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Back to Division Mathematics and the Natural Sciences > Division Events

Sigma Xi Honor Society Research Poster Session 2012

Sigma Xi The Scientific Research Society, Queens College Chapter, celebrated the 26th anniversary of its Research Poster Session on Thursday, March 22th, 2012, 10am to 1pm, in the main lobby of the Science Building (SB). 

Faculty and students presented research they have conducted in various scientific disciplines across Queens College.  The campus community was welcome to come, ask questions, and learn more about the exciting and diverse science research happening on campus.  For more information about the event, please contact:

The 2012 event has concluded.  Details of future events may appear on the Division website.

Video of Event

Abstracts of Posters

Note: For minor formatting corrections to abstracts below, please contact Matt Huenerfauth


Poster #01

Synthesizing American Sign Language Spatially Inflected Verbs from Motion-Capture Data

Pengfei Lu, Matt Huenerfauth

Computer Science Department, Queens College and The Graduate Center

Software to present information in the form of American Sign Language (ASL) animations can improve the accessibility of websites, communication, and information for deaf adults with limited written-English literacy.  Unfortunately, the understandability and realism of these animations depends on their accurate handling of key ASL linguistic details, including ASL signs whose performance depends on the context of the sentence in which they appear.  Such signs cannot simply be stored in a pre-built lexicon; they must be synthesized as needed.  We introduce a method for using motion-capture data collected from native signers to model and synthesize animations of ASL verbs whose performance is affected by the arrangement of locations in 3D space representing entities under discussion.  ASL animations synthesized from the model were judged by signers to be of similar quality to those produced by a human animator.


Poster #02

Microglial Development and Response to Sensory Deprivation in Mouse Barrel Cortex

John Kalambogias1, Safraz Khan2, Carolyn Headlam3, Titus Son1, Chia-Chien Chen4, Joshua C. Brumberg1,3,4

1. Neuroscience Major, Queens College

2. Biology Department, Queens College

3. Psychology Department, Queens College

4. The Neuropsychology Subprogram (Psychology), The Graduate Center

The barrel cortex is the region of rodent cerebral cortex that corresponds faithfully to the processing signals from the vibrissae. Although a significant amount of information regarding the neuronal circuitry, dynamics, and development within this specialized somatosensory region has been elucidated, relatively little is known about the property of glial components, especially with regards to microglial populations. Microglia are the principal immune cells of the nervous system that responds to the constantly updating cellular environment in a very dynamic fashion. Here, we investigated the normal as well as disrupted development of microglial profile in maturing barrel cortex by chronically depriving sensory signals via whisker trimming every other day for thirty days. For the normal development timeline, animals were sacrificed at postnatal day 14, 30, 45, and 60. Using immunohistochemical approaches to reveal labeled microglia (Iba-1), we performed morphological reconstructions as well as densitometry analyses of the microglial population as a function of maturation time and sensory experience. Our findings suggested that the expression of microglia appear to vary as a function of developmental age and is highest at postnatal day 45. Microglia densities are highest in the supragranular layers of the barrel cortex. In addition, alterations in sensory experience via whisker trimming from birth does not dramatically impact expression of Iba-1, but increases the number of processes ends and cell body size and decreases process length of microglia. These findings suggest that a transitional transformation occurs between resting microglia and activation as a result of sensory deprivation.  Increased numbers of activated microglia as well morphological changes might be reflective of the brains need to remove tissue during critical periods for structural plasticity such as during development and in response to chronic deprivation. The results from this study will add to our understanding how brain circuits can rapidly adapt to changes in the sensory environment that the animal experiences.


Poster #03

Effect of linguistic maskers on speech recognition performance

for non-native and native English speakers.

