the design of more effective anticancer molecules.


► TABLE 5
Examining the Effects of Racial Socialization on Ethnic-Racial Identity and Racial Attitudes

Attend this virtual session ]  [ View research poster ] 

Student researcher: Odalys Lozado
Faculty advisor: Alex Ajayi
Augsburg University | Department of Psychology

Keywords: ethnicity, race, ethnic-racial socialization, colorblind racial attitudes, ethnic-racial identity

Research project:
This study examined the predictive role of ethnic-racial socialization (ERS) (i.e., cultural socialization, preparation for bias and promotion of mistrust) on ethnic-racial identity (ERI) and racial attitudes in a sample of 1,531 University of Minnesota students. We also examined demographic (i.e., U.S born, first-generation, race and gender) differences in study variables. Results indicated that ERS is a significant predictor of ERI even while controlling for demographic variables. Results also indicated that ERS was a significant predictor of colorblind racial attitudes and when controlling for demographic variables, cultural socialization and preparation for bias were still significant predictors. Our demographic analysis also further illustrated that cultural context matters when observing the role of ERS on ERI and racial attitudes. This study is pertinent, given the increased population diversity and the growing interest in cultural factors that shape an individual's experiences and mentality on racial, ethnic and cultural diversity.


► TABLE 6
Splenic T Cell and Macrophage Activation in Mus Musculus Chronically Exposed to Atrazine

Attend this virtual session ]

Student researcher: Rachel Simon
Faculty advisor: Debra Martin
Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota | Department of Biology

Keywords: atrazine, immune system, flow cytometry

Research project:
There are many controversial herbicides being used in agriculture today, atrazine being one of them. This herbicide inhibits photosynthesis in chloroplasts by interrupting the electron transport chain in photosystem II. The United States frequently detects atrazine in drinking water with concentrations exceeding 3 ppb which is the maximum limit deemed safe by the EPA. There are many adverse health effects associated with atrazine; however, this experiment focused on the immunotoxic effects. Previous research at Saint Mary’s found that atrazine negatively impacted IL-2 production in splenic T cells. The main objective of this experiment was to determine whether the decrease in IL-2 production is because T cells have become sluggish or apoptotic. Mice were chronically exposed to atrazine for 12 weeks in three treatment groups: 0 ppb, 3 ppb and 30 ppb. Activation of T cells was determined by the quantification of IL-2 using an ELISA while the percentage of T cells in splenocytes was determined through flow cytometry.

11:15 - 11:30 A.M.
► TABLE 1
Fibrolamellar Hepatocellular Carcinoma — the Elusive Liver Cancer

Attend this virtual session ]

Student researchers: Hope Wiley, Heenu Kamboj and Young Vue
Faculty advisor Mong-Lin Yang
Concordia University, St. Paul | Department of Biology

Keywords: FLHCC, liver cancer, western blot, enzyme dysregulation, proline

Research project:
Fibrolamellar Hepatocellular Carcinoma (FLHCC) is a rare type of liver cancer that occurs in teens and young adults under the age of 40. This disease is caused by a deletion between two genes PRKACA and DNAJB1 on Chromosome 19. Our Mayo Clinic collaborator has performed a proteomic comparison analysis to understand the molecular ramification caused by this deletion. Their result suggests dysregulations of the proline pathway enzymes in the FLHCC tumors. This project works on verifying the proteomic result by comparing the proline pathway enzymes’ expression levels between FLHCC liver samples and normal liver samples via the Western Blot analysis. Our data revealed significant differential expression of various proline pathway enzymes in the tumor samples when compared to normal samples. These results can help provide unique biomarkers for the diagnosis of the disease and help in the development of targeted drugs for treatment.


► TABLE 2
The Effect of Social Housing on Learning Ability in the Rat Model

Attend this virtual session ]  [ View presentation slides ]

Student researcher: Paisley Buchanan
Faculty advisor: Rachel Anderson
Bethel University | Department of Psychology

Keywords: stress, isolation, motivation, learning, memory, rats

Research project:
Standard practice for the study of learning and memory is to isolate individuals and deprive them of food, in order to increase their motivation. However, it is well known that rats experience stress when socially isolated. The goal of this study was to examine learning in paired animals to see if they could learn by way of other means of motivation, and thereby reduce the psychological stress they experience in isolation. The results suggest that the learning of both paired and isolated animals is equivalent and support the idea of social housing in future learning and memory experiments.


► TABLE 3
Welcoming the Dear Neighbor?

Attend this virtual session ]  [ View presentation slides ]

Student researchers: Anastasia Rousseau and Ava Griswold
Faculty advisor: Rachel Neiwert St. Catherine University | Department of History and Department of International Studies

Keywords: racial covenant, housing discrimination, Black history

Research project:
“Welcoming the Dear Neighbor?” is a project focused on understanding the history of housing inequality in Ramsey County, Minnesota during the twentieth century. Currently Minneapolis (Hennepin County, Minn.) and St. Paul (Ramsey County, Minn.) have the largest disparities in homeownership between Black and white residents. Our research focused on detailed reading of newspaper articles between 1900 and 1968 to identify the debates that emerged over the twentieth century concerning housing and racism. This careful reading of newspapers, particularly Black newspapers from St. Paul, made evident how white people claimed space for white people, utilizing racial covenants, harassment, violence and legal and political maneuvering. Black community members combated these efforts at neighborhood segregation by utilizing Black community groups, such as churches and the NAACP, and the Black press to support their efforts against racist housing practices. Our project exhibits the efforts Black homeowners undertook to claim space as their own and brings to light the hidden stories of Black history in St. Paul.


► TABLE 4
Drug Discovery and Computational Chemistry: Blocking Generating Cancer Cells with Newly Designed Molecules

Attend this virtual session ]

Student researcher: Sara Parent
Faculty advisor: Pablo Palafox
The College of St. Scholastica |Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

Keywords: phenyl, ligand, monocarboxylate transporter

Research project:
Drug discovery is a multimillion-dollar industry, and the process of developing a new drug can take decades. In addition to the traditional discovery methods in the laboratory, computer-aided drug design (CADD) is a tool that can significantly decrease the cost and time associated with finding a new drug candidate. Previous studies suggested that blocking the monocarboxylate transporter (MCT) could stop the proliferation of cancer cells. Our group has simulated the process of ligand binding into MCT1. Using computational chemistry binding sites were located, and the identities and distances of the closest interacting amino acid residues were determined. The effect of the transporter structures was studied by comparing an MCT1 human structure and two rat MCT1 structures. The comparison of the docking structures indicates that the closest residues differed among all the structures. Molecular dynamics studies could lead to a more comprehensive understanding of binding, likely also assisting experimentalists in the design of more effective anticancer molecules.


