2010 COSE Research Symposium

The 2010 College of Science and Engineering Research Symposium was held on Monday, November 8, 2010, here are synopses of the presentations.

Impact of Type of Food Service on Plate Waste in a Hospital Setting

Bailey Nielson and Cynthia Wright

Bailey Groll Nielson and Cynthia Wright, Ph.D.
Department of Agriculture and Nutrition Sciences, Southern Utah University


Valley View Medical Center planned to change their food service operation from traditional service to room service. To assess the effectiveness of this change, the researchers were asked to evaluate plate waste pre- and post-room service. This was done using the visual plate waste method for three meals per day for seven days both before and after the transition. With over 200 different foods served to patients, foods were grouped into ten categories in order to simplify the analysis and interpretation of the results. Data was analyzed using chi-square. Results revealed that food waste in eight of the ten categories decreased significantly after room service was instituted.

Effects of Consistent Water Fluctuation on Growth in Amphibian Larvae

Katrina Slabaugh, Cynthiana Harper, and Betsy Bancroft

Katrina E. Slabaugh, Cynthiana Harper and Betsy A. Bancroft, Ph.D.
Department of Biology, Southern Utah University


The recent rapid changes in climate have the potential to negatively affect many species, including amphibians. Projected changes in climate include regional changes in temperature and precipitation. We intend to study and compare the larval growth rate and time to metamorphosis in two species of salamander larvae in experimental fluctuating hydroperiods. Larvae will be subjected to one of three replicated treatments. Salamander larvae will be exposed to either a continuous high water level (control); weekly reduction in water level (reduction); or a fluctuating treatment where water will be reduced on week and added the next week (fluctuating). Each treatment will be replicated 6 times in two different species. We expect that the salamanders in the fluctuating treatment will have the highest growth rates, those in the control will show normal growth rates, and the reduction treatment will show the second highest growth rates. Few direct relationships between growth and climate change have been studied in amphibians. Our results may clarify the relationship between life-history parameters and relevant effects of climate change in an important vertebrate group.

Impact of Cocoa Powder on Postprandial Blood Glucose

Shelynne Wilcox, Alicia Jensen, and Cynthia Wright

Shelynne Wilcox, Alicia Jensen, Cynthia Wright, Ph.D.
Department of Agriculture and Nutrition Science, Southern Utah University


This study hypothesized that food products with chocolate flavoring would elicit a lower postprandial blood glucose (BG) response than the same food product without chocolate. Healthy young adults (n=22, 7 men, 15 women) were recruited. Products pairs were matched based on protein, fat, carbohydrate, and calorie content, differing only on chocolate content. The product categories were beverage, ice cream, and cake. Subjects consumed test products after an over-night fast. BG was measured at baseline, 30 minutes and 60 minutes after eating the food using standard BG testing methods. Data were analyzed using repeated measure ANOVA. The within-pair blood glucose did not differ for any of the three product pairs. For all of the chocolate products, the mean 30-minute blood glucose increase was 17.7, compared to 20.3 for the non-chocolate products. The greatest difference occurred between yellow and chocolate cupcakes. The smallest difference was between vanilla and chocolate ice cream.

Knowledge, Attitudes and Behaviors Related to Osteoporosis

Cynthia Torgerson and Cynthia Wright

Cynthia Torgerson and Cynthia Wright, Ph.D.
Department of Agriculture and Nutrition Science, Southern Utah University


Osteoporosis is a condition where bones become porous and can break easily. Osteoporosis is a major public health threat for an estimated 44 million Americans. The National Osteoarthritis Foundation estimates that 10 million Americans currently have the disease and an additional 34 million are at risk of developing osteoporosis. This study sought to determine if there is a difference in knowledge, attitudes and/or behavior about osteoporosis between men and women. An 18-question survey was distributed to participants (n=311) between the ages of 18 and 90. Data was analyzed using chi square. Results revealed a significant difference between men and women.