Rosemarie Ott BA,  Jennifer Weintraub BA, Lauren Calandruccio Ph.D., CCC-A

Linguistics and Communications Disorders (LCD) Department, Queens College

Speech recognition in competing noise is often more difficult when the competing noise includes linguistic information. Previous research has shown, that native English listeners experience a release from masking when the competing speech is spoken in a language other than English (e.g., Freyman et al, 2001). In the current study, sentence-in-noise recognition for both native and non-native English speaking listeners was assessed.  Sentences were presented in the presence of four different two-talker maskers that varied in linguistic content but were spectrally normalized to each other.  The maskers ranged from English spoken by a native-English speaker to varying intelligibility levels of mandarin-accented English speech. Twenty sentences were presented per masker (100 keywords/condition), at a signal-to-noise ratio of -5 dB and +1dB for native and non-native English speaking listeners, respectively.  Results indicated that there were no significant differences between masking conditions for the non-native listeners. However, the native-English listeners found the English masker significantly more difficult compared to the Mandarin-accented speech maskers. These results suggest that the native English listeners benefit from masking release even when the competing language is spoken in English, but accented. Non-native listeners did not benefit from such a masking release.


Poster #04

An Animal Conflict Model of Abstinence and Relapse

Joshua A. Peck, Racheli Wercberger and Robert Ranaldi

Department of Psychology, Queens College

An important component in the treatment of drug addiction is understanding the mechanisms that underlie the cycle of binging, abstinence, and relapse.  Researchers have attempted to study these mechanisms mostly by using the reinstatement model (Carroll & Comer, 1996; Shaham & Miczek, 2003; Felentstein, Altar & See, 2007). However, the reinstatement model lacks face and construct validity because there are no negative consequences of drug seeking.  In humans, abstinence is often self-imposed, not forced through extinction (as it is in the reinstatement model), and drug relapse involves the conflict situation of choosing between the drug, which comes with negative consequences, and abstinence.  To better approximate the human condition, we used a paradigm that established drug use in rats and then introduced a conflict situation (electric barrier).   Rats were trained on a fixed ratio 1 (FR1) schedule of reinforcement; each active lever press produced an intravenous heroin injection paired with a discrete light cue.  After self-administration was acquired and rate of pressing remained steady for 15 consecutive sessions, an electric barrier was introduced by electrifying the grid floor area near the levers in order to model the negative consequences of continued drug taking. Drug-reinforced responding decreased with increased shock intensities until abstinence was achieved (no active lever presses for three consecutive sessions).  This was followed by a relapse test, where the effect of non-contingent light-cue presentations led to the resumption of active lever pressing, with the electric barrier activated.  Further, results indicate there were significantly more active than inactive lever presses in the relapse test. The utility of our conflict-based abstinence/relapse model is discussed for studying the effects of other stimuli known to provoke relapse in humans and as a suitable model for future behavioral and pharmacological relapse. prevention strategies.


Poster #05

Dendritic Spines Over Lifespan Development in Layer VI Barrel Cortex Neurons

David A.Orner1, 2, Daniella E.Orner2, Chia-Chien Chen3, Joshua C. Brumberg 1, 2,3

1. Neuroscience Major, Queens College

2. Department of Psychology Queens College

3. Neuropsychology Subprogram, The Graduate Center, CUNY

Dendritic spines are small protrusions that serve as principal source of excitatory inputs onto cortical cells.  Alterations in spine density and morphology will correlate with both developmental maturity and changes in synaptic strength. In order to better understand the developmental profile of dendritic spine morphology and density over long-term lifespan (first post-natal year in CD-1 mice), we will utilize the Golgi staining technique to label neurons and their associated dendritic spines in a relatively unbiased fashion.  We will focus on quantifying the density and morphology of the spines of layer VI pyramidal neurons residing in barrel cortex using the computer assisted reconstruction program Neurolucida. We will classify the total dendritic spine densities at seven developmental time points P (postnatal day) 15, P30, P60, P90, P180, P270, and P360. Our findings suggested that the dendritic spines in layer VI barrel cortex pyramidal neurons are not static and their density and relative morphological distribution change over time. We observed a significant increase in mushroom spines and a decrease in filopodia as the matured. Further analysis showed that as the animal aged there was a reduction in the branching pattern of dendrites, as well as a decrease in overall spine densities. The ratio of apical spine density to basilar spine density decreased as well. Characterizing the profile of dendritic spines within layer VI over the first post-natal year will provide better understandings of the impacts regarding the effect of environmental influences and developmental maturation on spine dynamics.


