Category Archives: 2018-UCUR-Abstracts


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.

Traditional Alcohol Production and Consumption in Rural Malawi

Brian Allen, Brigham Young University

Africa has seen increased alcohol consumption and public health problems and alcohol has been identified as the ‰ÛÏleading contributor to the burden of disease in Sub-Saharan Africa‰Û (Limaye et. al. 2014). Malawi, a small, landlocked country in Sub-Saharan Africa, is at a pivotal moment with potential for progress as it just passed a National Alcohol Policy through Parliament this March 2017 (Malawi 2017). Much of the alcohol produced and purchased in Malawi is done through the informal economy, with women typically brewing alcohol as a means of economic sustainment. The Malawian policy document admits that ‰ÛÏthe informal production of alcohol offers huge health risks as it is hardly monitored to assure quality control in terms of alcohol volume and amount of impurities (Malawi 2017). Informal alcohol is often difficult to track, and the World Health Organization has little information on the production and usage of informal alcohol. The WHO stresses the importance of further study to understand both the composition and production of informal alcohol, along with its regulation, both legally and culturally, in low-income countries (Limaye et al. 2014 & WHO). As little research has been done with traditional brewers as the target population, I conducted interviews the summer of 2017 in Dowa District, Malawi, with 20 traditional brewers. This number constitutes the largest number of brewers interviewed in any research endeavor. I partnered with two local Malawian NGOs, The School of Agriculture for Family Independence and Drug Fight Malawi for local expertise advise and logistical assistance. The interviews included both quantitative and qualitative questions and was focused on understanding the components and brewing process that traditional brewers utilized. Other interview sections included alcohol selling, community alcohol usage, and personal/family alcohol consumption. This research found patterns in both alcohol production and consumption in this area of Malawi, granted understanding about the community position of local brewers, and identified local brewers as a key stakeholder in the attempts to stem the harmful effects of alcohol use.

Willing Submission: The Birdcage as a Semiological Signifier in Ambrogio Lorenzetti‰Ûªs Allegory of Good Government

Claralyn Burt, Brigham Young University

Ambrogio Lorenzetti‰Ûªs fresco cycle, The Allegory of Good and Bad Government (1339), decorates the walls of the ‰ÛÏRoom of Peace‰Û (Salla della Pace) in the municipal headquarters of the medieval, Tuscan city state of Siena. These frescos employ countless carefully crafted allegories and representations of virtues and vices used to inspire Siena‰Ûªs civic rulers to govern justly. Traditionally, this piece has generated a good deal of scholarship because of its importance in the history of Sienese art. Many attempts to delve deeper into its meaning have employed an iconographical approach in art history. My project, however, will go beyond the limitations of Erwin Panofsky‰Ûªs system of iconography and will instead employ a semiological analysis, which considers the full range of meanings evoked by a signifier. As the fresco cycle portrays different aspects of Sienese culture‰ÛÓpolitics, religion, labor, economics, etc.‰ÛÓa semiological analysis will enable an exploration between these overlapping parts of society. To do this, I will bring to light the importance of one small but critical object: the solitary birdcage hanging above the classroom in the center of the Good Government fresco. I argue that through its representation of containment and bondage, this birdcage functions as a semiological signifier for submission to the city of Siena in civic, religious, and cultural contexts. My project makes an important contribution to the scholarship of one of the most iconic masterpieces of fourteenth-century Italy, but it also contributes a fascinating, medieval perspective on faith and obedience to the greater conversation about government and its relationship with its citizens.

Kinematics of Hip Joints with Cam Femoroacetabular Impingement

Joseph Hartle, University of Utah

Femoroacetabular impingement (FAI) is one of the most prevalent causes of osteoarthritis of the hip. Cam FAI is an orthopaedic pathology characterized by abnormal bony growth on the femoral head-neck junction. Cam FAI is thought to limit range of motion, which may result in chondral lesions and extensive labral tears. The purpose of this project was to quantify the variance in kinematics and the location of the hip joint center (HJC) between hip joints with cam FAI and asymptomatic controls using dual fluoroscopy (DF). For this DF study, 6 cam FAI patients and 11 control subjects were recruited. For each subject, hip joint kinematics were determined using DF. First, computed tomographic (CT) images were obtained for each subject. The images were segmented to delineate the bony surfaces and converted to 3D digitally reconstructed radiographs (DRRs). For the capture of bone movement, subjects performed activities in the combined field of view of two fluoroscopes, which collect x-ray video data. Specifically for identification of the HJC, subjects performed the StarArc pattern with their leg. This activity provided a large range of motion that allowed accurate determination of hip joint kinematics and the HJC location. After data capture, the DRR was matched to the DF data during the markerless tracking process. The data was processed in Matlab to provide visualization of the kinematics using subject-specific bone reconstructions in Postview. Abnormal, aspherical morphology of the femoral head in patients with cam FAI may cause the femoral head to translate more within the joint while also limiting the range of movement. Therefore, patients with cam FAI are expected to display a greater degree of translational motion of the HJC and a lower degree of rotational motion than control subjects. DF techniques provide arthrokinematics of the hip, which is how the joint moves in vivo relative to subject-specific bone anatomy. Using this data as a gold standard, errors in the calculation of the hip joint center using standard motion capture techniques can be measured. This method can be applied to help us better understand the kinematics of cam FAI and how the asphericity of the femoral head can cause pain and cartilage erosion which is associated with osteoarthritis.

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.