Research Projects from Previous Years

Tiered Mentoring Projects, Fall 2020

Exploring the potential of biomimicry to enhance pro-environmental design and behavior (Niewiarowski lab)
Bacteria forming iron caves? (Senko lab)
Using Bioinformatics to study sex chromosomal evolution in crustaceans (Weeks lab)
Shallow subsurface soil spectroscopy measurements of soil organic carbon (Moore Lab)
Bio-inspired walking canes and walking chairs (Astley lab)
Applied Cave Microbiology for the Development of Engineered Living Materials (Barton Lab)
Investigating the Microbial World of Lechuguilla Cave (Barton Lab)
Determine molecular targets for treating tinnitus (Bao lab – NEOMED)
Mechanical Testing of Cookie-Cutter Shark Bite Forces (Astley Lab)
Investigations into a local parasitic plant-galling wasp (Duff Lab)
Monitoring White-Tailed Deer Populations Using a Drone and Thermal Camera (Mitchell Lab)
Wetland Plant Regeneration Strategies (Mitchell Lab)
Roadside Pollinator Habitat Project (Mitchell Lab)

Tiered Mentoring Projects, Fall 2019

Tiered Mentoring Projects, Spring 2019

Tiered Mentoring Projects, Fall 2018

Tiered Mentoring Projects, Spring 2018

Tiered Mentoring 2009 Poster Session – Top 3 Posters

The contest was for the top three posters (as judged by 6 faculty judges) in the recent Tiered Mentoring poster session (held 10-29-09).

  • Tim Sullivan
    1. Title = Faster but not Stickier: a comparison of an invasive gecko and the native species it is displacing
    2. Address = 3393 Summit Road Ravenna, OH 44266
    3. Student ID# = 2178107
  • Shilp Shah
    1. Title = The effects of cold shock on leptin expression in koi fish (*Cyprinus carpio)
    2. Address = 7500 Vinemont Ct., Hudson, OH 44236
    3. Student ID# = 2042501
  • Daniel Youhan
    1. Title = A Theoretical and Experimental Adventure into Biofilms
    2. Address = 7104 Ballash Road, Medina, OH 44256
    3. Student ID# = 1696180

2010 Posters

  • “The Extent, Mode and Implications of Dimorphism in Carapace shape within the Spinicaudatan Clam Shrimp”, by Astrop 1
  • “Early Triassic Fossil Spinicaudata from the Gettysburg Formation, South East Pennsylvania”, by Astrop 2
  • “Leptin in Arctic Adapted Whales: Insight into a Weighty Problem”, By Ball.
  • “Morphological Growth Analysis of the Conchostracan Carapace and its Implications” by B. Brown
  • “Developing an assay to measure absolute expression levels of leptin in common carp (Cyprinus carpio)” by L. Brown
  • “Cell Alignment and Cell Sheet Formation on Micro-grooved Surfaces Fabricated by Fracture-Induced Structuring”, by Cavicchia.
  • “Effects of deacetylated chitin (chitosan) on macrophage respiratory activity and indigenous gut microbiota: insights from zebrafish (Danio rerio)” by Dalman
  • “2010 60lb Combat Fighting Robot”, by Johnson
  • “A comparison of the Pollinating Behaviors of Bombus impatiens and Bombus fervidus on Mimulus ringens” by Kelly
  • Noatch
  • “Assessment of genetic sequences of the COI gene in populations of the native milfoil weevil (Euhrychiopsis lecontei Dietz), a potential biocontrol agent” by Roketenetz
  • “Space Use by Coyotes in an Urbanized Landscape”, by Stankavich
  • “Slip Slidin’ Away: a study of the effects water has on gecko setal frictional forces”, by Sullivan
  • Triplett
  • “A study on the effects of ethylene glycol, xylose, and sodium acetate on algae growth” by Trowbridge.