► TABLE 5
Examining the Effects of Racial Socialization on Ethnic-Racial Identity and Racial Attitudes

Attend this virtual session ]  [ View research poster ] 

Student researcher: Odalys Lozado
Faculty advisor: Alex Ajayi
Augsburg University | Department of Psychology

Keywords: ethnicity, race, ethnic-racial socialization, colorblind racial attitudes, ethnic-racial identity

Research project:
This study examined the predictive role of ethnic-racial socialization (ERS) (i.e., cultural socialization, preparation for bias and promotion of mistrust) on ethnic-racial identity (ERI) and racial attitudes in a sample of 1,531 University of Minnesota students. We also examined demographic (i.e., U.S born, first-generation, race and gender) differences in study variables. Results indicated that ERS is a significant predictor of ERI even while controlling for demographic variables. Results also indicated that ERS was a significant predictor of colorblind racial attitudes and when controlling for demographic variables, cultural socialization and preparation for bias were still significant predictors. Our demographic analysis also further illustrated that cultural context matters when observing the role of ERS on ERI and racial attitudes. This study is pertinent, given the increased population diversity and the growing interest in cultural factors that shape an individual's experiences and mentality on racial, ethnic and cultural diversity.


► TABLE 6
Splenic T Cell and Macrophage Activation in Mus Musculus Chronically Exposed to Atrazine

Attend this virtual session ]

Student researcher: Rachel Simon
Faculty advisor: Debra Martin
Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota | Department of Biology

Keywords: atrazine, immune system, flow cytometry

Research project:
There are many controversial herbicides being used in agriculture today, atrazine being one of them. This herbicide inhibits photosynthesis in chloroplasts by interrupting the electron transport chain in photosystem II. The United States frequently detects atrazine in drinking water with concentrations exceeding 3 ppb which is the maximum limit deemed safe by the EPA. There are many adverse health effects associated with atrazine; however, this experiment focused on the immunotoxic effects. Previous research at Saint Mary’s found that atrazine negatively impacted IL-2 production in splenic T cells. The main objective of this experiment was to determine whether the decrease in IL-2 production is because T cells have become sluggish or apoptotic. Mice were chronically exposed to atrazine for 12 weeks in three treatment groups: 0 ppb, 3 ppb and 30 ppb. Activation of T cells was determined by the quantification of IL-2 using an ELISA while the percentage of T cells in splenocytes was determined through flow cytometry.

11:30 - 11:45 A.M.
► TABLE 1
Substrate Specificity of Guanylurea Hydrolase Across Multiple Microbial Species

Attend this virtual session ]  [ View research poster ]

Student researcher: Dean Young
Faculty advisor: Betsy Martinez-Vaz
Hamline University | Department of Biology and Biochemistry

Keywords: metformin, bioremediation, pollution, microbiology, protein, bacteria, wastewater

Research project:
Metformin is one of the most prescribed medications worldwide and its use is expected to increase as the global prevalence of diabetes rises. Metformin is not fully metabolized and finds its way into wastewater treatment plants. Guanylurea, metformin’s transformation product, is said to be a “dead-end” metabolite and pollutant. A novel enzyme, guanylurea hydrolase (GUH), converts guanylurea into guanidine and ammonia. Research was conducted to investigate the activity of enzymes homologous to guanylurea hydrolase found in different bacteria. Plasmids containing the GUH homologs were transformed into E. coli. Cells were induced to stimulate protein production and prepare cell extracts. Enzyme activity was tested by ammonia release assays using the Berthelot reaction. The substrate specificity of the GUH homologs was tested on guanylurea and similar compounds, including biuret and cyanoguanidine. Most GUH homologs only degraded guanylurea, suggesting that guanylurea hydrolase has a substrate range. These studies are key to understanding the breakdown of metformin and its transformation product, guanylurea.


► TABLE 2
Privacy Ethics of Big Data in the Healthcare Industry

Attend this virtual session ]

Student researcher: Britta Nordberg
Faculty advisor: Chris Gehrz
Bethel University | Department of History, Philosophy and Political Science

Keywords: privacy, ethics, healthcare, data analysis

Research project:
Technology and data analysis has revolutionized the way that we view, interpret and use information. The analysis and processing of large quantities of intelligence has numerous positive implications for the general population, namely a more personalized human experience in which the marketplace is tailored to individual interests. However, all advancements that come through the method of analyzing citizens’ personal data naturally have an abundance of ethical concerns as well, particularly when such data includes personally identifiable information. Healthcare has already been greatly impacted by big data analysis, yet the growing power of big data analysis and the lack of standardized privacy laws shine a troubling light on the future of healthcare ethics. This research will extrapolate the future direction of big data analysis in the healthcare sector, investigate the ethics of individual data privacy and determine how technology can be best utilized to create a privacy-protected healthcare system.


► TABLE 3
Characterizing Nasal Isolates of Staphylococcus Aureus at Concordia University, Saint Paul

Attend this virtual session ]

Student researcher: Natalie Rustad
Faculty advisors: Mandy Brosnahan and Taylor Mach
Concordia University, St. Paul | Department of Science

Keywords: bacteria, antibiotic resistance, human health

Research project:
Concordia University, St. Paul research students have worked to collect over 1,000 nasal isolates of Staphylococcus aureus, a Gram-positive bacterium, from healthy individuals on campus. Approximately 30 percent of the human population are carriers of S. aureus, which is asymptomatically present in the nasal mucosa. S. aureus is carried maintaining a commensal relationship with the human body (meaning without harm). However, as an opportunistic pathogen, it can pose serious public health risks under the right conditions, in which S. aureus allows opportunities for many invasive clinical manifestations including epidermal and soft-tissue infections. The severity of S. aureus infections is intensified by the presence of a gene, mecA, which confers resistance to antibiotics used to treat S. aureus infections. In this ongoing study, students perform varying culture tests to identify S. aureus from collected nasal swabs. The strains are then characterized for toxin production and antibiotic resistance to understand S. aureus and its impact on human health to improve prevention and treatment.


