12th Annual Westmont College
Undergraduate Research Symposium
April 16, 2008, 3:30-5:30 p.m.

Symposium 2008
 

A hallmark of Westmont College’s academic program is the opportunity for undergraduate students to work directly with faculty on research projects. Work presented here from all of the divisions is representative of student research conducted during the past year. The purpose of this symposium is to celebrate the research accomplishments of these Westmont students.


John M. Ashley

Major: Chemistry

Poster #23
 
Mike Bennett
Major: Physics
Poster #19
 

Chrissy Binkley

Major: chemistry

Poster #25
 
Cole Chapman
Major: Physics

Poster #19

 
Ruth Cheadle
Major: English
Poster #2
 
Angela Do
Major: Biology
Poster #17
 
Nathan Downend
Major: biology

Poster #14

 
Damian Durruty
Major: Physics
Poster #18
Poster #19
 
Ben Fisk
Major: computer science
Poster #10
 
Jaimie Gillette
Major: Physics

Poster #19
Poster #20

Kyle Godfrey
Major: Chemistry
Poster #22

 

Elisa Grieco
Major: Biology

Poster #13

Melissa Gross

Major: Chemistry

Poster #25

Wendi Hale
Major: Chemistry
Poster #25

Brittany N. Hammer

Major: Chemistry

Poster #23

 
Kyle Hoesterey
Major: biology
 Poster #12
 

Jordan C. Johnson

Major: Chemistry

Poster #23
 

Taylor Judkins
Major: Chemistry
Poster #25

Callan Kaut
Major: Biology
Poster #16
 
Justin Kohl
Major: Chemistry

Poster #22

 
Ashley Kraybill
Major: psychology

Poster #4

 
Toby Lounsbury
Major: Computer Science
Poster #9
Kelsey Marshman
Major: computer science

Poster #10

 
Melody Miles
Major: Kinesiology

Poster #7

Ben Murray

Major: Chemistry

Poster #25

 
Shreya Nannepaga
Major: Biology/Psychology
Poster #11
Poster #23
 

Timothy P. Newton

Major: Chemistry

Poster #23

 
Alaina Phillips
Major:  Neuroscience
Poster #3
 
Carolyn Rice
Major: Biology
Poster #15
Sarah Risard
Major: Chemistry

Poster #21

 
Erin Risher
Major: psychology

Poster #5

Poster #6
 
Daniel Rufener
Major: Computer Science
Poster #10
 
Ali Sheffer
Major: Psychology

Poster #3

 
Joel Stewart
Major: Computer Science 
Poster #10

Poster #8

 
Graham Valenta
Major: Cognitive Neuroscience

Poster #3

 

Candida Valladares

Major: Chemistry

Poster #23

Roberto Valladares

Major:  Chemistry

Poster #24

Jonathan White
Major: Physics
Poster #19

Elizabeth Woodruff 
Major: English
Poster #1

Katie E. Zirschky

Major: Chemistry

Poster #23


Cory M. Suard
Julie S. Nolte

Major: Biology

Poster #26



2008 Westmont College Undergraduate Research Symposium
Kerr Student Center
April 16, 2008
 
 
 
 
 
 
Poster #1

Homelessness in Santa Barbara

Elizabeth Woodruff and Marilyn McEntyre*
English Department, Westmont College

For this project I spent time with a number of homeless people in downtown Santa Barbara, collecting their stories and learning about their day to day lives. I also researched nation and county-wide statistics relating to homelessness, interviewed local aid workers, and read literary models. The resulting portfolio includes five character sketches, short fiction relating to homelessness, some meditations on poverty and possession, and a discussion of the services Santa Barbara County offers its homeless citizens. The purpose of the prose is to give the reader a space in which to meet "the other," to be challenged by and learn from someone with a different socioeconomic background.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Poster #2

Imagining Identity: The Apocryphal Judith in Anglo-Saxon England

Ruth Cheadle and John Sider*

English Department, Westmont College

Crafting an identity in the midst of competing kingdoms and outside invasions, the Anglo-Saxon community interpreted its own experience through biblical narratives. Judith, the story of a Jewish widow who seduces and beheads the leader of an enemy army in order to save her community, was considered canon when Christianity first came to "the Angles" and became the subject of both an Old English poem and homily near the end of the first millennium. This study compares the two adaptations with their source text, the Latin Vulgate, tracking the early development of England's self-proclaimed identity as a Christian nation and how interpretations of Judith's story guided their spiritual, moral and military judgments.

