Walter Maxwell Gibson College of Science & Engineering

Research Symposium

Monday, November 23, 2009

Studying Solubility of Gases in a High Porous Polymer Using Positron Annihilation Spectroscopy

Zane Baird, Dylan Gary, William Tanner, James Chisholm, Hussein Samha, Renwu Zhang *
Department of Physical Science, Southern Utah University

Abstract:
The solubility of gases in polymers is determined not only by its chemical structure, but also by its physical properties.  This process is described by a so-called dual mode, in which both Henry adsorption (determined by chemical structure) and Langmuir adsorption (determined by physical property) are considered.  Since Langmuir adsorption is related to the trapping of gas molecules inside free volume holes, the solubility of gases must be related to the fractional free volume of a polymer.  In this project, we use a highly porous polymer, poly(trimethylsilyl-1-1propyne) (PTMSP) as a model sample and modify its free volume by using the chemically similar organic filler, trimethylsilylglucose (TMSG).  By doing so, we keep the same chemical environment but only change its fractional free volume.  We will measure the free volume change in PTMSP with different amounts of filler by using positron annihilation lifetime spectroscopy (PALS).  Meanwhile, we will utilize the reference data on the gas solubility in the same systems to correlate the solubility of gases to the free volume in the polymer.  The relationship of Langmuir adsorption and the gas solubility versus fractional free volume in polymers will be explored.

Effect of Cinnamon on Postprandial Glucose

Sarah Calder, Laura Humphries, Cynthia Wright*
Department of Agriculture and Nutrition, Southern Utah University

Abstract:
Controlling blood glucose (BG) is important because type 2 diabetes is a common and increasing problem among Americans.  Previous research on the impact of cinnamon on BG has produced conflicting results.   The objective of the present study was to investigate the impact of cinnamon supplements on BG concentration among healthy young adults (mean age 22.6 ± 3.3 years).  Baseline fasting BG was measured before participants consumed a meal containing 76.25 g of carbohydrate and cinnamon capsules (0, 2, 3, 4, or 5 g) each day of a five-day trial.  BG was also measured 30 and 60 minutes post-meal.  Cinnamon supplements decreased the peak concentration of the BG curve in males (p=0.040) and in those with a family history of diabetes (p=0.026).  Additional research on the impact of cinnamon supplementation on postprandial BG among individuals diagnosed with type 2 diabetes is warranted before health claims are made.

Antibiotic Resistance Linked to Heavy Metal Tolerance

Bryce Carter, Ron Martin
Department of Biology, Southern Utah University

Abstract:
The frequency of antibiotic resistant microbes (ABRM) has grown dramatically over the past several decades. This poses a threat to humans and animals alike.  Here in Southern Utah, we are affected as well. The surrounding mines located west of Cedar City have been found to have microbes living in a heavy metal environment.  Previous research has demonstrated a linkage between antibiotic resistance and heavy metal tolerance. Our hypothesis is that there is a genetic correlation between antibiotic resistant microbes and heavy metal tolerance meaning that if a microbe is able to grow with metals such as lead or arsenic, it will have greater potential to be resistant to antibiotics as well. The experiment includes taking water samples from the mines; culturing the microbes found therein mixed with various heavy metal concentrations. From there, we will add the presence of various antibiotics and test the resistance to the antibiotics by the microbes.

Comparing Childless Single Males’ and Females’ Attitudes and Knowledge of Breastfeeding

Lauren Challis, with Matthew Johnson, Artis Grady*, Matthew Schmidt*
Department of Agriculture and Nutrition Science, Southern Utah University

Abstract:
Breastfeeding (BF) is recognized as the best option for infant feeding. Many resources are being used to encourage the public to BF. Lack of support in the home, false perceptions of the partner's attitude, lack of basic knowledge about BF and no prior determination to continue despite conflicts have been seen as obstacles. Whereas previous studies examined attitudes of fathers, pre-natal and post-partum couples, the purpose of our study was to determine childless, single males' and females' knowledge of BF and their attitudes towards it. Two hundred and fifty males (mean age 20.9 SD=2.5) and 276 females (mean age 19.6 SD=2.1) were surveyed about their attitudes and beliefs towards BF. Results indicated statistically significant differences (p<.05) in attitudes of males and females regarding the importance of BF, the function of the breasts, if BF damages the breasts and benefits BF provides for the mother and infant.

