The senior symposium ask students to develop an original contribution to the knowledge of their chosen profession or discipline. While it is not always easy to conduct ‘research’ as it may be traditionally understood as an undergraduate, our students have been wonderfully creative in how they connect their work to their interests. All of the posters were interesting — and they represent the wide variety of programs and areas of study available here at Ferris.
2016 Senior Symposium Winners:
Rachel Kempisty, The Effects of Spinal Cord Injury on Learning and Memory, Spinal cord injuries (SCI) result in the damage of nerves extending from the brain to various areas of the body, leading to disturbances in sensory and motor signaling below the injury site. Previous studies have shown that after undergoing a SCI, rats exhibit cognitive impairments likely due to neurodegeneration and microglial and related cell cycle activation. Another study indicates neurological changes occurring in areas above the site of injury, specifically in the hippocampus, the area of the brain involved in memory and formation of new synapses between neurons. This study revealed alterations in Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor levels in the hippocampus of rats who had suffered from a contusion injury. The objective of this research was to determine whether SCI affects learning and memory in rats. To assess the effects of the SCI, older female Sprague-Dawley rats (n=24) underwent C2 spinal hemisections (n=14) or SHAM control surgeries (n=10). After a week recovery period, learning and memory was assessed by using the Morris Water Maze (MWM) behavioral test. Each rate completed four trials a day for five consecutive days and a probe train on the sixth day. The data collected was analyzed and compared to previous data the Long Evans rats. Results showed that although both Sprague-Dawley and Long Evans SCI rats took longer to acquire new memories to SHAM, it was only significant for the Long Evans rats. Further investigation is needed in order to determine whether factors such as age, gender, and species play a role in differences observed in learning and memory.
Shaughna Langerak, Drosophila Activin Signaling in Aging Regulation of Adult Fruit Flies, Our research demonstrates that knocking down Activin signaling ubiquitously or in muscle tissues of adult fruit flies reduces life span, causes early accumulation of polyubiquitinated protein aggregates and down-regulates proteasome gene expression. Enhancing Activin signaling by over-expressing either Dawdle or Myoglianin (but not dActivin-β) in adult fruit fly muscle tissues prolongs mean life span, suppresses the appearance of polyubiquitinated protein aggregates and enhanced proteasome gene expression. Taken together, our data reveals the critical role of Activin signaling (which is homologous in humans) in normal protein homeostasis in fruit fly muscle tissues and thereby the aging process of adult fruit flies.
Kathryn Wilson, Kathryn’s project and abstract are withheld from this article because certain aspects of her project are now trying to be patented.