Category Archives: 2013-UCUR-Abstracts

Exploring the Population Genetics of Artemia Franciscana in the Great Salt Lake

Graham Doherty, Westminster College


The Great Salt Lake is home to Artemia Franciscana, a species otherwise known as brine shrimp. These halophiles are able to live in extreme environments that have higher than average salt concentrations. Brine shrimp live their entire life cycles in the Great Salt Lake and can be found in both the north and south arm of the lake. Currently, the genetic information regarding the brine shrimp populations at different locations in the lake is underdeveloped. The Artemia populations live in different microenvironments throughout the lake with different physical characteristics and barriers between one another. The physical environment also affects the salt concentration in each microenvironment. Other studies have shown that the increased salinity of an environment accelerates the rate of change in the mitochondrial genome. We feel that different salinity levels in each microenvironment will create different amounts of genetic variation. Our goal is to determine if the distribution of genetic variation is different at different sites in the Great Salt Lake Artemia population.

Forte! Forte! Sound the Syllogism! Question the Composition! The Relation of Reason and Music in Nietzsche

Duke Cruz, Westminster College


This research focuses on the nineteenth-century philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, his philosophy, and how that relates specifically to what he thinks about music. In general this presentation will consist of three main parts: 1) analyzing passages on music in a few of Nietzsche’s works, specifically, “The Birth of Tragedy”, “Beyond Good and Evil”, and “Twilight of the Idols’” with supplementary material relating to his philosophy taken from “The Anti-Christ”, and Walter Kaufmann’s biography of Nietzsche “Nietzsche: Philosopher, Psychologist, Antichrist”; 2) showing the relation of music and reason in each example; 3) postulating the importance of this relation. Throughout my research on Nietzsche and his thoughts surrounding music, it is apparent that whenever he discusses music, it is never about the specific score, keys, melodic content, etc. Instead, I found that in most of the passages that I have ran across, Nietzsche’s thoughts on music collide directly and importantly to his philosophy. In this presentation I aim to elucidate what the importance of this relation between music and reason could be for Nietzsche.

Total Mercury and Methylmercury in Water and Brine Flies from Two Distinct Sites at the Great Salt Lake

Jeff Collins, Westminster College


The Great Salt Lake (GSL) has some of the highest mercury concentrations ever measured in surface waters. The accumulation of high levels of mercury, particularly its more toxic and readily biomagnified form, methylmercury, has been recorded in many species that inhabit or feed directly in the GSL, including waterfowl. However, no studies at the GSL, and very few studies elsewhere, have investigated the transfer of mercury from aquatic ecosystems to terrestrial ecosystems. We hypothesized that brine flies are able to accumulate mercury during their larval stages in the lake, then transfer this mercury to adjacent terrestrial ecosystems when they become flying adults. Concentrations of total mercury (HgT) and methylmercury (MeHg) were measured in samples of surface water and brine flies (larvae, pupae, and adults) collected once each month between February and July at Antelope Island, in the GSL. Samples were collected from two distinct sites: one along Gilbert Bay on the west side of the Island, and the other along Farmington Bay on the east. On average, HgT concentrations are greater in water samples from Farmington Bay (19.3 ± 9.0 ng/L unfiltered; 13.5 ± 10.1 ng/L filtered) compared to Gilbert Bay (8.5 ± 7.5 ng/L unfiltered; 9.2 ± 9.6 ng/L filtered). MeHg and HgT levels in brine flies displayed the opposite trend, with higher levels at Gilbert Bay (567 ± 123 ppb HgT; 425 ± 12 ppb MeHg) than at Farmington Bay (270 ± 60 ppb HgT; 208 ± 35 ppb MeHg). Potential explanations for the trends observed will be discussed.

The Role of Nup153 in Nuclear Lamina Assembly

Merima Beganovic, Westminster College

Molecular Biology

Nuclear Pore Complexes (NPC) create aqueous channels embedded in the nuclear envelope and are made from a network of proteins called nucleoporins (nups). The nucleoporin Nup153 has previously been found to be required for proper assembly of the nuclear lamina. In this study, a fragment of Nup153 was overexpressed in order to impede Nup153 function in T-Rex HeLa cells. After inducing the expression of the dominant negative fragment, I examined the localization of lamins A, B1 and B2, as well as SUN1, Emerin, and BiP, three proteins that mark cell membrane compartments. Lamins B1, B2, SUN1, and Emerin were found to mislocalize to the cytoplasm of the cells, and colocalization among the proteins was observed. Lamin A also had an abnormal phenotype unlike that seen with the B lamins, but indicative of a problem with integration of Lamin A into the nuclear lamina. Colocalization of the various lamin isoforms with membrane proteins such as SUN1 and Emerin indicates a problem with membrane assembly. The distinct localization of BiP, however, suggests that there is a “nuclear-like” membrane in the cytoplasm that either does not incorporate normally into the nuclear envelope as it forms or is newly-recruited to mislocalize the lamin proteins.