 
 
 
Poster #3
Rehabilitation of Learning Facilitated by a Cross-Modal Shift in Stimulus in Long Evans Hooded Rats
Ali Sheffer, Graham Valenta, Alaina Phillips and Thomas Fikes*
Psychology Department, Westmont College
 

Rehabilitation of learning has been accounted for by the compensatory theory.  Animal lesion experiments have served as the basis for investigating compensatory theory and understanding the mechanisms affecting recovery after brain injury.  This study explored rehabilitation of learning facilitated by a cross-modal shift in stimulus in 16 Long Evans Hooded rats. During preoperative training a bar pressing task was brought under stimulus discrimination.  To manipulate the ability of the animals to discriminate, the caudate nucleus (CN) (n= 4) and the auditory thalamus (AT) (n= 4) were lesioned.  Eight animals were non-lesion controls.  Postoperative testing consisted of cross modal transfer (CMT) training followed by testing with original stimuli.  Lesions were confirmed by histological analysis.  Following CMT training CN lesioned animals showed an increase in error and AT lesioned animals showed a decrease in error across experimental phases.  The results from the CN lesioned animals suggest CMT training was unable to facilitate a rehabilitation of the previously conditioned behavior. However, CMT training had a significant effect on rehabilitating the previously conditioned behavior in the AT lesioned animals.  This discrepancy suggests that the AT lesioned animals had greater access to parallel pathways which facilitated CMT training to reduce error and bring about rehabilitation.


 
 
 
 
Poster #4
Subtypes of Depression and Cognitive Functioning Among Older Adults
Ashley Kraybill
and Steven Rogers*
Psychology Department, Westmont College

 This study examines the relationship between cognitive performance and the emotional, physical, and cognitive symptoms of depression. It also examines differences in these subtypes between diagnostic groups, namely those with age-associated memory impairment (AAMI), mild cognitive impairment (MCI), and dementia.  This study concludes that the relationship between depression and cognitive functioning may depend on the particular features of depression in question.  Moreover, it may not be emotional symptoms that distinguish between normals, AAMI, MCI, or dementia, but rather physical and cognitive symptoms that differentiate normal controls from those with abnormal cognitive changes (AAMI, MCI, and dementia). This study advocates for a more heterogeneous approach to depression and cognition.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
Poster #5

The Impact of Christian Beliefs and Practices on the Development of Depression

Erin Risher and Brenda Smith*

Psychology Department, Westmont College

 

As an attempt to better understand the increasing prevalence rate of depression, this study examines the influence of Christianity on its development. First, this study explores whether Christianity affects the development of depression or if it bears no significant relationship. Second, this study compares the appraisal styles of Christians and non-Christians in an effort to identify any differences (or similarities) between the two groups that may account for their depression scores. No significant differences were found in levels of depression or types of attribution appraisal styles between Christians and non-Christians. Based on these findings,attribution appraisals and religious beliefs should be studied furtheras future researchers, counselors, and laypersons attempt to combat this devastating disorder.

 


 
 
 
 
Poster #6
The Influence of Depression on Accuracy of Subjective Memory Complaints
Erin Risher and Steven Rogers*
Psychology Department
 
This study examines the effects of depressed mood on the accuracy of subjective memory reporting.  A total of 65 older adults completed a battery of cognitive tests.  The results suggest that older adults may only accurately report problems with verbal learning, but are otherwise inaccurate in their subjective perception of their memory concerns. Depression is related to reduced performance on tests of verbal learning, verbal recall, visual recall, and overall verbal memory. Those with a subjective memory complaint also appear more likely to experience higher levels of depression, but depression did not appear to affect the accuracy of memory reporting. 