Poster #06

Early Neuropsychological Predictors of Later Math Disability in Hyperactive and Inattentive Children

Dominique Hernandez, Sarah O’Neill, Ph.D. & Jeffrey M. Halperin, Ph.D.

Department of Psychology, Queens College

OBJECTIVE. To find neuropsychological factors that are early predictors of Math Disability (MD) in preschool children with elevated inattention and hyperactivity.  METHODS. Children’s neuropsychological functioning was tested at 3- to 4-years-old (NEPSY). At 6-years-old they were administered the WISC-IV. Their academic achievement was tested at 7-years-old (WIAT-II), at which point the presence or absence of MD was determined. RESULTS. Children in the MD group performed significantly worse on Block Construction (BC) and Visual Attention (VA) NEPSY tasks than those without a MD. However, only VA was a significant predictor of later MD.  CONCLUSIONS. Early assessment of children’s ability to maintain attention may help to identify children at risk for later MD6.


Poster #07

Selective Antagonism Of Dopamine D3 Receptors Reduces Cocaine Conditioned-Place Preference In Rats

Priscila HachimineNeal Seepersad and Robert Ranaldi

Department of Psychology, Queens College

Research on neurobiologically-based strategies that might be useful in “treating” cocaine addiction suggests several pathways. One possibility is to target the dopamine (DA) D3 receptor (R) in the mesocorticolimbic dopaminergic system, since it has been shown that the DA D3 R play a crucial role in cocaine addiction. This study was designed to test the hypothesis that the DA D3 R antagonist, SR 21502 blocks cocaine-induced conditioned place preference in rats. Conditioned place preference is determined in which rats are conditioned to one chamber of a two-chamber apparatus. All the animals spent 15 min in the apparatus with free access to both chambers on day 1, followed by 4 alternate conditioning days of cocaine injection (paired chamber) with 4 alternate non-conditioning days with saline (non-paired chamber). On the test day, animals were treated with 0, 3.75, 7.5 or 15 mg/kg of SR 21502, 10 min prior to being placed in the CPP apparatus, and time (s) spent in each chamber was recorded for 15 min. The difference between the amount of time spent in the cocaine-paired and non-paired chambers on test day was calculated. Results showed that the group treated with 15 mg/kg SR21502 spent significantly less time in the cocaine-paired side than the groups treated with 0, 3.75 or 7.5 mg. These findings support the hypothesis that the DA D3 R antagonist, SR 21502, blocks the rat’s preference for the cocaine-paired chamberattenuating the rewarding effect of cocaine-cues and suggest that this compound may be an effective treatment for cocaine addiction.


Poster #08

Effects of Resveratrol Analogs on Cell Proliferation and Migration of Mouse Melanoma Cells

Fathima B. Nazumudeena, May Myat Moea, Valery Morrisc, Carmela Spataforab, Corrado Tringalib, and Susan A. Rotenbergc