► TABLE 4
Immigrants in COVID Minnesota

Attend this virtual session ]  [ View presentation slides

Student researcher: Lillie Ortloff
Faculty advisor: Maddalena Marinari
Gustavus Adolphus College | Department of History

Keywords: COVID-19, immigrants, Minnesota, pandemic

Research project:
The first year of the COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately affected the immigrant population in Minnesota. Examining five areas of immigrants’ lives that were significantly impacted — health, immigration policy, workers and economic Impact, anti-Asian xenophobia and vaccine equity — this research shows the hardships immigrants went through, as well as the grassroots efforts they made to help each other. Minnesota’s immigrants carried the brunt of essential work without proper resources and status protection, while also facing language barriers. The path to citizenship slowed significantly and detention centers threatened the health of anyone they held. Xenophobia increased dramatically and the unequal distribution of vaccines intersected with hesitancy backed by centuries of historical trauma. However, immigrant communities still organized and leaned on one another to survive. They raised aid for businesses, provided spaces for testing, built trust in vaccines and spoke out against anti-Asian hate. They demonstrated perseverance in the face of a system that overlooked them.


► TABLE 5
Diversity in the Classroom: Exploring PWI and HBCU Perceptions of Modern Asian Studies Program

Attend this virtual session ]  [ View presentation slides ]

Student: Tobias Fenske
Faculty advisor: Deborah Pembleton
College of Saint Benedict/Saint John’s University | Department of Global Business Leadership

Keywords: Asian studies, PWIs, HBCU, race, campus life

Research project:
Since the beginning of the 21st century, a renewed interest in Asian societies and cultures has become prominent in the West. An increase of students from various walks of life are learning to embrace and understand Asia as a whole, with many entering the field of Asian Studies in their academic career. The purpose of this mixed methods study, which will be completed as a research project over the course of nine months, is to determine how students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) versus Predominantly White Institutions (PWI) perceive the field of Asian Studies. To examine this, the student bodies at two colleges were studied: Spelman College and the College of Saint Benedict. In an attempt to reduce bias, these colleges were chosen as they are remarkably similar in almost all areas of life. This study will set the stage for further research surrounding the relations between racial demographics and the perception of Asian Studies programs.


► TABLE 6
Bat Activity in Midwest Oak Savanna Habitats Compared to Forest Habitats

Attend this virtual session ]

Student researcher: Keaton Cloven
Faculty advisor: Benjamin Pauli
Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota | Department of Biology

Keywords: acoustic sampling, diversity, habitat selection, richness, Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge (TNWR)

Research project:
Midwestern oak savannas are considered one of the most threatened habitats in the world and a critically endangered ecosystem. Bat populations are also facing decline due to habitat degradation and white-nose syndrome. Bat activity was compared between an oak savanna habitat and forest habitat using non-invasive stationary acoustic sampling. Species richness, diversity, frequency of activity and intensity of activity by bats were calculated for each site. Results indicated that oak savannas were used by more species of bats but not more actively by frequency or intensity than bats in forest areas. This could be because heterogeneous habitats made available by thinning and burning might provide a greater range of roosting and foraging habitats for a higher diversity of bats. The activity between the two are possibly similar because of the chance that the two locations had different tree density/cover allowing for gaps and openings to be similar and providing a similar edge habitat complexity inviting bats to show similar activity in each habitat.

11:45 A.M. - NOON
► TABLE 1
Substrate Specificity of Guanylurea Hydrolase Across Multiple Microbial Species

Attend this virtual session ]  [ View research poster ]

Student researcher: Dean Young
Faculty advisor: Betsy Martinez-Vaz
Hamline University | Department of Biology and Biochemistry

Keywords: metformin, bioremediation, pollution, microbiology, protein, bacteria, wastewater

Research project:
Metformin is one of the most prescribed medications worldwide and its use is expected to increase as the global prevalence of diabetes rises. Metformin is not fully metabolized and finds its way into wastewater treatment plants. Guanylurea, metformin’s transformation product, is said to be a “dead-end” metabolite and pollutant. A novel enzyme, guanylurea hydrolase (GUH), converts guanylurea into guanidine and ammonia. Research was conducted to investigate the activity of enzymes homologous to guanylurea hydrolase found in different bacteria. Plasmids containing the GUH homologs were transformed into E. coli. Cells were induced to stimulate protein production and prepare cell extracts. Enzyme activity was tested by ammonia release assays using the Berthelot reaction. The substrate specificity of the GUH homologs was tested on guanylurea and similar compounds, including biuret and cyanoguanidine. Most GUH homologs only degraded guanylurea, suggesting that guanylurea hydrolase has a substrate range. These studies are key to understanding the breakdown of metformin and its transformation product, guanylurea.


► TABLE 2
Privacy Ethics of Big Data in the Healthcare Industry

Attend this virtual session ]

Student researcher: Britta Nordberg
Faculty advisor: Chris Gehrz
Bethel University | Department of History, Philosophy and Political Science

Keywords: privacy, ethics, healthcare, data analysis

Research project:
Technology and data analysis has revolutionized the way that we view, interpret and use information. The analysis and processing of large quantities of intelligence has numerous positive implications for the general population, namely a more personalized human experience in which the marketplace is tailored to individual interests. However, all advancements that come through the method of analyzing citizens’ personal data naturally have an abundance of ethical concerns as well, particularly when such data includes personally identifiable information. Healthcare has already been greatly impacted by big data analysis, yet the growing power of big data analysis and the lack of standardized privacy laws shine a troubling light on the future of healthcare ethics. This research will extrapolate the future direction of big data analysis in the healthcare sector, investigate the ethics of individual data privacy and determine how technology can be best utilized to create a privacy-protected healthcare system.


► TABLE 3
Characterizing Nasal Isolates of Staphylococcus Aureus at Concordia University, Saint Paul

Attend this virtual session ]

Student researcher: Natalie Rustad
Faculty advisors: Mandy Brosnahan and Taylor Mach
Concordia University, St. Paul | Department of Science

Keywords: bacteria, antibiotic resistance, human health

Research project:
Concordia University, St. Paul research students have worked to collect over 1,000 nasal isolates of Staphylococcus aureus, a Gram-positive bacterium, from healthy individuals on campus. Approximately 30 percent of the human population are carriers of S. aureus, which is asymptomatically present in the nasal mucosa. S. aureus is carried maintaining a commensal relationship with the human body (meaning without harm). However, as an opportunistic pathogen, it can pose serious public health risks under the right conditions, in which S. aureus allows opportunities for many invasive clinical manifestations including epidermal and soft-tissue infections. The severity of S. aureus infections is intensified by the presence of a gene, mecA, which confers resistance to antibiotics used to treat S. aureus infections. In this ongoing study, students perform varying culture tests to identify S. aureus from collected nasal swabs. The strains are then characterized for toxin production and antibiotic resistance to understand S. aureus and its impact on human health to improve prevention and treatment.