Abstracts for the Tiered Mentoring Poster Session 2011

  • Jean-Pierre Iskandar
    1. Brightly colored integuments are thought to function primarily in communication, both to conspecifics and heterospecifics. In birds, feather colors are generally classified as either pigment-based or structural. The latter are often characterized by intense gloss arising from the structuring ordering of feather materials. Indeed, many pigment-based feathers are also glossy; however, how pigments and structure interact to produce these effects remain poorly understood. We therefore combined diffuse and specular UV-vis reflectance spectrometry to quantify the spectral properties that differentiate glossy and matte red colors, as well as light and scanning electron microscopy to identify the morphological basis of such differences. Glossy feathers showed fourfold specular-to-diffuse reflectance ratio (glossiness), twice that of the control matte group. Further, these reflectance differences were concentrated in the red portion of the visual spectrum. Though surface properties of feathers of both groups were similar, glossy feathers had larger barbs with a flattened and homogeneous planar morphology, which are consistent with the expectations for a glossy reflecting surface. Our results therefore indicate that glossiness in pigment-based colors can be quantified and is a result of consistent morphological changes to the feather barbs. In the future, we expect use transmission electron microscopy to identify differences at the nanostructural level that may also contribute to enhanced gloss.
  • Jonathan King
    1. Projects that I worked on this summer encompassd the field of robotic prosthesis. Specifically I focused on biomimetic controller types for the robotic prosthesis. The three main projects that I worked on are forces during mass pick up, human adaptive tracking on a given track, and proportional and biomimetic controllers comparisons. For the forces during mass pick up, a human ,using their own hand, would lift a mass while a prosthesis was connected using surface EMG electrodes doing the same task. Forces were recorded and compared for how the prosthesis reacted compared to the human. The human adaptive track had humans use a pinch motion to follow a track with a random spring creating resistance between their fingers. The prosthesis was also given the same test with different gains using a designed contoller. Overshoots and RMS error were used to compare the data. The proportional and biomimetic controller comparison used human data input with prosthesis data output to compare two different controller types.
  • Laura Clark
    1. The large branchiopods (clam shrimp, fairy shrimp and tadpole shrimp) are a group of animals that display a wide range of mating systems, including hermaphroditism, androdioecy, and dioecy. Androdioecy is a rare mating system thought to be a brief transitional phase between dioecy and hermaphroditism. However, in this group, androdioecy is common and relatively stable. Several models have been developed to explain this pattern. A model constructed by Pannell (1997, 2002) predicts that the likelihood of male invasion into all-monogenic (a hermaphrodite capable of producing only hermaphrodites when self-fertilizing) populations will be density dependent. In low hermaphrodite densities, males will be less likely to establish a presence in the population than if there were high hermaphrodite densities. In the overdominance model (Otto et al. 1993, Pannell 2008), amphigenic hermaphrodites (a hermaphrodite capable of producing males via self-fertilization) could invade all monogenic pools as long as the level of purging was not high enough such as to allow them to be more fit than the amphigenics.The overdominance and metapopulation models are being tested with multigenerational experiments. Multiple tanks of all monogenic populations of Eulimnadia texana have been established and then subjected to invasions by either males or amphigenic hermaphrodites in small quantities to mimic natural patterns of migration. If males cannot invade, that would suggest that the predictions of the overdominance model are correct. If both males and amphigenics invade successfully, then support would be provided for the metapopulation model in which males and amphigenics provide relief from inbreeding depression.
  • Stephen Callow
    1. Microbiologically induced corrosion (MIC) is one of the most common forms of corrosion attacks on infrastructures. Many case studies and reports have been documented on MIC, yet little is known about the dissolution mechanisms and the relationship between metal substrate and forms of different bacteria in biotic environments with corrosion processes. Traditionally, MIC has been characterized in static conditions or in a simple electrochemical cell. However, such experiments do not take into account the evolution of the interfacial processes in flow conditions. To simulate and quantify the mechanisms and processes occurring at the interface electrolyte/metal substrate, it is necessary to characterize the evolution of corrosion products and biofilm formation and its relationship with corrosion under flow conditions.
    2. A proposed flow chamber design developed to create consistent laminar flow across the metal’s surface provides accurate and reproducible results for MIC study. This unique chamber, coupled with pH sampling and real time electrochemical measurements will allow in-situ monitoring and quantitative analysis at the film-metal interface. The proposed Electrochemical Impedance Spectroscopy and open circuit measurements yield results to develop an understanding of the mechanism by which MIC occurs and the influencing factors on progression.
  • George Voros
    1. Geckos have been of particular interest in the biological and engineering fields due to their exceptional adhesion ability on various substrates. Their ‘stickiness’ can be attributed to the setal adhesion via use of van der Waals forces. Many geckos possess setae, which are microscopic hair-like structures located on the ventral side of their digits. The study of setal adhesion has been extensively researched at microscopic levels, but there is little focus on behavioral aspects and the biomechanics at the organismal level. One such behavioral feature is active digital hyperextension: the peeling of their toes from the distal end to proximal. In this study we predict a correlation between the ability to hyperextend, substrate roughness and its effect on performance in sprint speed. For this experiment, we hypothesize that geckos with greater capabilities of hyperextension exhibit no significant difference in sprint speeds across varying substrate roughness (smooth to rough) while geckos with lower capabilities of hyperextension exhibit a significant difference in sprint speed across varying substrate (smooth to rough); we predict that the sprint speeds of geckos with a lower capabilities of hyperextension will decrease as substrate roughness increases.
  • Sarah Kay
    1. I will present on the thermal effects on rice cut grass ( Leersia orydoides) over a hydrology gradient. The specific aspects looked at were plant height, weight, and chlorophyll content by measuring absorbance.