Queensborough Community College, Department of Chemistry, 

Universita di Catania, Dipartimento di Scienze Chimiche, 

Queens College, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

Resveratrol (3, 5, 4'-trihydroxy-trans-stilbene) is found in red wine in addition to other foods. It occurs naturally as both trans and cis isomers. It has been shown to have both anti-oxidant and anti-cancer properties. There has been recent interest in the synthesis of resveratrol analogues with more potent anti-cancer properties.  The focus of this research is to examine the inhibitory effect of resveratrol and its analogues on proliferation and motility of metastatic mouse melanoma B16 cells. Resveratrol and several structural analogues were tested for effects on the proliferation using a fluorescence assay. Cell motility was measured using a cell sedimentation manifold.  Proliferation was inhibited substantially by 50 µM of the parent trans-trihydroxy compound (trans-resveratrol).  In contrast, inhibition by thecis-trimethoxy analogue at 50 µM was similar to the parent compound and more potent than the trans-trimethoxy compound.  Motility was also substantially decreased by 50 µM of the cis-trimethoxy compound, while trans-resveratrol at 50 µM had no effect.  While none of the analogues are more potent than the parent compound as inhibitors of proliferation, the cis-trimethoxy analogue shows novel and potent activity as an inhibitor of cell movement and therefore has potential as an anti-metastatic agent.  The next step in the research is to identify specific cellular targets of resveratrol which may affect motility. The phosphorylation of the PKC substrates, alpha-tubulin and MARCKS is associated with motility in these cells and is being analyzed by Western blots of lysates of resveratrol-treated cells.


Poster #09

Early Predictors of Learning Disabilities in School-Age Children

Veronica Thornton, Sarah O’Neill, Ph.D., David J. Marks, Ph.D., & Jeffrey M. Halperin, Ph.D.

Department of Psychology, Queens College

Objectives: To what degree do language measures assessed at 4 and 5 years of age predict RD and MD at age 7 years. Method: Children (N=146) aged 4- and 5-years-old were administered a series of tests designed to evaluate a range of language abilities. FSIQ was measured at 6 years old and reading and math achievement at age 7 years. A Forward Wald logistic regression was used to determine the relation between language skills at 4- to 5-years-old and later learning disability.  Results: Phonological processing, as measured by the CELF, was found to significantly predict RD at age 7(B = -.18, OR = .83, 95% CI = .71-.98, p = .027). No other language measures predicted later RD over and above the Phonological Processing test. None of the language measures administered during the preschool years predicted later MD. Conclusions: These data indicate a prospective link between phonological processing and later RD and suggest a need for early monitoring and intervention when children present with difficulties in this area. In contrast, MD does not appear to be linked to early language difficulties; thus, further study is needed to identify early neuropsychological predictors of later MD.


Poster #10

Examining Cardiomyopathies In Zabrafish Hearts

Gabriella Kigler, Alanna Leung, and  Nathalia Holtzman

Department of Biology, Queens College

Blood flow rate regulates cardiac morphogenesis, and changes in this flow rate disrupt morphogenesis, leading to cardiomyopathies. We have identified a zebrafish mutant, weak atrium, that modifies blood flow leading to two mutant phenotypes; an overly muscular heart that becomes constricted or a dilated heart. Close examination of these cardiac cardiomyopathies demonstrated two distinct contractility phenotypes; a partially contracting atrium, and no contraction in the atrium. The mutant with non contracting atria have a slower heart rate than the wild types and the partially contracting atria mutants. In the non contracting mutants, the heart constricts, reducing the amount and efficiency of blood flow, and results in death at around 5 days post fertilization. Preliminary analyses suggests that the heart rates of the partially contracting mutants is the same as the heart rate of the wild types, meaning something more subtle is causing their mutant cardiac morphogenesis, such as cardiac output or stroke volume. We will examine the red blood cell flow rate, contraction dynamics and cardiac output of the different phenotypes to determine what is changing the morphology of the mutant hearts. The results will be applied to the morphogenesis of human hearts and can ultimately lead to preventative treatments for cardiomyopathies.  