► TABLE 4
Immigrants in COVID Minnesota

Attend this virtual session ]  [ View presentation slides

Student researcher: Lillie Ortloff
Faculty advisor: Maddalena Marinari
Gustavus Adolphus College | Department of History

Keywords: COVID-19, immigrants, Minnesota, pandemic

Research project:
The first year of the COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately affected the immigrant population in Minnesota. Examining five areas of immigrants’ lives that were significantly impacted — health, immigration policy, workers and economic Impact, anti-Asian xenophobia and vaccine equity — this research shows the hardships immigrants went through, as well as the grassroots efforts they made to help each other. Minnesota’s immigrants carried the brunt of essential work without proper resources and status protection, while also facing language barriers. The path to citizenship slowed significantly and detention centers threatened the health of anyone they held. Xenophobia increased dramatically and the unequal distribution of vaccines intersected with hesitancy backed by centuries of historical trauma. However, immigrant communities still organized and leaned on one another to survive. They raised aid for businesses, provided spaces for testing, built trust in vaccines and spoke out against anti-Asian hate. They demonstrated perseverance in the face of a system that overlooked them.


► TABLE 5
Diversity in the Classroom: Exploring PWI and HBCU Perceptions of Modern Asian Studies Program

Attend this virtual session ]  [ View presentation slides ]

Student: Tobias Fenske
Faculty advisor: Deborah Pembleton
College of Saint Benedict/Saint John’s University | Department of Global Business Leadership

Keywords: Asian studies, PWIs, HBCU, race, campus life

Research project:
Since the beginning of the 21st century, a renewed interest in Asian societies and cultures has become prominent in the West. An increase of students from various walks of life are learning to embrace and understand Asia as a whole, with many entering the field of Asian Studies in their academic career. The purpose of this mixed methods study, which will be completed as a research project over the course of nine months, is to determine how students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) versus Predominantly White Institutions (PWI) perceive the field of Asian Studies. To examine this, the student bodies at two colleges were studied: Spelman College and the College of Saint Benedict. In an attempt to reduce bias, these colleges were chosen as they are remarkably similar in almost all areas of life. This study will set the stage for further research surrounding the relations between racial demographics and the perception of Asian Studies programs.


► TABLE 6
Bat Activity in Midwest Oak Savanna Habitats Compared to Forest Habitats

Attend this virtual session ]

Student researcher: Keaton Cloven
Faculty advisor: Benjamin Pauli
Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota | Department of Biology

Keywords: acoustic sampling, diversity, habitat selection, richness, Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge (TNWR)

Research project:
Midwestern oak savannas are considered one of the most threatened habitats in the world and a critically endangered ecosystem. Bat populations are also facing decline due to habitat degradation and white-nose syndrome. Bat activity was compared between an oak savanna habitat and forest habitat using non-invasive stationary acoustic sampling. Species richness, diversity, frequency of activity and intensity of activity by bats were calculated for each site. Results indicated that oak savannas were used by more species of bats but not more actively by frequency or intensity than bats in forest areas. This could be because heterogeneous habitats made available by thinning and burning might provide a greater range of roosting and foraging habitats for a higher diversity of bats. The activity between the two are possibly similar because of the chance that the two locations had different tree density/cover allowing for gaps and openings to be similar and providing a similar edge habitat complexity inviting bats to show similar activity in each habitat.

NOON - 12:15 P.M.
► TABLE 1
A Feminist Transitional Justice: Jineology in Syrian Conflict Resolution

Attend this virtual session ]  [ View presentation slides ]

Student researcher: Nina Kaushikkar
Faculty advisor: Summer Forester
Carleton College | Department of Political Science

Keywords: transitional justice, feminism, Syria, jineology

Research project:
The exclusion of women from transitional justice processes at the local and international levels has led to prolonged gender‐based violence and greater levels of post‐conflict societal instability. As a result, a feminist approach to shaping transitional justice institutions in the form of restorative justice projects ought to be prioritized. I turn to the Kurdish feminist framework of jineology to examine its impact on transitional justice mechanisms in the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES), focusing on how the narrative practices embedded in jineological legal institutions can provide a template for future restorative transitional justice projects. I rely on previously published interviews with local experts, activists and community members, as well as reports and online news sources, to better understand how narrative can be uniquely incorporated into Syrian transitional justice measures. Ultimately, this work will provide a useful addition towards constructing gender‐sensitive and equitable transitional justice processes, leading to a more stable post‐conflict society.


► TABLE 2
Isotopic Analysis of Hair as an Indicator of Growth in Bison (Bison bison) from the Southern and Northern Great Plains

Attend this virtual session ]  [ View presentation slides ]

Student researcher: Marissa Bober
Faculty advisors: Pam Freeman, The College of St. Scholastica and Perry Barboza, Texas A&M University
The College of St. Scholastica | Department of Biology

Keywords: bison, stable isotopes, hair, environment, diet, climate

Research project:
The Great Plains is vulnerable to rising temperatures and drought that affect forage for domestic and wild animals, including bison (Bison bison) on public and private lands. Stable isotopes of carbon (d13C) and nitrogen (d15N) track diet and environmental stressors as they are incorporated in organs and hair. We used isotopic values of female bison harvested at 2-3 years of age to compare growth in the northern (Saskatchewan; n=12) and southern Great Plains (Texas; n=12). Bison were similar in live mass (402.48 kg), but southern bison were smaller than northern bison when comparing the mass of the carcass (muscle and skeleton; 213.08 vs. 258.53 kg). Greater variation in isotopic values of hair in southern bison is consistent with variable diets of C3 and C4 grasses in hot, dry climates. Managers of public and private herds of bison could use isotopic analyses to evaluate strategies for attenuating environmental stress on bison productivity.