  • Vrushti Patel
    1. Growth of Very Fine Cyanoacrylate Nanofibers on Electrospun Fiber Mats – Electrospun superhydrophobic nanofiber mats can be used in oil-water filtration. Superhydrophobic nanofibers are electrospun on the surface of the filter media and when challenged by an oil-water mixture, the water is rejected at the surface of the media while the oil passes through. However, small water drops present in the emulsion manage to pass through the fiber. Previous work has been done on growing very fine cyanoacrylate nanofibers on the structure of existing fiber media. In this work, cyanoacrylate nanofibers were grown on electrospun superhydrophobic nanofibers and the water contact angle was measured before and after to determine if the fine cyanoacrylate nanofibers affect the superhydrophobicity of the surface.
  • Kranthi Kumar
    1. Precision Control of Stepper Motor – A stepper motor is an electric motor whose movements along a revolution are divided in to steps. These steps are a patters of current which enable the rotors inside to move accordingly. Depending on the number of steps in the each revolution the motor can be precisely controlled, in both clockwise and anticlockwise directions. Such precision enables to design very specific set of motion control applications like robotic arm control, navigating in precise environments and for slow injection using a syringe. Our task was to interface a stepper motor to a micro-controller for real time precision control. The stepper motor used in the experiment was taken from a Syringe pump which injected precise amount of liquid from the syringe, to make this viable the circuit was designed using two H-bridges. The signals to control the motor were sent using a micro-controller. Corresponding analysis was done on the how the stepper motor behaved as with respect to different signal generated from the micro-controller.
  • Annmarie Abeyesekera
    1. Euhrychiopsis lecontei (milfoil weevil) is used as a bio-control for the invasive Eurasian watermilfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum). The weevils observed in eastern North America and western North America were thought of as two different species but are now treated as one species. The objective of this research is to study the association between the two different species by means of DNA extraction and analyzing the obtained data.
  • Dakota Piorkowski
    1. Orb-weaving spiders are intriguing model organisms with which to study adaptive foraging strategies (changes in foraging behavior in response to environmental cues that increase fitness), because they recycle and rebuild their webs daily. We attempted to evaluate how the orb-weaving spider Argiope trifasciata alters the size, structure, silk investment, and mechanical performance of its web over a period of starvation. To do this, we measured webs and collected samples of silk threads of spiders housed in individual cages in a greenhouse. On each spider’s first full day spent in a cage, we systematically assigned it to one of two treatments based on its mass; on this day one group of spiders received one meal consisting of cricket(s) (Acheta domesticus) totaling 50% of the spider’s mass (“fed” treatment), while the other received no meal (“starved”). We measured and sampled from each spider’s web on the 3rd, 5th, 7th, and 9th day spent in its cage. Using day 3 as a baseline, we evaluated the percent change in web capture area, silk volume, mesh width (space between consecutive capture spirals), and “stickiness” (amount of energy required to detach from a capture spiral thread) on days 5, 7, and 9, and compared the pattern of changes exhibited by fed versus starved spiders. We plan to analyze these data using an estimate of change in body condition as a covariate, and seek to interpret our results in the contexts of the variation in life history stage among our spiders, as well as previous studies evaluating the feasibility of adaptive foraging strategies relative to environmental stochasticity.
  • Kirsten Schulte
    1. I will talk about the KUKA robot, spine testing, and the principle of super position.
  • Nancy Cross and Tim Sullivan
    1. We investigated the effects of surface water and wetting on gecko adhesion at the whole-animal level. We predicted that treatment with water would interfere with shear adhesive force and decrease the gecko’s clinging ability. We tested this hypothesis by performing shear adhesion trials with a force rig using a glass plate substrate treated with three different water conditions. We also altered the wetting condition of the adhesive toe pads of the gecko. In total we used six treatment groups and measured repeatability of the treatment as the gecko replaced its feet over consecutive steps. Our results support our hypothesis and show that water does significantly affect shear adhesive force in particular environmental conditions that a gecko may encounter in its native habitat.
  • Soha Gouilos
    1. Testing the viability of PNA-mediated PCR clamping to detect recombination using a prokaryotic test system – PNA-mediated PCR clamping was optimized to distinguish between four very similar strains of E. coli. PNAs can be used to distinguish very similar genetic sequences as they bind with extreme affinity, but are very specific and will not bind if the sequence differs by as little as one base pair from the compliment of the PNA. Two PNAs have been designed to be complimentary to two variable locations in what we have defined as our “wildtype” strain of E.coli. Because each of the other three strains differ in the location of their SNPs, unique banding patterns were derived for each and were sufficient to distinguish between the four strains.
  • Steven Lombardo and Kristie Formanik
    1. Genotype (G), environment (E), and their interaction (GxE) are known sources of phenotypic variation. Recently, studies have focused on the consequences of shifting environmental parameters on developmental outcomes. Recent studies have discovered interactions between subsequent ontogenetic environments (ExE) on fish behavior and cognition. In this study, we assessed genetic variation for cross-environmental responses in zebrafish morphology and swimming performance. We reared 4 full sib zebrafish families (F) on a constant normal nutrient diet for 60 days, a constant high nutrient diet for 60 days, and both combinations of nutritional environments for consecutive 30 day periods (0-30 days high, 30-60 days normal; 0-30 days normal, 30-60 days high). We then measured overall size (length and maximum depth) and swimming performance (maximum body lengths s-1). While we found no effect of nutritional environment on morphology, swimming performance was altered by an interaction between subsequent nutritional environments (ExE), with high nutrient fish (days 0-30) achieving the highest swimming velocity when switched to a low nutrient environment (days 30-60). Furthermore, we find the quality of interactions between rearing environments varied across families (FxExE). These results not only highlight the potential for environmental change to alter physiological performance, but for selection to shape the most appropriate response.