Poster #11

Learning Processes That Mediate The Effects Of Heroin On Responding During Conditioned Reinforcement 

Adjoa Anor, Jennifer Morrison, Allison Hirsch, Nancy Hemmes, & Robert Ranaldi

Psychology Department, Queens College

Heroin addiction is a serious public health problem in the United States (  Heroin functions as a primary reinforcer for the addict, and has been shown to influence learning processes. The proposed research is designed to: 1) strengthen the finding that chronic heroin enhances conditioned reinforcement and 2) to examine what learning processes associated with natural rewards and other drugs of abuse are mediated in this process. Two possible associative learning processes that could be affected by chronic heroin are operant contingency learning and enhanced susceptibility to reinforcement. The study consisted of three phases, (1) Conditioning Phase (4 days)- food was paired with a light stimulus, (2) Treatment Phase (9 days)- rats were injected with either saline or heroin and tested for behavioral sensitization, (3) Test Phase (64 days)- rats were assigned to one of four conditions: paired-contingent light , paired-noncontingent light, paired-no light, and unpaired-contingent light and were exposed to two extinction sessions (15 days each) and two spontaneous recovery sessions (10 days each) with a 7 day break in between each extinction and spontaneous recovery session. Results indicate that after chronic heroin administration the paired-contingent light group demonstrated the greatest enhancement of conditioned reinforcement and the highest amount of responding during spontaneous recovery. These findings may lead to a better understanding of the learning processes that are altered during chronic drug consumption.  The proposed study may contribute to the development of behavioral treatments for addiction, such as counterconditioning to reverse the cycle of addiction.


Poster #12

A Closer Look At Photo-Oxidation Mechanisms Of Amino Acids

Fangwei Liu, Yigang Fang, Andrew Bennett, Shamim Ara, Jianbo Liu

Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Queens College and The Graduate Center

Reaction of protonated tyrosine and methionine with the chemically generated singlet state of molecular oxygen, were studied over the center-of-mass collision energy (Ecol) range from 0.1 to 0.5 eV, using an electrospray ionization, guided-ion-beam scattering instrument, in conjunction with ab initio electronic structure calculations and direct dynamics trajectory simulations. The major product channels for both protonated tyrosine and protonated methionine correspond to formation of hydrogen peroxide via abstract two H atoms from amino acid molecules. Quasi-classical trajectory simulations were performed to probe the reaction mechanism. The apparatus and experimental techniques are described in detail.


Poster #13

Identification of a Novel Substrate of Protein Kinase C Isoforms in Human Breast Cells

Xiangyu Chen1,2Xin Zhao1,2, Thushara P. Abeyweera1,2, and Susan A. Rotenberg1

Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry Queens College1 and Graduate Center2

A previous report (Biochemistry 46: 2364-2370, 2007) described the application of The Traceable Kinase Method to identify substrates of PKC-alpha in non-transformed human breast MCF-10A cells.  Here, a non-radioactive variation of this method was used to analyze the phospho-protein profiles of three traceable PKC isoforms (alpha, delta, and zeta) for the purpose of identifying novel and isoform-selective substrates.  Each FLAG-tagged traceable kinase was expressed and co-immunoprecipitated with high affinity substrates.  Immunopellets were subjected to in vitro phosphorylation reactions with traceable kinase-specific N6-phenyl-ATP, and the resulting phospho-proteins were analyzed by Western blot with an antibody that recognizes the phosphorylated PKC consensus site.  Phosphorylation profiles generated by PKC-alpha and -,  were similar and differed markedly from that of PKC-zeta.  Mass spectrometry of selected bands revealed known PKC substrates (e.g.alpha-tubulin, MAP4, and IQGAP), and several potential substrates that included small GTPase-associated effector proteins (Cdc42 effector protein-4 (CEP4), p21-activated kinase-2, and Rho-activated kinase), as well as microtubule plus-end binding protein CLASP-1. Of these potential substrates, only CEP4 was phosphorylated both by pure, recombinant PKC-alpha, -delta, and -zeta isoforms in vitro, and by endogenous PKC isoforms in MCF-10A cells treated with DAG-lactone, a membrane permeable PKC activator. In DAG-lactone-activated cells, CEP4 phosphorylation was decreased by expression of a kinase-dead mutant for PKC-alpha or -delta, but not for -zeta.  Overall, the evidence indicates that CEP-4 is a substrate of DAG-sensitive PKC isoforms and that these isoforms also physically interact with other effectors and regulatory proteins of the small GTPases.