 
 
 
Poster #7
Effect of Fatigue on Running Gait
Melody Miles and Greg Afman*
Kinesiology Department, Westmont College
 
Previous research in exercise physiology has found multiple metabolic and cardiovascular reasons for fatigue in distance running. At present, there is no literature concerning the biomechanical changes incurred during distance running and their impact on fatigue. The present study considers the effect of fatigue due to biomechanical changes that result from muscular weakening as well as stresses placed on the metabolic pathways (measured in RER) and cardiovascular system (measured in HR).
Methods: 7 recreational runners ranging from age 19-21 participated in a 4 mile run over various inclinations. Reflective markers and a heart rate monitor were worn by each participant. After a 5 min warm-up on a bicycle ergometer, participants self-selected a hard pace at a 2% grade. An initial pre-run video gait analysis lasting approximately 3 minutes on the treadmill was recorded prior to the run. The same pace was used for the post-run analysis. Heart Rate, Respiratory Exchange Rate (calculated with individual height/weight/age), and perceived rating of exertion were recorded for both pre-and post runs. Results: findings show a cardiac drift of at least 10% for each participant. Pre-run heart rates ranged from 160-165bpm while post run heart rates showed maximum efforts at 179-194 bpm. While clear cardiovascular fatigue was observed, the question remains whether such fatigue translated into a change in gait mechanics (namely stride rate, stride length, posture changes and angular motion)
Conclusion: Overall, it can be concluded that for aerobic endurance running lasting approx. 30 min, gradual fatigue of the cardiovascular system depletes oxygen delivery to the muscles. This interaction not only slows the rate and length of running stride but also disrupts the biomechanics of running.



Poster #8

Implementation and Performance Testing of a Gossip-Based Communication System
Joel Stewart and Kim Kihlstrom*
Computer Science Department
 
Computer systems today are increasingly complex, employing vast numbers of nodes connected over large geographic areas. As these types of systems become more pervasive and integral to a variety of services, there is a heightened need for scalability and reliability in the underlying communication system. We present an implementation of a gossip-based, wide-area group communication system that is resilient to process and communication failures and is scalable to a very large number of nodes. We provide implementation details and describe our performance tests. The results are presented and analyzed.

 
 
Poster #9
StarblabFS: Replicated userspace file system
Toby Lounsbury and Kim Kihlstrom*
Computer Science Department, Westmont College
 
In a world that is increasingly dependent on computers, secure access to data is of the utmost import. StarblabFS is one way to fulfill this data need. StarblabFS is a userspace mounted file system that uses the gossip based Starblab and StarblabIT communication protocols to do data transfer. Because StarblabFS runs at the application level over the top of these group communication protocols, it can take full advantage of all the security updates as well as the intrusion and fault tolerant nature of StarblabIT. Because StarblabFS is built using the FUSE (File system in USErspace) library, integration with the local operating system is seamless, and has all the features of the native file system, including integration into the graphical user interface.
 


Poster #10

Evaluating a Parallel Evolutionary Algorithm on the Chess Endgame Problem
Joel Stewart, Daniel Rufener, Kelsey Marshman, Ben Fisk and Wayne Iba*
Computer Science Department
 
Genetic algorithms are known for being among the most effective machine learning techniques, yet they are notorious for being slow to learn. Previous researchers demonstrated that using processors in parallel compensates for this problem by decreasing the amount of time it takes for genetic algorithms to go through each generation. One approach is to partition the population into islands, which evolve; on each generation, selected individuals migrate between islands. We explore three strategies for selecting migrating individuals: random and inclined towards stronger or weaker individuals respectively. We expected that migrating the strongest individuals between islands would reduce the number of generations it takes to achieve desirable results. Exploring parallelized computing and employing different styles of migration between compute nodes, we strive to decrease the learning time for genetic algorithms on two fronts.
 

