Graduate Research Symposium Fall 2021

Graduate Research Symposium 2021

Graduate Research Symposium 2021

The University of Florida’s Black Graduate Student Organization (BGSO), in conjunction with the Society for Advancing Native Americans and Chicanos in Research (SACNAS), is hosting the 5th annual Graduate Research Symposium this fall! The symposium will take place Tuesday, November 2, 2021, from 9:00 am-4:00 pm, and it will be an in-person event (located in the Reitz Student Union Grand Ballroom). The symposium will be interdisciplinary, encompassing natural sciences, social sciences, humanities, computer science, engineering, math, and physical sciences. Our goal is to showcase the outstanding quality and diversity of graduate-level research at the University of Florida!

The first half of the research symposium will feature oral and poster presentations from graduate students (both master’s and PhD students) across various disciplinary areas. The judging for these presentations will be grouped by disciplinary areas. Humanities and Social Sciences will make up one “disciplinary group” while Engineering, Mathematics, and Health/Life/Natural Sciences will make up the other. Graduate students will be given the invaluable opportunity to present their research (and/or engage with others’ research) while also networking and connecting with other graduate students and faculty in their field AND outside of their field.

The second half of the research symposium will consist of a keynote speech from our very own Dean Hub Brown (the newly appointed dean of the UF College of Journalism and Communications) as well as a panel featuring various UF faculty and professionals titled “Innovation & the Job Market.” The panel will address issues relevant to scholarly innovation and renewal as well as the changes in the job market during the unprecedented times brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Given the theme for this year’s symposium, “Solidarity, Innovation, & Renewal, the panel is specifically intended to help give graduate students a sense of normalcy and guidance during these uncertain times. 

Because this is an in-person event, we will follow the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) COVID-19 guidelines and ask attendees to wear masks. We will also ensure that there is enough space to socially distance you from the audience and other panelists during the event. 

Presenters, judges, and attendees, if you have any questions about the event or need additional accommodations for the event,  don’t hesitate to contact Temi Alao (, Cristovao Nwachukwu (, or Carmi Thompson (

Poster Presentation Instructions

Poster Presentation Instructions 

  • If you already have a poster made from another conference or poster session, you are allowed to present it at the Graduate Research Symposium.
  • If your abstract is accepted, you will receive further instructions on how you will present your research at the Graduate Research Symposium.
  • Arrive to the event with enough time to put your poster up before your session starts.
    • You must stand by your poster during the entire session-- remember the goal of the symposium is to network and interact with scholars like yourself! 
    • If you are assigned to Session A, please wrap up your presentation 10 minutes before the allotted time to allow the next round of presenters to set up their posters.
  • Poster stands and thumb-tacks will be provided, but you must print your own poster. If you are unsure what size your poster should be, note that the poster stand itself is 4’10” Tall x 5’10” Wide dimensions. The poster must be smaller than these dimension to fit.

If you can not make the event for any reason, let us know ASAP! To drop out of the poster presentation contest, email Temi Alao (talao@edu) or Cristóvão Oriowo (

Oral Presentation Instructions

Oral Presentatioin Instructions 

  • Oral speakers will present their research in person, meaning you will have the experience of discussing your research and getting feedback that will help you improve your work!
  • If your abstract is accepted, you will receive further instructions on how you will present your research at the Graduate Research Symposium.
  • You are highly encouraged to create a presentation or any other visual aid that highlights the main points of your research.
    • If you wish to use one, email a copy of your PowerPoint (as a .pptx) to Temi Alao ( at least 48 hours before the event.
    • If your presentation is web based (e.g., Google Presentations), email Temi Alao ( the publicly accessible link to your presentation at least 48 hours before the event.
    • If your powerpoint is not received by October 31, you will not be able to present. 
  • Each oral presentation will be  9 minutes long. If you wish to incorporate a Q&A into your presentation, you must do so within this time frame.
  • You will be provided with a microphone as well as other necessary audiovisual equipment (i.e., computer, projector). 
    • Arrive at the event at least 10 minutes before the allotted time of your session  to avoid any technical difficulties!
    • If you are assigned to Session A, please wrap up your presentation 10 minutes before the allotted time to allow the next round of presenters to set up their posters.

If you can not make the event for any reason, let us know ASAP! To drop out of the oral presentation contest, email Temi Alao ( or Cristóvão Oriowo (

Poster/Oral Presentation Sessions

Poster/Oral Presentation Sessions

Both the poster and oral presentations will be divided by discipline. For instance, presenters whose research is situated in the disciplinary areas of Humanities or Social Sciences will be assigned to the 9:40 AM - 10:40 AM session. In contrast, presenters whose research is situated in the disciplinary areas of Engineering, Mathematics, or Life/Health/Physical Sciences will be assigned to the 10:45 AM - 12:15 PM session.


The poster presentations will take place on one side of the Grand Ballroom while oral presentations will take place on the other side.

  • Session A (Humanities and Social Sciences): 9:40 AM - 10:40 AM
  • Session B (Engineering and Life/Health/Natural Sciences): 10:45 AM - 12:00 PM

Note From GRS Planning Committee

Note From GRS Planning Commitee

We will be following CDC guidelines for preventing the spread of the COVID-19 virus; thus, the capacity of the space is limited and the presenters will be socially distanced and wearing masks. Because of this, unfortunately, we will not be able to accept as many abstracts as we have for previous years.

  • Abstracts will be considered under the following guidelines:
    • Does the research elicit novel or unique scholarship in your respective field?
    • Does the abstract clearly explain the topic, method, results, and conclusion the scholar will discuss in their presentation?
    • Is the abstract coherent and cohesive?

Full Agenda

Full Agenda 

8:00 AM -- 9:15 AM

Check-in, breakfast/coffee

9:20 AM -- 9:30 AM

Opening remarks by Dr. Nicole Stedman, Dean and Associate Provost of the Graduate School 

9:40 AM -- 10:40 AM

Oral/poster presentations (Humanities, Social Sciences)

10:45 AM -- 12:15 PM

Oral/poster presentations (Engineering, Math, Health/Life/Physical Sciences)

12:15 PM -- 1:00 PM

Lunch + UF BREATHE Table (Funding opportunities!)

1:10 PM -- 1:50 PM

Keynote address and Q&A

2:00 PM -- 3:10 PM

“Innovation and the Job Market” Panel

3: 10 PM -- 3:20 PM

Networking break

3:00 PM -- 4:00 PM

Awards & Closing Remarks by Dr. Henry Frierson 

Keynote Speaker

Dean Hub Brown

Hub Brown became dean of the College of Journalism and Communications in July. He previously served as Associate Dean for Research, Creativity, International Initiatives and Diversity, and an Associate Professor of Broadcast and Digital Journalism, at the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. As Associate Dean, Brown managed the Newhouse School’s incentives to facilitate research and creative activity, aided promotion of diversity in curriculum, faculty hiring and student recruitment, and promoted international engagement among faculty and students. At Syracuse, Brown also taught broadcast reporting, newscast production and performance, mass media ethics, and media and diversity.

He has been active nationally in issues of journalism and mass communications education.  He is a member of the Hearst Journalism Awards Steering Committee. He has served as head of the Electronic News Division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.  He’s also a former member of the Accrediting Council for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, and has taken part in accreditation site visits at JMC programs all over the country. Brown is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, and the Broadcast Education Association.

Brown has more than 15 years experience in reporting, producing and anchoring, for commercial local television news and in public television.  His experience ranges from political and state government reporting to producing public affairs documentaries.

Brown is a native of Omaha, Nebraska, and has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He and his wife, Nicci, have two children, Maddi and Haley. In addition, Brown has a daughter, Sacheen Winston, who lives in Seattle with her daughter, Olukumi Ashe’.


Dr. Chris Busey

Dr. Christopher L. Busey is an associate professor in the Teachers, Schools, and Society program in the School of Teaching and Learning at the University of Florida where he primarily teaches courses for the Critical Studies in Race, Ethnicity, and Culture specialization. He is also affiliate faculty for the Center for Latin American Studies and the African American Studies program. Dr. Busey’s transdisciplinary research agenda draws from multiple strands of Black thought such as African Diaspora theory, AfroLatinx/American studies, transnational Black feminism, and decolonial studies. More recently, Dr. Busey’s research examines Afro-Latinx/Afro-Latin American history and citizenship education, intersections of African-American and Afro-Latin American racial thought, and the racial politics of education for Afro-descendants across the Americas.

Dr. Ana Maria Porras

Dr. Porras is a biomedical engineer with experience in both tissue engineering and the human gut microbiome. Leveraging her unique training, she is developing biomaterials-based models of disease to study how beneficial and pathogenic microorganisms regulate human health. She is also passionate about implementing inclusive strategies to train and support the next generation of STEM professionals. Originally from Colombia, she is passionate about multicultural and multilingual communication in both formal and informal settings. She is an advocate and active participant in organizations and communities that foster diversity in STEM!

Dr. Cecilia “CC” Suarez

Dr. Suarez's areas of expertise focus on diversity and inclusion, social justice, leadership development, and intercultural communication. Currently the Assistant Professor of Leadership and Intercultural Communication, Dr. Suarez focuses her courses on identity development, ethics, social justice, access and equity, as it relates to leadership, and has also given a TED talk on self-worth and internal validation. She is also committed to providing developmental opportunities around these topics to the greater community and has served as a keynote speaker at various universities across the country as well as provided workshops to companies such as AllState.

Dr. Kendall Parker

Dr. Parker is a recent graduate of the University of Florida where she studied mechanical engineering with a specialization in control systems. Her research assessed power grid reliability and consumer data privacy. Dr. Parker navigated the job market in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and she is currently an ORISE fellow at the US Department of Energy (DOE). Her knowledge areas span time series analysis, signal processing, probability, control systems, and differential privacy. She is passionate about using her technical skills to enhance the affordability, accessibility, and reliability of clean energy for everyone.

Session A Poster Abstracts

 1.) “Get With the Action: Reclaiming togetherness through intersectional and trauma-informed pedagogical approaches to community art education” Kristyn Lopez

The purpose of my research is the development of an equitable model of community art education centered in a trauma informed, intersectional, and liberationist pedagogy. Examining the work of activist art educators such as Corita Kent provides a framework for art as both a social and interfaith practice, and an actionable pedagogy that will guide the trajectory of this research. This inquiry seeks evidence and rationale for recontextualization of the supportive, community building structures inherent in faith-based and other traditional social spheres, and examine related concurrence between social, faith and artistic praxis. The significance of this research is reflected in the increasing polarization of religious, political, gender and sexual identities for American youth, while they experience a simultaneous decline in engagement with and access to supportive, validating interactions within their communities. The establishment of an informal yet critically engaged art making practice around a shared project or goal will facilitate skills-based and emotional learning goals that participants may activate socially, politically, and practically by participants, and theoretically provide a framework for "togetherness" and reclamation of unified community identity. As a university town - and society at large - experiencing rapid growth and civic unrest, the implications of equitable access to educational and socio-cultural opportunities must be examined critically, and the goal of this research is to demonstrate the validity of art as social practice in building a safe space for all stakeholders to engage in such discourse.