Poster #14

Mechanistic Significance of Phospho-a-tubulin in Microtubule Dynamics

Shatarupa De, Areti Tsiola, and Susan A. Rotenberg

Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Queens College

Protein kinase Ca (PKCa) serves diverse biological functions through phosphorylation of its various intracellular substrates.  A recently discovered PKCa substrate is a-tubulin, a structural component of microtubules (MTs). Its phosphorylation by PKCa was shown to induce cell motility, an aspect of metastasis. This research addresses the impact of PKC-mediated phosphorylation of a-tubulin on the dynamic instability of MTs in non-tumorigenic, non-motile MCF10-A cells. When treated with DAG-lactone (a cell-permeable PKC activator), MCF-10A cells acquire the motility phenotype. Live-cell imaging of MCF-10A cells with EGFP-EB1, a plus-end binding protein, showed a significant increase in the number of MT growing ends near the cell periphery following DAG-lactone treatment. Quantitative analyses of MT dynamic parameters were conducted using EGFP-a-tubulin and the rates of MT elongation and shortening were measured with MetamorphTM software.  DAG-lactone treatment resulted in a dramatically increased average growth rate, as well as a significantly increased frequency of rescued catastrophes, both consistent with enhanced MT stability. Immunocytochemistry of MCF-10A cells transfected with myc-tagged a-tubulin constructs (wildtype and phosphorylation site mutants) showed greater incorporation of the myc tag into MTs following DAG-lactone treatment.  Experiments in progress are examining the impact of each mutant on MT dynamics.  These studies support a model in which PKC phosphorylation of a-tubulin promotes the growth phase of MTs that in turn contact proteins in the cell periphery to promote cell movement.


Poster #15

Boron Migration In The Hydroboration Reaction

Tamar Siskind and Robert Engel

Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Queens College

In the hydroboration reaction the B-H bond of a borane species adds across an unsaturated (alkene) linkage in an organic molecule, the boron adding to the less highly substituted of the carbons of the alkene linkage. If the reaction is not heated, and oxidation of the initial adduct is performed, the resulting hydroxyl group is found at the carbon to which the boron originally added. If the hydroboration reaction is heated, the boron migrates along the alkyl chain, ultimately being found at the end of the chain as determined by subsequent oxidation yielding the terminal alcohol. The mode of migration has been open to question; does it occur by a series of dissociation of borane from original adduct leading ultimately to attachment of the boron at the terminus of the chain, or does it occur through a migration along the chain without dissociation? The latter of these concepts has been suggested by several theoretical calculations. This investigation is to provide data to determine the actual mode of migration and decide how this process occurs.


Poster #16

Acculturation And Dietary Behaviors In South Asian College Students

Amanda Sachmechi, and Sunitha Jasti

Family, Nutrition & Exercise Sciences (FNES) Department, Queens College

Objective: To determine whether the degree of acculturation is associated with dietary behaviors in first-generation South Asian college students at an urban commuter 4-year college. Methods: A cross-sectional online survey assessed acculturation level, dietary behaviors, socio-demographic and other characteristics of 204 South Asian students at Queens College. Results: The median acculturation level in our study sample was 3.6 on a scale of 1-5. Higher acculturation level was associated with younger age (53 vs 37%; P=0.03), longer length of residence (51 vs 17%; P=0.001), and higher household income (57 vs 37%; P=0.01). There were no meaningful associations between degree of acculturation and dietary behaviors in this sample. There was, however, a high prevalence of obesogenic dietary behaviors. Fast food was consumed at least 3 times a week by 40% of the students. Sweetened beverages were consumed by 53% and fried snacks by 50% of the participants, at least 4-6 times a week; fats (butter, ghee, cream) were added to food at the table at least sometimes by 56%; and only a third (34%) of the participants always chose low fat type for dairy products. Furthermore, a majority of the students (64%) indicated that there are too many nutrition recommendations making it hard to know what to believe and 33% did not know which menu items in a restaurant have more/less fat. Conclusion: All South Asian college students may benefit from nutrition education regardless of the acculturation level.