► TABLE 3
Identification of a Novel Gentamicin Resistance Gene in Salmonella Isolated from Retail Turkey

Attend this virtual session ]

Student researcher: Sydney Morris
Faculty advisor: Justin Donato
University of St. Thomas | Department of Chemistry

Keywords: Biochemistry, antibiotic resistance, antibiotic resistance genes

Research project:
Antibiotic resistance poses a significant global health challenge. Therefore, there is great value in creating a comprehensive catalog of all known antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) to be used in the surveillance of antibiotic resistance in diverse bacterial samples. The utility of such a catalog increases with the continued identification of previously unknown ARGs. In this project, a published data set from the U.S. National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS) was investigated, in which six Salmonella strains from retail turkey demonstrated antibiotic resistance to gentamicin, despite including no known gentamicin resistance genes in their genomes. This indicated the presence of a potentially unknown ARG. Ultimately, a single gene, grdA, was found to be responsible for the observed gentamicin resistance in all six strains. This gene had never before been reported to cause gentamicin resistance. This research demonstrates the advantages of coupling data on the genetic and physical characteristics of bacteria to identify previously unknown ARGs.


► TABLE 4
Effect of Mississippi River on Property Values in Anoka County: A Hedonic Price Analysis

Attend this virtual session ]

Student researcher: Vincent Parisi
Faculty advisor: Samrat Kunwar
College of Saint Benedict/Saint John’s University | Department of Economics

Keywords: Minnesota, water, geospatial, rivers, urban, real estate

Research project:
Minnesota is known as a land of plentiful lakes, most of which provide a high economic value to the communities that surround them. This led us to question whether rivers play the same role to surrounding real estate. We obtained special data and housing and neighborhood characteristics from the Minnesota Geospatial Commons for our sample of 4,125 single family homes. We collected crime rate data from a neighborhood evaluation website, educational data from the Minnesota Department of Education and water quality data from the MPCA. Distance to the river was calculated with ArcMAP GIS software. A buffer was also used to group properties based on water quality monitoring stations. The data was summarized and then three separate regressions were run. The first regression, the basic model, looked at the relationship between house price and the two environmental variables. The secondary model included those variables along with more house characteristics and the full regression included all our experimental variables.


► TABLE 5
Upward Mobility and Racial Covenants: Understanding the Economic Impact of Historical Racial Covenants

Attend this virtual session ]  [ View presentation slides ]

Student researchers: Ava LaPlante, Victoria Delgado-Palma and Calyn Schardt
Faculty advisor: Kristine West
St. Catherine University | Department of Economics and Department of Political Science

Keywords: housing, discrimination

Research project:
Historical discrimination, including racial covenants, has left an indelible impact on neighborhoods in the Twin Cities. Racial covenants, clauses in deeds stating that houses cannot be sold to people of color, first appeared in the Twin Cities in 1910. We analyze the impact of racial covenants on the neighborhood composition in Hennepin and Ramsey counties from 1910 until the 1948 Supreme Court ruling that ruled covenants unenforceable. We use linear regression and data from the Opportunity Atlas to compare the number of racial covenants to adult outcomes for children born between 1978-1983. Previous research using this data has shown that the neighborhoods where children grow up influence their adult outcomes such as employment, income, incarceration and family structure (Chetty et al 2020). We find evidence that racial covenants pushed African American residents into fewer and more homogenous neighborhoods and preliminary results suggest that racial covenants are negatively associated with adult outcomes for people of color.


► TABLE 6
Cholinergic Receptor Blockade Impairs Spatial Memory Retrieval and Minimizes Retrieval-induced Alterations in Matrix metalloproteinase-9

Attend this virtual session ]  [ View presentation slides ]

Student researchers: Bretton Badenoch and Megan Blatti
Faculty advisor: Mikel Olson
Concordia College, Moorhead | Department of Psychology

Keywords: Alzheimer's, MMP9, memory, animal-model, scopolamine

Research project:
Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is associated with a loss of cholinergic function, and the basal forebrain cholinergic system remains the most common target of pharmaceutical treatments for AD. Recently, some have argued that AD may be best characterized as a deficit of memory retrieval. We show that the central administration of the cholinergic antagonist scopolamine reliably impairs the retrieval of previously consolidated spatial memories. Matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) is an endopeptidase that regulates the extracellular matrix and several other substrates implicated in memory. Using immunoblotting and gelatin zymography, we show that modifications in hippocampal MMP-9 expression are associated with spatial memory retrieval. Further, we provide evidence that the cholinergic system is an important regulator of some of these retrieval-induced changes in MMP-9. These results further elucidate the role of MMP-9 in learning and memory and indicate a possible connection between the cholinergic dysfunction and MMP-9 dysregulation that is commonly seen in AD.

12:15 - 12:30 P.M.
► TABLE 1
A Feminist Transitional Justice: Jineology in Syrian Conflict Resolution

Attend this virtual session ]  [ View presentation slides ]

Student researcher: Nina Kaushikkar
Faculty advisor: Summer Forester
Carleton College | Department of Political Science

Keywords: transitional justice, feminism, Syria, jineology

Research project:
The exclusion of women from transitional justice processes at the local and international levels has led to prolonged gender‐based violence and greater levels of post‐conflict societal instability. As a result, a feminist approach to shaping transitional justice institutions in the form of restorative justice projects ought to be prioritized. I turn to the Kurdish feminist framework of jineology to examine its impact on transitional justice mechanisms in the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES), focusing on how the narrative practices embedded in jineological legal institutions can provide a template for future restorative transitional justice projects. I rely on previously published interviews with local experts, activists and community members, as well as reports and online news sources, to better understand how narrative can be uniquely incorporated into Syrian transitional justice measures. Ultimately, this work will provide a useful addition towards constructing gender‐sensitive and equitable transitional justice processes, leading to a more stable post‐conflict society.