Ear Wax as a Potential Predictor of Cholesterol Levels

Desi DeMille, Clint Chlarson, Cody Hansen, Michael Hunter, Marc McRae, Terry Meads, Mackay Steffenson*
Department of Physical Science, Southern Utah University

Abstract:
Earwax is primarily composed of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids, alcohols, squalene, lanosterol, and cholesterol.  Squalene and lanosterol are precursors in the biosynthesis of cholesterol.  Our research is focused on investigating differences in earwax composition between males and females across a wide range of ages.  We are interested in looking at differences in cholesterol, lanosterol, and squalene production in earwax within and among genders with different lifestyles and diets.  As our research progresses, we will investigate correlations between the levels of cholesterol in earwax and blood cholesterol levels. 

Analysis of the Narayanaswamy Model for Relaxation Using Adam-Gibbs Theory

Dylan Gary, Zane Baird, William Tanner, James Chisholm, Hussein Samha, Renwu Zhang*
Department of Physical Science, Southern Utah University

Abstract:
When temperature is reduced to a certain point, almost all polymeric materials will reach a glass state, in which the molecules are frozen in the liquid state but the material is exposed as a solid state. The glass state is a quasi-equilibrium state and tends to relax to its thermodynamic equilibrium state.  This process is called physical aging.  The aging process is determined not only by the characteristics of the material, but also by its thermal history.  The widely accepted phenomenological model used to describe the aging process is called the Narayanaswamy model. This model, however, is contradictive to the general Vogel F T (VFT) equation describing the temperature dependence property of material within the glassy transition range.  In order to solve this discrepancy, the Adam-Gibbs theory on the liquid cooling process was used to analyze and interpret the Narayanaswamy model.  It is hypothesized that the activation energy parameter (ΔH) is not constant during the molecular rearrangement as expressed in the Narayanaswamy model.   In addition, the relation between the glass transition temperature (Tg) and the Kauzmann temperature (Tz) (a characteristic temperature at which a polymer’s molecules have zero configurational entropy) is also discussed in the presentation. 

Leeches as Model Organisms

Fredric R. Govedich, Ph.D
Department of Biology, Southern Utah University

Abstract:
Leeches are useful model organisms in examining many behavioral, evolutionary, neurological questions. They are also important in medical research and as a source of pharmaceutical compounds. This talk will examine some of the modern and historical uses of leeches.

Body Image Among Female Collegiate Athletes at Southern Utah University

Samantha Hallows, Krystal Sorensen, Artis Grady*, Matthew Schmidt*
Department of Agriculture and Nutrition Science, Southern Utah University

Abstract:
Collegiate athletes are at risk of disordered eating.  This study evaluated body image perceptions of 157 female athletes at Southern Utah University (SUU).  Participants mean BMI was 21.8 (±2.36).  Fifty-nine percent felt pressure to look a certain way, 64% desired weight loss, 7.6% desired weight gain, 57% were satisfied with their body, 51.3% felt disgusted when they gained weight, 47.2% were afraid of gain weight, 22.4% have considered an eating disorder, 82.7% acknowledge what they eat affects performance, yet 91% reported enjoying eating. Results indicate these athletes have insecurity about their weight and body image, but generally have a positive relationship with food.

Silage Fermentation and Preservation

Cody Hansen, Clint Chlarson, Desiree DeMille, Michael Hunter, Marc McRae, Terry Meads, Mackay Steffensen*
Department of Physical Science, Southern Utah University

Abstract:
Proper silage fermentation and preservation are essential for high quality feed for livestock. High levels of starch and lactic acid are critical in the first few days after storage. Quantitative chemical analysis of starch and lactic acid in silage are currently performed offsite and can take up to 48 hours to obtain results. The ability to test starch and lactic acid levels quickly and onsite would greatly increase the quality of feed for livestock. Our objective is to produce a quick and effective onsite chemical analysis of silage in order to increase productivity and profit of dairy farms.

