Department of Biological Sciences

The Effectiveness of Uzarigenin as an Antiseptic against Staphylococcus aureus

by Gabrielle Moore Faculty Mentor: Professor Lynn Lewis To determine the effectiveness of uzarigenin on S. aureus, the agar disk diffusion method was first completed to study the cytotoxicity effect of uzarigenin directly on the bacteria. A cytotoxicity assay was then completed to test the cytotoxicity of the uzarigenin on the human epithelial fibroblasts themselves. …

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Phage Hunting at the University of Mary Washington: Genome Annotation of Hari and JackRabbit

By Hannah Lee, Sabine Krall, John Tan, Raesa Zia, Charlotte Russell, Jayme Boudreau, Hannah Stottlemyer, Andrew Cooper, Elizabeth Sullivan, Madison DeWitt, Mitchell Freitag, Jacob Cantor, Arianna Chase, Vallarie Burge Faculty Mentor: Professor Swati Agrawal Bacillus thuringiensis subspecies Kurstaki (BTK) is often used as a microbial insecticide for pest control and as a simulant for Bacillus …

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Using BLAST to Detect Horizontal Gene Transfer in Pathogenic Fungi

By Christopher Good Faculty Mentor: Professor Theresa Grana Similarly to antibiotic resistance, antifungal resistance is a growing challenge for clinicians. Mechanistically, one method of antibiotic resistance acquisition is through horizontal gene transfer (HGT). Although associated more with prokaryotes, past studies show limited evidence of HGT in Candida yeast, warranting additional comparative, genomic and proteomic research …

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Quantifying Hyperforin in St. Johns Wort

By Chase Forster Faculty Mentor: Dr. Josephine Antwi Hyperforin is a known compound naturally produced by St. Johns Wort plants and has been proven to help treat mild depression. The purpose of this project was to determine optimal growing conditions for this plant to maximize efficiency of hyperforin production.

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The Influence of Habitat Disruption and Induced Overstimulation on Working and Spatial Memory and Hippocampal BDNF Levels in CD1 Mice

By Katie Warlick, Chloe Dishong, Jada Ramos, Olivia Asbell Faculty Mentor: Professor Parrish Waters Our experiment aims to explore the influence of habitat disruption and induced overstimulation on working and spatial memory in CD1 mice, and consequently, hippocampal Brain- Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) levels. We hypothesized that, because of the significance of the role of …

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The Influence of Olfactory Stressors on Anxiety-like Behaviors (ALB) and Amygdalar Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) Levels in CD1 Mice

By Mary Zagrobelny, Bradley Torrington, Olayemi Fadahunsi, Laiba Murad Faculty Mentor: Professor Parrish Waters Cat odors serve as stressful stimuli for mice, leading to profound anxiety-like behaviors (ALB). These ALB are possibly the result of decreased brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) levels in the amygdala. Although the anxiogenic effects of cat odors have been established extensively, …

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Lab Manual by a Lab Aide, for Lab Aides

By Theresa Vierow Faculty Mentor: Professor Swati Agrawa For my Capstone project, I created an online lab manual. My intention with this document is to provide guidance for future lab aides of BIOL 125 and BIOL 126 – the series of introductory honors biology classes referred to as Phage Hunters. This document is online for …

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The Effects of Cortisol on Blood Coagulation in Zebrafish

By Bailey Bashara Faculty Mentor: Professor Dianne Baker In humans, increased cortisol can lead to pathological increases in blood coagulation, in turn leading to thrombotic events such as deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary emboli. Cortisol appears to promote coagulation by upregulating the transcription of coagulation factors, thereby increasing the likelihood of the coagulation cascade. It …

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Quantifying Microplastics Found in Canada Geese from Various Fredericksburg Locations

By Zhanna Leavitt Faculty Mentor: Professor Andrew Dolby Plastic pollution has accumulated to a concerning degree in many of the world’s ecosystems. Microplastics are some of the smallest plastic debris and are generally defined as plastic fragments less than 5mm in diameter. Given their small size, microplastic fibers and fragments can easily enter aquatic ecosystems …

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Role of the Pvr signaling Pathway in a Fly Model for Myotonic Dystrophy Type 1

By Maya Takashima, Huda Al-Bana, Grace Holcomb Faculty Mentor: Professor Ginny Morriss Myotonic Dystrophy Type 1 (DM1) is a multi-systemic genetic disorder that causes severe muscle weakening and wasting. The phenotype is caused by a CTG repeat expansion in the 3’ untranslated region in the DMPK gene. Studies have shown several different signaling pathways implicated …

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Effects of starvation and time of day on crayfish foraging behaviors

By Kylie Sunamoto Faculty Mentor: Professor Abbie Tomba Crayfish foraging behaviors can alter aquatic ecosystems. Starvation and time of day are two potential factors that can influence those foraging behaviors, but the interaction between the two variables has not been studied. In this study, we observed the movement of fed and starved crayfish during the …

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Differential Myokine Expression in a Model for Myotonic Dystrophy Type I

By Huda Al-Bana, Maya Takashima, Grace Holcomb Faculty Mentor: Professor Ginny Morriss Myotonic dystrophy type 1 (DM1) is a multi-systemic disease resulting in severe muscle weakening and wasting. Skeletal muscle wasting is the predominant cause of morbidity and mortality and is responsible for 60% of DM1-associated deaths. DM1 is caused by CTG repeat expansion in …

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Apoptosis in Crithidia fasciculata

By Kaelynn Parker and Abigail Delapenha Faculty mentor: Professor Swati Agrawal Crithidia fasciculata belongs to a group of parasites called kinetoplastids that comprise many important human pathogens. Evidence of apoptosis has been found in these parasites with pathways that appear to be different than in mammalian cells. Therefore, careful characterization of these pathways can provide …

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Influence of Social Status on Behavior and Stress in Mice

by Samantha Everett Faculty mentor: Professor Parrish Waters Mice are socially aggressive animals and tend to interact in ways that are representative of a social hierarchy. Their interactions and behaviors determine their position in the social hierarchy, i.e., dominant, subordinate, or somewhere in-between. The present study examined the effect of social rank on behavior and …

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Toxoplasma gondii SUB4 Gene Deletion Mutants and Their Viability in Host Cell Invasion

by John Asmus Faculty mentor: Professor Swati Agrawal Toxoplasma gondii is a microscopic parasitic protist. It is responsible for the disease toxoplasmosis which can cause severe health problems in immunocompromised individuals and babies whose mothers become infected while pregnant. T. gondii is an obligate intracellular parasite that can infect almost any warm-blooded mammal. Because of …

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Turtle Population Sex Ratios at Urban vs. Rural Locations

by Abigail Conklin Faculty mentor: Professor Bradley Lamphere In many turtle species, the sex of an individual is strongly influenced by the environmental temperatures it experiences prior to hatching. Climate change and urbanization may raise the temperature of nesting habitat enough to strongly skew sex ratios in freshwater turtles, but data on that question are …

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