Analyzing Lipid Contents in Algae Sample and Studying Gas Emission in Algae Bio-fuel

Samuel Murray, Ronald Martin, Kim Weaver, Robert Fulton, and Renwu Zhang

Samuel Murray, Ronald Martin, Ph.D., Kim Weaver, Ph.D., Robert Fulton and
Renwu Zhang, Ph.D.
Departments of Physical Science and Biology


Algae bio-fuel is called the third generation of bio-fuel due to its many superiorities to its precedents. For instance, unlike corn related bio-fuel, algae do not invade crop lands so they will not compete with food supply for human beings. Algae have a very high annual yield, about 50 times more oil production than traditional corn bio-fuel. In addition, algae bio-fuel does not generate any net CO2 since algae absorb CO2 during growth. Therefore, development of the bio-fuel has aroused great interest among science communities and industrial entrepreneurs.
The traditional way is to extract lipids from algae cells and further process them into liquid bio-fuel via esterification. This process is not only costly but also inefficient. We are trying to develop a new type of algae bio-fuel, known as powder algae bio-fuel. Since the lipid content in algae is the most important parameter in algae bio-fuel, we are seeking algae with high lipid contents. In our work, we analyzed the lipid content in the algae samples collected from local environment via solvent extraction method. In addition, in order to comply with EPA regulations, we sent algae samples to Standard Laboratory for element analysis. We also analyzed the chemical components in emission gases using gas chromatography (GC) at the Physical Science Department of SUU. By combining two sets of data, we will identify the chemicals generated during the combustion of our powder algae samples.

Preliminary Identification of Bacteria From Thermo Hot Spring in Southwestern Utah

Sue Finstick and Terri Hildebrand

Sue A. Finstick, Ph.D. and Terri J. Hildebrand, Ph.D.
Departments of Biology and Physical Science, Southern Utah University


Thermo Hot Springs are undeveloped springs in the Sevier desert region. Local geothermal power development identified alluvium and volcanic rock overlying sedimentary and metamorphic rock with a granite base. Northeast and -west fault zones intersect, allowing deep, hot, circulating groundwater to ascend as thermal pools. We sampled pool water temperatures, pH, soil and microbial mat communities. Genomic DNA was purified, 16S rDNA regions amplified, and sequence data compared to sequences in GenBank. Water temperatures and pH values were between 50-75°C and 5.0-7.0, respectively. Microbial sequence similarity analyses were most comparable to thermophiles, anaerobes, and metalotolerant microorganisms. Future work will explore cloning protocols that isolate individual sequence data within each sample and water chemistry analyses, particularly arsenic. Extremophile studies add to our understanding of Earth’s earliest life forms, the environments in which they occur, and the selective pressures that play a key role in their evolution.

Food Security at Southern Utah University

Laura Humphries and Cynthia Wright

Laura Humphries and Cynthia Wright, Ph.D.
Department of Agriculture and Nutrition Science, Southern Utah University


The purpose of this study was to assess changes in food security (FS) status of SUU students, staff, and faculty, to determine if FS is increasing or decreasing, and to determine if respondents believe the economy affected their FS. Data were gathered using a survey developed by the USDA. Data was analyzed using frequencies, chi square, and paired t-tests. A total of 815 surveys were returned in 2009 while 821 surveys were returned in 2008 (n=1636). Results showed that respondents were more worried that food would run before the end of the month (p=0.042) and less food secure (p=0.006) in 2008 than in 2009. Nearly 40 percent of respondents indicated that there had been a significant change in household income over the past six month; ninety percent said the change was negative. Thirty percent of respondents said the change in their income was a result of the current economic situation.

Synthesis and Characterization of Novel Macromolecules

Guizella Rocabado, Brack Mulliner, and Mackay Steffensen

Guizella A. Rocabado, D. Brack Mulliner, and Mackay B. Steffensen, Ph.D.
Department of Physical Science, Southern Utah University


Dendrimers, a type of synthetic macromolecule, present perfect branching from a central point, differing from the traditional linear polymer. The linkage groups provide a scaffold from which the branching emanates, and typically allow flexibility within the molecule. Our focus is constructing dendrimers with linkage groups that limit the flexibility of the molecule. Various synthetic procedures will be applied, and resulting molecules studied to understand their physical and chemical properties. We will compare general heating to a more controlled microwave heating system. This may result in quicker, more efficient syntheses of the dendrimers, providing a series of molecules useful in identifying potential unique properties and applications.