► TABLE 2
Isotopic Analysis of Hair as an Indicator of Growth in Bison (Bison bison) from the Southern and Northern Great Plains

Attend this virtual session ]  [ View presentation slides ]

Student researcher: Marissa Bober
Faculty advisors: Pam Freeman, The College of St. Scholastica and Perry Barboza, Texas A&M University
The College of St. Scholastica | Department of Biology

Keywords: bison, stable isotopes, hair, environment, diet, climate

Research project:
The Great Plains is vulnerable to rising temperatures and drought that affect forage for domestic and wild animals, including bison (Bison bison) on public and private lands. Stable isotopes of carbon (d13C) and nitrogen (d15N) track diet and environmental stressors as they are incorporated in organs and hair. We used isotopic values of female bison harvested at 2-3 years of age to compare growth in the northern (Saskatchewan; n=12) and southern Great Plains (Texas; n=12). Bison were similar in live mass (402.48 kg), but southern bison were smaller than northern bison when comparing the mass of the carcass (muscle and skeleton; 213.08 vs. 258.53 kg). Greater variation in isotopic values of hair in southern bison is consistent with variable diets of C3 and C4 grasses in hot, dry climates. Managers of public and private herds of bison could use isotopic analyses to evaluate strategies for attenuating environmental stress on bison productivity.


► TABLE 3
Identification of a Novel Gentamicin Resistance Gene in Salmonella Isolated from Retail Turkey

Attend this virtual session ]

Student researcher: Sydney Morris
Faculty advisor: Justin Donato
University of St. Thomas | Department of Chemistry

Keywords: Biochemistry, antibiotic resistance, antibiotic resistance genes

Research project:
Antibiotic resistance poses a significant global health challenge. Therefore, there is great value in creating a comprehensive catalog of all known antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) to be used in the surveillance of antibiotic resistance in diverse bacterial samples. The utility of such a catalog increases with the continued identification of previously unknown ARGs. In this project, a published data set from the U.S. National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS) was investigated, in which six Salmonella strains from retail turkey demonstrated antibiotic resistance to gentamicin, despite including no known gentamicin resistance genes in their genomes. This indicated the presence of a potentially unknown ARG. Ultimately, a single gene, grdA, was found to be responsible for the observed gentamicin resistance in all six strains. This gene had never before been reported to cause gentamicin resistance. This research demonstrates the advantages of coupling data on the genetic and physical characteristics of bacteria to identify previously unknown ARGs.


► TABLE 4
Effect of Mississippi River on Property Values in Anoka County: A Hedonic Price Analysis

Attend this virtual session ]

Student researcher: Vincent Parisi
Faculty advisor: Samrat Kunwar
College of Saint Benedict/Saint John’s University | Department of Economics

Keywords: Minnesota, water, geospatial, rivers, urban, real estate

Research project:
Minnesota is known as a land of plentiful lakes, most of which provide a high economic value to the communities that surround them. This led us to question whether rivers play the same role to surrounding real estate. We obtained special data and housing and neighborhood characteristics from the Minnesota Geospatial Commons for our sample of 4,125 single family homes. We collected crime rate data from a neighborhood evaluation website, educational data from the Minnesota Department of Education and water quality data from the MPCA. Distance to the river was calculated with ArcMAP GIS software. A buffer was also used to group properties based on water quality monitoring stations. The data was summarized and then three separate regressions were run. The first regression, the basic model, looked at the relationship between house price and the two environmental variables. The secondary model included those variables along with more house characteristics and the full regression included all our experimental variables.


► TABLE 5
Upward Mobility and Racial Covenants: Understanding the Economic Impact of Historical Racial Covenants

Attend this virtual session ]  [ View presentation slides ]

Student researchers: Ava LaPlante, Victoria Delgado-Palma and Calyn Schardt
Faculty advisor: Kristine West
St. Catherine University | Department of Economics and Department of Political Science

Keywords: housing, discrimination

Research project:
Historical discrimination, including racial covenants, has left an indelible impact on neighborhoods in the Twin Cities. Racial covenants, clauses in deeds stating that houses cannot be sold to people of color, first appeared in the Twin Cities in 1910. We analyze the impact of racial covenants on the neighborhood composition in Hennepin and Ramsey counties from 1910 until the 1948 Supreme Court ruling that ruled covenants unenforceable. We use linear regression and data from the Opportunity Atlas to compare the number of racial covenants to adult outcomes for children born between 1978-1983. Previous research using this data has shown that the neighborhoods where children grow up influence their adult outcomes such as employment, income, incarceration and family structure (Chetty et al 2020). We find evidence that racial covenants pushed African American residents into fewer and more homogenous neighborhoods and preliminary results suggest that racial covenants are negatively associated with adult outcomes for people of color.


► TABLE 6
Cholinergic Receptor Blockade Impairs Spatial Memory Retrieval and Minimizes Retrieval-induced Alterations in Matrix metalloproteinase-9

Attend this virtual session ]  [ View presentation slides ]

Student researchers: Bretton Badenoch and Megan Blatti
Faculty advisor: Mikel Olson
Concordia College, Moorhead | Department of Psychology

Keywords: Alzheimer's, MMP9, memory, animal-model, scopolamine

Research project:
Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is associated with a loss of cholinergic function, and the basal forebrain cholinergic system remains the most common target of pharmaceutical treatments for AD. Recently, some have argued that AD may be best characterized as a deficit of memory retrieval. We show that the central administration of the cholinergic antagonist scopolamine reliably impairs the retrieval of previously consolidated spatial memories. Matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) is an endopeptidase that regulates the extracellular matrix and several other substrates implicated in memory. Using immunoblotting and gelatin zymography, we show that modifications in hippocampal MMP-9 expression are associated with spatial memory retrieval. Further, we provide evidence that the cholinergic system is an important regulator of some of these retrieval-induced changes in MMP-9. These results further elucidate the role of MMP-9 in learning and memory and indicate a possible connection between the cholinergic dysfunction and MMP-9 dysregulation that is commonly seen in AD.

12:30 - 12:45 P.M.
► TABLE 1
The Impact of NSD3 Knockdown and the Expression of PRDM12 in Chick Neural Crest Cells

Attend this virtual session ]  [ View presentation slides ]

Student researcher: Kendra Yoder
Faculty advisor: Bridget Jacques-Fricke
Hamline University | Neuroscience Program

Keywords: neural crest cells, gene expression, embryo

Research project:
Neural crest cells (NCCs) are a multipotent migratory cell type found in vertebrate embryos. NCC derivatives constitute the majority of the peripheral nervous system, including nociceptors. Our previous work found that the methyltransferase NSD3 plays a critical role in the specification and migration of NCCs. NDSD3 knockdown downregulates the expression of many genes involved in nervous system development. One gene impacted by NSD3 knockdown, PRDM12, is a methyltransferase required for the nociceptive lineage during sympathetic nervous system development. In this study, we identify the expression pattern of PRDM12 during NCC specification and migration. We conducted in situ hybridization, which allows for visualization of PRDM12 expression, throughout early stages of embryonic development. We found that PRDM12 is expressed during NCC specification in the neural folds and in cranial NCCs during migration. We hope that furthering research on PRDM12 as it relates to NCC development can inform treatment and prevention approaches for diseases and cancers that arise from PRDM12 dysfunction.