Poster #17

Acculturation And Food Label Use Among Chinese Immigrants

Min Zhou and Sunitha Jasti

Family, Nutrition & Exercise Sciences (FNES) Department, Queens College

Background: Acculturation has been associated with obesogenic dietary behaviors in Chinese Americans. Reading food labels may improve food choices. Objective: To describe the prevalence of food label use and comprehension and their association with the level of acculturation among Chinese immigrants in the New York (NY) metropolitan area.  Design: A cross-sectional self-administered survey. Participants/Setting: A convenience sample of 301 Chinese immigrants. Statistical analyses performed: All data were analyzed with SPSS statistical software. The chi-square test was used to examine the association between the level of acculturation and food label use. A two-tailed P value of <0.05 was used as criterion for statistical significance.  Result: Acculturation was related to the food label use among Chinese immigrants in the NY area. In the study, 84.1% of participants read food labels at least sometimes when they purchased packaged foods for the first time. Food label reading and food label comprehension score were significantly associated with acculturation level among our participants (p<0.05). Acculturated (score≧2.25 out of 5) Chinese immigrants were more likely to use food labels (65.4% vs. 34.6%, p<0.001), and comprehend food labels better (score≧4 out of 6, 69.5% vs. 30.5%, p<0.001) compared to their less acculturated counterparts.  Conclusion: Level of acculturation is an important indicator of food label use and comprehension among Chinese immigrants in the NY area. Culturally appropriate food label education programs targeting less acculturated and new Chinese immigrants may be helpful in promoting healthy food choices in this community.


Poster #18

List Equivalence of New Sentence-Recognition Materials: Normative Data on Non-native English Speakers

Anastasia Pashalis, Melissa Fortunato, Swarupa Nair, Stacey Rimikis, Lauren Calandruccio

Linguistics and Communication Disorders (LCD) Department, Queens College

Sentence-recognition testing is often used in the clinic and laboratory to better understand how listeners process speech in typical listening situations. In the United States, there is no normalized sentence-recognition test for non-native English speakers. This can be problematic when determining whether poor performance on the task is due to an auditory impairment or inexperience with the English language. To reduce the linguistic biases non-native English speakers face, the Speech and Auditory Research Laboratory developed new sentence-recognition materials. These new materials, referred to as Basic English Lexicon (BEL) sentences, were created using the lexicon derived from 100 non-native English speakers and consist of 20 lists of 25 sentences each. The BEL materials were recently presented to 102 non-native English speakers in the presence of spectrally matched noise. Our current project analyzes the data collected on subjects’ performance across lists to determine whether they are of equal difficulty.


Poster #19

Neuron Incorporation In The Song Motor Pathway Is Associated With Song Motor Pattern Stability After Deafening In The Adult Zebra Finch

S. Korman, S. George, E. David, S. Ribeiro, S. Tsoi, J.R. Kirn, C.L. Pytte

Psychology Department, Queens College

The songbird telencephalic nucleus HVC is part of the motor pathway underlying learned song production and receives new projection neurons throughout life. Neurons that undergo replacement in HVC are of a type that fires sparse, rapid bursts during song production (Hahnloser et. al, 2002). However, the behavioral impact of adding new neurons to the song motor pathway remains unclear. Neuron addition to HVC may normally provide motor flexibility for song maintenance as well as song learning (Pytte et al., 2007). Here we tested the idea that continual renewal of HVC neurons may be necessary to maintain accurate firing patterns underlying the precise and stereotyped motor behavior of song production. To do this, we used the finding that the song motor pattern degrades after deafening. We hypothesized that new HVC neurons may contribute to song maintenance after deafening and assessed whether there was a correlation between the number of new HVC neurons and the rate and magnitude of post-deafening song degradation among adult zebra finches. Dividing cells were labeled with bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU, 74 ml of a 10 mg/ml solution, 3- 4x day/3 days). Two days after the last BrdU injection birds were deafened by bilateral cochlea removal. Four weeks after the last BrdU injection birds were perfused and their brains were processed to label BrdU and the neuron-specific protein Hu. The number of new neurons in HVC was counted and compared with the rate and magnitude of song degradation. We found that birds with high numbers of new HVC neurons had the least post-deafening song degradation, whereas individuals with low numbers of new neurons demonstrated high song degradation. This inverse correlation supports the idea that continued neuron incorporation into the HVC of deaf birds may mitigate post-deafening song degradation. Perhaps high numbers of young neurons contribute to song stability even in the absence of auditory feedback, despite eventual song degradation.