The Combined Effects of Hydroperiod and Tadpole Density on Spring Peepers (Pseudacris crucifer)

Kristin Beauchamp, Whitney Lee, Jennifer Young, Katrina Slabaugh, Amy Christoffersen, and Betsy Bancroft

Kristin Beauchamp, Whitney Lee, Jennifer Young, Katrina Slabaugh, Amy Christoffersen and Betsy A. Bancroft, Ph.D.
Department of Biology, Southern Utah University


Environmental stress can structure communities and alter population size in natural systems. In addition, exposure to environmental stress can alter life-history characteristics such as survival and growth rates. Although historically studied in a single-stressor context, environmental stressors often occur simultaneously in natural systems. Using spring peeper (Pseudacris crucifer) tadpoles, we are researching the combined effects of two common environmental stressors for amphibians: hydroperiod and tadpole density. Specifically, we are studying the effects of these two stressors on mortality and time to metamorphosis with a subsequent test of individual nitrate avoidance in the juvenile frogs. Changes in time to metamorphosis and nitrate avoidance could both have direct impacts on individual survival, as time to metamorphosis is often related to size of the juvenile frog (larger juveniles tend to have higher survival rates) and nitrate avoidance is important in avoiding toxic chemicals. The results of this experiment could provide useful information towards the understanding of multiple stressor effects on amphibians, as well as insight into possible population-level consequences.

Zion National Park and Glen Canyon Peregrine Falcon Eyrie Location Model with Solar Analysis

Heston Smith, David Maxwell, and Brent Hetzler

Heston Smith, David Maxwell, Brent Hetzler
Department of Physical Science


Zion National Park’s Peregrine falcons have been studied by park staff for years. They have maintained a database that contains eyrie attributes from 1975 to the present. This database includes the latitude and longitude. Using GIS and the latitude and longitude it is possible to plot a point and then find the slope, aspect, and other spatial attributes of that point. Using the found values for the recorded eyries it is possible to create a predictive eyrie location model. This analysis also includes a solar analysis that starts March 1st and runs through July 15th. This time period is when Peregrine falcons pick their eyries and when they leave them for the year. A solar analysis was integrated into the analysis after reading a study about a habitat model for Big Horn Sheep that was created using GIS. That study suggested that since solar radiation is a vital part of biological processes it should be included in habitat models. Information about peregrine falcon behavior was gained from an interview with Brent Hetlzer, A Zion National Park peregrine falcon expert. The analysis results will be submitted to Zion National Park’s Resource Management.

The Gold Butte – Beaver Dam Trend, Utah, Arizona, and Nevada: A Paleoproterozoic Collisional Boundary

Mark Colberg

Mark R. Colberg, Ph.D.
Department of Physical Science, Southern Utah University


The boundary between the Paleoproterozoic Mojave and Yavapai Provinces is exposed from the Beaver Dam Mountains, Utah, to the Gold Butte region in Nevada. Within the 1.8 Ga basement exposed in this region, the Beaver Dam – Gold Butte Trend, evidence exists for a major collisional boundary. This evidence includes 1) the presence of ultramafic bodies containing primary olivine, clinopyroxene, and orthopyroxene (lherzolite) interpreted to be of mantle origin, 2) kilometer scale shear zones in the Virgin Mountains, also containing numerous mafic and ultramafic bodies, and 3) the presence of similar shear zones in the Beaver Dam Mountains. In this latter occurrence, pods of garnet-clinopyroxenite, retrograded eclogite, and possible retrograded coesite inclusions in garnet, suggest pressures in excess of 2.2 Gpa, and possibly as high as 2.7 Gpa. These features are consistent with a collisional suture, and given the extremely high pressures suggested for rocks in the Beaver Dam Mountains, collision between continental masses.

