Category Archives: 2018-UCUR-Abstracts

Determining Kinetic Data for the APEH and ACY Pathway using GC-MS

David Coffman, Carson Cole, Weber State University

Proteases are a class of enzymes whose function is to cleave peptides into smaller amino acid chains or free amino acids. Two such proteases, Acyl Peptide Enzyme Hydrolase (APEH) and acylase (ACY), function in unison to cleave N-acylated amino acids from the N-terminal end of peptides so that these peptides can become further metabolized in the cell. In this pathway, APEH will first cleave an N-acylated amino acid from the end of a peptide. Then, ACY will remove the acetyl group from the amino acid so it can be recycled or further metabolized. While the enzymatic activity of APEH and ACY have been studied extensively alone, little has been done to study flux through the pathway. Understanding enzyme flux is useful since enzymes rarely work independently of one another in vivo but rather work in a coordinated fashion to perform their respective functions. This research illustrates a novel method to observe how both enzymes work together using Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry (GCMS). Using a selected N-acetylated dipeptide, the release of 2 free amino acids-Ala and Met- is detected by GC-MS and correlates to APEH and ACY activity, respectively. Using standard curves and time courses, the rate through APEH and ACY was determined. This method serves as a relatively simple way to study enzymes in vitro in an attempt to better understand the pathways function in vivo. In addition to measuring the flux of more than one enzyme in metabolic pathway, the use of this GCMS method has revealed that the enzymatic activity of the proteases in question do not function universally across different cell lysates. For example, it was determined that the rate of flux through APEH/ACY was 5 times faster in A549 cancer cell lysates than in normal blood lysates. The GCMS method described herein allows comparative studies of APEH/ACY flux and has potential to deepen the knowledge of how other these enzymes work together in both normal and disease states.

Britain’s Role in the Unification of South Africa and the South Africa Act in the Early 20th Century

Madelaine Campbell, Brigham Young University

This research looks at Britain‰Ûªs release of her former colonies during the 20th century, and the motivations behind their actions. South Africa moved towards unification in 1908 with Britain‰Ûªs support in the drafting of the South Africa Act and Lord Selbourne‰Ûªs involvement in the National Convention. By examining original communications within the British government regarding South Africa and the parliamentary papers surrounding the South Africa Act the British motivation towards its former colonies becomes apparent. In this case study of South Africa‰Ûªs movement towards independence, we see that Britain wanted to give as much control to the South African delegates as possible without relinquishing their hold on the natural resources and strong leadership that South Africa provided. In their quest to maintain a good relationship with South Africa, Britain overlooked some of the damaging decisions made by the South African leaders which led to racial and class conflict in South Africa later, during the rest of the 20th century.

Influence of Meal Caloric Distribution in Metabolic Syndrome Parameters Among College Students

Alexis Elinkowski, Weber State University

Purpose/hypothesis We investigated the difference in metabolic syndrome parameters among college students based on their individual caloric distributions. We hypothesize that meal calorie distribution consumption will be influential on the MetS parameters in both males and females. Methodology We assessed MetS parameters in 108 Weber State University student participants, ages 18-54 years. Two-day diet records for each participant were collected and analyzed using Diet and Wellness Plus. Participants were separated by gender (Male:33; Female:75) and by meal calorie distribution. Groups included high, medium and low % of calories in breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. Correlations between MetS parameters and calorie consumption, as well as mean comparisons between meal calorie distribution groups and MetS parameters, were assessed using SPSS software. Results Significant correlations in MetS parameters and total calories were found among participants in the categories of weight (r=0.27, p=0.005), waist circumference (r=0.23, p=0.01) and systolic blood pressure (r= 0.39, p=0.0001). Women in the high calorie breakfast distribution group presented lower systolic blood pressure than women in the low or medium breakfast group (ë_= 106.3 mm/Hg, ë_= 113.2. mm/Hg, ë_= 112.01 mm/Hg p – 0.05). Men in the high snack consumer group presented higher HDL than the low snack group (ë_= 41.9 mg/dL, ë_= 29.9 mg/dL p – 0.01). Men in the high snack consumer group also presented higher blood glucose than the low and moderate snack groups(ë_= 98.9 mg/dL, ë_= 92.9 mg/dL, ë_= 91.5 mg/dL p – 0.05). Conclusion In this study, males with a higher snack calorie distribution presented higher HDL-C than the lower snack calorie distribution counterparts. It is possible that this observation is due to HDL-C promoting foods consumed as snacks. High snack consumption is linked to increased exercise which is known to increase HDL-C. In females, higher caloric intake distribution for breakfast resulted in lower systolic blood pressure compared to the medium and lower breakfast intake groups. Previous studies have shown that skipping breakfast increases cortisol levels, which may result in higher blood pressure. Furthermore, many breakfast associated foods such as milk and eggs have shown to exert blood pressure lowering effects. Consumption of such foods may play a role in the results observed in this study. Meal calorie distribution seems to have an effect on MetS parameters. Further, research elucidating possible mechanisms behind this observation such as common foods consumed for each meal and meal effects on appetite hormones are warranted.