 
 
Poster #11
Characterization of the surface-expressed FhaS protein in Bordetella infections
Shreya Nannepaga and Eileen McMahon*
Biology Department, Westmont College
 
For FhaS people – put the following: A critical component to bacterial infection is adherence to host cells.  We are characterizing a surface-expressed protein from the respiratory pathogen Bordetella bronchiseptica that potentially functions as an adherence factor during infection.  This protein shares extensive homology to a well-known Bordetella adherence protein called FHA.  Work in this project has focused on making heterologous FHA-FhaS protein constructs and analyzing their role in infection, as well as evaluating the expression of the gene encoding the FhaS protein

 
 
 
Poster #12
Analysis of a Bordetella bronchiseptica two-component regulator required for virulence
Kyle Hoesterey and Steve Julio*
Biology Department, Westmont College
For two-component people – put the following:   Bordetella bacteria are respiratory tract pathogens that sense their environment and then adjust gene expression by using two-component regulators, that consist of a sensor protein in the membrane and a DNA binding protein in the cytoplasm. This project focused on characterizing the properties of a two component regulator that we recently showed is required for virulence in a rat respiratory tract model.  Work has focused on confirming the role of the two component regulator in virulence, determining the extent of the proteins under its control, and analyzing the expression of the genes encoding the two-component regulator proteins.
 



Poster #13

Characterization of the surface-expressed FhaS protein in Bordetella infections
Elisa Grieco and Steve Julio*
Biology Department, Westmont College
 
A critical component to bacterial infection is adherence to host cells.  We are characterizing a surface-expressed protein from the respiratory pathogen Bordetella bronchiseptica that potentially functions as an adherence factor during infection.  This protein shares extensive homology to a well-known Bordetella adherence protein called FHA.  Work in this project has focused on making heterologous FHA-FhaS protein constructs and analyzing their role in infection, as well as evaluating the expression of the gene encoding the FhaS protein.

   
 
 
Poster #14
Analysis of a Bordetella bronchiseptica two-component regulator required for virulence
Nathan Downend and Steve Julio*
Biology Department, Westmont College
 
Bordetella bacteria are respiratory tract pathogens that sense their environment and then adjust gene expression by using two-component regulators, that consist of a sensor protein in the membrane and a DNA binding protein in the cytoplasm.  This project focused on characterizing the properties of a two component regulator that we recently showed is required for virulence in a rat respiratory tract model.  Work has focused on confirming the role of the two component regulator in virulence, determining the extent of the proteins under its control, and analyzing the expression of the genes encoding the two-component regulator proteins.

 
  
Poster #15
Correlation Between Arthritis and Inflammatory Bowel Disorder in Mice
Carolyn Rice and Eileen McMahon*
Biology Department, Westmont College
 
In this project I have been tracking and scoring the level of arthritic inflammation in mice as well as the incidence of diarrhea. From this information, I have constructed a pedigree and am attempting to determine if there is a correlation between the two. I am specifically examining incidence of Inflammatory Bowel Disorder (IBD) in mice with arthritis, whether diarrhea or arthritis was observed first, if the incidence of having both is correlated with specific breeders, and if there is a notable difference depending on the sex of the mouse. The main focus of this project is on the different levels of incidence depending on the factors mentioned above, rather than determining a genetic link between arthritis and IBD.
 



Poster #16

Analysis of a Bordetella bronchiseptica two-component regulator required for virulence
Callan Kaut and Steve Julio*
Biology Department, Westmont College
 
Bordetella bacteria are respiratory tract pathogens that sense their environment and then adjust gene expression by using two-component regulators, that consist of a sensor protein in the membrane and a DNA binding protein in the cytoplasm.  This project focused on characterizing the properties of a two component regulator that we recently showed is required for virulence in a rat respiratory tract model.  Work has focused on confirming the role of the two component regulator in virulence, determining the extent of the proteins under its control, and analyzing the expression of the genes encoding the two-component regulator proteins.

 
 
Poster #17
Detaching Leaf Epiphytes Using an Ultrasonic Cleaner
Angela Do and Frank Percival*
Biology Department, Westmont College
 
Leaf surfaces support diverse microbial communities, and much remains to be learned about the relationship between plants and their epiphytes. In order to study these organisms, a method which effectively removes them from leaf surfaces is necessary.  Leaves of Quercus, Umbellaria, Citrus, and Rhus were collected and sonicated for varying times in a phosphate buffer, using an ultrasonic cleaner, and samples were plated for viable cell counts after each time interval.  After sonication, the leaves were blended in wash buffer, and a sample of the homogenate was plated.  Viable cell counts were greatest after 20 minutes sonication, but counts decreased at 30 minutes.  The percentage of bacteria removed varied between 50 and 85%.  A variety of factors, including microclimate and leaf structure may contribute to the variability in bacteria removal.
 