A Journey through Cedar Canyon: A Structural Geology Story

Stephanie Child, Daniel Curtis, Brooke Hinkle, Sean Julander, Roger Leavitt, John Lewin, Skyler May, Lundyn Milne, Brad Nielson, Brady Nielson, Brian Nielson, Kimberly Richards, Aaron Rodriguez, Andrew Shroeder, Casey Webb, and Johnny MacLean

Stephanie Child, Daniel Curtis, Brooke Hinkle, Sean Julander, Roger Leavitt, John Lewin, Skyler May, Lundyn Milne, Brad Nielson, Brady Nielson, Brian Nielson, Kimberly Richards, Aaron Rodriguez, Andrew Shroeder, Casey Webb and Johnny MacLean, Ph.D.
Department of Physical Science, Southern Utah University


The Cretaceous-age Sevier Orogeny is a fold and thrust belt that is well exposed in southern Utah. Cedar Canyon contains contractional structures that may be related to the Sevier Orogeny but have not been well characterized. Analysis of these structures provides insight into the geologic history of southern Utah. Furthermore, the close proximity of Cedar Canyon to Southern Utah University’s campus allows an excellent opportunity to implement concepts covered in GEO 3510. To complete this analysis, our class documented outcrop locations and recorded orientations of structures. Based on our observations and data, we distinguished multiple episodes of deformation. Some of these structures appear related to the east-directed Sevier Orogeny. However, other structures are not east-directed. Future research could elucidate relationships between these structures and the stresses involved.

Caffeine Stimulant and Substandard Sleep

Jackie Fredrickson, Megan Michaelsen, Nicole Schmutz, Karisa Wilcken, and Alan Pearson

Jackie Fredrickson, Megan Michaelsen, Nicole Schmutz, Karisa Wilcken and Alan Pearson, Ph.D.
Department of Nursing, Southern Utah University


The National Sleep Foundation recommends adults to receive 7-9 hours of sleep each night to function at an optimal level, but there raises the question “Do SUU students receive the sleep they need and what factors play into their sleep quality?” There are various studies on the role that caffeine plays in sleep-deprived people. Caffeine is a stimulant and therefore many people use it to remain alert during the day. One study suggests that a decrease in the consumption of caffeine would lead to an increase in sleep duration and quality. Caffeine’s half-life ranges from about 2.5-4.5 hours and thus should not be taken before bedtime. After researching caffeine and sleep and watching peers increased caffeine intake with poor sleep habits, we hypothesize that increased caffeine use leads to decreased satisfaction with sleep. Samples of the SUU population were surveyed to determine correlations of sleep habits and intake of caffeine to help further our study.

Hydration Status of Collegiate Female Basketball Players at Southern Utah University

Christopher Frehner, Mykel Walsh, and Matthew Schmidt

Christopher Frehner, Mykel Walsh, and Matthew Schmidt, Ph.D.
Department OF Agriculture and Nutrition Science, Southern Utah University


The purpose was to determine hydration status in collegiate female basketball players and examine if education would improve hydration status. Urine samples were collected before and after practice. Urine specific gravities (USG) were measured to determine hydration status. Team’s average preseason USG was 1.020 at the beginning and 1.024 at the end of practice. Education/strategies on proper hydration were provided after preseason measurements. Athletes were instructed to implement strategies and notified of the next set of USG measurements. Average USGs for this measurement were 1.017 and 1.018. A third measurement was taken later in the season and athletes were unaware of the measurement. This was done to test if the improved hydration status found in the second measurement would continue. The average USGs were 1.018 at the beginning and 1.023 at the end of practice. These findings suggest that education/strategies provided did improve hydration status throughout the season.

