how to lace up dr martens Student Research Opportunities
THE EFFECTS OF CHOLINE SUPPLEMENTATION THROUGHOUT THE LIFESPAN ON ANXIETY AND REACTIONS TO ACUTE STRESS IN THE RAT
Raven Adams (’08) and John Swain (’08), Psychology
Choline is a crucial nutrient that contributes to several biological functions and serves as a precursor molecule to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Choline is involved in prenatal development and is integral to the development and function of the central nervous system. Researchers have found that prenatal choline supplementation in the rat has several beneficial effects in adulthood, including enhanced spatial learning and memory, reduction of age induced memory decline, and protection against various stressors to the neural environment. Yet little research has investigated the effects of choline supplementation during stages of life other than prenatal development. The present study examined the effects of choline supplementation, administered during different stages of life, on anxiety like behaviors and reactions to acute stress. Rats were either supplemented with choline during a select period (prenatal development, adolescence, or adulthood) or received no supplementation. Reactions to stress were then investigated by exposing rats to a forced swim paradigm, which is used to measure behaviors representative of depression, and an acute stress open field paradigm. To investigate the neural basis for behavioral effects, levels of Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor in the hippocampus were analyzed. Behavioral measures investigated differences in anxiety like behaviors and reactions to stress. In the open field, rats supplemented in adolescence were less anxious compared to all other groups, however both the prenatal supplemented and the adolescent supplemented groups were less impacted by the forced swim test. These finding provide evidence that choline supplementation during periods of heightened developmental plasticity impacts anxiety like behaviors.
THE EFFECTS OF PRENATAL CHOLINE AVAILABILITY ON BEHAVIORAL AND NEURAL REACTIONS TO SOCIAL ISOLATION REARING IN THE RAT
Choline is a crucial nutrient that contributes to several biological functions and serves as a precursor molecule to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Choline is involved in prenatal development and is integral to the development and function of the central nervous system. Researchers have found that prenatal choline supplementation in the rat enhances learning and memory processes later in life and also protects against a number of physical stressors to the neural environment, such as prenatal alcohol exposure, induced seizures, and chronic stress induced exposure to corticosteroids. The present study examined the effects of prenatal choline supplementation on behavioral and neural reactions to social isolation rearing, which typically produces a number of behavioral and cognitive deficits in the rat. Rats were exposed to either a choline sufficient (control) or a choline supplemented diet during prenatal development, and were then weaned into standard (pair) housing or social isolation (single) housing. When these rats reached adulthood, behavioral measures investigated anxiety, exploratory behavior, spatial learning and memory ability, and object recognition memory. In analyzing these behavioral measures we failed to detect significant effects of housing in control fed rats, but did detect an effect of housing in choline supplemented rats in measures of both anxiety and learning and memory. These novel findings suggest that the benefits of choline supplementation may depend on experiences such as social rearing. To investigate the neural basis for behavioral effects, levels of hippocampal neurogenesis were measured by immunohistological staining for Doublecortin.
PREDICTING PRESIDENTIAL PERFORMANCE: WHAT MUST A VOTER KNOW?
Randi Arsenault (’09), Government
A great deal of research has been done in the field of presidential studies. Yet, an important question how do we know what candidate is likely to be the most effective president has rarely guided systematic inquiry. This study uses historical information to explore the characteristics of effective leadership in the White House. The analysis examines the relationship between the pre presidential experiences and the success in office of modern presidents. By examining the elements of effective leadership and the relevant pre presidential experiences related to these elements, we seek to provide a better understanding of what characteristics Americans should look for in presidential candidates, adn where they can find this information.
MALE SEXUAL SELECTION BASED ON IMMUNE FUNCTION IN THE ZEBRA FINCH TAENIOPYGIA GUTTATA
Christine Avena (’08), Biology
Zebra finches are a popular model species for research on sexual selection because they form monogamous pairs and select mates based on a wide variety of criteria. Mate choice, part of Darwin’s theory of sexual selection,
is generally understood as females choosing males with desirable traits. Several hypotheses have been presented to describe how a female selects a male, including the “sexy son” hypothesis, that females become choosy for males with flashy ornaments, and the “good genes” hypothesis, which suggests that females select for traits that indicate a disease resistant, fit male. Recent studies have shown that female zebra finches prefer males with particular traits, including symmetrical chest plumage, high song rates, and bright red beaks. These studies also revealed that males might be choosy when looking for a female, especially when comparing two individuals with different levels of fitness. This study will examine whether or not male zebra finches prefer certain characteristics, such as beak color or body weight, when courting a female. If the male prefers one female over another, this female is injected with a drug to temporarily suppress the immune system and the test is repeated. The initial results from this experiment will indicate that males may switch preferences for a female if her fitness is compromised. These findings might lend support the “good genes” hypothesis and could provide new information on the role of male sexual selection in zebra finches
GENDER AND MATURITY OF A FACE INFLUENCE PERCEPTIONS OF ITS COMPETENCE, INTELLIGENCE AND HONESTY.
