2010 Tiered Mentoring Posters

[Past Projects]

Morphological Growth Analysis of the Conchostracan Carapace and its Implications – Bryan Brown and Tim Astrop

A comparison of the Pollinating Behaviors of Bombus impatiens and Bombus fervidus on Mimulus ringens – Sean Kelly and Randall J. Mitchell

Home Range of Coyotes in the Cuyahoga Valley: Urban or Rural? – Sarah A. Stankavich, Angeline Metzger, Bethany Wallace, Marlo Perdicas, and Gregory A. Smith

2011 Tiered Mentoring Posters

[Past Projects]

Does the orb-weaving spider Argiope trifasciata alter silk investment and web architecture based on proximity to starvation? – Samuel C. Evans, Dakota Piorkowski and Todd A. Blackledge

THE SCARLET FEATHER: MORPHOLOGICAL BASIS OF GLOSSY RED PLUMAGE COLORSJean-Pierre Iskandar, Rafael Maia, Chad Eliason and Matthew D. Shawkey

Family Specific Nutritional Effects on Zebrafish Morphology and Swimming Performance – Steve Lombardo, Kristie Formanik, Chris Marks and Brian Bagatto


Research Projects from Previous Years

[Past Projects]

Tiered Mentoring Projects, Fall 2021

Understanding the microbial activity involved in forming iron caves in Brazil (Senko lab)

How early-life stress affects auditory perception and the brain (Rosen lab – NEOMED)

Biomechanics of Locomotion in an Animal Model of Preterm Infant Motor Development (Young lab – NEOMED)

Bird nest construction for biomimetic insight. (King lab)

Synaptic Connections between light detecting cells and interneurons in the zebrafish retina (Renna lab)

Digital tracing neurons in a mouse model of glaucoma (Renna lab)

Zebrafish as a model for bone remodeling (Londraville lab)

Digital Anatomical Dissection (Olson lab)

The effects of invasive and naturalized worms on plant growth (Mitchell lab)

Research in Acoustic Communication and Emotions (Wenstrup lab – NEOMED)

Tiered Mentoring Projects, Spring 2021

Bird Fatality Survey and Rescue on University of Akron Campus (King lab)

Studying silica cave microbiology (Barton Lab)

Categorization of Photoreceptor and Bipolar Cell Sensitivity of the Retina (Renna lab)

The relationship between bone resorption/remodeling and obesity (Londraville lab)

Using Bioinformatics to study sex chromosomal evolution in crustaceans (Weeks lab)

Nutrition and how it impacts behavior and cardiovascular development (Bagatto lab)

Comparing aquatic macroinvertebrate community dynamics in intermittent vs. perennial headwater streams (Weeks lab)

The effects of lead in soils on earthworm populations (Mitchell lab)

Silk-based vibration transmission and behavior in web-building spiders (Blackledge lab)

Does headwater stream restoration increase salamander diversity and/or the number of Eurycea bislineata? (Weeks lab)

Lights, Camera, Axolotl: A Behavioral Study (Astley lab)

Silk properties of spider egg sacs (Blackledge lab)

Lipid modulation of membrane protein properties (Smith lab)

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.

Mechanical Biomimetics and Open Science (MeBOS) Lab

[Past Projects]

Dr. Hunter King and Kelly Siman

The King lab, as part of the Biomimicry Research and Innovation Center (BRIC) within Integrated Biosciences and the Polymer Science departments focuses on highly interdisciplinary research, with a focus on open-source and biomimetic innovations.  Current opportunities include work on the lab’s DIY Spectrometer for water quality monitoring, and the physics of plant and animal structures: passive ventilation of invertebrate nests, bird nest mechanics and bio-inspired moisture collection experiments.  Research scopes and areas of opportunity include: analytical chemistry; soft matter and non-equilibrium physics; image and data analysis; software, website and app design; and water policy and governance.

Click here for other information about Dr. King’s lab.

Plants on Mars

[Past Projects]

Dr. Randy Mitchell and Rebecca Eagle-Malone

Have you ever wondered how plants would respond to an extreme environment… like on the planet Mars? Then my lab is for YOU! We currently investigate plant response and tolerance thresholds of plants in extreme environments, particularly focusing on the environmental conditions on Mars.


  • Project 1: What differences exist in plant growth when grown in Martian regolith versus Earth soil?
    1. Project 1 kicks off Plants on Mars. In the lab, we will mix our own Martian regolith based on Curiosity’s ChemCam findings. All the ingredients are ready for mixing and potting. We will plant seeds in peat pots containing regolith and in peat pots containing a potting soil. We will assess differences in germination time, time to maturity, root and shoot biomass allocation, appearance of first leaf, leaf area index, and viability of offspring.
  • Project 2: Martian Terrarium: How do plants respond to the Martian atmosphere compared to Earth?
    1. Project 2 involves the engineering of a Martian terrarium. Using a dry box (or similar), the terrarium will be climate controlled (atmospheric gases, partial pressure, and temperature). Internal sensors will monitor changes within the chamber. Mixed regolith will contain seeds to assess germination and growth/development timelines. We will also place seedlings, germinated prior to terrarium enclosure. We will assess: germination time, time to maturity, root and shoot biomass allocation, appearance of first leaf, leaf area index, and viability of offspring.
  • Project 3: What level of perchlorates can plants remove from groundwater? What are the tolerance thresholds of perchlorates? How much perchlorates can plants accumulate in their tissues?

The verdict is still out on whether Mars has liquid water. However, much speculation suggests that any liquid water likely contains perchlorates. We will construct a simulated environment that assesses the ability of plants (known phytoremediators and phytoaccumulators) to remove perchlorates from the groundwater to a potable level prior to reaching the aquifers. We will assess seedlings’ abilities to tolerate the perchlorates, the concentration in perchlorates in the plant tissues both above and below ground (root and shoot), and continual monitoring of the water system in the engineered aquifer on a weekly basis. Modeling will allow us to investigate the biomass required to remove the perchlorates from ‘x’ size aquifer to a potable level.

Click here for other information about Dr. Mitchell’s lab.

STEM and the Great Outdoors

[Past Projects]

Dr. Richard Londraville and Carrie Buo

New opportunity in the field of Biology Education: earn research credit while playing outdoors! Be a part of a summer camp for gifted middle school children at the University of Akron Field Station in Bath this summer. This camp will introduce participants to current research at UA and teach them to apply the scientific method while covering a range of biology topics including anatomy, biomimicry, field sampling, and more.  Duties will include assisting with program design and prep, helping children complete activities, and supervising outdoor games, as well as data collection and analysis. Applicants need to be available 9am to 4pm the week of August 5, 2019 and must be able to pass a background check.
Click here for other information about Dr. Londraville’s lab.