2.) "Forbidden fire and the role of collective action in fire management in the Peruvian Andes" Vanessa Luna-Celino, Bette Loiselle, Karen Kainer, & Catherine Tucker

The need for agricultural expansion has increased fire use throughout the tropics. Even though the Tropical Andes has a long history of anthropogenic fires shaping the natural landscape, fire use here has also increased, aggravating local people’s vulnerability to the changing climate. Little is known regarding the local rules for fire management in this region and how these rules are adapted to fit changing socioenvironmental contexts. This is especially important for Quechua communities which have long-term local institutions for the governance of shared resources in a good portion of the Tropical Andes. Considering fire as both an agricultural tool and a problem -when uncontrolled-, this preliminary doctoral research studies community-based fire management and evaluates how it fits Ostrom’s (1990) design principles for self-governing institutions. I also document the role of external institutions (multi-level government, protected areas officials, conservationist NGOs) on fire control and prevention on communal lands. I use participant observation of agricultural burns and community meetings, key informant interviews, and secondary data revision in at least three Quechua communities in Southern Peru.

3.) We Need To Talk’: The Mental Health Consequences of Conversations About Race and Racism for Black Adults.” Sierra Plotne

Due to ongoing cases of police brutality and other forms of anti-Black racism, the importance of discussing racial matters, or having “the talk,” with children is increasing for Black parents. This ritualized form of racial socialization is often used by Black parents to prepare children for experiences of racism, prejudice, and violence. Anticipating anti-Black violence, Black parents may fear for their children’s well-being; discussing race may cause trauma for Black parents who encounter racism in their own lives. Therefore, these conversations are likely a stressful activity for Black parents. Despite this possibility, scholars have yet to empirically explore associations between this activity and the mental health outcomes of Black parents. The differential social experiences with racism and disadvantage suggest mental health consequences of racial conversations may vary by gender. Guided by stress and intersectionality frameworks, this study explores how (1) exposure to racial conversations via their parents growing up, and (2) engaging in or anticipating racial discussions with their own children, influences depressive symptoms and lifetime major depressive episodes (MDE) among a national sample of Black adults. Using merged data from the National Survey of American Life (NSAL), I hypothesize higher frequencies of both types of racial socialization will increase the odds of both mental health outcomes. Also consistent with intersectionality theory, I expect that these relationships will differ between Black men and women. I expect these findings will highlight how “the talk” may function as a race-related and anticipatory stressor harming mental health. Limitations and directions for future research are discussed.

4.) “Teacher Renewal Through Play in the High School English Classroom” Shelby Boehm

The teaching profession has entered a new era of low morale. Legislation targeting the autonomy of teachers, strikes in response to working conditions, and the global COVID-19 pandemic surfacing longstanding educational equity concerns are just a few of the myriad concerns of today’s teachers. Recognizing the many challenges that impact the daily work of contemporary teaching, an education researcher and high school teacher collaborate to define “play” in the high school English language arts (ELA) classroom and imagine the possibilities for playful pedagogy as a renewing practice for educators. Despite research that suggests the power of play for overall learning and well-being, there is limited empirical research that has taken up play in high school ELA classrooms. Even then, the focus is often on the benefits of play for students rather than teachers. This single instrumental case study examined the pedagogy of one high school English teacher and asked the following research questions: (1) What does play look and feel like in the high school ELA classroom? (2) In what ways does play in curriculum and instruction shape a teacher’s experience? Data collected focused on the teacher, and include classroom observations, semi-structured interviews, and curriculum artifacts. These data were analyzed using the constant comparative method and trustworthiness was established through triangulating data and member checking with the teacher participant. The analysis revealed three examples of play—momentum, choice, and community—in the high school ELA classroom. The author, in collaboration with the teacher, also provides how a playful approach to pedagogy served as a form of renewal during a high stress year. These findings provide insight that can inform approaches to teacher renewal, where play exists as a form of resistance to the status quo of education and a reorientation to the parts of teaching that feel impactful and joyful.

5.) “A Price for Maintaining Freedom: The Effects of Colorism on Mental Health in a Military Context” Dominique Fairley

The purpose of the quantitative study is to evaluate the effects of colorism on individuals’ mental health outcomes, within the institution of the United States military. Military, mental health, and socio-demographic variables are utilized from Waves III and IV of The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health). Descriptive statistics and multivariate logistic regressions were completed using Stata version 16.0 (StataCorp LP, College Station, TX) to assess the association between military affiliation, color, and mental health outcomes, with adjustment for control variables. The results indicate that the United States Military may not be the model for race relations that it is often presented as. This, and the workplace culture have a bearing on the mental health of the individuals who dedicate time in their lives to defending the country, but at what cost? The combined effects of this environment and being a person of color can lead to worse mental health outcomes that contribute to the nearly doubled suicide rates among this population.

6.) “Perceptions of Initiating a Weight Management Treatment among Latino Immigrants” Montserrat Carrera-Seoane & Megan A. McVay

Purpose: Obesity affects 35% of Latinos in the US. Culturally adapted interventions for weight loss have shown potential for improvements in outcomes. However, little is known about preferences for culturally adapted interventions among Latino immigrants. Therefore, we aimed to describe Latino immigrants’ perceptions of weight management programs, including cultural adapted strategies.

Methods: This was a bilingual (English and Spanish) cross-sectional online survey. We recruited participants through Qualtrics panel and in the community. Participants were included if they were adults with BMI≥25 kg/m2 that self-identify as Latinos or Hispanic, foreign born, and had an email account. Participants were presented with a description of a weight loss program that was culturally adapted and an un-adapted program, and indicated their willingness to enroll in each program. They also indicated their preference for a variety of weight management program features.

Results: We recruited 54 Latinos participants. More than half were female (51.9%) and aged 51 years or older (56.0%). They had a mean BMI of 29.6+3.7 kg/m2. Most participants were US citizens (87.0%); arrived in the US ≥10 years ago (81.7%); held a college degree or higher (55.0%). There was no difference in willingness to enroll in a weight loss program based on it being culturally adapted (46.3%) or not (48.1%), X2(df=1, N=108) = 0.073, p-value = 0.787. However, most participants (68.5%) preferred a culturally adapted intervention. Additionally, most participants preferred an intervention that was weight loss (61.1%) versus weight gain prevention focused; delivered in English (55.6%); and delivered via m-Health (79.7%) versus in-person.

Conclusions: Among this sample of Latino immigrants who were predominantly highly educated and had been in the US for 10 years, there was a preference for culturally adapted interventions, though participants were similarly willing to engage in non-adapted interventions. More research is needed among a representative US Latino immigrant population.

7.) “Associations between Family Risk and Protective Factors and Adolescent Substance Use Across the Rural-Urban Continuum: A Person-/Variable-Centered Approach” Melissa Fenton, Larry Forthun, & Nicolette Corley

Adolescent substance use behaviors are influenced by their families and geographic location; however, few studies have evaluated these contextual influences together. To address this gap, a person-/variable-centered approach was used to: (1) identify latent profiles of family risk and protective factors, (2) test profile membership as a predictor of current and past substance use, and (3) test geographic location both as a predictor of substance use and moderator of the relationship between family profile and substance use.

Participants included 9,104 adolescents (53% female, 43% White, 38% Spanish/Hispanic/Latinx, and 21% Black) from Florida. Adolescents self-reported family risk and protective factors and current and lifetime substance use in a survey adapted from the Communities that Care Survey (Arthur et al., 2002). Geographic location was organized into four categories using National Center of Education Statistics (NCES) locale codes (Geverdt, 2015). A latent profile analysis (LPA) was conducted using Mplus v8 (Muthén & Muthén, 2017). Profile membership was used as an independent variable sin a set of hierarchical logistic regressions conducted to analyze the association between covariates, profiles, and geographic location on each of the substance use outcomes using IBM SPSS Statistics 27.

Four family risk and protective factor profiles emerged: prosocial family management, permissive family management, uninvolved family management, and high family conflict. Youth in the prosocial family management profile (highest protection and lowest risk) reported the lowest odds of current and lifetime substance use. Youth within other profile combinations with higher levels of risk factors were more likely to use certain substances. Youth in towns reported higher odds of alcohol and illegal drug use while youth living in rural areas reported higher odds of lifetime prescription drug use. Results suggest that all types of communities should have access to evidence-based parent-based prevention activities to promote protection and reduce risk among adolescents.

8.) "Exploring evacuation patterns during Hurricane Irma: the differences between residents and tourists” Yuting An & Andrei Kirilenko

Hurricanes have negatively affected individuals’ ways of living in influenced areas. Relative to residents, tourists are more vulnerable and have higher perceived risks when a major hurricane makes a landfall. Previous studies have mainly focused on tourists’ and residents’ evacuation decision-making processes while few studies have examined the real-time evacuation behavior. Therefore, the purpose of the study is to determine residents’ and tourists’ evacuation behavior using social media digital traces by using Hurricane Irma as a case study. For instance, we found Twitter users posted 1.8 tweets related to Hurricane Irma prior, during and after the emergency situation. Compared to tourists, Florida residents were more likely to share their real-time evacuation behavior on Twitter. The study will determine key evacuation spots, their utilization during the emergency, and evacuees’ experience.

9.) “Illuminating Western Epistemologies in the Omani TEFL Teacher Education via Decolonial Turn” Ahmed Al Mata'ni

Decolonial turn (DT) has received growing attention among scholars to recognize the importance of revealing invisible power, not military but intellectual, that establishes and maintain asymmetrical power relations between the Global North and the Global South. Thus, DT serves as a counternarrative to Northern assumptions of the universal and validates non-Western sources of knowing. Due to the emergence of DT in South America, much attention has rightfully been focused there with a growing recent interest in South Africa, India, Japan, Korea, and Chine. However, there has been, regrettably, an absence of attempts to focus on the Arab Gulf countries including Oman. Informed by DT, Knowledge Transfer and Adler’s Coping Styles, this study, hence, attempts to 1) address this gap, 2) investigate how Omani TEFL teacher educators educated in the West adopt, resist, and negotiate Western epistemes in their context and 3) explore what facilitates or hinders these processes. Drawing upon empirical data from in-depth interviews, documents analysis and using critical thematic analysis as an analytical lens, the findings show examples of (1) reinforcing the hegemony of Western epistemologies in the Omani TEFL teacher education (e.g., a] extensive reliance on Western expertise, b] emphasis on Western teaching methodologies and c] the use of Western teaching materials like exams and textbooks and d] seeking Western recognition (via international accreditation and affiliation), (2) holding a special fascination for the West among Omani TEFL teacher educators, resulting in a semi-negative view about non-western education. I argue that gained benefits from the West by these Omani teacher educators should be implemented to serve the uniqueness of Oman’s needs. This study provides practical implications for Omani TEFL teacher educators, Omani decision makers and Western institutions. Furthermore, it hopes to contribute to the scholarly discussion on the importance of DT in dismantling the Western hegemony in knowledge production especially in this overlooked part of the world.

10.) “Social Movements and Social Media: Topic Modeling of 2013 the Gezi Movement in Turkey Using Twitter Data” Muharrem (Mu) Bagriyanik

This paper analyzes how Gezi protesters mobilized against the government's decision and what topics were generally used during the Gezi protests between 28 May 2013 and 20 August 2013. Using Twitter API, I collected 4,904,715 tweets posted during the demonstrations with the two most used hashtags : #direngeziparki and #occupygezi. This paper aims to analyze what kind of *frames* were used during the protest and whether frames used by protesters changed each week or not as the time of demonstrations extended. The literature on social movement framing comprises how frames shape and promote social movement coordination among protesters. This paper aims to explore how society is shaped by and interacts with frames offered by social movements at a broader spectrum by analyzing a Turkish case study. I argue that activists share their content with others and create and represent their collective action on social media by using special symbols, indexes, flags, hashtags (#), or labels. Hashtags and other labels are used by activists to distribute their framing. In my paper, using NLP, I will illustrate how distributed framing works by analyzing 4,904,715 during the Gezi movement in 2013 and how dynamically frames of the movement changed.