Isolation of Hydrocarbon Metabolizing Microorganisms in the Great Salt Lake

Natalie Batty, Westminster College


Hydrocarbon metabolizing microbes play a critical role in bioremediation and bio-augmentation projects. In 1978, Brock et al. identified microbes in the Great Salt Lake (GSL) capable of metabolizing hydrocarbons, but since then these microbes have gone unstudied. This research has isolated and identified bacterial species capable of hydrocarbon metabolism from GSL. Though capable of survival in the high salt concentration of the Great Salt North Arm, we have demonstrated that these species are also capable of thriving in low salt concentrations. This research will continue with the characterization process to identify what hydrocarbon sources each species is capable of degrading.

Assessing the Impact of Urbanization on Stream Health

Morgan Anderson, Westminster College

Environmental Studies

Emigration Creek, part of the Salt Lake City watershed, runs through Westminster campus at two points: by Garfield school and through main campus. We assessed several measures of water quality, to understand the impacts of anthropogenic activities and urbanization on this stream ecosystem. Additionally, we identified areas for restoration with the ultimate goal of reintroducing the endangered native Bonneville Cutthroat trout. Beginning in June 2012, we monitored the creek monthly, and will continue for a full year’s time. We assessed the structure and stability of the stream along with dissolved oxygen, pH, temperature, and turbidity. The macroinvertebrate community composition was analyzed also as a biological indicator of stream health. Along both reaches lack of vegetative cover, lack of large rocks to support the lower banks, and scouring and deposition along the steam bottom were common. We found that for all water quality measures monthly average levels were in acceptable limits for trout populations except for dissolved oxygen. Dissolved oxygen dropped below optimal levels in July and August, most likely due to an increase in water temperature. We found that both reaches have moderate species diversity of macroinvertebrates, though the community is dominated by species that thrive in water highly polluted with organic waste. Preliminary results suggest that the current condition of Emigration Creek is not optimal for cutthroat trout, largely due to seasonally low dissolved oxygen levels and lack of preferred food. Continued monitoring, along with a comparative study of nearby creeks, will further our understanding of the impacts of urbanization and the restoration efforts needed to support native fish populations in the Salt Lake Valley.

Establishing Two-point discrimination of Cranial Nerve V

Kristie Williamson, Weber State University

Athletic Training

Context: Cranial Nerve V (CN V; Trigeminal nerve) is responsible for facial sensation. CN V has three separate branches which include ophthalmic, maxillary and mandibular. The ophthalmic nerve (V1) carries sensory information from the forehead; the maxillary nerve (V2) carries information from the cheek; and the mandibular nerve (V3) carries information from the chin. It is important to test all three areas of cranial nerve V to accurately assess full nerve function. Previous research has indicated that pressure threshold is not affected by age, however, normative values for two-point discrimination for CN V have not yet been established and may prove useful in concussion evaluation. Objective: Initial investigation aimed at determining gender-specific normative values for CN V two-point discrimination. Design: Prospective repeated-measures design. Setting: This study was performed in the athletic training facilities on the campus of a large Division I institution. Patients or Other Participants: Convenience sample of 106 healthy students enrolled at our institution (43 females, average age: 23.2; 63 males, average age: 22.1). Participants had no history of concussion within the last year, no facial scaring or plastic surgery and not a current smoker. Interventions: Measurement was taken using a two-point discriminator (Disk-Criminator) on the mid-forehead, mid-cheek, and mid-chin. Participants closed their eyes while each measurement was taken. Light pressure was applied (force equal to approximately 10-15 grams to produce blanching of the skin). Measurements were taken three times on each of three facial locations, sequentially. The smallest number in millimeters (mm) to correctly discriminate one/two points was recorded. The two pressure points were applied at exactly the same time. Main Outcome Measure: Discrimination score for each test location (mid-forehead, mid-cheek, mid-chin). Nested average was calculated within subjects for each test location; average was calculated between subjects for each test location. One-way between-subjects ANOVAs were conducted to evaluate potential differences in gender for each test location. Results: Between-subjects average for mid-forehead was 7.8mm (+/2.9), for mid-cheek was 10.4mm (+/2.6), and for mid-chin was 5.9mm (+/1.9). There was a significant effect for gender for cheek normative value (p<0.01); average discrimination score for males was 11mm, average for female was 9.7mm.

