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Westmont College
955 La Paz Road
Santa Barbara, CA 93108

Office: (805) 565-6007
Fax: (805) 565-7006
provost@westmont.edu

Summer Research Celebration 2014

Thursday, September 11, 2014

3:30 - 4:15 Winter Hall - Poster Display and Reception in the Rotunda

4:15 - 5:00 Talks to be held in Darling Foundation Lecture Hall

Researchers have worked over the summer in the fields of Biology, Chemistry, Physics,and Psychology The following abstracts detail their work and collaboration with faculty members. Faculty, students, parents, alumni and prospective students are invited to attend. Please RSVP to Barb Kennedy in the Provost's Office at bkennedy@westmont.edu

The Role of Tau Protein Oligomerization in Neurodegenerative Disease

Tau protein is an essential microtubule-associated protein that provides support to the nervous system. In some cases, the natively unfolded tau forms abnormal fibrillar deposits in the brain and causes neurodegenerative disease. Recent research suggests that oligomers of tau may be more toxic than fibrils. A 39-mer fragment was chosen to investigate the oligomerization potential in a region of tau. The peptide was synthesized by solid phase peptide synthesis. Mass spectral data revealed a significant amount of oxidized product. The reduction and purification of the peptide will be discussed. The purified peptide has been studied using electron microscopy and circular dichroism. Nicolette Dressler '15 and Kristi Lazar Cantrell, Assistant Professor of Chemistry.

EW-CRDS and the Spatial Investigation of Adsorption on a Fused Silica Prism

Phosphotungstic acid (PW12O40) has been shown to improve the rate of proton transfer in polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells. The interactions between (3-aminopropyl)-trimethoxysilane (APTMS) and phosphotungstic acid (PTA) were studied on a fused-silica prism through the use of evanescent-wave cavity-ringdown spectroscopy (EW-CRDS). It was discovered that PTA will adsorb irreversibly to higher concentration of APTMS. The adsorption of PTA to APTMS showed a ΔG°of adsorption -81 kJ/mole ±17, indicating PTA adsorption to APTMS is favorable under standard state conditions. Jordan Kohl, Christopher Sue, and Michael Everest, Professor of Chemistry

Formation of β-sheet fibrilsfromoctapeptidemixtures

The association ofβ-sheets has been implicated in the formation of protein aggregates and fibrils observed in many human diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease and Huntington’s disease.The followingoctapeptideswere synthesized by manual solid phase peptide synthesis to investigate whether engineering electrostatic and hydrophobic interactions in the peptides inducesβ-sheet amyloid fibril formation: (1) Ac-EFFKFFEY-NH2, (2) Ac-KFFEFFKY-NH2, (3) Ac-KFFKFFKY-NH2, and (4) Ac-EFFEFFEY-NH2.The peptides were purified using High Pressure Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) and the masses were confirmed using mass spectrometry. The propensity of Peptides 1-4 to form fibrils was investigated by incubating the individual peptides and peptide mixtures. Fibril formation was tested byThioflavinT fluorescence, circulardichroismandelectron microscopy.Benjamin Trapp '15, Tjitske Veldstra '14, Dean LaBarba '13 and Kristi Lazar Cantrell, Assistant Professor of Chemistry

Effect of 1-Chloropentane on the Fluorescence from a Mixture of Naphthalene and 2-Ethylnaphthalene on Alumina

Bilayers of 1-chloropentane and a mixture of naphthalene and 2-ethylnaphthalene were formed by vapor deposition onto a single crystal of α-alumina. The fluorescence was monitored as the surface temperature of the α-alumina was linearly ramped in a temperature programmed desorption experiment. The effect of 1-chloropentane during the temperature programmed desorption experiment was the formation of monomers of 2-ethylnaphthalene with the mixture of 2-ethylnaphthalene and naphthalene. It also caused the mixture to undergo more structured, irreversible structural relaxation within the adlayer. During the temperature programmed desorption, naphthalene solvated and donated its energy to 2-ethylnaphthalene.  Melissa Shew ’16, Rachel DeHoog ’15, Ken Martin (Professor of Chemistry, Pt. Loma Nazarene University), Allan Nishimura, Emeritus Professor of Chemistry.

Rembrandt and the Jews in 17th Century Amsterdam

Sephardic Jews came to the Netherlands during the 15th and 16th  centuries, seeking to reclaim their Judaism. The recently independent Dutch provinces offered Jews from Portugal and Spain the chance to observe their religion openly. Rembrandt lived and worked in the Jewish neighborhood of Amsterdam, and counted Jews as friends and advisors.  Pieter Lastman, Rembrandt’s teacher, introduced the artist to the realism of Italian painter, Caravaggio. Rembrandt depicted biblical subjects with an intensity that was new to Dutch art. He often chose his models from the Jews of Amsterdam, seeking accuracy in his depiction of Old Testament subjects. The Bergers gave Westmont 18 Rembrandt etchings pertaining to Judaism. The Museum will exhibit the prints plus a drawing by Lastman in the spring of 2015. Dr. Judy L. Larson, Director of the Westmont-Ridley Tree Museum of Art, served as advisor to our team of researchers and writers: Emma Doremus ’15, Rachel Urbano ’14, Alisha Paulsen ’13.