11.) “Evidence of potential bias in the Emotional Face Expression Task: Behavioral & Electrophysiological Findings Christian C. Garcia, Andrew J. Moore, Will Rose, Ben Lewis, & Sara Jo Nixon

Background: Although emotional-facial-expression (EFE) processing decrements are observed under conditions of racial incongruity among community samples, alcohol use disorder (AUD) associated vulnerability remains uninvestigated. Our recent work suggests characterizations of AUD-related “deficits” on EFE tasks may be biased by failure to include racially/ethnic diverse faces. Here, we report behavioral and electrophysiological results examining potential interactions between in/out-group race effects and AUD.

Methods: Community-controls (CCs; 55/12 Black) and individuals with AUD (46/9 Black) completed an EFE task. Stimuli were emotional faces from the POFAS, which includes only White posers. In/out-group designation was dependent on participant self-reported race. Repeated measures mixed-model analyses were conducted, with race, group, and their interaction as fixed-effects. An efficiency ratio (accuracy/correct-RT) was our dependent measure. Then, utilizing components sensitive to face and in/out-group processing analyses were conducted on N170 and P2 mean amplitudes on a matched sample (CCs & AUD; 16/8 Black).

Results: Results showed greater efficiency among White participants (p=.007) than Black, but no main effect of AUD (p=.29). A significant interaction was detected (p=.01), wherein lower efficiency in the Black AUD group was noted relative to healthy Black CCs (p=.03) or White individuals with AUD (p=.0006). There were no differences between White controls and White participants with AUD (p=.07) or White and Black CCs (p=.94). Differences were also observed for N170 and P2 amplitudes. White individuals had larger N170 and P2 amplitudes than Black participants (p’s<.01). No main effect of AUD on N170 or P2 (p’s>.27) or interaction detected (p’s>.28).

Conclusion: Preliminary results here do not reflect race-related decrements. Instead, they provide provocative evidence regarding a need for greater systematic attention to stimulus diversity and sensitivity to respondent demographics. As racial/ethnic minority representation increases in the US, the utilization of diverse stimuli sets in assessments of emotion-processing abilities remains essential to clinical and community samples.

12.) “Interactive effects of sensory modalities on postural stability in individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD)” Desirae J. Shirley, B.S., Robin L. Shafer, Ph.D., Walker S. McKinney, M.A., Bikram Kamakar, Ph.D., Matthew W. Mosconi, Ph.D., & Zheng Wang, Ph.D.

Sensorimotor impairments are prevalent in autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Previous studies have documented increased postural sway in ASD when visual information is occluded, or proprioceptive illusion is introduced. Our study aimed to evaluate the interactive effect of both visual and proprioceptive inputs on postural stability and complexity in individuals with ASD. Forty-three individuals with ASD and 24 controls completed static stances on a force platform. Lightweight tendon vibrators (TVs) were attached to each of participants’ Achilles tendons. They vibrated at a high frequency when turned on, creating a transient proprioceptive illusion of lengthening of the tendons. Participants completed four task conditions: TVs turned on or off (TVon vs. TVoff) and with or without lights (LTon vs. LToff) in the room. Postural sway variability was quantified using the center of pressure (COP) trajectory length and standard deviation in the anterior-posterior (COPAP) and mediolateral (COPML) directions. Postural sway complexity was quantified using detrended fluctuation analysis (DFA) of each COP time series. Individuals with ASD showed increased COP length and COP standard deviation relative to controls across all conditions. Female individuals with ASD showed reduced COP length and COPML standard deviation relative to male patients, but this sex difference was not identified in controls. COP length and COPAP standard deviation increased, while DFA in both directions decreased significantly in TDs during TVon conditions. DFA in the ML direction increased in TDs during LTon trials relative to LToff stances. Our findings suggest that alterations of visual and proprioceptive sensory inputs did not disrupt postural stability in ASD. Our study is the first to identify sex differences during postural stances involving multiple sensory interferences in ASD suggesting studies investigating ASD-specific sex differences in sensorimotor functioning are needed to clarify key neurodevelopmental processes that may vary across male and female patients.

13.) “Access to green spaces and community resilience during COVID-19” Seungji Lee & Jinwon Kim

Many people around the world are suffering from mental and physical depression due to COVID-19. Prior research has emphasized the importance of physical activity to mitigate the negative effects caused by COVID-19. Access to green spaces for physical activities is crucial for enhancing mental and physical health, which leads to healthier communities. Despite the importance of access to green space during COVID-19, based on our knowledge, no study has conducted to measure the impact of access to green spaces on community resilience during COVID-19 pandemic. The purpose of this study is to measure the impact of access to green spaces such as local parks and beaches on community resilience. We will collect data through a survey designing the residents in Saint Augustine as the participants, by measuring the resilience of residents’ health in the accessibility of park and beach, when they closed due to the COVID-19 and reopened. We expect the result that not only the closer to the beach and park from the residents the less mental and physical stress caused by COVID-19, but also increased local commerce. Through the results, we will see the difference in resilience effect for the two types of health, depending on the destination. The accessibility of beach is expected to have higher resilience in terms of mental health than park, according to the liminality theory which totally different environment where you were makes people feel more escape, expectation and free, as well as having higher resilience for local commerce with higher consumption propensity compared to park. While park is more effective in terms of physical health with the visit purpose of physical activity and rates of activity facilities. We predict both of residents’ health and the local commerce will recover with better accessibility of beaches and parks. These findings can help health and community policymakers develop beaches and parks by considering accessibility.

14.) “Fe-modified biochar enhances microbial nitrogen removal capability of constructed wetland” Yicheng Yang

To improve the nitrogen removal capability of constructed wetlands, the biochar, produced from bamboo, activated with HCl and coated with Fe (FeCl3·6H2O), and then was added as a substrate into the systems. Three horizontal subsurface flow constructed wetlands (HSCWs) were established to treat the tailwater from the wastewater treatment plant: C-HSCW(quartz sand+soil), B-HSCW(quartz sand+soil+unmodified biochar), and FeB-HSCW(quartz sand+soil+Fe-modified biochar). Under different combinations of hydraulic retention time and nitrogen loading, the FeB-HSCW revealed extremely effective nitrogen removal. The highest removal efficiencies of NO3−-N (95.30%), Total N (86.68%), NH4+-N (86.33%), NO2−- N (79.35%) were obtained in FeB-HSCW with the hydraulic retention time of 96 h. and low influent nitrogen loading. Nitrogen mass balance analysis showed that microbial processes played the most important role in nitrogen removal in HSCWs and the Fe-modified biochar significantly enhanced the microbial nitrogen removal. The contributions of microorganisms, substrate storage and plant uptake on the total amount of nitrogen removal in the FeB-HSCW were 92.69%, 2.97% and 4.34%, respectively. Moreover, FeB significantly increased the abundances of genes involved in nitrogen removal. Thus, Fe-modified biochar provides a feasible and effective amendment for constructed wetlands to improve nitrogen removal, particularly nitrate-N, for low C/N wastewaters by enhancing the microbial nitrogen removal capacity.

15.) “How far has the US population traveled during the pandemic and post-pandemic era?” Kanglin (Connie) Chen

In 2020, the outbreak of COVID-19 suddenly occurred, and people’s travel behavior was drastically reshaped almost immediately. Though the changes in public travel behavior have attracted researchers’ attention, only a few studies investigate the changes in trips by distance. Moreover, most studies use the early months of 2020 as baselines. This excludes the travel disparities among different periods.

This research unveils the percentage changes of the number of trips of ten distances from less than one mile to over 500 miles. We compare the daily travel data from mobile devices of the entire US population of 2020 and 2021 to that of 2019. Specifically, this research investigates three periods since the start of the pandemic: an Immediate Response Period between mid-March to mid-to-late May, a Significant Restriction Period from mid-March to the end of 2020, as well as a following stable period from mid-March to mid-September in 2021. We ask three research questions: 1) Which distances of trips have been affected? 2) How do those trips evolve over time? And 3) What are the geospatial patterns of those trips?

COVID-19 results in an approximate 30% trip decrease in 2020 and a 7% decrease in 2021. People travel less throughout the country except for those in the Middle regions. There is a 15% increase in 2021 of people staying at home, mainly in the South. Short (1-50 miles) and long (over 500 miles) trips decrease due to COVID-19; comparably, a new demand emerges for medium-distance trips (50-500 miles) quickly and continues in 2021 throughout the country. This finding indicates people’s fear of COVID-19 suppresses travel. Based on people’s voluntary restriction behavior in states without the Staying-at-Home order, as well as the orders’ issuance time and lasting time, the order does not exert a significant impact on public travel.

16. ) “eSports Participants’ Leisure Constraints Negotiation Framework” Innhoo Baek

As interests in indoor leisure activities increase due to Covid-19 pandemic, online game culture and industry are being formed largely among young people. As a part of online games, eSports is experiencing a huge influx of capital and development of the industry. Despite the importance of eSport as an alternative indoor leisure activity, however, relatively few studies have been conducted to examine the psychological aspects of people participating in or watching e-sports activities. This study addressed this limitation by investigating the effect of eSports participants’ constraints and motivations on constraints negotiation and participation through the leisure constraint negotiation model. To achieve the purpose, the Constraints-Effect-Mitigation model, one of the four constraints negotiation models proposed by Hubbard & Mannell (2001), was applied to eSport. Specifically, exploratory factor analysis and multiple regression analysis were employed to examine the influence relationship among the factors of participation motivation, participation constraint, constraint negotiation, and participation. The results indicated that interpersonal and structural constraints were found to have a positive effect on participation, and it was derived that interpersonal motivation had a negative effect on interpersonal negotiation. These findings are partially different from those of previous studies on the leisure constraint negotiation process that applied outdoor leisure activities. These results are due to the nature of online games that have different characteristics from other outdoor leisure activities. The findings of this study can contribute to the continuous development of online game culture and industry and suggested the direction of online game leisure culture based on the behavior patterns of participants.

Session A Oral Abstracts

1.) “Fulani insecurity in Mali since the 2012 civil war: Networks, civilian violence, and spatial trends” Matthew Pflaum

Pastoralists are significant populations in the Sahel region of North and West Africa. Despite scholarship predicting the disappearance of pastoralists in the region due to external pressures (climate change, politics, ethnic tension, conflict, economics), instead pastoralists are adapting and shifting their livelihoods. Pastoralists are known to be pivotal in establishing security and stability in the region, due both to their large population and also their spatial positions in borderlands, transnational ties, and residence in key peripheral and insecure regions like Mopti, Communal Belt, northern Burkina Faso, Niger, Chad, and others. Despite important scholarship on pastoralists in relation to insecurity and conflicts, certain dimensions remain neglected. Regional social and spatial network analyses have been severely neglected for pastoralist actors, likely due to difficulties in identifying actors and gathering actor data. This study leverages ACLED data and identification of pastoralist actors in previous research ( to analyze violent pastoralist networks in the region, focusing on ties, alliances, rivalries, centrality, density, brokers, and other key network metrics. This research will help to clarify how pastoralists have adapted to insecurity in the region and also how marginalized groups like pastoralists cultivate network ties to adapt toward insecurity. Although marginalized groups would be expected to have low network centrality and density, this study instead proposes that pastoralists are highly volatile and adaptive in terms of network relations, constantly shifting ties to prevent violence against them.

