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Student Research Poster Competition Winners / Abstracts - Biological/Life Sciences


Biological/Life Sciences - 1st Place
The Effects of Over-the Counter Medicines on Plants

By Jonathan Ellis & Robert Akinsanmi, College of Staten Island

This experiment relates to a popular societal practice of using over-the-counter medicines to cure ailments. Some individuals seek pain relief, while others attempt to eliminate the symptoms of ailments that have no cure. The common cold, for example, does not have a cure, but the many available over-the-counter (OTC) medications effectively target symptoms of the ailment such as runny nose, congestion, and cough. Some use “easy to acquire” OTC medications as recreational drugs, and this incorrect usage may lead to multiple health issues. If misused or abused, these drugs may create health hazards that lead to years of ill health; under usage serves no remedial purpose. This project will test the safety and effectiveness of OTC medicines.

Biological/Life Sciences - 2nd Place
The Effects of Different Concentrations of the Plant Growth Substance IAA and Gibberellic Acid on the Growth of Roots and Shoots of Different Legumes

By Jordan Boucicaut, Hofstra University

Plant Growth Substances (PGS) such as Indole-3-acidic Acid (IAA) and Gibberellic Acid (GA) are naturally occurring plant hormones that can be extracted and fed to plants through aqueous solutions, which will yield different results. This study compares the affects of IAA and GA on different legumes. These hormones affect certain plant traits such as height, root, and the bending of the plant to a light source. Studying these chemicals and their affects on plants will provide insight into substances that can assist in seed germination and crop yield. Various concentrations of each PGS was mixed and given to each plant in different pots. Daily quantitative data was recorded for 30 days. Graphs of the various data indicate changes in the plant height, speed/rate of growth, mass, etc. As part of our findings, PGS affect plant behavior.

Biological/Life Sciences - 3rd Place
An Investigation of Floor Characteristics and Exposure Time on Bacterial Transfer,
or is the Five-second Rule Accurate????

By Faith Page, Chris Hewlett, Brooke Percy, Clarkson University

Young children often pick up food off of floors and put it into their mouths. Many people jokingly refer to the “five-second rule” as a measure of safe exposure time after food falls onto the floor. This rule implies that there has not been enough contact time with the floor surface to transfer bacteria that could be harmful to humans. There is increasing concern about the many forms of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. Contact with these strains could result in illnesses that are not easily treated.

Does the type of floor affect the potential amount of bacterial contamination of foods that come in contact with it? We hypothesized that rough, porous floors, or carpets would transfer more bacteria than smooth, non-porous floors. If food comes in contact with a rough, porous surface, it will pick up more bacterial contamination than a floor with a smooth, non-porous surface during comparable time of exposure.

Ten flooring surface samples ranging from porcelain to thick pile carpet were cleaned, disinfected, and exposed to air-borne bacteria in the same location for six days. These surfaces were not exposed to any foot traffic. Three 1 cm2 blocks of nutrient agar represented the ‘food’ and were randomly placed on the floor sample for five seconds then removed to a sterile Petri dish and incubated at 37o C for 24 hours. The process was repeated for a 30 second, 60 second, 120 second, and 300 second exposure for each type of flooring. After incubation, the agar blocks were examined for bacterial colonies and the three counts were averaged.

Results showed that few bacteria were transferred to the nutrient agar during the 5 second and 30 second exposure times. More bacteria were transferred during the 300 second exposure. Porous and rough surfaces, including thick pile carpet, rough stone, and coarse limestone tiles transferred more bacteria than smoother tile samples like ceramic, clay, and porcelain. Both the exposure time and the type of floor surface have an affect on the transfer of bacteria to foods and on our belief in the five-second rule.

SENIOR DIVISON—(Grades: 11—12)

Biological/Life Sciences - 1st Place
Progeria Syndrome—A Study of Intracellular Distribution of Progerin

By Fabian Ortega, Farmingdale State College

Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome (HGPS) is a premature aging disease commonly called Progeria Syndrome. Children affected with this disorder show loss of subcutaneous fat, are of short stature and a small face, possess dystrophic nails, and have many defects commonly found in elderly individuals such as arthritis and atherosclerosis. Since 2003, HGPS disorder has been linked to mutation in the LMNA gene that encodes two major products lamin A and lamin C. Lamin A and C are components of nuclear lamina, a protein meshwork that plays an important role in maintaining the integrity of the nuclear architecture and several nuclear functions. Nearly 90% of patients with HGPS harbor the mutation LMNA G608G. LMNA G608G mutation creates a new splicing site within Exon 11 of LMNA, and elicits the production of a truncated lamin A product, missing 50 amino acid residues at the carboxyl-terminal domain of wild type lamin A protein. This mutation protein is a denoted progerin. This study set up a cellular model to follow the intracellular distribution of progerin, and to define how progerin affects the nuclear compartment. For this purpose, three plasmids encoding either the wild-type lamin A, progerin, or progerin missing the NLS sequence, were used to transfect human dermal fibroblast cultures.

Biological/Life Sciences - 2nd Place
IgG4 Hinge Mutational Analysis

By Mark Araujo, New York Medical College

This study compares the stability of immunoglobulins (antibodies) of the IgG1 and the IgG4 subtypes. IgG is the predominant antibody in human serum, and human IgG4 is the least abundant subclass. The amino acid sequences of the hinge regions of the IgG1 and IgG4 antibody subtypes differ in that the hinge region of IgG4 contains the sequence Cys-Pro-Ser-Cys, while IgG1 contains the sequence Cys-Pro-Pro-Cys. Sequence variation in the hinge regions may be associated with an IgG4 antibody subtype having an interchain disulfide bonding pattern different from other IgG subclasses, such as IgG1. Experiments were performed to determine whether amino acid changes in the hinge region would yield an IgG4 molecule with greater stability (perhaps due to improved interchain disulfide bonding).

Implications for the future: Antibodies having stabilized hinge regions may offer the potential for therapeutics with improved overall pharmacokinetics.

Biological/Life Sciences - 3rd Place
The Hazards of Double Dipping

By Yubelka Hernandez & Asav Vora, Mount Sinai School of Medicine

“Double-dipping” is a technique by which a person places an already bitten food item into a dip. A study performed at Clemson University (CU) by Professor Paul Dawson was the inspiration for this experiment. The CU experiment determined that three to six “double-dips” transferred approximately 10,000 bacteria from the mouth of the eater, into the dip. The purpose of this experiment is to confirm that a significant transfer of bacteria occurs through “double-dipping.” The experiment was taken a step further by determining the types of bacteria transferred, and the potential for serious health risks. Three dip tests were conducted using cheese, salsa, a combination of salsa and cheese, and ketchup. The experiment also analyzed samples of bacteria under a microscope and identified the types of bacteria. Our results concluded that a significant amount of bacteria was present, and this can be important because this process can spread disease.



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