Effect of Drought on Blood Glucose Levels in Garter Snake Thamnophis elegans

The western terrestrial garter snake Thamnophis elegans has been shown to increase blood glucose levels in response to stress. This study sought to compare baseline and stress response levels of glucose in distinct lakeshore and meadow populations over two years of differing environmental conditions. We hypothesized that the year of more severe drought and scarcer food sources, and thus depleted energy stores, would result in a decrease in both baseline levels and the overall glycemic response. We found that while there was no significant  change in the baseline glucose levels, all meadow populations exhibited an attenuated glucose response in the drought year. These findings suggest that changing environmental conditions can have a large impact on physiological processes. Understanding the interplay of environmental change and physiological response will ultimately allow for better conservation of these animals. Mindy Chow ’16, Ben West ’15 and Amanda Sparkman, Assistant Professor of Biology

Preparation of DNA from Leaf Surface Bacteria for Next Generation Sequencing

A method for extracting leaf surface-associated microorganisms was developed using leaves of Heteromeles arbutifolia. Shaking leaf samples at 350 rpm on an orbital shaker removed most, but not all, microbes present on the leaf surfaces. The technique was then applied to five species of plants inhabiting a coastal salt marsh in Carpinteria, CA. These plants differ in their physiological adaptations to life in a hyper-saline environment, and consequently present differing micro-environments for leaf-associated micro-organisms. After removing the micro-organisms, a 331 bp segment of their 16S rRNA was amplified using PCR and bar coded index adapters were attached in order to perform next generation sequencing. Jacob Warren '15 and Frank Percival, Professor of Biology

Separation and photoactivity studies of Ru-dendrimer nano particles

This project seeks to develop and study dendrimer nanoparticles bound to Ru-ligands capable of photoactively reducing ionic pollutants and eliminating them from contaminated water sources. Past work has focused on coupling the [Ru(bpy)2(dcbpy)]2+ to G2.0 PAMAM dendrimers and studying their reductive capabilities. While quenching studies have shown the complex is capable of increasing reduction rate, it is unknown how the ratio of Ru: dendrimer affect the frequency of electron transfer. Therefore, current work has concentrated on separating distinct ratios with ion-exhange chromatography with FPLC and purifying samples so these photoactive properties can be analyzed. Previously fractionated material has already undergone quantum yield studies, showing there is a slightly reduced quantum yield as the the Ru:dendrimer ratio increases. Quantum yield pH studies on individual fractions demonstrate a factor of 2 increase from pH 2 and 4 due to the deprotonation of Ru-ligand carboxy groups.Elizabeth P Simoneit and Stephen M. Contakes, Assistant Professor of Chemistry

Does Anxiety Modulate the Effect of Education on Older Adults’ Cognitive Abilities?

The current study explored the interaction between education and anxiety on older adults’ memory and frontal-executive functioning. A total of 222 older adults completed a comprehensive neuropsychological battery.  The results suggest that older adults with higher levels of education appear to exhibit stronger learning, memory, and frontal-executive abilities when they have lower levels of state anxiety, but these cognitive abilities are significantly worse when they have higher levels of state anxiety. In contrast, those with low levels of education seem to generally perform better in select areas of verbal memory and frontal-executive functioning when they have higher levels of state anxiety, with worse performance when they have lower levels of state anxiety. Greater state anxiety therefore appears to impair the memory and frontal-executive functions of those with high levels of education, but it may aid the memory and frontal-executive functioning of those with low education. Natalie Nicodemus ’16, and Steven A. Rogers, Associate Professor of Psychology

Memory and Neuroticism: A Critical Relationship in Older Adults

To determine if older adults’ dispositional level of neuroticism impacts their memory skills, a total of 79 older adults completed a comprehensive neuropsychological battery that assessed memory and personality. Canonical correlation analyses revealed a significant relationship between the trait of neuroticism and the set of memory measures. Subsequent bivariate correlations showed that older adults with higher levels of neuroticism performed significantly worse on almost all aspects of memory, including verbal and nonverbal memory, as well as learning and delayed recall. Memory abilities therefore appear to vary with older adults’ dispositional levels of emotional reactivity, which has direct implications for assessing and treating memory problems and emotional distress. Rob Limkeman ’15, and Steven A. Rogers, Associate Professor of Psychology

Decay Energies for 24O → 23O + n using MoNA-LISA-Sweeper Detector System and Monte Carlo Simulations