The Effects of Nanomaterials on E. coli Growth

Gemma Clark, University of Utah

Nanomaterials are becoming increasingly common in the environment as they are engineered for technical purposes. Because nanotechnology is a relatively new technology, studies of nanomaterial toxicity effects are ongoing. For this study, Escherichia coli (E. coli) was used to determine the toxicity of coated zinc oxide, uncoated zinc oxide, iron oxide, and copper nanomaterials. Control conditions included no nanomaterials and zinc macromaterial. ATP fluorescence was used to monitor the growth curve of E. coli with and without nanomaterials, and culture methods were used to examine E. coli growth with varying concentrations of nanomaterials. The results so far show that as the concentration of nanomaterials increased, E. coli growth or ATP levels decreased and then increased again. These results were compared to E. coli growth without nanomaterials and E. coli growth with zinc macromaterial. Some nanomaterials may have had a greater impact on E. coli growth than other nanomaterials. These ATP fluorescence tests and culture methods will lead to future chemotaxis studies on the effects of nanomaterials as an attractant, repellent, or inert ingredient on E. coli movement.

Learner-centered Teaching: A Historical Example

Evan Sharp, Brigham Young University

This paper intends to expand and deepen the current research on Learner-centered Teaching (LCT), a pedagogy that seeks to shift the focus of an educator from his or her own teaching to the learning of those being educated. It is modern application that stems from a significant amount of research conducted on learning. The research regarding LCT, however, seems to be focused on modern examples and contexts. No one has looked to the past to find examples of LCT techniques present in the methods of ancient educators. This paper begins the research on historical examples of LCT and intends to open a discussion on the comparisons that can be made between historical teaching methods and the methods included in LCT. One of the learning theories that plays a significant role in LCT is Constructivism. This paper illustrates the presence of constructivist learning in historical education settings through a case study analyzing some of the teaching methods of Jesus Christ. Regardless of one‰Ûªs belief in historical authenticity, Jesus is an excellent example because his teachings are well-known, widely available, and offer a look into ancient instruction. This paper analyzes interactions that Jesus had with others in the New Testament Gospels and makes connections between Jesus‰Ûªs teaching methods and those related to constructivism in LCT. The purpose of making these connections is not to suggest that Jesus taught exactly as is outlined in LCT; rather, it is to show the usefulness of studying historical examples of LCT and to encourage such research. Although Jesus does not fit the modern definition of a learner-centered teacher, certain aspects of Jesus‰Ûªs teaching closely resemble the methods of LCT. New historical insights will aid in a better understanding of LCT. The goal is to expand its area of research, which will undoubtedly lead to better implementation. It will also strengthen the argument for its use in modern education. Other historical teachers should be researched in this way, and connections with learning theories other than just Constructivism should be explored. This paper intends to point out this gap in current literature and call for additional research.

Enhancing Number System Knowledge to Promote Number Sense and Adaptive Expertise: A Case Study of a Second-Grade Mathematics Student

Cami Player, Utah State University

Instruction for developing students‰Ûª number sense is a critical area of research in mathematics education due to the role number sense plays in early mathematics learning. Specifically, number system knowledge‰ÛÓ knowledge of the systematic relations among Arabic numerals and the skills in using this knowledge to solve arithmetic problems‰ÛÓhas been identified as a key cognitive mechanism in number sense development. We view number system knowledge as a component of number sense and theorize that it plays a critical role in second-grade students‰Ûª understanding of relationships among numbers and adaptive expertise with mathematics problems. The purpose of this exploratory case study was to investigate the variations of an 8-year-old student‰Ûªs number system knowledge learning as she participated in an instructional treatment over 9 weeks. Our main research questions were: 1) In what ways does a student struggling in mathematics develop number system knowledge during a 9-week period in her second-grade classroom? 2) How does the instructional treatment influence her number system knowledge and number sense development during the 9-week period? The case in our study was selected based on her low pretest score combined with her desire for making sense of mathematics. Data were collected with a number sense assessment (which included a targeted number system knowledge assessment), student interviews, and classroom observations. Data were triangulated using these multiple sources. The analysis involved a multiple-cycle coding process that resulted in themes regarding the development of adaptive expertise and the union of procedural and conceptual knowledge in mathematics instruction. The results suggest that this instructional treatment provided this case-study student to develop more pronounced adaptive expertise in mathematical problem solving. Additionally, it revealed the importance of mathematics instruction that includes numerals linked to quantities in order to help students to conceptualize basic mathematical practices. Typical elementary school teachers are challenged by reaching the needs of students struggling in mathematics. Number system knowledge is a predictor of later mathematics achievement, and an in-depth analysis of how and why one struggling student develops number system knowledge during a 9-week instructional treatment within the context of her mathematics class provides exploratory evidence to help researchers and teachers develop and implement similar practices in elementary mathematics instruction.