► TABLE 2
Psychological Well-Being in Asian and Asian American College Students: Impacts of Discrimination during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Attend this virtual session ]  [ View presentation slides ]

Student researcher: Ana Rivera Juarez
Faculty advisor: Roxanne Prichard
University of St. Thomas | Department of Psychology and Department of Neuroscience

Keywords: suicide, mental health, discrimination, college students

Research project:
We explored what behavioral and psychological risk and protective factors are predictive of psychological distress and suicide risk in Asian and Asian American college students, and how their effects changed from 2019 to 2020 because of COVID-19. We analyzed various factors from the National College Health Assessment’s (NCHA) Fall 2019 research survey, using structural equation modeling and factor analysis, and compared the results to those from the Fall 2020 NCHA. When compared to 2019, experiencing discrimination had a significantly larger effect on both psychological distress and suicidality among Asian and Asian American college students in 2020. Loneliness and depression were significant drivers of mental health outcomes, although their effects remained largely unchanged from 2019 to 2020, as did the protective effects of satisfactory sleep. During the COVID-19 pandemic, discrimination was an important driver of psychological distress and suicidality in Asian and Asian American students. These findings suggest that universities should both enhance culturally competent care and work to reduce discrimination.


► TABLE 3
What’s Your FQI? Using Floristic Quality Indices to Foster Urban Conservation

Attend this virtual session ]

Student researcher: Maya Hofmann
Faculty advisor: Mike Nishizaki
Carleton College | Department of Biology

Keywords: conservation, biodiversity, environment, insects, plants, native species

Research project:
Floristic quality indices (FQI) are used by natural areas managers to measure conservation values of sites (Freyman 2016). We propose that these metrics can enhance urban sustainability efforts by challenging neighborhoods, parks and campuses to compete for best floristic quality status. Natural areas/plantings that foster high native plant diversity in city environments should be encouraged given the critical role native plants and keystone genera play in supporting native animal populations (Narango et al. 2017, 2020). FQI and mean coefficient of conservatism metrics can provide increased community plant identification skills, greater local knowledge of native/non-native/invasive species and more urban conservation initiatives. To pilot test this concept, we developed cumulative native plant species lists for four different Springfield, Ill. areas. We found that each site is of high conservation value. Calculating conservation metrics thus creates incentive to enhance native plant and pollinator conservation in local communities so that human-dominated landscapes can attain native plant diversity comparable to natural areas.


► TABLE 4
The Changing Paleoclimates of Mass Extinctions

Attend this virtual session ]  [ View presentation slides ]

Student researcher: Morgan Mellum
Faculty advisor: Erik Gulbranson
Gustavus Adolphus College | Department of Geology

Keywords: mass extinction, paleoclimate, dendrochronology, fossil soils

Research project:
Major extinctions throughout time have shaped the Earth we know today. Two well-known extinctions occurred at the end Permian (EPE) and the Cretaceous–Paleogene (K-Pg) boundary, with the first being the largest mass extinction and the second being the extinction of the non-avian dinosaurs. Studying these extinctions can increase our knowledge of today’s ongoing extinction. When assessing the paleoclimate history of the two extinctions we turn to soils and plants. Dendrochronology of fossil trees can inform us of specific climatic signals while fossil soils tell us about long-term climate change. The EPE analysis reveals that trees growing in Antarctica were negatively affected by climate change, and that global temperatures increased during this time. In contrast, at the K-Pg boundary in present day New Mexico, it was discovered that there was a change of ecosystem over the course of the boundary during a time of global cooling.


► TABLE 5
Investigation of the Release and Uptake of Dyes and Pharmaceuticals from Chitosan-Alginate Bioplastics

Attend this virtual session ]

Investigation of the Release and Uptake of Dyes and Pharmaceuticals from Chitosan-Alginate Bioplastics

Student researchers: Hannah Olson and Joshua Weber
Faculty advisor: Graeme Wyllie
Concordia College, Moorhead | Department of Chemistry

Keywords: bioplastics, green chemistry, chemistry

Research project:
Results initially suggested release of food dye trapped in the bioplastic at formation was dependent on ionic strength, a fact that recent results have suggested is too simplistic. In this study that took place over the summer of 2021, we systematically investigated the uptake and release of various materials, such as food dyes and pharmaceuticals, from chitosan-alginate bioplastics. Dyes and drugs were added to the bioplastics during their formation so their release could be studied, while other bioplastics samples were manufactured containing none of these to serve as removal systems. Samples of these various bioplastics were immersed in a range of solution environments and the extent of release or uptake was measured by either UV-Vis spectroscopy or HPLC. Our studies revealed that while the structure and polarity of the analytes play a significant role in release and uptake, the effect of solution environments is also critical. We will share our results and discuss future directions.


► TABLE 6
The Future of Immigration Discourse in the US: Young Activists' Interventions in a Charged Political Landscape

Attend this virtual session ]  [ View research poster

Student researchers: Gabriela Ortiz-Riera
Faculty advisor: Sarah Combellick-Bidney
Augsburg University | Department of Political Science

Keywords: immigration, activism, youth, political

Research project:
Young adult activists are the future of the United States as they create a series of changes around issues they are passionate about; for instance, immigration. As they work on setting their demands, they explain their work to different audiences. In this research, I focused on analyzing the framework and language used by young activists regarding immigration. I reached out to organizations from various states to interview those who fit the definition of “young adult activist” — those being in the range of 18-30 years of age. In the survey, they were asked questions regarding how they frame the issue and the type of language they use to address their demands.