2.) “Amateur Minstrel Shows and Blackface Amusements at the University of Florida in the Jim Crow Era” Myles Sullivan

Blackface minstrel shows, starting with its earliest practitioners like T.D Rice and his song “Jump Jim Crow,” enjoyed widespread popularity in the United States beginning in the early 1800s. By the turn of the century, however, such racialized performances of comedy and music appeared to be on the decline with many professional troupes going bust. Yet, amateur blackface became a common form of community theater hosted by various social clubs despite being largely understudied by historians. In the 1910s, the University of Florida displayed its student talent behind the “burnt-cork” mask as the “Greater Florida Minstrels” across the state as a fundraiser for their athletic programs. These minstrel shows were not simply reenacted performances of antebellum minstrelsy, but modernized entertainments with contemporary music and staging. Examining details of these shows from student newspaper articles reveals how race concepts were performed, enacted, and consumed by local actors. Significantly, such minstrelsy offered agency to local whites in creating and performing their own notions of race, both what it meant to be “white” and “black” in Jim Crow Florida. Framing race as entertainment through such amateur performances created common elements of “spectacle” found in other locally organized acts of race, most notably in the horrors of lynching prevalent in early 20th century Florida.

3.) “The Rise of Decline: Narrative Historiography, Historical Perceptions of Time, and Reactionary Narratives” Graham Gallagher

While scholars of ‘reactionary’ political thought broadly agree that “reaction” is fundamentally modern, there is little agreement as to why. What qualities link reaction with modernity, and what factors led to its emergence between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries? Attempts to answer this question have looked for shared content across different reactionary movements, like a shared conception of the normative purpose of political power (Berlin, 2013), a supposed origin as a second-order response to reform movements (Robin, 2016; Hirschman, 1992), or its affective and militant relationship to nostalgia (Lilla, 2016). While these elements are important to understanding the impact and form of particular reactionary movements, they do not explain the causes or historical origins of the phenomena of reaction itself. This paper argues that the conditions which made it possible to ‘think’ the reactionary conception of politics and history relate not to its content but to its form: its conceptualization of chronicity and narrative mode of communicating and explicating history. Proceeding from Lilla’s (2016) definition of political reaction as a shared historical narrative of community decline resulting in either catastrophe or renewal, this paper holds that there two elements necessary in the conceptualization and communication of such a narrative. This definition of reaction requires, first, unilinear (Nisbet, 2009) and homogenous empty time (Benjamin, 2016) – most especially its elements of an unrecoverable past (Boym, 2001), temporal simultaneity (Anderson, 2016), and a presentist meaning-making. It, second, requires the dominance of narrative historiography (White, 1987) – due to its reliance upon the sequencing of history events into a coherent story-structure and a moralizing drawn from inferred historical causality. This paper attempts to historicize both elements to give a narratological account of the emergence of the decline story, and thereby, political reaction.

4.) “Maya Revitalization Narratives in the Context of Intercultural Bilingual Education among Professional Maya Language Teachers in Yucatan, Mexico” Felipe Acosta-Munoz

The objective of this paper is to understand the language ideologies contained in the narratives of three Maya language teachers regarding the importance of intercultural bilingual education (IBE) in Yucatan, Mexico and how these, from the narratives of their interlocutors, influence the improvement of IBE, as part of the Maya language revitalization movement in Yucatan. In order to achieve this objective, I elicit and analyze the main obstacles for bilingual education for Maya in Yucatan that participants identify, as they construct language ideologies around these. I also analyze participants’ ideal of an improved IBE for the strengthening of ongoing Maya-language revitalization efforts as expressed in their narratives. The analyzed narratives are part of a larger ethnographic data corpus that I collected in Yucatan, Mexico through formal semi-structured interviewing in the summer of 2018. In the paper, I use Language Ideological Clarification and Critical Discourse Analysis as the theoretical frameworks to dissect and analyze the presented data. Throughout the narratives, I analyze issues of linguistic and ethnic discrimination and instances of language empowerment and self-determination, which constitute forms of both negative and positive language ideologies that play a role in the construction of these narratives around the importance of IBE by the interlocutors. Overall, participants have a positive view on the role and importance of bilingual education for both Maya and non-Maya-speaking students in Yucatan at every level of education and argue for a more permanent implementation of it for Maya in the school systems at every level.

5.) “Consumer Preferences for Healthy Snacking in the United States” Glory Okpiaifo, Bertille Dormoy, Zhifeng Gao, & Bachir Kassas

Unhealthy snacks tend to be salty, sweet, providing high energy while being nutrient-poor, and they have been associated with many health problems. This public health concern has prompted efforts from governments and organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) to provide dietary recommendations to steer people’s eating habits towards more healthy eating. One such recommendation advises limiting unhealthy snack intake and replacing instead with more vegetables and fruits, as these have been associated with positive well-being. This study sets out to investigate US consumers' preferences for healthy (vegetable-based) snacks/beverage. An online survey was conducted which collected data about general food and snacks consumption characteristics, perceptions of healthy snacks, valuation of healthy snacks and beverage, psychological/behavioral characteristics, and demographics. A payment card contingent valuation approach was used to elicit willingness to pay over 3 hypothetical healthy products – crackers, spread and drink. Preliminary results thus far show positive association between factors such as psychological factors, health consciousness, etc., and valuation of healthy snacks/drinks. Further expected results will show how preferences differ between various consumer sub-groups. The results from this study will provide vital information to policymakers and inform marketing campaigns of healthy snacks/drinks in the United States.

6.) “Electrochemical Method for Rapid SARS-CoV-2 Diagnosis Using Disposable Strips and a Metal-oxide-semiconductor Field-effect Transistor Platform” Chan-Wen Chiu

SARS-CoV-2 has brought significant impacts to the world, increasing the urgent need for tests that are fast, cost-effective and have a low limit of detection. Currently, the most common point-of-care detection methods are polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and lateral flow tests. PCR has a low limit of detection, but it takes more than an hour to obtain the results. Lateral flow tests can verify positive samples within few minutes; however, they have trouble detecting samples with low virus concentrations. In our work, inactivated SARS-CoV-2 virus standards and clinical human saliva samples were tested using disposable glucose strips which were functionalized to immobilize monoclonal and polyclonal antibodies on the gold film of the strips. While testing, strips were connected to the gate electrode of the metal-oxide-semiconductor field-effect transistor (MOSFET) on the printed circuit board that serves to amplify signals. A synchronous double-pulsed bias voltage was sent to the drain of the transistor and strips. The resulting change in drain waveforms was converted to digital readings which correlate to the concentration of inactivated virus standards from 100 PFU/ml to 2500 PFU/ml. Positive human samples were able to be differentiated from negative human samples due to the difference in digital readings. This result demonstrates the potential of electrochemical biosensors to be further developed into a cost-effective, point-of-care, and portable rapid detection method for SARS-CoV-2.

Session B Poster Abstracts

1.) “Short Wavelength UV LED Lens System to Attenuate Noise in LISA” Marilyn Braojos

In 2015, high-frequency gravitational waves (GWs) were first detected by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO). To overcome the limited frequency range of LIGO, 10 Hz to 10 kHz, the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) mission aims to detect fainter GWs at lower frequencies, 0.1 mHz to 1 Hz. To achieve needed measurement sensitivity, three drag-free spacecraft in equilateral triangular formation 2.5 Gm apart will be orbiting the sun. The motion within each spacecraft will be monitored using a gravitational reference sensor (GRS), with a free-falling test mass (TM) in a stationary electrode housing. Built-up charges on the TM from radiation in space could lead to incorrect GRS measurements. The charge management system (CMS) aims to attenuate the unwanted charge on the TM via the photoelectric effect by migrating electrons on the gold-coated surface of the TM and electrode housing in the desired direction, with the potential to use surface-mount (SM) UV LEDs, as opposed to conventional ball lens UV LEDs. A convex lens system will be designed to fiber-couple the UV LEDs in a flight-ready package. The baseline emission measurement of the short wavelength SM UV LEDs is 79.7μW at 50% duty cycle. Surface mount UV LEDs are smaller and easier to interface with electronics, and their shorter peak wavelength, 235 nm, causes the UV photons to have more energy making the CMS more robust to pollution on the gold-coated surfaces. Incorporating SM UV LEDs for LISA can be generalized to future space missions requiring discharging technology.

2.) “Computationally-Designed ACE2 SBP1 Mutants That Inhibit ACE2 Binding To SARS-Cov-2 Spike RBD” Stephanie Herrera

"The SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus is a rapidly growing global health crisis. SARS-CoV2 enters human cells with its Receptor Binding Domain (RBD) on the spike protein (S) binding to angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2).  Entry of SARS-CoV-2 into host cells depends on its spike (S) viral protein, which can recognize and bind to angiotensin-converting enzyme II (ACE2) and subsequently initiate membrane fusion between the virus and the host cells. In this work, we present a strategy to design SBP1 mutant peptides capable of binding to SARS-CoV-2 RBD and inhibiting interactions between SARS-CoV-2 RBD and ACE2. 

We designed a series of peptides based on a 23-mer peptide, termed SBP1, that is derived from the ACE2 Peptidase Domain 𝛼1 helix. Atomistic molecular dynamics simulations identified candidate PX peptides based on the free energy of their interaction with SARS-CoV-2 RBD. Simulations were used to design SBP1 mutant peptides that bind to RBD with a lower free energy than SBP1. In vitro testing shows that our designed SBP1 mutants are able to bind RBD and inhibit ACE2-RBD binding with inhibitory concentrations in the micromolar range. Experimentally, P4, P5, and P10 peptides bound SARS-CoV-2 RBD with micromolar dissociation constants and could inhibit RBD:ACE2 interactions at concentrations above 10 uM. 

3.) “Distraction and student safety: college pedestrians’ walking strategies altered when interacting with smartphones” Yue Luo

Background: Smartphone ubiquity has boosted phone use while walking along the street, making phone dependency a serious concern for pedestrian safety, especially for college pedestrians. However, the risks when interacting with a smartphone during walking were still underestimated, probably because people are unsure how their walking strategies alter while they are using their phones in public. Therefore, the purpose of the study was to explore how three typical phone activities (i.e., reading, texting, and gaming) affected college pedestrians’ walking strategies during outdoor walking.

Methods: Eight college students were recruited. Participants, with 17 inertial sensors attached, were instructed to complete four walking conditions (WO: Walking Only, WR: Walking-Reading, WT: Walking-Texting, and WG: Walking-Gaming). Reading refers to a paragraph reading. Texting refers to numerical texting. Gaming refers to a number matching game to find numbers equal to two switches before in a sequence of changing numbers. Five gait parameters (gait speed, cadence, stride length, width, and time) and six posture parameters (mean sagittal plane flexion angles of C7/T1, T12/L1, L5/S1, right hip, knee, and ankle) were selected to characterize walking strategy changes. 

Results: In terms of gait adaptation, WR, WT, and WG tended to have decreased gait speed, slow-er cadence, reduced step length, and longer stride time, compared with WO (p < 0.001). In terms of posture changes, WR, WT, and WG increased flexion angles of C7/T1 (p < 0.001) and knee (p = 0.002), whereas reduced flexion angles of T12/L1 (p < 0.001) , L5/S1 (p < 0.001), and hip (p < 0.001). Posture changes during WT and WG were observed to be more obvious compared to WR.