Odd Volcanics of a Carbonatite Origin from the Rukwa Rift Basin of Southwestern Tanzania, Africa

Trent Haskell, Eric Roberts*
Department of Physical Science, Southern Utah University

Abstract:
Recent fieldwork in southwestern Tanzania has resulted in the discovery of a new Paleogene sequence of fluvial and lacustrine strata in the Rukwa Rift Basin.  Within these rocks are a series of bizarre claystone beds with calcite pebbles.  These claystones also contain an odd assortment of rare and unusual heavy minerals, which leads us to interpret these beds as volcanic tuffs of carbonatite origin.  To test this hypothesis, we sampled one of these claystones for detailed clay and mineral analysis.  The coarse fraction was first separated from the clay fraction.  We then separated the coarse fraction into light and heavy fractions based on density and magnetic susceptibility. The identified heavy minerals include euhedral phlogopite, andradite garnet, titanite (sphene), and apatite; with a significant component of the light mineral sanadine; and minor amounts of magnetite, clinozoisite, ankerite, hematite, and pyrochlore.  This unusual assemblage of minerals strongly supports an alkalic volcanic origin of unusual type (such as a carbonatite).  Next, using settling velocities to separate the clay from the silt, the clay fraction was analyzed using x-ray diffraction, which identified montmorillinite as the dominant clay mineral.  This result further supports our hypothesis of a volcanic origin.  The confirmation of these units as carbonatite volcanic ash beds, coupled with a new radiometric age date of 24.9 Ma, makes these the oldest volcanics in the Western Branch of the East African Rift System.  This pushes back the previous age of tectonism and development of this part of the rift by nearly 15 million years.  These carbonatites are also significant in that they can help both geologists and paleontologists understand the formation and evolutionary history of the East African Rift System and its important vertebrate faunas.

Structural Studies of a Halophilic Archaeal Malate Synthase

Geoffrey Thomas, Kenneth Lamlenn, and Dr. Bruce R. Howard
Department of Physical Science, Southern Utah University

Abstract:
Malate synthase is one of two enzymes unique to the glyoxylate cycle, the other being isocitrate lyase.  This metabolic pathway has been identified in all three domains of life, and allows plants to convert fatty acids to citric acid cycle intermediates, and allows microorganisms to survive on two-carbon compounds such as acetate for a sole carbon source.  Malate synthases found in cells of the halophilic Archaea constitute a third isoform of this important metabolic enzyme, in addition to the well characterized A and G isoforms.  They are most active at high salt concentrations (3 M KCl), and they share very little sequence similarity with these other two isoforms.  Here we report the crystallization and analysis of the X-ray diffraction from a crystal form of the malate synthase enzyme from the halophilic archaeon Haloferax volcanii, originally isolated from the mud of the Dead Sea.

Characterization of Storm Water Runoff in the Coal Creek Drainage Basin

Samantha Huntsman, Shannon Force, Darren Dillard, Lauren Bunker, Whitney Greenhalgh, Jordan Leach, Kim Weaver*, J. Ty Redd
Department of Physical Science and Biology

Abstract:
Coal Creek is a small, perennial stream, fed by mountain runoff, which is located in the Coal Creek Drainage Basin in the Cedar City, Utah area. The increasing urbanization of the Cedar City area raises concern about the water quality in the basin. This study focuses on characterizing pollutants from non-point sources and their impact on the water quality of Coal Creek and the organisms living within it. Analytes of interest include: common anions, mineral metals, pH, turbidity, conductivity and pesticides. The determination of pollutant concentrations in runoff and affected surface water will be beneficial to understand basic sources of non-point source pollution. It is hoped that this study will help to better understand the effects of population growth and urbanization on the water quality of Coal Creek and the organisms living within it.

3D-Modeling of Waterglyph Navigation Theory

David Maxwell
Department of Physical Science, Southern Utah University

Abstract:
Since 1997 a team of researchers have been conducting a survey of a particular series of ancient rock carvings on the Arizona Strip.  Field research includes more than 10,000 square miles along the Utah, Arizona and Nevada borders. In 1999 there were 14 known occurrences, there are now over 320 of these glyphs found, documented, and in the process of being analyzed. Through the use of 3d modeling, visibility analysis, and image interpretation there is increasing documentation that these unique markings can be used as a form of navigation between critical locations.  Initial research shows a strong correlation to water or spring locations, which is where the name WaterGlyphs originated.  In cooperation with Dr. Farrel Lytle and his developing theory of dating desert varnish with biogeochemical analysis and XRF (X-Ray florescence) technology, a sampling of these glyphs have been dated from 500-5000bp (+/- 30%).