Utah Prairie Dog Conservation and Relocation

Dillon Monroe, Cameron Jack, Paul Spruell, and Betsy Bancroft

Dillon Monroe, Cameron Jack, Paul Spruell, Ph.D. and Betsy Bancroft, Ph.D.
Department of Biology, Southern Utah University


The Utah prairie dog (Cynomys parvidens) is only located in south central Utah in about 7 different counties with 70-75% of the population existing on private land. The DWR, the U.S.FW, Panoramaland RC&D, and many private land owners, are working to conserve these animals. Panoramaland, in coordination with these organizations, have come up with a “credit exchange” and Safe Harbor program to better work with the private land owners. One of the problems is finding suitable land to relocate prairie dogs. I will look at why there is such a high population of prairie dogs on private land, if they are migrating to these lands due to clearing and farming or if the same land that is attracting us is the same land that attracts prairie dogs. This will provide information on where to find “sellers” of these credits and where to focus the Safe Harbor program.

Comparison of the Impact of High Fructose Corn Syrup and other Sweeteners on Postprandial Blood Glucose

Lauren Banks, Mary Pollock, Annie Quintanilla, and Cynthia Wright

Lauren Banks, Mary Pollock, Annie Quintanilla and Cynthia Wright, Ph.D.
Department of Agriculture and Nutrition Science, Southern Utah University


The average American consumes 50 gallons of soda each year and soda is the primary source of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in the American diet. HFCS has been blamed for the rise in obesity and increasing the rate of diabetes. The objective of this study was to determine the effect of HFCS and other sweeteners on blood glucose (BG). Each day, for five days, Kool-Aid was made with a different sweetener and the subjects (n=20) consumed one cup. BG was measured at baseline, 30-minutes and 60-minutes post beverage consumption. Peak BG (30-minute mean) differed between HFCS and two of the sweeteners: agave (p=0.014), and Truvia® (p=0.021). There was no significant difference between the impact HFCS, sugar or honey had on BG.

Revision of the Antarctic Genus Austropallene Hodgson 1915 (Pycnogonida: Callipallenidae)

Fredric Govedich, Steven Price, and Bonnie Bain

Fredric R. Govedich,Ph.D, Steven J. Price, Bonnie A. Bain, Ph.D.
Department of Biology


The Antarctic pycnogonid genus Austropallene is revised and 8 new, hidden/cryptic species and 1 new genus are described, based on an examination of ovigerous leg spines. With the advent of molecular techniques for rapid comparison of genomes of different populations of a single species, there have been a number of recent discoveries of cryptic, sibling species reported. Here we take a different approach, the examination of key morphological characters (ovigerous leg spines) among different populations of a single widespread species, Austropallene cornigera, and demonstrate that each population has a unique set of ovigerous leg spines. We then expand this analysis to the remaining species within the genus. Use of this technique has allowed us to discover several new cryptic species within the A. cornigera species group and one new genus, Tarapallene. It is quite possible that additional use of this criterion will reveal many more previously hidden species.

Sexual Dimorphism in the Japanese Sea Spider, Propallene longiceps Schimkewitsch, 1909 (Pycnogonida: Callipallenidae)

Fredric Govedich, Bonnie Bain, Marlena Martinez, and Anthony Herrick

Fredric R. Govedich, Ph.D., Bonnie A. Bain, Ph.D., Marlena Martinez, and Anthony Herrick
Departments of Biology and Mathematics


Pycnogonids or sea spiders are marine arachnids found in all marine ecosystems. Most pycnogonids tend to be small (2-5 mm) in size and cryptically colored, making them difficult to find and study. The sexes are separate and they exhibit sexual dimorphism. Females tend to be larger in body size than males, but other than that, very little has been done to quantify sexual dimorphism in this group. We obtained several hundred preserved individuals of a single pycnogonid species, Propallene longiceps, from the Smithsonian Institution and photographed and measured a number of representative male and female specimens. We found quite a few differences between males and females in this species including the female femur being quite different from the male femur in several dimensions (mid-femur width, width at proximal end, width at distal end) and other structures, including propodus and ovigerous leg were quite different in each sex also.