Conclusions: Findings confirmed our hypothesis that phone activities lead to gait and posture changes. To decrease the occurrence of phone-engaged pedestrian injuries, levels of phone engagement in public environments need to be regulated.

4. )“High-throughput discovery of selective nanobodies that modulate SARS-CoV-2 protease” Samantha Martinusen

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to pose severe challenges to global public health. Although vaccines are currently available, the continuous emergence of SARS-CoV-2 variants will undoubtedly dampen vaccine efficacy. Therefore, developing effective antiviral drugs remains a priority. Two key targets for drug development are the viral protein main proteases of SARS-CoV2 which play central roles in replication by cleaving precursor polyproteins in functional viral proteins. Thus, selective inhibition of these proteases could lead to the development of effective therapeutics. Current inhibitors typically target the enzymes’ active site which present a heightened risk for off-target toxicity. Furthermore, it remains challenging to discover allosteric sites and exosites and to design ligands that bind to these sites and elicit a specific function. 

Here, we present a yeast-based platform that selects protease modulators based on how they alter protease activity rather than their binding capabilities, affording a clear advantage over existing technologies. This platform allows one to (1) modulate the activity of an exogenous protease using protein-based binders, (2) select protease modulators from large ligand libraries in a high-throughput fashion, (3) relate modulation phenotypes directly to ligand properties, and (4) map Nb binding epitopes to infer their mechanism of action. In our platform, we co-express a target protease, a cassette harboring a protease substrate, and a nanobody (Nb) modulator in yeast. We will introduce synthetic biology tools to control Nb-mediated protease modulation at both translational and post-translational levels and utilize fluorescence-activated cell sorting to select Nb modulators from large libraries.

We have begun to apply this approach to study the activity landscape of SARS-CoV-2 proteases and show that their activity can be controlled in our system with high operational and dynamic range. In the future, we will screen large libraries to isolate inhibitory Nbs against these proteases and characterize their binding epitopes and affinities."

5.) “A Clustering-aided Ensemble Method for Predicting Ridesourcing Demand in Chicago” Xiaojian Zhang

Accurately forecasting ridesourcing demand is important for effective transportation planning and policy-making. With the rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI), researchers have started to utilize machine learning models to forecast travel demand, which, in many cases, can produce higher prediction accuracy than statistical models. However, most existing machine-learning studies used a global model to predict the demand and ignored the influence of spatial heterogeneity (i.e., the spatial variations in the impacts of explanatory variables). Spatial heterogeneity can drive the parameter estimations varying over space; failing to consider the spatial variations may limit the model’s prediction performance. To account for spatial heterogeneity, this study proposes a Clustering-aided Ensemble Method (CEM) to forecast the zone-to-zone (census-tract-to-census-tract) travel demand for ridesourcing services. Specifically, we develop a clustering framework to split the origin-destination pairs into different clusters and ensemble the cluster-specific machine learning models for prediction. We implement and test the proposed methodology by using the ridesourcing-trip data in Chicago. The results show that, with a more transparent and flexible model structure, the CEM significantly improves the prediction accuracy than the benchmark models (i.e., global machine-learning and statistical models directly trained on all observations). This study offers transportation researchers and practitioners a new methodology of travel demand forecasting, especially for new travel modes like ridesourcing and micromobility.

6. )“Digital Twin Application in Healthcare Facilities Management” Obinna Madubuike

Healthcare facilities are essential in providing health and as result, they require effective facilities management systems. Unfortunately, current approaches to healthcare facilities management (FM) are based on the “if it breaks, we fix it” approach. This is due to the lack of effective real-time information update and bi-directional coordination to monitor, manage and control critical healthcare facilities. Thus, there is a need in ensuring a preventive maintenance approach. This research investigates the extent to which healthcare facilities management can be enhanced using digital twin technology. Digital Twin (DT) enables the virtual representation of a physical asset and all the instances using real-time information. DT collects data from physical assets in real-time and uses the data to create virtual models of the physical objects. This research employs a set of methods such as literature review and interviews to address its objectives. The study further identified issues with critical healthcare facilities amenable to the digital twin approach, reviews digital twin enabling technologies, and presents a system architecture for DT application in healthcare facilities management. The research concludes with a discussion of the potential benefits of DT application in healthcare facilities management.

7.) “Perception of manufactured housing in the united states” Maryam Kouhirostami

Manufactured housing is a type of house that is built to meet the code and regulations of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Despite all the advantages of manufactured houses, some barriers make buyers hesitate in the United States market: depreciation, regulation and local building codes, inflexibility, and uniform design, and an image problem. For instance, many people confused manufactured housing with low-income mobile homes, and they developed a negative stereotype because of their lower cost and the tendency for their value to depreciate more quickly than site-built homes. Many people assume that manufactured houses are impermanent and substandard, and they often imagine manufactured houses in a trailer park. That perception might be based on the fact that in the past manufactured construction used a low-quality material to keep the total cost of construction down.

Educating people, increasing the quality of the houses, improving the aesthetic of the design, and providing appropriate mortgages can enhance the interest’s rates toward purchasing a manufactured house. Some of these improvements have been applied so the most important enhancement can be educating people by showing successful communities and examples. In addition, mentioned barriers are breaking down not only because of the aesthetic similarity of the recent manufactured and site-built housing but also because of all the advantages of manufactured houses."

8.) “Chemically Recyclable Poly(ester amides) from Post-Consumer Plastic Waste” Parker Boe

A series of terephthalamide diols were synthesized from post-consumer poly(ethylene) terephthalate (PET) via aminolysis with aminoalcohols. These diols were readily polymerized with PET derived bis-hydroxyethylterephthalate (BHET) to produce a series of poly(ester amides). Significantly, aminolysis of the produced poly(ester amides) regenerates only the original diol monomer, allowing for efficient and coherent chemical recycling. Finally, the selective and convergent depolymerization of PET and the reported poly(ester amides) over various other commodity polymers and textiles was demonstrated.

9.)  “The Effect of Ant-Produced Compounds on Microbes” Ashley Morris

Sociality in insects is linked to efficient, multi-generational brood care, enhanced foraging, and protection against predators through a large number of constituents. Although beneficial, sociality involves crowded conditions that favor quick introduction and transmission of pathogens. The ability for animals that live in group settings to detect and fight potential outbreaks is an essential adaptation for social insects, as evolution selects for the entire colony and not the individual members.

Many ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) have evolved chemical defenses to combat viral, bacterial, and fungal infections. Some of these compounds are extremely specialized against certain pathogens, while others are general and serve multiple purposes. Examples the piperidine venom alkaloids and cuticular hydrocarbons produced by the Red Imported Fire Ant – RIFA (Solenopsis invicta Buren).

We isolated RIFA alkaloids and hydrocarbons through a hexane and water extraction. The solution containing alkaloids and hydrocarbons was pipetted at different quantities (1, 3, 10, 33, 100, 200 uL,) onto circular paper buttons. Five plates were air sprayed with a bacterial solution of either Bacillus thuringiensis or Bradyrhizobium japonicum. One control button and one button of each dose were placed onto all plates. Hexane controls were used to ensure inhibition was not from the extraction agent. 

The combined effects of the venom alkaloids and cuticular hydrocarbons inhibited Bt and Bradyrhizobium growth. Further experiments are planned with other bacteria.

10.)“Genetics of Childhood Psychiatric Burden and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder” Franjo Ivankovic

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is characterized by disturbing, intrusive thoughts (obsessions) and repetitive behaviors (compulsions). OCD has a lifetime prevalence of about 2.3%, age of onset before 25, and is also a highly comorbid disorder. The adolescent brain cognitive development (ABCD) study is an NIH funded multi-site, longitudinal population study of youth across the USA, involving collection of phenotypic, genetic and neuroimaging data. Here, I leverage psychiatric and genetic data to explore genetic relationships with pediatric OCD and overall psychiatric burden in adolescents.

Psychiatric data were collected using the Kiddie Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia (K-SADS), self-administered to participants in 1-year intervals. Quality control of the psychiatric data has shown the rates of OCD to be were multiple times larger than its population prevalence, thus a narrow OCD was defined as those cases who have endorsed OCD in at least two longitudinal assessments. Compulsive axis is a binary variable defined by any endorsement of OCD, a compulsive type disorder, or high compulsive CBCL score. Anxiety axis is a binary variable defined by any endorsement of OCD, an anxiety type disorder, or high obsessive CBCL score.

Quality control of genetic data involved removal of low quality samples and markers, ancestry stratification, relationship estimation, and removal of low minor-allele frequency markers and those in drastic Hardy-Weinberg disequilibrium. Superpopulations were analyzed individually, controlling for ancestry stratification, then meta-analyzed together. While none of the unimputed GWAS studies resulted in a genome-wide significant hits, some markers are at a suggestive threshold of significance, among them are usual suspect genes in OCD like DLGAP1.

11.) “High-resolution fluorescence imaging of the assembly of liposome-RNA nanoparticles for RNA-based vaccine and immunotherapy” Michael Chung

The advent of RNA vaccines has dramatically changed the immunological landscape. RNA vaccines have had remarkable success in the COVID pandemic and shown great promise in personalized cancer immunotherapy by leveraging the patient’s own immune system. Given the importance and potential of such vaccines, it is imperative to understand the fundamental principles underlying this vaccine formulation for effective and precise medicine. Our real-time fluorescence imaging provides unprecedented insight into the assembly process of lipid-based RNA nanoparticles, which is the basis of our mRNA vaccine formulation currently being used in patient trials at UF. We show that a diffusion-limited-assembly process underlies the formation of heterogeneous conglomerates spanning ~1-100 micrometers in size. Further, leveraging physical insights driven by high-resolution imaging and advanced image analysis, we have shown that modulating the assembly process can alter the efficiency of antigen expression in dendritic cells. Our results show the power of direct imaging of the microscopic assembly process which may open up new opportunities for vaccine formulation optimization.     

12.)“Morphological and Molecular Consequences of acute to chronic spinal cord injury in skeletal muscle” Jean Kok

Skeletal muscle atrophy and fibrosis are consequences of severe spinal cord injury (SCI) which diminishes quality of life. The chronic ramifications of neuromuscular impairment in the skeletal muscle of SCI patients are understudied. Thus, we examined acute to chronic changes in SCI skeletal muscle. 4-month old male Sprague-Dawley rats (n=24) received T9 laminectomy (SHAM) or surgery plus severe (250 kilodyne) contusion SCI. Body weight and Basso-Beattie-Bresnahan (BBB) hindlimb locomotor rating scores were measured weekly. The soleus muscle were harvested at 2-weeks, 1-month, or 3-months post-surgery. The right soleus was embedded in optimal-cutting-temperature while left soleus was snap frozen. Fiber-type distribution and fiber cross sectional area (fCSA) were assessed by immunofluorescent staining, and imaged using confocal or epifluorescent microscope. Muscle fibrosis was evaluated by picrosirius red staining and brightfield imaging. In both instances, Matlab scripts was used for quantification. Additionally, the left soleus was used for RNA-Seq analysis. At 1-week post-surgery, SCI animals exhibited near-complete hindlimb paralysis (BBB scores <3), with minimal improvement thereafter. Body weight, soleus mass, total median fCSA and median type I fCSA were significantly lower in SCI vs SHAM animals at all timepoints. A slow-to-fast fiber-type shift (I to IIX) was observed in SCI animals, along with increased number of hybrid fibers indicating denervation-reinnervation cycles. RNA-Seq (molecular) and pricrosirious red (morphological) analysis showed accelerated muscle fibrosis at 1-week post-SCI. Furthermore, gene ontological analysis revealed significant myofibrillar remodeling of the sarcomeric structure at the 2-week and 1-month timepoints. At the neuromuscular junction (NMJ), there was an increase in gene expression (Chrna1, Chrne, Musk, Ncam) at the 2-week timepoint but significant decrease at the 1-month and 3-month timepoints proving an absence in synaptogenesis from chronic SCI. Thus, SCI produced muscle atrophy, progressive impairments in muscle oxidative capacity due to repetitive denervation-reinnervation cycles, accelerated muscle fibrosis, and impaired NMJ structure.