The LISA Commissioning experiment, conducted at NSCL at Michigan State University, used the Modular Neutron Array (MoNA) and the Large multi-Institutional Scintillator Array (LISA) in conjunction with the Sweeper Magnet and Detector Chamber, in order to investigate unbound excited states of 24O produced by proton knockout from a secondary 26F beam. Experimental energy spectra for the 24O → 23O + n decays were obtained through invariant mass spectroscopy using neutron and charged fragment trajectories and energies following decay. GEANT4-based Monte Carlo simulations, which included MENATE_R for modeling neutron scattering, and STMONA developed by the MoNA group at NSCL, were used to take into account specific reaction dynamics and geometry, as well as all detector acceptances and efficiencies, in order to extract individual decay energies and widths from our experimental data. Results for this decay will be presented. Sierra Garrett ('14), Alyson Barker ('15), Rachel Parkhurst ('16), Nathaniel Taylor ('15), Warren Rogers, Physics Department

Generation of Novel Plasmids and Recombinant Protein for Use in DNA Vaccination against HSV-1.

The production of a successful DNA vaccine has eluded researchers for many years. Using Herpes Simplex Virus-1 (HSV-1) glycoprotein B (HSVgB) as a model antigen, we hypothesize that vectors encoding HSVgB and Pattern Recognition Receptor (PRR) and CD40 agonist adjuvants can be used to yield an efficacious DNA vaccine. Here we document the generation of plasmids to be used in DNA vaccination against HSV-1, the production of recombinant HSVgB, and testing of this DNA vaccine. Cloning by lambda-phage recombineering and traditional restriction digestion and ligation was used to generate plasmids encoding antigen HSVgB and adjuvants FGK45 and flagellin. Transfection of HEK293T cells and subsequent analysis by ELISA confirmed the production of these recombinant proteins in vitro. Initial murine studies suggest that injection with these vectors induces CD8 T-cell proliferation indicative of a pathogen-specific response. Collectively, our data represent promising developments in DNA vaccinology. A.J. Wilk1,2,3, E.C. Cross2,3, A.L. Ortiz2,3, N.D. Pennock2,3,  A.C. Chitrakar2 , and R.M. Kedl2.

1.Department of Biology, Westmont College, Santa Barbara, CA 93108.2. Department of Immunology and Microbiology, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Aurora, CO 80045.3. National Jewish Health, Denver, CO 80206.

Synthesis and Structural Characterization of (N-ferrocenyl isonicotinamide) N,N′-Bis(salicylidene)ethylenediaminocobalt(II), a Co(salen) Complex with Redox Active Pyridyl Axial Ligand

This project aims to develop a synthetic catalyst to facilitate the monooxygenation of hydrocarbons. Co(salen) is known to bind oxygen and the hope is that when Co(salen) is modified by redox active axial ligands it can be used to mimic the heme porphyrin active site of Cytochrome P450. Cytochrome P450 is a liver detoxification enzyme that is known to perform monooxygenation reactions in the body. The hope is that by attaching redox active ligands to the planar Co(salen ) compound the ligands will be able to donate single electrons thus turning the Co(salen) compound from purely an oxygen storage compound to an oxygen reduction compound. A ferrocenyl Isonicotinamide ligand was attached axially to Co(salen) and elemental analysis confirmed the purity of crystals grown from the synthesis. A second ligand, [Ru(bpy)2(5-py-CONH-

phenanthroline)][PF6]2 , was purified and characterized by NMR and a crystal growth experiment was prepared. Ellen Brudi ‘15, Stephen M. Contakes, Assistant Professor of Chemistry

Synthesis and Structural Characterization of (N-ferrocenyl isonicotinamide) N,N′-Bis(salicylidene)ethylenediaminocobalt(II), a Co(salen) Complex with Redox Active Pyridyl Axial Ligand

This project aims to develop a synthetic catalyst to facilitate the monooxygenation of hydrocarbons. Co(salen) is known to bind oxygen and the hope is that when Co(salen) is modified by redox active axial ligands it can be used to mimic the heme porphyrin active site of Cytochrome P450. Cytochrome P450 is a liver detoxification enzyme that is known to perform monooxygenation reactions in the body. The hope is that by attaching redox active ligands to the planar Co(salen ) compound the ligands will be able to donate single electrons thus turning the Co(salen) compound from purely an oxygen storage compound to an oxygen reduction compound. A ferrocenyl Isonicotinamide ligand was attached axially to Co(salen) and elemental analysis confirmed the purity of crystals grown from the synthesis. A second ligand, [Ru(bpy)2(5-py-CONH-phenanthroline)][PF6]2 , was purified and characterized by NMR and a crystal growth experiment was prepared. Ellen Brudi ‘15, Stephen M. Contakes, Assistant Professor of Chemistry