Sakshi Balani (’10), Martha Gail Biddiscombe (’10), Meghan Guay (’10) and David Way (’09), Psychology
The purpose of this experiment is to further enhance our knowledge in the field of gender stereotypes and perceived personality characteristics. In conjunction with previous research, it is believed that maturity of a face influences perception of characteristics. However, it is also believed that the gender of a face provides a social cue to perceptions of personality traits. It is important to investigate how maturity of facial features interacts with these perceptions when gender cues (that might provide social biases) are removed. Therefore, this experiment manipulates faces based on maturity and gender cues, in order to determine their combined effect on perceived characteristics, namely, intelligence, competence and honesty.
THOU SHALT NOT KILL THYSELF: THE EFFECT OF RELIGIOUS PARTICIPATION ON SUICIDE
Ivan Balbuzanov (’09), Economics
Individual religious preferences are expected to have an effect on the probability of committing suicide both according to the utility maximizing theory of suicide (Hamermesh and Soss 1974) and the sociological theory of suicide advanced by Durkheim (1951). Despite these theoretical implications, there have not been any econometric studies examining this theory. In this paper, I estimate the effects of religious participation on the probability of committing suicide. Using the 1993 National Mortality Followback survey and controlling for age, race, gender, level of education, urban residence,
and marital status, I find a statistically significant negative relationship between religious participation and the probability of committing suicide. The results are robust to other known correlates of suicide, including income, region of residence, mental health problems, alcohol and drug abuse, firearm ownership, as well as to alternative specifications of the dependent variable.
SYNTHESIS OF COPPER(I) COMPLEXES WITH NS2 CYCLODECANE LIGANDS BEARING PHENYL AND 2 NAPHTHYL PENDANT ARYL GROUPS IN QUEST OF COPPER(I) ARENE COMPLEXES
Chantal Balesdent (’08), Chemistry
Copper(I) arene complexes are relatively rare and therefore their chemistry is not well explored. We are currently expanding our previous work in which we found Cu naphthyl binding to a coordinated 1 naphthyl appended NS2 cyclodecane ligand. Thus, we have synthesized the analogous 2 naphthyl appended as well as a phenyl appended NS2 cyclodecane ligand. The synthesis of these ligands and the Cu(I) complexes of these ligands will be discussed. In addition, evidence for any Cu arene binding in these complexes will be presented.
THE GLOBAL NATURE OF THE ORIGINS AND DISPOSAL OF ELECTRONIC WASTE
Anna Barnwell (’08), Environmental Studies
Recent attention has been brought to the global transfer of electronic waste and the lack of regulation that exists regarding disposal of electronic commodities. In the United States alone over 1.5 million tons of TVs, computers, cell phones, VCRS, and other electronics are disposed of in one year. As the high tech industry continues to increase efficiency and product desirability, consideration must be taken into how older products can be disposed of when new purchases are made. Many electronics contain materials which are hazardous for landfills, incinerators, and the people who dismantle electronics for their valuable parts. The pressing issue of environmental justice must be considered as we examine both the unfair concept of shipping waste from developed nations to developing countries, as well as considering the complex and large process of producing electronics, which is often harmful to human health. Several electronic items were analyzed in this research from the perspective of production, disposal, and regulations that apply. This poster is oriented towards the human health repercussions for the Waterville community by describing the global process of electronic production to disposal, and then goes into detail about how community members can dispose of their electronic and hazardous waste in an ecologically and socially responsible manner.
COPING WITH RACE AND WEIGHT STIGMA
Angela Barrett (’08), Psychology
In recent years, research on stigma has expanded to include how various groups manage their stigmatized identities. Despite the well documented prejudice towards African American women in the obese community, there is currently little research examining how overweight and obese African American women manage the combined stigmas of race and weight. Many negative stereotypes of overweight African American women are prominent in popular media. These images go beyond the usual stereotypes associated with overweight women such as the clown and the caretaker. Instead, the portrayal of overweight African American women heightens negative qualities and depicts them as aggressive, unfriendly, unattractive, and intellectually inferior. Overweight African American females must manage the intertwined stigmas of race and weight. Despite the many numbers of people affected by these stigmas few researchers have examined the ways in which obese African Americans cope with bias and discrimination. This literature review will examine how membership in a defined group ,
the African American community, aids in coping and buffering self esteem against the negative effects of stigma. Effective stigma management for this particular group lies in strength of affiliation with a collective and redefining what it means to be a member of a stigmatized group.