13.) “Tracking Hurricane Dorian in GDELT and Twitter” Innocensia Owuor

The advent of technologies such as Web 2.0, GPS enabled mobile devices and crowdsourcing platforms have facilitated innovative ways of accessing geospatial data from content published by users on social media platforms. This data has proven useful whenever authoritative geospatial datasets are unavailable, time sensitive or laborious to collect. A wealth of spatial data from various applications have been employed in research but these datasets have limitations regarding geodata sparsity, data retrieval restrictions and bias with respect to demographic aspects of age, gender and socioeconomic status which hamper comprehensive studies. To counter these challenges, this proposal demonstrates how Twitter data can be used in conjunction with GDELT (Global Database of Events, Language, and Tone) for event detection.

GDELT, a news repository with over a quarter billion geocoded events, is proposed to complement Twitter data in tracking Hurricane Dorian which hit the South Eastern part of the United States from September 1 to 6 2019. It is proposed because of the abundance of geocoded data points, frequency of data update, which is done every fifteen minutes, complimentary access to the entire GDELT database through Google BigQuery and free unlimited download of the raw datafiles. The use of GDELT in monitoring natural disasters like the Hurricane is yet to be done. 

The spatial footprint of Hurricane Dorian related GDELT event mentions and geotagged tweets will be compared with respect to data abundance,  spatial and temporal resolution, and thematic accuracy. The study relates areas of elevated GDELT news and tweeting activities to the locations of the hurricane track over a six-day period, and statistically analyzes distances between daily GDELT event mentions and tweets, and the hurricane center on different days. It assesses the potential role of the geographic coverage of the cone in hurricane prediction maps on the level of event related news and tweeting activities. 

14.)“A Cyclic Ketogenic Diet Enhances Paired Associates Learning in a Rodent Model” Tara Cooper

Age-related cognitive dysfunction, exacerbated by pathologies comorbid with aging such as Alzheimer’s Disease, greatly impacts quality of life and ability of older adults to live independently. Recent studies suggest that a ketogenic diet might mitigate biochemical alterations affiliated with advanced aging and improve performance on learning and memory tasks in a rat model of cognitive aging. Long-term carbohydrate restriction, however, can be challenging or unrealistic for many adults that show low compliance with diet-based interventions. This is particularly evident in persons living with Alzheimer’s who show increased cravings for high-carbohydrate foods. Furthermore, the magnitude of cognitive decline has been negatively correlated with treatment adherence. Thus, the current project tested the extent to which a novel cyclic ketogenic diet, which consisted of weekly changes between a high-fat low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet and a control diet, could match the efficacy of a standard long-term ketogenic diet. The potential clinical utility of enhancing metabolic flexibility induced by ketogenic cycling for mitigating age-related memory deficits was assessed with the Paired Associates Learning (PAL) task. The rodent PAL task is used to assess age-related cognitive decline by testing learning of object-location associations. Given previous data indicating improved performance in animals on a ketogenic diet on a hippocampal-dependent Working Memory Biconditional Association Task, we hypothesize that aged animals on a weekly cycling diet will show improved PAL task performance compared to a control diet group. Preliminary data of both young and aged animals shows that performance on the PAL task improved in the cyclic ketogenic diet group compared to both long-term keto and control diet groups. Furthermore, there does not seem to be variation in performance on control compared to ketogenic diet weeks within the cycling group, suggesting that metabolic flexibility rather than a state of ketosis may be a driving factor in mitigating age-related cognitive decline.

15.)“Genome-Wide Association and Gene Network Analysis of Brangus Beef Fatty Acid Composition” Eduardo Rodriguez

Beef is high in key nutrients, however, it is often perceived as unhealthy because of its high fat content, particularly its saturated fat. The fat content of beef is controlled by multiple genetic factors and impacts meat quality traits. The objectives of this study were to 1) characterize the natural variation in fatty acid (FA) composition of Bos taurus indicus influenced beef cattle, 2) estimate phenotypic and genetic correlations of FA composition with carcass and meat quality traits, 3) use genome-wide association (GWAS) to identify genes with the greatest effect on FA composition, and 4) use gene network analysis to identify genes with small effects on FA content. Carcass data was recorded on 1,066 Brangus steers. Recorded traits included: hot carcass weight (kg; 373 ± 36.3); marbling (436 ± 84.2); quality grade; fat over the ribeye (cm; 1.6 ± 0.6); ribeye area (cm2; 83.3 ± 9.5); yield grade (3.2 ± 0.9); Warner-Bratzler shear force (5.1 ± 1.0); and 27 FA [saturated (%; 47.6 ± 3.1), monounsaturated (%; 46.3 ± 3.5), and polyunsaturated (%; 6.1 ± 2.0)]. Hot carcass weight and back fat thickness were positively correlated with monounsaturated FA (r = 0.47 and r = 0.33, respectively) and negatively correlated with saturated (r = -0.31 and r = -0.28, respectively) and polyunsaturated (r = -0.37 and r = -0.24, respectively) FA content. These weak to moderate correlations suggest the possibility to manage or select for beef lower in saturated fat without negative impact on meat quality or carcass traits. GWAS on total saturated and monounsaturated fat identified four QTL. GWAS on 27 individual FA were used to generate gene networks for the most common saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated FA. These gene networks were then analyzed for biological functions and identified 177 genes related to lipid storage, transportation, and modification.

15.) “Breed Specific Runs-of-Homozygosity with Significant Effects on Carcass Traits in the Multibreed Angus-Brahman Herd” Gabriel A. Zayas, Eduardo E. Rodríguez, Andrea N. Nunez Andrade, Aakilah S. Hernández, Fernanda Rezende, Raluca G. Mateescu

Cattle in tropical/sub-tropical regions have the difficult task of maintaining productivity whilst surviving in hot temperatures. Crosses between Angus and Brahman are popular since they inherit Angus’s superior carcass qualities and Brahman’s heat tolerance. The resulting hybrids perform better than the average of the parent breeds, known as heterosis. Heterosis is attributed to a dominance effect were having heterozygous alleles is beneficial. However, many genes perform better when originating from the same breed. The objectives of this study were to detect unique runs of homozygosity (ROH) originating from Angus and Brahman, using a Breed of Origin (BO) approach in the UF’s Multibreed Angus-Brahman herd (MAB), and investigate the effect on carcass traits. The MAB was genotyped and after quality control, 94,045 variants, and 2,071 cattle remained. These genotypes were converted with the LAMP-LD software into BO genotypes which describe the ancestry of the genotype. These BO genotypes were used to identify ROH using the software Haplofinder. The ROH were included into an animal mixed model as fixed effects to determine their effect on birth weight (BWT), hot carcass weight (HCW) and marbling (MARB). Using an FDR of 0.01, a total of 1,055 Angus ROH and 1,830 Brahman ROH were identified as significant. Angus ROH had a positive effect on MARB and HCW but negative effects of BWT. Brahman ROH had negative effects for all three traits. Identifying ROH based on BO alleles with significant effects on carcass traits will provide important information for crossbreeding/composite breed systems about regions which should remain fixed for breeds.

16.) “Fungal Community Composition and Associated Mycotoxins in Warm Season Forage Grasses” Valerie Mendez

Grass species harbor diverse fungal communities that colonize the surface and internal spaces of aboveground plant tissues. Symbiotic relationships between cool season forages and fungi have received considerable attention due to the impact of fungal-associated metabolites on cattle health. However, the aboveground fungal community assembly of warm season perennial forages and the occurrence of potential mycotoxins have not been well documented. To better understand the association between host species, phyllosphere fungi and mycotoxin production, three warm-season forages (Paspalum notatum, Cynodon dactylon, Hemarthria altissima) were surveyed across Florida at multiple points from 2017 to 2019. In addition, samples of commercial hay of Cynodon dactylon were collected from one site. High-throughput amplicon sequencing of the Internal Transcribed Region (ITS) of ribosomal RNA uncovered differences in the fungal community composition between forage species and type. A decrease in observed species of C. dactylon was noted in fresh forage samples. Genera associated with C. dactylon included Giberella (Fusarium) (p< 0.01). The core microbiome of C. dactylon hay was noted to include Wallemia, a genus associated with allergological and cutaneous conditions in humans. A multi-mycotoxin profile conducted using liquid chromatography with tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) showed that forage species affected the mycotoxin profile of forage samples with at least 26 different secondary metabolites detected. Co-occurrence of two or more mycotoxins was common (72.13%) across forage species. Of relevance to cattle health, levels of the mycotoxin zearalenone, along with derivatives, α-zearalenol, β-zearalenol, and zearalenone-4-sulfate, were associated with higher concentrations in Cynodon dactylon and Hermarthria altissima samples. Considering that Florida pastures are used for grazing year around, this state-wide survey represents a launching point for further studies on the occurrence and ecological role of fungal secondary metabolites in grassland ecosystems.

17.) “Effect of Breed Composition and Age Group on Sweat Glands in Multibreed HerdAakilah S. Hernandez, Andrea N. Nunez, Kaitlyn M. Sarlo Davila, Gabriel A. Zayas, Eduardo E. Rodriguez and Raluca G. Mateescu

Realization of climate change predictions with increased environmental temperatures will increase the risk of heat stress in cattle. Heat stress causes physiological and behavioral disturbances including reduced feed intake and decreased production levels. Cattle utilize various cooling methods to regulate internal heat such as panting and sweating, but variation exists with some animals more adept at tolerating hotter temperatures. The objective of this study was to quantify the effect of breed composition on sweat gland properties. 328 female cattle of various Brahman and Angus percentages from the UF multibreed population were used. Skin biopsies were processed into histology slides. ImageJ software was used to measure sweat gland depth, sweat gland length, sweat gland area, and number of sweat glands. A linear model was used to quantify the effect of breed composition. Age group was included in the model as a fixed effect. Breed composition had a significant effect on sweat gland depth (P < 0.0001). Breed composition and age group had a significant effect on sweat gland area (P < 0.0001 and P < 0.0001, respectively). Neither breed composition nor age had a significant effect on the sweat gland length and number of sweat glands. This study shows there is a large amount of variation in sweat gland properties across and within breed groups. Sweat gland depth and sweat gland area decreased as Brahman percentage increased. Sweat gland length increased with Brahman percentage and selecting for cattle with larger sweat glands can lead to a more thermotolerant animal. 