12:45 - 1:00 P.M.
► TABLE 1
The Impact of NSD3 Knockdown and the Expression of PRDM12 in Chick Neural Crest Cells

Attend this virtual session ]  [ View presentation slides ]

Student researcher: Kendra Yoder
Faculty advisor: Bridget Jacques-Fricke
Hamline University | Neuroscience Program

Keywords: neural crest cells, gene expression, embryo

Research project:
Neural crest cells (NCCs) are a multipotent migratory cell type found in vertebrate embryos. NCC derivatives constitute the majority of the peripheral nervous system, including nociceptors. Our previous work found that the methyltransferase NSD3 plays a critical role in the specification and migration of NCCs. NDSD3 knockdown downregulates the expression of many genes involved in nervous system development. One gene impacted by NSD3 knockdown, PRDM12, is a methyltransferase required for the nociceptive lineage during sympathetic nervous system development. In this study, we identify the expression pattern of PRDM12 during NCC specification and migration. We conducted in situ hybridization, which allows for visualization of PRDM12 expression, throughout early stages of embryonic development. We found that PRDM12 is expressed during NCC specification in the neural folds and in cranial NCCs during migration. We hope that furthering research on PRDM12 as it relates to NCC development can inform treatment and prevention approaches for diseases and cancers that arise from PRDM12 dysfunction.


► TABLE 2
Psychological Well-Being in Asian and Asian American College Students: Impacts of Discrimination during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Attend this virtual session ]  [ View presentation slides ]

Student researcher: Ana Rivera Juarez
Faculty advisor: Roxanne Prichard
University of St. Thomas | Department of Psychology and Department of Neuroscience

Keywords: suicide, mental health, discrimination, college students

Research project:
We explored what behavioral and psychological risk and protective factors are predictive of psychological distress and suicide risk in Asian and Asian American college students, and how their effects changed from 2019 to 2020 because of COVID-19. We analyzed various factors from the National College Health Assessment’s (NCHA) Fall 2019 research survey, using structural equation modeling and factor analysis, and compared the results to those from the Fall 2020 NCHA. When compared to 2019, experiencing discrimination had a significantly larger effect on both psychological distress and suicidality among Asian and Asian American college students in 2020. Loneliness and depression were significant drivers of mental health outcomes, although their effects remained largely unchanged from 2019 to 2020, as did the protective effects of satisfactory sleep. During the COVID-19 pandemic, discrimination was an important driver of psychological distress and suicidality in Asian and Asian American students. These findings suggest that universities should both enhance culturally competent care and work to reduce discrimination.


► TABLE 3
What’s Your FQI? Using Floristic Quality Indices to Foster Urban Conservation

Attend this virtual session ]

Student researcher: Maya Hofmann
Faculty advisor: Mike Nishizaki
Carleton College | Department of Biology

Keywords: conservation, biodiversity, environment, insects, plants, native species

Research project:
Floristic quality indices (FQI) are used by natural areas managers to measure conservation values of sites (Freyman 2016). We propose that these metrics can enhance urban sustainability efforts by challenging neighborhoods, parks and campuses to compete for best floristic quality status. Natural areas/plantings that foster high native plant diversity in city environments should be encouraged given the critical role native plants and keystone genera play in supporting native animal populations (Narango et al. 2017, 2020). FQI and mean coefficient of conservatism metrics can provide increased community plant identification skills, greater local knowledge of native/non-native/invasive species and more urban conservation initiatives. To pilot test this concept, we developed cumulative native plant species lists for four different Springfield, Ill. areas. We found that each site is of high conservation value. Calculating conservation metrics thus creates incentive to enhance native plant and pollinator conservation in local communities so that human-dominated landscapes can attain native plant diversity comparable to natural areas.


► TABLE 4
The Changing Paleoclimates of Mass Extinctions

Attend this virtual session ]  [ View presentation slides ]

Student researcher: Morgan Mellum
Faculty advisor: Erik Gulbranson
Gustavus Adolphus College | Department of Geology

Keywords: mass extinction, paleoclimate, dendrochronology, fossil soils

Research project:
Major extinctions throughout time have shaped the Earth we know today. Two well-known extinctions occurred at the end Permian (EPE) and the Cretaceous–Paleogene (K-Pg) boundary, with the first being the largest mass extinction and the second being the extinction of the non-avian dinosaurs. Studying these extinctions can increase our knowledge of today’s ongoing extinction. When assessing the paleoclimate history of the two extinctions we turn to soils and plants. Dendrochronology of fossil trees can inform us of specific climatic signals while fossil soils tell us about long-term climate change. The EPE analysis reveals that trees growing in Antarctica were negatively affected by climate change, and that global temperatures increased during this time. In contrast, at the K-Pg boundary in present day New Mexico, it was discovered that there was a change of ecosystem over the course of the boundary during a time of global cooling.


► TABLE 5
Investigation of the Release and Uptake of Dyes and Pharmaceuticals from Chitosan-Alginate Bioplastics

Attend this virtual session ]

Investigation of the Release and Uptake of Dyes and Pharmaceuticals from Chitosan-Alginate Bioplastics

Student researchers: Hannah Olson and Joshua Weber
Faculty advisor: Graeme Wyllie
Concordia College, Moorhead | Department of Chemistry

Keywords: bioplastics, green chemistry, chemistry

Research project:
Results initially suggested release of food dye trapped in the bioplastic at formation was dependent on ionic strength, a fact that recent results have suggested is too simplistic. In this study that took place over the summer of 2021, we systematically investigated the uptake and release of various materials, such as food dyes and pharmaceuticals, from chitosan-alginate bioplastics. Dyes and drugs were added to the bioplastics during their formation so their release could be studied, while other bioplastics samples were manufactured containing none of these to serve as removal systems. Samples of these various bioplastics were immersed in a range of solution environments and the extent of release or uptake was measured by either UV-Vis spectroscopy or HPLC. Our studies revealed that while the structure and polarity of the analytes play a significant role in release and uptake, the effect of solution environments is also critical. We will share our results and discuss future directions.


► TABLE 6
The Future of Immigration Discourse in the US: Young Activists' Interventions in a Charged Political Landscape

Attend this virtual session ]  [ View research poster ]

Student researchers: Gabriela Ortiz-Riera
Faculty advisor: Sarah Combellick-Bidney
Augsburg University | Department of Political Science

Keywords: immigration, activism, youth, political

Research project:
Young adult activists are the future of the United States as they create a series of changes around issues they are passionate about; for instance, immigration. As they work on setting their demands, they explain their work to different audiences. In this research, I focused on analyzing the framework and language used by young activists regarding immigration. I reached out to organizations from various states to interview those who fit the definition of “young adult activist” — those being in the range of 18-30 years of age. In the survey, they were asked questions regarding how they frame the issue and the type of language they use to address their demands.