Role of Weaponry in Male-Male Competition in the Madagascar Cockroach (Gromphadorhina portentosa)

Steven Price, Fred Govedich, and Bonnie Bain

Steven Price, Fred Govedich, Ph.D., and Bonnie Bain, Ph.D.
Department of Biology


Madagascar hissing cockroaches are sexually dimorphic with males bearing a pair of “horns” used in contests. Many aspects of intrasexual competition in males of this species have been studied. The direct role of pronotal weaponry in male competition is not known however.

Synthesis and Host Guest Chemistry of Macrocyclic Crown Ethers

Joseph Brewer, Joseph Carpenter, Sean Davis, Challis Pickering, Whitney Lee, Kashae Hardinger, and J. Redd

Joseph Brewer,* Joseph E. Carpenter, Sean Davis, Challis Pickering, Whitney Lee, Kashae Hardinger, and J. Ty Redd, Ph.D.
Department of Physical Science


New macrocyclic ligands containing a pyridine subcyclic unit, a pyrimidine subcyclic unit, and a trazine subcyclic unit are being prepared. These new crown ethers will add to the understanding of macrocyclic complexation and enatiomeric recognition. The fluorescence properties will be studies on the new macrocyclic compounds that have a chromophore added to them. The basic structure of these crowns will be prepared by treating the appropriate oligoethylene glycol deriviatives with the appropriate pyridine, pyrimidine, and triazine heterocycles. A 2,6-pyridinedimethanol has been prepared from a mixture of chelidonic acid and ammonia, and also from commercially available chelidamic acid. A 2,6-pyrimidinedimethanol has been prepared from a mixture diethyl oxalate and ethyl acetate followed by acetamidine hydrochloride, and also from a mixture of commercially available diethyl oxalacetate and aceamidine hydrochloride. Once the basic crown ether ligands have been prepared an isolated complexation studies will be completed. Finally a chromophore will be added and the fluorescence properties of the macrocycle and its complexes will be studies.

Black Holes Big and Small

James Chisholm

James Chisholm, Ph.D.
Department of Physical Science


Black holes have long been a topic of great interest for both scientists and the public alike. I will briefly describe the history and physics of black holes before discussing some current areas of research: theoretical research involving black holes produced in the early universe (primordial black holes), and observational research involving the search for nearby isolated accreting black holes in our galaxy.

Developing Polymeric Separation Microdevices for Protein and Small Molecule Analysis

Daniel Eves

Daniel J. Eves, Ph.D.
Department of Physical Science


The advent of polymeric material use in microchip fabrication has made research in microfluidic separations more practical and efficient. I am fabricating microchips constructed from a poly(methyl methacrylate) substrate, and using a hot embossing technique to imprint separation channels. The open format of these microfluidic devices allows for analysis of proteins and small molecules using both electrochemical and spectroscopic techniques. I am investigating new ways to construct templates using rapid prototyping methods, which are then strengthened to increase the number of hot embossed substrates per template.

Six New Proposed Geoscience Research Efforts and Collaborations

Johnny MacLean

Johnny MacLean, Ph.D.
Department of Physical Science


Geoscience majors at Southern Utah University (SUU) are required to complete a capstone research project before graduation. Also, SUU has mandated a new experiential education requirement, which includes outdoor and creative engagement. To provide students options for meeting these requirements, I propose six new research efforts and collaborations designed for individual and/or groups of undergraduates: 1) structural analysis of the Triassic and Jurassic sedimentary units in Cedar Canyon; 2) mapping and analysis of the Precambrian geology in the Beaver Dam and Virgin Mountains; 3) geologic mapping and structural analysis of the Ruby’s Inn Thrust near Bryce Canyon; 4) geologic mapping and analysis of the Sevier Orogeny in the Confusion Range, western Utah; 5) hydrogeology analysis of the spring system in Cedar Breaks National Monument; and 6) geoscience education research involving the incorporation of secondary students in ongoing geologic research.