18.) “Effect of Age Group and Breed Composition on Skin Histology Traits with a Multibreed Population” Andrea Nunez

Heat stress in cattle has recently received growing attention because of anticipated increases in environmental temperature by global warming. Over 65% cattle population reside in climates with hot and humid conditions. Heat stress can drastically limit the production efficiency of cattle and it is one of the principal causes of economic loss for beef cattle producers in these environments. Thermotolerance can be defined as the ability to maintain optimal growth, feed intake, and reproduction under the presence of heat stress, and it varies among individual animals and breeds. Skin properties are key for body temperature regulation because they allow cattle to lose heat at the skin interface. The objective of the study was to investigate the amount of variation in skin properties and test the effect of breed composition on skin histology traits. Skin biopsy samples were collected (stored with formalin at room temperature), these samples were cut in half and situated with ethanol in cassettes, from 331 heifers from a UF multibreed population (animals ranging from 100% Brahman to 100% Angus). Traits were measured with the software ImageJ: epidermis thickness, epidermis area, sebaceous gland area and number of sebaceous glands. A linear model was used to quantify the breed effect on skin histology traits. Age group was included in the model as a fixed effect and was significant for epidermis thickness (P = 0.02), epidermis area (P = 0.03) and sebaceous gland numbers (P = 0.04). There was variation across breed, but no significant trend was identified across breed groups. 

19.) “Decoding Associations of Kinesins, RBPs and mRNAs-Applications to Intracellular Trafficking” Zhuangyue Li

The precise regulation of RNA localization is an important cellular mechanism – beta-actin mRNA is localized to the leading edge of migrating fibroblasts, oskar mRNA to the Drosophila oocyte posterior pole, and ASH1 in the distal bud tip of yeast [1]. The localization of mRNAs in neurons is particularly notable – RNA at dendrites and axons facilitates localized protein synthesis in response to extracellular cues, and is linked to neuronal function and survival. Aberrant transport of mRNAs and other cargoes is associated with neurodegenerative diseases. mRNAs emerge from nuclei, coated with RNA binding proteins (RBP), forming ribonucleoprotein complex (RNP). Although RBPs regulate RNA processing in the nucleus, they also aid localizing RNAs. Motor molecules, such as myosin, dynein and kinesin, are believed to work together with RBPs to produce final localization patterns. Although there are ~45 kinesins and thousands of RBPs, we currently have limited information on how kinesins recognize and interact with RBPs to transport mRNA. Whether an RBP-kinesin specificity code exists, and how it might be organized, are questions that have not been answered. We will elucidate this code by screening interactions between all 45 kinesins and hundreds of key RBPs and mRNAs. At the same time, we will investigate which sequence elements within RNA mediate transportation, and how mRNAs are localized by kinesin in muscle and neurons. Collectively, this work will contribute substantially to the field of cargo transport by kinesins. In the future, better understanding how RNA transport is regulated may provide insights into mechanisms and therapeutics related to neurodegenerative diseases.

20.)“Synthesis of long-chain fatty acids and corresponding bioassay under an acyl-CoA synthetase” Xiang Li

Caenorhabditis elegans is an excellent model organism to study the role of small molecules in biological signaling. Because of the homology of signaling pathways between C. elegans and humans, many mechanisms found in C. elegans are potentially translatable to understand other organisms, including humans. That is why it is significant to understand more about molecular mechanisms in C. elegans. The genome of C. elegans is remarkable because it encodes a large multi-module polyketide synthase (PKS-1) and nonribosomal peptide synthetase (NRPS-1), which are rarely found in animals. PKS-1 and NRPS-1 in C. elegans produce nemamide, a hybrid polyketide-nonribosomal peptide promoting recovery from and survival during starvation-induced larval arrest. However, the mechanism of action of nemamide in C. elegans remains to be elucidated. Studying the enzymatic steps of nemamide biosynthesis will uncover how PKSs and NRPSs contribute to nematode metabolism and how nemamide biosynthesis is regulated. Our group found that ACS-24, an acyl-CoA synthetase, possesses a unique role in producing the nemamide on the initiation stage. In order to assess the ability of this enzyme to activate and load substrates, synthesized fatty acids were tested under the treatment of ACS-24. The preliminary result shows that ACS-24 has a good enzymatic activity for decanoic acid and (E)-2-decenoic acid. The synthesis of fatty acids and bioassay under this enzyme will be presented.

21.) “Enantioselective Lactonization by pi-Acid-Catalyzed Allylic Substitution: A Complement to pi-Allylmetal Chemistry” Arun Raj Kizhakkayil Mangadan

Asymmetric allylic alkylation (AAA) is a powerful method for the formation of highly useful, non-racemic allylic compounds. Here we present a complementary enantioselective process that generates allylic lactones via pi-acid catalysis. More specifically, a catalytic enantioselective dehydrative lactonization of allylic alcohols using a novel Pd(II)-catalyst containing the imidazole-based P,N-ligand (S)-StackPhos is reported. The high-yielding reactions are operationally simple to perform with enantioselectivities up to 99%ee. This strategy facilitates the replacement of a poor leaving group with what would ostensibly be a better leaving group in the product avoiding complications arising from racemization by equilibration.

22.) “STING - the Gatekeeper of Cytosolic DNA Sensing in Pulmonary Hypertension” Ann Pham

Patients diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension (PH), if left untreated, can develop right heart failure with a 62% mortality rate in 5 years. No curative therapeutic for PH is available, partly due to the incomplete understanding of disease pathogenesis. There has been an increase in evidence on the emerging role of T cell mediated-inflammation in PH pathology. To this end, patients with interferonopathies, characterized with systemic inflammation, including a disease termed STING-Associated Vasculopathy with onset in Infancy (SAVI), spontaneously develop PH. SAVI is caused due to a gain-of-function mutation in the Stimulator of Interferon Genes (STING), resulting in constitutive activation of interferon response. This “nature experiment” suggests a role for STING in PH development. Related, a heterogeneous subset of myeloid cells with prominent immunosuppressive capability termed myeloid-derived suppressor cell (MDSC) has been reported to contribute to PH. Our intriguing data showed that mice with global deletion of STING (STING-/-) were protected from PH development secondary to hypoxia and Bleomycin. The decrease in pulmonary pressure correlated with fewer inflammatory cells, including lung-infiltrated MDSCs, indicating a potential mechanism of STING in MDSC recruitment, development and/or maturation. Interestingly, STING most likely exerts its protective effect only partially, if not independently, of type I interferon signaling. Mice with global deficient of interferon receptor (IFNAR), as well as mice receiving anti-IFNAR1 antibody were not protected from PH development secondary to hypoxia or Bleomycin. In addition, we identified vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) as a potential protector of PH, as mice with elevated pulmonary pressure exhibited a significant decrease in circulating VEGF compared to healthy mice. Blocking VEGF receptor in STING-/- reversed the protection, confirming the protective role of VEGF. Immunofluorescence staining verified that the increase in circulating VEGF in PH-protected mice came from CD11b+ cells, again supporting the critical link between myeloid cell and PH development.

 24.) “School Health Infrastructure and Students’ Elevated Body Mass Index” Safiya Bakarman

Overweight and obesity is a continuing problem among the school-age population in the United States, and is associated with many health, psychological, social, and financial issues. Schools provide an excellent venue in which to promote healthy weight in students, and school nurses are well-positioned to play an essential role in controlling obesity. The number of studies reporting relationships among school health infrastructure factors and prevalence of elevated BMI is limited. To address this knowledge gap, the present study explored associations between three components of school health infrastructure (staff, services, budget) and the proportion overweight or obese 1st, 3rd, and 6th grade students, after controlling for selected factors (race, county education level, county poverty level, rurality). Study results supported an independent association between elevated BMI and school health staff (non-RNs). Additionally, independent associations between elevated BMI and the following covariates were supported: household income, race, and parents' educational level. There is an ultimate need for well- designed studies addressing these associations.

26.)“Neisseria gonorrhoeae drives Chlamydia trachomatis into an aberrant state during in vitro co-infection” Louise Ball

Chlamydia and gonorrhea are the top two most prevalent bacterial sexually transmitted infections in the world, caused by Chlamydia trachomatis (Ct) and Neisseria gonorrhoeae (Ng) respectively. Together they are a major public health concern and health system burden. In addition to single infections, these two bacterial pathogens are reported to frequently co-infect the same individual. Ct is an obligate intracellular pathogen with a unique biphasic developmental cycle, oscillating between infectious elementary bodies (EB) and replicative reticulate bodies (RB). However, during periods of environmental stress, Ct can transition into a temporary aberrant state and remain viable within the host cell until the stressor is removed. In contrast, Ng is a facultative intracellular pathogen, potentially interacting with Ct from inside or outside the host cell during infection. In this study we aimed to investigate how these organisms respond when grown in in vitro co-culture and better understand how this may translate to human disease. When cervical epithelial cells are pre-infected with Ct, then subsequently infected with non-invasive Ng, Ct transitions into an aberrant state characterized by the appearance of enlarged abnormal bacteria. We counted both Ct and Ng and comparing titers between single and co-infections. Using qPCR, we saw that Ct continued to replicate its genome whether grown with or without Ng, while the number of EBs decreased in co-infected cells. Gc titers remained equivalent between conditions. When gentamycin was used to kill Ng, the aberrant Ct returned to a normal phenotype. Our data suggest that during co-infection, Ng creates an environmental stress which drives Ct into a dormant state until the competing pathogen is removed. We will examine if the stress factor is limited to live Ng and also examine bacterial gene expression data to identify the triggering factor in Ng causing this induced aberrant state.

27.) “Optimizing Kidney Transplant Immunosuppression using a Phenotypic Personalized Dosing Model” Julia Bruner

Immunosuppression is essential for preventing rejection and promoting long-term graft survival following solid organ transplantation; it also places patients at risk for infection and toxicity. Immunosuppression management is further complicated by individual variability in drug dosing, metabolism, and immune response. Hence adjusting immunosuppression continues to be a clinical challenge. We aimed to systematize multi-drug immunosuppression management in kidney transplantation using an artificial intelligence-based complex systems approach called phenotypic personalized medicine (PPM). PPM relies on clinical data, in this case immunosuppression drug dose, blood drug concentrations, and donor-derived fraction of cell free DNA (dd-cfDNA%) as an indication of allograft status, to generate individual treatment response surfaces. Each patientʼs phenotypic response surface is empirically determined and has unique coefficients. Once generated, this surface is used to calculate optimized immunosuppression drug doses associated with the desired outcome. In a retrospective analysis of 8 kidney transplant patients, PPM recommended increased immunosuppression in 3 of 3 patients who later went on to experience biopsy-confirmed rejection. In the 2 patients with suspected rejection but without biopsy confirmation, PPM recommendations were split: in one patient recommending decreased immunosuppression and in the other increased immunosuppression. PPM also identified the need for decreased immunosuppression in 2 of 2 patients who later developed infections. In the single analyzed case of stable allograft status, PPM recommended a modest increase in immunosuppression. In this retrospective study of systematic AI-based individualized immunosuppression dosing, we have demonstrated a potential actionable strategy for multi-drug immunosuppression management.