Poster #18

Photometric Determination of the Rotation Rate of Asteroid 87-Sylvia
Damian Durruty and H. Michael Sommermann*
Physics Department, Westmont College
 
The asteroid 87-Sylvia is located in the main belt of minor planets between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. 87-Sylvia is unique in that it constitutes a triple system, the first asteroid known to possess two moons: Remus and Romulus. Asteroid 87-Sylvia was previously found to exhibit rapid rotation. From photometric measurements with Westmont's Keck Telescope we have been able to deduce the asteroid's lightcurve. Based on the time-variation of the data we were then able to determine the rotation rate of 87-Sylvia to be T = 5.16 hours. Future measurements may allow us to find the orientation of the asteroid's rotation axis and the parameters of its orbit around the Sun.

 
 
Poster #19
DFT study of selected cadmium-tellurium clusters
Mike Bennett, Cole Chapman, Damian Durruty, Michael Gardner, Jaimie Gillette, Jonathan White and D. A. Barlow*
Physics Department, Westmont College
 
Results of a DFT theoretical study of Cd2Te3 clusters are reported here. The all electron DZVP basis set is used for both Cd and Te. Stable geometries are predicted. Computed vibrational normal modes and first ionization potentials are given. All clusters are predicted to have ring-like structures.

 
 
 
Poster #20
Neutron Multiplicity Discrimination in MoNA
Jaimie Gillette and Warren Rogers*
Physics Department, Westmont College
 
The Modular Neutron Array, located at the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory at Michigan State University, in conjunction with the Sweeper Magnet, is used to study the nuclear structure of rare isotopes located at or beyond the neutron drip line. An accelerated beam of nuclei is directed to a target where fragmentation reactions produce neutron-rich nuclei, which immediately decay. The unbound neutrons are emitted with certain decay energies, and by kinematically reconstructing the breakup, the excited and ground states of these exotic nuclei can be determined.  This analysis is complicated in experiments were more than one neutron are emitted. Using the momentum and energy conservation properties of a neutron propagating through MoNA, a new data analysis technique has been developed to distinguish neutron multiplicity.  Results from this analysis for the breakup of 12Be to10Be have led to the reconfiguration of MoNA. Results from this new arrangement for the di-neutron decay of 16Be will be presented.




Poster #21

Bevacizumab as an Adjuvant  in the Surgical Management of Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy
Sarah Risard and Nivaldo Tro*
Chemistry Department, Westmont College
 
Purpose:  To evaluate the role of preoperative intravitreal bevacizumab (IVB) as an adjunct to vitrectomy for the treatment of complications of proliferative diabetic retinopathy.
Methods:  A retrospective review was conducted on consecutive patients from a single clinical center who underwent vitrectomy after receiving IVB.
Results:  Intravitreal bevacizumab injection appeared to reduce the vascularity of neovascular proliferations, which subjectively facilitated delamination of fibrovascular membranes and reduced intraoperative bleeding.  Mean visual acuity improved from counting fingers at 5 feet at baseline to 20/400 at the last follow-up visit.   Twenty-seven of 92 eyes (30%) were noted to have persistent or recurrent VH during post-operative follow-up. There was a reduction in the rate of recurrent VH in the early post-operative period (defined as <3 months after surgery) in patients who also received intraoperative bevacizumab. 
Conclusion:  Preoperative IVB was well tolerated, and seems to be a useful adjuvant in vitrectomy for PDR.  However, its use did not seem to reduce the rate of post-operative VH, and it may contribute to the progression of TRD in certain high-risk cases.  Further study is indicated to assess its adjunctive role in the surgical treatment of PDR.