Describing bacterial Communities in Irrigation Water from Southern Utah Using DNA Sequence Analysis

Ryan Adams, Greg Barnes, Taylor Foulger, Terri Hildebrand, and Paul Spruell

Ryan Adams, Greg Barnes, Taylor Foulger, Terri Hildebrand, Ph.D. and Paul Spruell, Ph.D.
Department of Biology


Access to clean water is essential to life. Worldwide, water is used for both drinking and agricultural purposes; therefore, pathogen free water is paramount to healthy living. Current approaches to water testing are limited in scope and do not detect non-pathogenic or atypical bacteria. This research seeks to describe the bacterial communities of irrigation water found in Iron County, Utah using DNA sequencing analysis. During this research bacterial DNA has been isolated from three irrigation water samples and methodology verified using negative and positive controls. Using the polymerase chain reaction we’ve amplified the 16s rRNA region. Additional analysis will target DNA sequence data from an array of microbial species, e.g. fungi and archae. Results from this research provide a starting point in the understanding of composition in freshwater microbial communities, and future research will focus on manipulating water chemistry to alter community-level interactions, potentially reducing the prevalence of pathogenic bacteria.

Activated Carbon Effects on Invasive Grasses: Choking Out Exotic Species

Chad Huntsman and T. Hildebrand

Chad Huntsman and T. Hildebrand, Ph. D.
Department of Biology


Invasive grasses are a problem in natural habitats, resulting in the alteration of ecosystem processes. Earlier studies have shown increased cheatgrass dominance and decreased nutrient availability with activated carbon (AC) amended soils, suggesting higher germination requirements for invasive species. We hypothesized AC application decreases germination and growth in three invasive grass species. Seeds were sown under controlled conditions in soil-less mixtures amended with 0, 25, 50, 75, and 100% AC. Germination, growth and final biomass were recorded. Statistical analyses revealed significant differences among treatments both among and within species. For all species, plants grown in 50% amended AC soils outperformed those in 25, 75, and 100% amendments, and, in some cases, even plants grown in 0% control soils. We suggest growth differences may be due to changes in soil electroconductivity and pH. Results from this study may aid in the conservation of native plant species and re-establishment productive agricultural rangeland.

Algae Jet Fuel

Ron Martin, Renwu Zhang, and Robert Fulton

Ron Martin, Ph.D.*, Renwu Zhang, Ph.D., Robert Fulton
Departments of Biology and Physical Science


Algae hold the potential to become a major source of renewable energy in the future. Algae can be fermented to produce ethanol or processed to produce biodiesel. Algae grow naturally in many aquatic environments and can be used to detoxify waste water. An added attractiveness of algae comes from the fact that the conversion of algae into fuel does not negatively impact world food supplies. However, when algae are converted into either ethanol or biodiesel up to 80% of the biomass is left over. This is currently a significant impediment in the widespread use of algae as fuel. We report an entirely new fuel type that utilizes 100% of the algae biomass. Algae biomass is processed to produce spherical nanoparticles that are composed of entire algae cell. These nanoparticles have the consistency of a dry powder yet due to their unique characteristics they are able to flow through engine delivery systems and combust in rudimentary jet engines.

Baseline study of A1C and Blood Pressure Among SUU Students, Faculty, and Staff

Aimee Roberts, Lauren Leavitt, Erica Simm, R. Newby, Zach Drennan, and Cynthia Wright

Aimee Roberts, Lauren Leavitt, Erica Simm, R. Kelsey Newby, Zach Drennan, and Cynthia Wright, Ph.D.
Departments of Agriculture & Nutrition Science and Biology


Diabetes is the primary cause of adult blindness, kidney failure, and limb amputation. It is also a large contributor to heart attacks and strokes. It is estimated that 14% of Americans have diabetes yet many of them are unaware of the condition. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of individuals with diabetes is projected to at least double by 2050. The goal of this project is to determine the A1C status of students, faculty, and staff at SUU, and to examine the relationship between A1C levels and other health variables. Although the A1C test is simple and easy, it is inaccessible to many people because of the cost. Our project will not only raise awareness of the importance of A1C levels, but it will also give the SUU population an opportunity to participate in an A1C test and learn actions necessary to maintain personal health.