28.) “Application of Magnetic Particle Imaging Technology to Assess Nanoparticle Localization to Cartilage” Tolulope (Tolu) Ayaji

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a highly prevalent, musculoskeletal disease, affecting an estimated 30 million individuals. To combat OA, intra-articular drug delivery systems such as nanoparticles (NPs) are used to improve drug bioavailability, retention, and localization To monitor NP retention and biodistribution, NPs are often conjugated or loaded with near-infrared fluorophores and imaged using in vivo optical imaging systems. However, this current standard for in vivo particle tracking is associated with limitations such as signal attenuation and photobleaching that impede long-term tracking and understanding of how particles are localized, distributed, and cleared from diseased joints. To address these limitations, this project leverages an emerging clinical imaging modality - Magnetic Particle Imaging (MPI). MPI images superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPIONs), producing a three-dimensional quantitative image of SPIONs, circumventing fluorescence imaging limitations . The objective of this study is to incorporate these MPI contrast agents into a cartilage-targeted NP delivery system and evaluate the feasibility of MPI for measuring NP localization and retention in cartilage.Here we demonstrate a formulation method for successful incorporation of MPI tracers into PLGA NPs engineered for cartilage localization. The MPI signal was detectable and quantifiable within the cartilage explants, suggesting this emerging imaging technology could be a tool to track NPs localization within the joint. This project is the first to demonstrate the MPI utilization and feasibility to evaluate NP uptake and localization into articular cartilage. This represents the first steps towards leveraging MPI to understand how NPs delivery system and potential therapeutics are biodistributed, localized and retained in the joint as OA progresses.

Session B Oral Abstracts

1. “Measuring NQO1 Bioactivation Using [2H7]Glucose” Mario Chang

Treatment of cancers with β-lapachone causes NAD(P)H: quinone oxidoreductase 1 (NQO1) to generate an unstable hydroquinone that regenerates itself in a futile cycle while producing reactive oxygen species (ROS) in the form of superoxide and subsequently hydrogen peroxide. Rapid accumulation of ROS damages DNA, hyperactivates poly-ADP-ribose polymerase-I, causes massive depletion of NAD+/ATP, and hampers glycolysis. Cells overexpressing NQO1 subsequently die rapidly through an NAD+-keresis mechanism. Assessing changes in glycolytic rates caused by NQO1 bioactivation would provide a means of assessing treatment efficacy, potentially lowering the chemotherapeutic dosage, and reducing off-target toxicities. NQO1-mediated changes in glycolytic flux were readily detected in A549 (lung), MiaPaCa2 (pancreatic), and HCT-116 (colon) cancer cell lines by 2H-NMR after administration of [2H7]glucose. The deuterated metabolic products 2H-lactate and HDO were quantified, and linear relationships with glucose consumption for both products were observed. The higher concentration of HDO compared to 2H-lactate allows for more sensitive measurement of the glycolytic flux in cancer. Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry analysis agreed with the NMR results and confirmed downregulated energy metabolism in NQO1+ cells after β-lapachone treatment. The demonstrated method is ideal for measuring glycolytic rates, the effects of chemotherapeutics that target glycolysis, and has the potential for in vivo translation.

2. “A Thermostable Cas12b from Brevibacillus Leverages One-Pot Detection of SARS-CoV-2 Variants of Concern” Nico Macaluso

Current SARS-CoV-2 detection platforms lack the ability to differentiate among variants in an efficient manner. CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) has the potential to transform diagnostics due to its programmability. However, many of the CRISPR-based detection methods are reliant on either a multi-step process involving upstream amplification or elaborate guide RNA designs. Joung et al. describes a complete one-pot detection reaction using AapCas12b to overcome these challenges. Even so, this technology is limited by the discrepancy between the thermal stability of AapCas12b and optimum loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) reaction conditions. Herein, we demonstrate a novel Cas12b from Brevibacillus (referred to as BrCas12b) with robust trans-cleavage activity at ideal LAMP reaction temperatures. Characterization of BrCas12b with respect to AacCas12b and AapCas12b substantiates the exploration of BrCas12b for diagnostics. With the incorporation of amplification in a one-pot setting, two detection checkpoints are accomplished through multiplexing of LAMP and BrCas12b reactions. Notably, detection signal is observed within 1-3 minutes of amplification, indicating minimal inhibitory effects between the two checkpoints. We subsequently develop this technology to detect and distinguish SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern (VoC) including Alpha (B.1.1.7), Beta (B.1.351), Delta (B.1.617.2), and Gamma (P.1) in 204 clinical samples. Within thirty minutes, the assay achieves 100% sensitivity and accuracy among all variants with high viral load (Ct value < 30) and 91.2% accuracy in overall positive sample detection. To ease in distribution, deployment, and implementation of the assay, we combine the lyophilized one-pot reagents with a portable device capable of quantifying fluorescence signals at a fraction of the cost compared to qPCR machinery. With relaxed design requirements, isothermal one-pot detection, and simple instrumentation, this assay has the capability to advance future diagnostics.

3. “Microbial Risk Assessment via qPCR To Determine the Level and Sources of Fecal Contamination and Helicobacter pylori In Northwest Florida Urban Streams” Ronell Bridgemohan

Fecal contamination of watersheds and urban streams is of increasing concern and has been a critical issue, especially in Northwest Florida. The potential risk to human health posed by waterborne pathogens is one of the greatest threats to the stability and resilience of coastal communities along the Gulf of Mexico. Northwest Florida has a thriving coastal tourism community that also serves many other purposes, such as recreational, commercial, shellfish harvesting, and fisheries. Increasing levels of fecal pollution pose a potential economic constraint and hardship for NW Florida as its economy primarily depends on thriving coastal tourism industry. Poor recreational water quality and high incidences of fecal pollution can be attributed to its inadequate and outdated sewage and drainage systems and poor livestock waste disposal. The constant flooding and runoff issues lead to high levels of fecal pollution, and possibly pathogenic bacteria from human and animal sources, which endangers the residents. Understanding the dynamics of contaminants in streams represents an important first step for identifying their sources and methods to mitigate their delivery from the landscape. The aim of this study was to determine, the level of fecal indicator bacteria concentration (E coli), the point and non-point sources of fecal contamination, and whether they were of human or animal origin. IDEXX Colilert-18 was used to enumerate Escherichia coli in the samples and 3 sites exceeded the USEPA limit, 10-mile (461.1 MPN CFU/ 100 ml) Mills site (410.6 MPN CFU/ 100 ml) and Villa Venyce (613.1 MPN CFU/100 ml). DNA was extracted from each sample and qPCR was used for microbiological source tracking (MST) to detect host specific Bacteroides DNA. Microbial Source tracking detected human (HF183) fecal pollution at (44.45%) sites, dogs (Bac Can) (33.33%), and birds (CP1F/R) at (11.11%). This study illustrates that our sites are contaminated with human and animal sources of fecal inputs. Many sites with elevated levels of fecal pollution detected poses a serious health risk.

4. “The Impact of Tropical Storm Waves on Overtopping Rates at Eleuthra: The Case of the Glass Window Bridge” Edwin Rajeev

The Glass Window Bridge Located in Eleuthera, The Bahamas, is the only bridge connecting Eleuthera’s northern and southern mainland, facing the Atlantic Ocean to the east and the Great Bahama Bank to the west. This bridge is under constant threat from hurricanes and large swells in the Atlantic Ocean. The existing bridge has been subject to severe damage arising from wave impact forces since its construction. In addition, severe overtopping of the cliffs near the Glass Window Bridge cause damage to the roads and pose a threat to vehicles traversing the site. Previous research at this site has shown that due to these strong swells and overtopping processes throughout history, unique geologic features can be observed today. These strong swells have been shown to displace large boulders at this site. As the global climate warms and sea level rises, coastal areas will be subject to more extreme flooding and intense hurricanes. A 2D model of the bridge site is constructed with a Digital Terrain Model (DTM) obtained from satellite-derived data, along with satellite-derived bathymetry to numerically study the resulting wave impact dynamics on the landform. We use multiphase computational fluid dynamics (CFD) to study the hydrodynamic processes and impact of wave-breaking for three major historical storm events. Our results show that there is a significant impact of these storms on the islands and the bridge. Waves from historical storm events generate increased overtopping. The splash extent caused by the primary breakup of water upon the impact of the waves on the landform is also observed to increase. These results illustrate the intensity of such storms subjects the islands to greater risk due to flooding and erosion.

5. “On-the-go Battery Electric Vehicle Charging to Counter Range Anxiety” Prabuddha Chakraborty, Robert Parker, Tamzidul Hoque, Jonathan Cruz, Lili Du, Shuo Wang, & Swarup Bhunia

With rising concerns over fossil fuel depletion and the impact of Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicles on our climate, the transportation industry is observing a rapid proliferation of Electric Vehicles (EVs). Yet, people continue to use ICE vehicles over EVs due to consumer worries over issues such as limited range, limited battery life, long charging times, and the lack of EV charging stations. Existing solutions to these problems, such as building more charging stations, increasing battery capacity, and road-charging have not been proven efficient so far. In this work, we propose a highly scalable novel technique for charging EVs on-the-go with minimal cost overhead. We allow EVs to share charge among each other based on the instructions from a cloud-based control system. We also introduce Mobile Charging Stations (MoCS), which are high battery capacity vehicles that are used to replenish the overall charge in the vehicle networks. We have designed the system architecture and associated algorithms towards realizing this paradigm of EV charging. To evaluate the effectiveness of such as system, we have designed a simulation platform using a traffic simulator (SUMO) and observed promising results with up to 65 % reduction in the number of EV halts and with up to 24.4 % reduction in required battery capacity without any extra halts.

Paper Published: IEEE 91st Vehicular Technology Conference

6. “Response of hemp to phosphorus application in sandy soils of Florida” Navdeep Kaur

Farm bill 2018 has renewed interest in hemp cultivation in the United States. Phosphorus is an essential nutrient for the proper growth and development of plants. Therefore, our study aims to test different phosphorus rates (0, 34, 67, 101 & 134 Kg/ha) in sandy soils of central Florida. The experiment was designed as a randomized complete block design with four replications. All phosphorus was applied at the sowing, and remaining nutrients, i.e., nitrogen (250 Kg/ha), potassium (300 Kg/ha), and micronutrient blend was applied in two split doses. Pre-sowing soil tests showed that soil was rich in phosphorus. Our results indicated similar results. Different doses of phosphorus did not show any response in dry biomass yield, root weight per plant, and seed yield. These results indicate that phosphorus should not be applied to fields if they are rich in phosphorus, as indicated by a soil test, since phosphorus is not a mobile element and remains in the soil for a longer time.


Session A Oral

First place: Myles Sullivan, “Amateur Minstrel Shows and Blackface Amusements at the University of Florida in the Jim Crow Era”

Second place: Graham Gallagher, “The Rise of Decline: Narrative Historiography, Historical Perceptions of Time, and Reactionary Narratives”


Session A Poster

First place: Vanessa Luna-Celino “Forbidden fire and the role of collective action in fire management in the Peruvian Andes”

Second place: Melissa Fenton “Associations between Family Risk and Protective Factors and Adolescent Substance Use Across the Rural-Urban Continuum: A Person-/Variable-Centered Approach”


Session B Oral

First place: Prabuddha Chakraborty, “On-the-go Battery Electric Vehicle Charging to Counter Range Anxiety”

Second place: Edwin Rajeev, “The Impact of Tropical Storm Waves on Overtopping Rates at Eleuthra: The Case of the Glass Window Bridge”


Session B Poster

First place: Arun Raj Kizhakkayil Mangadan, “Enantioselective Lactonization by pi-Acid-Catalyzed Allylic Substitution: A Complement to pi-Allylmetal Chemistry”

Second place: Jean Kok, “Morphological and Molecular Consequences of acute to chronic spinal cord injury in skeletal muscle”


Thank you to all of the presenters and judges for your participation and support of this event! We hope to see you again next year.