Subtalar Kinematics in Patients Treated for Tibiotalar Osteoarthritis with Arthrodesis: A High-speed Dual Fluoroscopy Study

Spencer Kendell, University of Utah

Osteoarthritis (OA) of the tibiotalar joint is a major cause of ankle pain, and is currently treated using one of two methods: fusion of the tibiotalar joint (i.e. arthrodesis) and total ankle replacement (TAR). Although the ankle joint seems simple, it is actually comprised of two complex, articulating interfaces: the tibiotalar and the subtalar joint, which represent the interface between the tibia and talus and talus and calcaneus, respectively. While arthrodesis and TAR are able to relieve pain in the short-term, many patients develop complications from surgery that can be difficult to address. Furthermore, patients who have received a tibiotalar arthrodesis commonly develop OA in the subtalar joint, which is thought to be caused by the subtalar joint having to compensate for motion lost at the tibiotalar joint as a result of fusion. Due to the difficulties associated with measuring the motion of small bones in the foot and ankle, the precise joint kinematics of the ankle are not yet realized. This work will study the kinematic differences in the subtalar joint between subjects with non-pathological, native joints in one ankle and tibiotalar fusion in the other ankle. This will be done using dual fluoroscopy to image the ankle joints in vivo, while subjects perform a double-heel-rise activity. Computed tomography (CT) scans are acquired of each subject‰Ûªs ankles and used to create three-dimensional computerized models of the tibia, talus, and calcaneus. These three-dimensional models of the ankle bones are then synced with the dual fluoroscopy images to determine the three-dimensional (3D) position and orientation of each bone throughout the heelrise activity. These bone positions are then used to calculate joint angles and translations (kinematics) throughout the activity. The kinematics of the fused ankle will be compared to the contralateral ankle to determine the effects of ankle fusion on subtalar mobility. It is expected that mechanistic differences between the subtalar joint of the contralateral and fused ankles will lend insight into the properties and motions of the joints. Specifically, it is hypothesized that tibiotalar arthrodesis will lead to compensatory hypermobility in the subtalar joint, since it is adjacent to the fused tibiotalar joint. Hypermobility of these adjacent joints may contribute to the development of OA in these joints, as observed clinically. Such findings will promote the development of improved surgical planning tools and novel techniques to treat tibiotalar OA.


Mitchell Merrill, Brigham Young University

An examination of the perceptions of U.S. dentist‰Ûªs regarding the quality of Hispanic oral health in the United States. This thesis investigates both the dentist‰Ûªs potential for making positive change and the challenges that stand in their way in improving the state of Hispanic oral health. Twelve dentists were spoken with by phone to discuss three main questions. Those chosen for the calls practice in the top ten states with the highest percentage of Hispanics. An analysis was conducted of the recorded calls that consisted of comparing each response with patient demographics, practice location and years of experience. Responses were categorized and analyzed numerically in graphs to study trends and patterns. Patient education and pro bono dental work were the top two most frequently mentioned responses regarding how dentists can improve Hispanic oral health. They were also the top two most mentioned responses regarding the difficulties dentist‰Ûªs face in making a positive difference. 66% of dentists thought that Hispanic oral health was not ‰ÛÏworse than the general U.S. population‰Û while 33% thought that Hispanic oral health was worse. Given the divided responses, the perception amongst dentists about Hispanic oral health quality in the U.S. varies greatly. This suggests that many oral healthcare professionals are likely unaware or incorrectly informed of the demographics that are most struggling. This identifies the need to make sure dentists across the U.S. stay better educated on issues of race, ethnicity and culture within the world of oral health.

Mechanical Testing of Novel Anterior Vertebral Clamp

Arianna Reay, Aubrie Taylor, Brigham Young University

Degenerative Disc Disease is a common and even debilitating source of back pain. A common treatment for low back pain is spinal fusion, which involves two separate surgeries‰ÛÓone anterior, the other posterior‰ÛÓin which the patient‰Ûªs degenerated disk is removed and replaced by bone graft. Current surgeries typically employ the use of thick screws, which are destructive to the vertebrae and must be installed posteriorly because they are unable to maintain stability in the mostly porous material of the vertebral body. Success and patient satisfaction rates with spinal fusion are comparatively low, and recent research suggests that after spinal fusion, neighboring spinal disks begin to degenerate more quickly. Our research involves the mechanical testing of a novel, compliant-mechanism vertebral clamp that would be used to attach anteriorly to the vertebral body, enabling a single surgery approach to spinal treatment that does not permanently damage the vertebrae. We hypothesize that the clamp can maintain secure fixation under the severe loading of the lumbar spine by attaching to the anterior side of the vertebral body‰Ûªs sturdy cortical shell without penetrating the delicate, porous interior. Our research involves the mechanical testing of this clamp in the primary modes of spinal loading (compression, lateral bending, extension and flexion, and axial rotation). Loads are applied using a custom spine tester that maintains the segmental instantaneous screw axis and allows for the application of a compressive follower load to simulate the dynamic muscle forces and torso weight imposed upon lumbar spine during activities of daily living. The clamp will be tested in isolation to validate the analytical and numerical models used in its design. Subsequently, it will be tested when attached to a vertebrae to measure fixation strength during spinal motion. This work paves the way for future pre-clinical and clinical testing.