Invertebrate Density and Abundance in Relation to Stream Structure

Curtis Roundy, Boyd Goodwin, Jake Mecham, Paul Spruell, and Fredric Govedich

Curtis Roundy, Boyd Goodwin, and Jake Mecham, Paul Spruell, Ph.D. and Fredric Govedich, Ph.D.
Department of Biology


Many different abiotic factors play a role in determining density and abundance of various species in aquatic ecosystems. We present data that suggests factors such as pH level, O2 saturation, and water temperature have an impact on stream dwelling aquatic invertebrates. The structure of the stream bed itself also correlates with invertebrate density and abundance by creating microhabitats such as riffles and pools. Five Southern Utah streams were chosen as sampling sites. We determined that the density and abundance of invertebrates were greater in riffles areas as opposed to pool areas, and that density and abundance were most affected by water temperature and O2 saturation as opposed to pH. These results suggest that the condition of the stream can have impacts on aquatic invertebrate density and abundance that can in turn have an effect on other organisms in the system.

Analysis of Haplopappus linearifolius (Asteraceae) Essential Oils

Jared Weaver, T. Hildebrand, and K. Weaver

Jared Weaver, T. Hildebrand, Ph.D. and K. Weaver, Ph.D.
Departments of Biology and Physical Science


Plant essential oils consist of a mixture of various terpenoids. Extracted oils for economically important plants have been examined for their ability to inhibit microbial growth, including pathogenic bacteria. In contrast, native plants are seldom examined for oil properties, yet they are expected to have evolved unique mixtures due to selective pressures. Objectives of our study were to 1) isolate and characterize oils from a native Intermountain chaparral shrub (Haplopappus linearifolius DC.), and 2) determine antimicrobial activity against environmental bacteria. We hypothesized oils significantly inhibit growth of environmental bacteria and consist of terpenoid mixtures dissimilar to commonly analyzed oils. Extracts were obtained using steam distillation and analyzed by gas chromatography. Antimicrobial activity was analyzed employing the Kirby-Bauer disc method. Oil consisted of two major components and inhibition zones were present for pure oil applications. Future directions include bacteria identification, testing activity against pathological bacteria, and characterizing active components of oil.

Food on the Campus of Southern Utah University

Bryn Wood, Katie Hamrick, and Cynthia Wright

Bryn Wood, Katie Hamrick and Cynthia Wright, Ph.D.
Department of Agriculture and Nutrition Science


Southern Utah University is unofficially split into three areas: lower campus, middle campus, and upper campus. Although lower campus has plenty of accessible, healthy food (and middle campus is within range to benefit from this food), upper campus offers food only from vending machines. The purpose of this research was to (a) assess the SUU community’s interest in offering healthy, non-vending machine food on the upper campus of SUU, (b) identify the specific foods that would sell best on upper campus, and ultimately (c) conduct a food venue on upper campus to assess the SUU community’s support of such a site. The SUU community’s response to this project demonstrated that there is interest in a permanent food venue on upper campus. Support was shown by those who purchased food during the week-long trial, those who completed the survey, and those who spoke with or emailed the researchers to express support.

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

Zane Baird, Samuel Murray, James Chisholm, Hussein Samha, and Renwu Zhang

Zane Baird, Samuel Murray, James Chisholm, Ph.D., Hussein Samha Ph.D., and Renwu Zhang, Ph.D.
Department of Physical Science


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.

Structural Studies of a Halophilic Archaeal Malate Synthase

Colten Bracken, Amber Neighbor, and Bruce Howard

Colten D. Bracken, Amber M. Neighbor and Bruce R. Howard, Ph.D.
Department of Physical Science


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. We have recently determined the X-ray crystal structure of a malate synthase from the halophilic archaeon Haloferax volcanii, originally isolated from the mud of the Dead Sea, complexed with substrates and an inhibitor to investigate the catalytic mechanism of the enzyme.