Food Security among Students, Faculty, and Staff of Southern Utah University

Heather F. Sandall, Cynthia B. Wright*, Brooke N. Nelson
Department of Agriculture and Nutrition Science, Southern Utah University

Abstract:
Food security is the access by all people at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life. It is considered one of the requirements for a healthy, well-nourished population. In 2007, 89% of households in the United States were food secure. In light of the current economic environment, food security may now be a greater problem. This study was conducted to assess the current status of food security among students, faculty and staff at Southern Utah University (SUU) and how food security at SUU compares to food security in Utah and the United States. Data was collected using a survey developed by the Economic Research Service of the United States Department of Agriculture, the same survey used to gather data on the status of food security nationally. Results revealed food insecurity is more prevalent among SUU students and staff than in Utah and the United States. However, comparison of SUU data to Utah and U.S. data was made using the 2007 (most recently available) state and national data on food security. The state of Utah is in the process of gathering data on the current status of the food security of its residents. Future comparison of SUU data to new state data will provide a more accurate picture of how food security at SUU compares to the rest of Utah in the current economic environment.

The Effects of Wildfire Retardant on Hatch Rate and Development in Xenopus Laevis

Logan Vance, Brett Riche, Derek Potter, Patrick Bell, Dallas Wright, Jared Garlick, Rachel Smetanka*
Department of Biology, Southern Utah University

Abstract:
The African Clawed Frog (Xenopus Laevis) is a species of South African aquatic frog found throughout Africa and in specifically introduced populations in North America, South America, and Europe. This species is commonly used as a model of developmental biology due to embryos which are large, easy to manipulate, and rapidly developing. Phos-Chek ® LC-95A, is wildfire retardant commonly used in the western United States. Previous studies have demonstrated that fire retardant has no effect on survival rates in adult aquatic invertebrates. The purpose of the current project is to test the effects of Phos-Chek ® LC-95A on embryo hatch rate and development in Xenopus Laevis. To test hatch rate, various concentrations of fire retardant were introduced into controlled environments which simulated a common freshwater pond containing Xenopus eggs.  Both concentrations of fire retardant were detrimental to hatch rate. To test the effect of fire retardant on development rate, low doses were introduced into similar controlled pond environments containing two week old Xenopus larvae. It is anticipated that low doses of fire retardant will also be detrimental to the larvae development rate.  These results will be used to support and further develop environmental regulations governing the use of wildfire retardant near freshwater sources.

Formulation of Initial Conditions for an N-Body Simulation of a Cluster of Galaxies

Brandon K. Wiggins, Brent A. Sorensen*
Department of Physical Science, Southern Utah University

Abstract:
As part of ongoing research regarding the prospect of detecting transverse motion, we aim to adequately simulate the dynamics of a regular cluster of galaxies. In an overview of the scope of the project, we provide a brief discussion on spherically symmetric, gravitationally bound systems, galactic cluster composition and the nature of the N-Body problem.  We provide tentative models for the intracluster medium and the cold dark matter and detail methods of distributing galaxies along the cluster radius.  We discuss the means whereby each galaxy’s initial velocity vector is produced and explain the basic particle-particle N-body code that will be utilized to simulate the motion of galaxies. Difficulties incident to N-Body simulations are discussed and some possible tactics of overcoming these hurdles are provided.

Perceptions of the Impact of an Equine Program on Student Satisfaction and Retention

Lee G. Wood, Chad L. Gasser, and Dean L. Winward
Department of Agriculture and Nutrition Science, Southern Utah University

Abstract:
The objective of this study was to assess the personal and educational impact of an equine program on students at Southern Utah University (SUU). A survey was developed to be evaluated on a Likert-type scale with 5 response levels. The survey was distributed to students enrolled in equine courses during three consecutive semesters. A total of 163 students voluntarily completed the survey. Students expressed strongest agreement with items related to gaining new knowledge (P < 0.01) and to providing personal benefits. Students also agreed equine courses helped develop skills, and favorably impacted their education at SUU. Almost one-half indicated the horse program influenced their decision to attend or remain at SUU, and 98.8% of students agreed they would recommend the courses to others. It has been concluded that equine courses have a favorable impact on students through personal and educational value, and strengthen the educational experience at SUU.