Identification of Novel Invertebrate Neurokinin Receptor Gene Sequence

Chelsie Thomas, Weber State University


The invertebrate ribbon worm, Paranemertes peregrina, serves as a unique model in that it thrives in an environment exposed to drastic fluctuations in salinity during tidal interchange. Its ability to sustain homeostatic integrity is not well understood. With an aim to clarify this phenomenon, total RNA was isolated, and reverse transcription with polymerase chain reaction allowed us to serendipitously clone and elucidate a 488 base pair region of a gene coding for a Tachykinin Receptor (TKR), a subtype of G-protein coupled receptor (GPCR). This region shows 79% homology to the mouse TKR-2 mRNA sequence, and 44% homology to human Neuromedin-K receptor’s amino acid sequence. Specifically, we have isolated a portion containing a cytosolic carboxy-terminus that has classically been associated with palmitoylation or otherwise hydrophibicity-enhancing interactions. This process facilitates the docking of cytosolic subunits to the membrane in the assembly of GPCRs, acting as a regulatory component. In vertebrate models, much of these proteins are conserved. Given that only a few of these genes have been reported for invertebrates, this suggests a critical need for investigation of the evolution of TKRs as they relate to stress response. Additionally, this receptor poses questions about its potential role in pain, with the prospect of revealing insight about the long-elusive pain perception in invertebrates.

Northern Utah Youth Center

Kelsey Spaulding, Weber State University

Interior Design

Research states that the youth in almost any setting, will always need attention and assistance in navigating life. Pre-teen and teen years can be a time when children need attention, guidance, and direction while developing into mature citizens of their community and world (Larson, Positive Development in a Disorderly World, 2011). Within schools, adolescents are taught only a few of the fundamental ideas and practices that would help them to better navigate in an ambiguous world. In a study done by the New York State Afterschool Network, learning opportunities outside of the classroom help to increase the application of lessons and give adolescents a higher probability for achievement (Network, 2012). Outside of school, adolescent youth need to be able to interact with each other and gain an understanding of themselves and others in relation to the world. Without an interaction with other youth and different aspects of society, adolescents may become apathetic and lack an understanding of the effect they may have on others and their community (Balsano, 2005). In Ogden, Utah, there are a variety of cultures and backgrounds from which adolescent youth come (Bureau, 2012). It is important during the age of adolescence to interact in a personal, societal, and healthy environment during the time when their brains and personalities develop most (Larson, Adolescents’ Development of Skills for Agency in Youth Programs: Learning to Think Strategically, 2011). When given the proper tools, guidance, and opportunities to work with others and their community, adolescents become better leaders of the future. In turn they benefit society as a whole by creating a culture of understanding and willingness to work for an improved future (Network, 2012).In downtown Ogden a building has been proposed as a gathering place for youth between the ages of 14 and 18. The name of the building would be The Northern Utah Youth Center. The proposed design of the building has been created to accommodate a unique style of learning. It will provide a creative environment where youth are allowed to explore and experiment through the application of hands on learning. Utilizing the use of appropriate lighting, color and architectural design will allow for the youth to feel more at ease, creative, and constructive (Saxton, 2012). Within the two floors of the building, multipurpose rooms may be divided with partitions to maximize the use of space.

Antimicobial Properties of Phytochemicals Against Multi-Drug Resistant Bacterial Pathogens

Alisha Ryan, Weber State University


One of the major challenges facing U.S. military caregivers is the presence of multidrug resistant organisms in extremity wounds. The most frequently identified drug resistant strains of bacteria found in these wounds are Acinetobacter baumanni, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, and Staphylococcus aureus. Due to these organisms rapid increase in resistance to the commonly used drugs, it is crucial to discover and establish alternative methods for treating these microbial infections. Antibiotics are currently the most common treatment for infections by these pathogens, and there is little data on the evaluation of phytochemicals as potential chemotherapeutic agents that could take their place. We have screened 24 individual compounds from 9 major compound families to determine if plant-based phytochemicals could be explored further for use in treating bacterial infections in patients with military wounds. All compounds were tested to determine the minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) and minimum lethal concentration (MLC). Of the 24 compounds tested, 21 (87.5%) inhibited at least one strain used in this study, with only 1 of the 24 (4.2%) inhibiting all strains. There were 10 (41.7%) of the compounds that displayed MIC values less than 100 _g/ml. For compounds displaying MLCs, they ranged from 2.5 mg/ml to 78.13 g/ml. While there is much more research that needs to be done with each of these compounds, this work is a crucial first step in the drug discovery process. We believe that several of these may serve as potential novel inhibitors of these drug-resistant bacteria.