 
 
 
Poster #22
Towards Ferrocene-modified Myoglobin based Artificial Oxidases
Kyle Godfrey, Justin Kohl and Stephen Contakes*
Chemistry Department, Westmont College
 
Efforts toward the design and preparation of ferrocene-modified myoglibn catalysts for the selective monooxygenation of hydrocarbons by molecular oxygen will be described.  Ferrocene-myoglobin adducts are expected to mimic the chemistry of natural oxidase enzymes which employ redox-active coenzymes to supply or remove additional electrons during catalysis.  In particular, myoglobin binds oxygen and reduces it by one electron while ferrocene supplies a second electron to reduce oxygen to peroxide and activate it for catalysis.  Progress to date includes synthesis of a cysteine-reactive ferrocene derivative, genetic modification of the myoglobin to allow ferrocene attachment, and expression and partial purification of the myoglobin mutants.  Future work will involve further myoglobin purification, attachment of ferrocene, and oxygen reactivity and catalysis studies.

 
 
 
Poster #23
Investigating Pacific Coast Sponges for Novel Marine Natural Products with Anti-Bacterial Activity
Brittany N. Hammer, Katie E. Zirschky, Candida Valladares, Jordan C. Johnson, Timothy P. Newton, John M. Ashley, Shreya S. Nannepaga, Steve Julio*, and Makoto N. Masuno*
Chemistry Department, Westmont College
 
Marine sponges, collected from the California Pacific Coast by SCUBA, were investigated for novel natural products that have antibacterial activity. Crude extracts of each sponge were tested against Salmonella sp., Bacillus sp., Bordetella bronchiseptica, Escherichia coli using a disk diffusion assay. Activity was exhibited from the extracts of the yellow tube sponge, Aplysina fistularia (Sponge 7), and the ethanolic extracts of an unidentified sponge (sponge 10). Initial purification of these extracts were performed by bioactivity-guided fractionation using normal phase column chromatography.

 




Poster #24

Formation of heteromolecular excimers by thermally induced percolation: naphthalene and dichloronaphthalene
Roberto Valladares and Allan Nishimura*
Chemistry Department, Westmont College
 
Heteromolecular excimers were formed by percolation of naphthalene through an adlayer of dichloronaphthalene on Al2O3. The formation of the excimer was monitored by wavelength resolved temperature programmed desorption. The excimer generated in this way showed enhanced quantum yield when compared to the monomer.
 

 

 

Poster #25

Formation of heteromolecular excimer by thermally induced percolation:
naphthalene and 1,4-dibromonaphthalene
Chrissy Binkley, Melissa Gross, Wendi Hale, Taylor Judkins, Ben Murray and Allan Nishimura*
Chemistry Department, Westmont College
 
Heteromolecular excimers were formed by percolation of naphthalene through an adlayer of 1,4-dibromonaphthalene on Al2O3. Wavelength resolved temperature programmed desorption was used to monitor the formation of the excimer. In this case, the excimer did not show quite the enhancement in the quantum yield when compared to naphthalene, one of the components of the dimer.

 

 

 

Poster #26

Determination of RF factor levels in mice presenting a potential new model of Rheumatoid Arthritis
C. M. Suard, J. S. Nolte, E. J. McMahon*
Biology Department, Westmont College
 
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is a chronic and systemic autoimmune disease that targets synovial joints, leading to severe pain and inflammation. Long-term effects include loss of joint movement, deformation, and systemic damage to multiple organ systems. Diagnosis of RA is difficult, but using a combination of symptoms analysis, imaging diagnostics, and serum testing has proven most. RF factor, an antibody that attacks the Fc region of IgG, is one serum element that has been used in human RA diagnosis. We have recently discovered a new spontaneous model of immune-mediated arthritis in mice, and we are currently assessing its viability as a model of RA. The goal of this project was to measure RF levels in the new strain. Serum was collected from SJL, AR, and NAR mouse strains and analyzed for level of RF factor using the ELISA technique. Our current research shows that RF factor, though present at low levels in SJL mice, is elevated in AR mice with developed arthritic symptoms. Mice from the AR line without visible symptoms of arthritis (NAR mice) have varying serum levels of RF factor, possibly due to a “pre-arthritic” condition or slow onset of visible arthritic symptoms relative to serum RF elevation. The levels of other antibodies in AR serum are currently being investigated.