Symposium Awards, 2017

In 2017, three winners were chosen to be awarded for their Symposium projects for Spring 2017 and one winner was chosen for Fall 2016. Below are the abstracts of this year’s winners who were recognized at the Senior Award Banquet on May 4th.

Fall 2016 Winner: 

Tiffany Newman, Biotechnology, The Assessment of Volatile Organic Compounds in Mecosta County Recreational Waters using GCMS.

A study was performed in order to detect the presence of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) found in Mecosta County recreational water sources. VOCs are low molecular mass compounds (<500Da), many of which have been found to be carcinogenic or otherwise detrimental to health, and therefore it is important to monitor their presence in the environment to ensure that they do not exceed the acceptable limits as determined by the EPA. Mecosta and surrounding counties have experienced an increase in activities associated with VOC contamination such as fracking and waste water treatment. In the study, water samples were collected for analysis from nine Mecosta County recreational sources including the Muskegon River, Mitchell Creek, Chippewa Lake, Townline Lake, Canadian Lakes, Jehnson Lake, Clear Lake, and two local ponds. A total of 123 samples were extracted using C18 solid phase cartridges and the extracted samples were then analyzed using GCMS. Concentrations of analytes were determined using standard curves prepared from commercial standards. Of the 51 analytes examined, 21 compounds were detected in at least one recreational water source. These compounds include Benzene, Bromodichloromethane, m-Butylbenzene, sec-Butylbenzene, Chloroform, Chloromethane, Chlorotoluene, 1,2-Dichloroethane, 1,1-Dichloroethene, p-Isopropyltoluene, Naphthalene, Toluene, 1,2,3-Trichloropropane, 1,2,4-Trimethylbenzene, 1,3,5-Trimethylbenzene, and Xylene. The results of this study will be used by future student researchers to monitor changes in contamination over time.

Tiffany Newman receives her medallion. Courtesy of the photographer.

Tiffany Newman receives her medallion. Courtesy of the photographer.

Spring 2017 Winners: 

Chelsey Burr, Psychology, Fake it ‘Till You Make It: A Multi-variable Study of the Effects of Sports on Body Image in Student Athletes.

With the evolution of professional sports and the media, athletes are under more scrutiny than ever before. The pressure to look and perform a certain way has caused more athletes to undergo a body image crisis that can lead to unhealthy and risky lifestyles to obtain the “ideal” body. While there has been adequate research done involving the effects of body image on female athletes, the same can not be said about their male counterparts. Even in studies which the male perspective is evaluated, they usually involve collegiate or professional athletes. This study sought to evaluate the difference between male and female interpretations of body image by using a Likert scale to measure each athlete’s likelihood for meeting criteria for Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) or a form of eating disorder. The aim of this study has 3 goals: (1) gauge the effect of individual sports on athletes’ perception of their body, (2) assess the impact of age as a significant factor, and (3) determine the impact – if any – biological sex has on perceptions of body image. The data found that male athletes were more likely than their female counterparts to meet criteria for BDD in contact sports such as football and wrestling, while female athletes were more likely to meet criteria for a BDD and an eating disorder in general.

Chelsey Burr, Symposium Winner 2017. Courtesy of Ferris State photographer Bill Bitzinger.

Chelsey Burr, Symposium Winner 2017. Courtesy of Ferris State photographer Bill Bitzinger.

Andrew Klarecki, Plastics Engineering Technology, The Effects of Recycling and Oil Immersion on Acrylonitrile-Butadiene-Styrene/Acrylonitrile-Butadiene Rubber Thermoplastic Vulcanizate.

This study evaluated the effects of recycling and oil immersion on the properties of an oil resistant thermoplastic vulcanizate (TPV), created through the dynamic vulcanization of acrylonitrile-butadiene rubber (NBR) and acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS). To evaluate the properties of the ABS/NBR TPV, three grades were created at the following ratios; 50% NBR/50% ABS (50/50), 70% NBR/30% ABS (70/30), and 85% NBR/15% ABS (85/15). The change in properties due to recycling was evaluated by recycling 100% scrap material into test bars until 3 recycling phases were completed. ASTM D-471 Fluid Immersion Test standards were used to evaluate the oil resistance of the ABS/NBR TPV grades and PP/EPDM and NBR samples for comparison. The samples were submerged in paraffinic oil for 73 hours at 90 degrees Celsius. The following percent change tolerances were used to determine if property changes were acceptable or too significant for both the recycling and oil immersion tests: +/- 30% change in tensile strength, +/- 50% elongation, and +/- 15 point change in hardness. One would expect to see an increase in modulus and decrease in tensile strength and elongation as a result of recycling.

The results from testing recyclability show that 50/50 grade and 70/30 grade passed the property change test, while 85/15 failed due to an unexpected increase in tensile strength by 44%. The oil immersion study proved the ABS/NBT TPV grades to be more oil resistant than the PP/EPDM TPV. This is most likely due to the polar character of ABS and NBR’s polymer chains. All three ABS/NBR TBVs had a percent change in mass of under 1%, while the EDPM/PP’s increased by roughly 162%. However, only the 50/50 and 70/30 grades of NBR/ABS TPV passed the allowable property change criteria, while the 85/15 grade failed due to an increase in tensile strength by 89%. The unlikely increase in tensile strength could have been the result of continued curing in the rubber phase due to the presences of heat energy. Data from both tests presented unexpected trends with poor reproducibility. This is thought to be the result of un-optimized dynamic vulcanization process. A more optimized dynamic vulcanization process would provide greater rubber phase dispersion, fully cured rubber particulates, and through coating of the rubber phase by the plastic phase. An optimized process would likely produce high repeatability and data trends that more closely reflect the expectations.

Andrew Klarecki, Symposium Winner 2017. Courtesy of Ferris State photographer Bill Bitzinger

Andrew Klarecki, Symposium Winner 2017. Courtesy of Ferris State photographer Bill Bitzinger

Jaden Shirkey, Biotechnology, The Isolation and Characterization of EphA2 Cytoplasmic Domains.

Eph Receptors, a type of Tyrosine Receptor Kinase, play an integral role in cell-cell interactions. These receptors, having membrane-bound ligands, are heavily involved in processes such as cell migration, axon guidance, and angiogenesis. As such, they are closely correlated with many aspects of certain cancers. The intracellular portion of these transmembrane receptors contains three major domains: a linker region, a kinase domain, and a Sterile Alpha Mitif (SAM). An understanding of Eph structure and function could serve as a potential therapeutic target for some types of cancer. In this work, various segments of the intracellular domain of the EphA2 receptor were expressed in BL21 Competent E. Coli. While two vectors were initially attempted in the transformation (pEt-28a and pET32-LIC), higher success was found with pER32-LIC vector, which coded for a fused thioredoxin tag (in addition to a His-Tag). Purification of the expressed proteins was successful, utilizing Ni-affinity and gel-filtration chromatography. Upon isolation of both the full intracellular portion and a truncated segment (lacking the SAM domain), kinase activity was determined through a luminescence assay. Finally, HSQC-NMR was used to identify potential protein-protein interactions involving the SAM domain and/or the kinase domain. Mixed observations were made; more analysis must be conducted to solidify any definitive correlation.

Jaden Shirkey, Symposium Winner 2017. Courtesy of Ferris State photographer Bill Bitzinger.

Jaden Shirkey, Symposium Winner 2017. Courtesy of Ferris State photographer Bill Bitzinger.

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