Poster #20

The Interaction between endocardium and myocardium induce cardiac morphogenesis.

Alishba Maira, Olivier F Noel and Nathalia G. Holtzman

Department of Biology, Queens College

The interaction between endocardium and myocardium has significant role on cardiac morphogenesis.  Proper myocardium formation has been shown to be dependent on proper endocardial patterning. We are drug inhibitors of vasculogenesis and angiogenesis in zebrafish to investigate the role endocardial formation and patterning have on the morphology and function of the heart. In this study, we are using FK-506 (Tacrolimus) to disrupt endocardial development. We observed   the consequences of FK-506 on blood vessels formation and the physical appearance of zebrafish. Our experiment result showed that treatment with FK-506 starting at 6-7 hours post fertilization disrupts angiogenesis and results in defects in cardiac form and function. In addition, we observe some differences in overall body formation. Drug treated embryos have defects in ventral formation, shortened body axis and a twisted notochord. Our preliminary support the model that proper endocardial formation is required for proper development of the heart. We plan to examine the shape of the heart and marking cell migration of the FK-506 treated embryos in different stages. Moreover, we have interest in cellular and molecular mechanism that causes abnormal angiogenesis and cardiac morphogenesis


Poster #21

Does Caffeine Affect Microglia?

Arifa Islam, Robert Steger, Sarah Lutchman, Liliana Intrabartolo, Joshua C. Brumberg

Psychology Department, Queens College

Microglia are one phenotype of glia of the central nervous system. Primarily acting as macrophages, these cells participate in the immune defense system of the brain. Microglia acquire energy from adenosine triphosphate (ATP) as well as possessing A1 and A2A adenosine receptors. Caffeine is an exogenous substance which acts as an adenosine antagonist. Thus, caffeine may affect microglia activation. Our hypothesis was that caffeine blocks the adenosine receptors in microglia and thus alters their activation. In order to test this hypothesis, we used 21 adult female mice and they were randomly placed 7 mice into one of three groups; control, low caffeine (0.3g/L of tap water) and high caffeine (1.0g/L of tap water). Mice were allowed to drink freely for 30 days. Following 30 days, mice were sacrificed and their brains were post-fixed in 4% paraformaldehyde. Brains were sectioned at 70 µm on a vibratome. Microglia were revealed using the Iba-1 primary antibody which specifically labels microglial cells. Our results show that both the low caffeine group and the high caffeine group mice have significantly lower amount of microglia than the control group. We also found that there is no significant difference in the amount of microglia between the low caffeine group and the high caffeine group.   Our results suggest that moderate levels of ingested caffeine can impact central microglia levels throughout the brain.


Poster #22

C-fos Induction in Mesotelencephalic Reward Pathway Sites Following Oral Sugar Intake in Rats

Tricia Coke, Cristal Sampson and Dr. Richard Bodnar

Department of Psychology, Queens College

Both increased spontaneous intake and conditioned flavor preferences (CFP) are elicited by the monosaccharides,glucose (through orosensory and postingestive signals) and fructose (through only orosensory signals). Because both glucose and fructose sugar-CFP are attenuated by dopamine D1 antagonism in the amygdala (AMY), nucleus accumbens (NAc) or medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC),we hypothesized that this effect acted through glucose and fructose activation of these brain sites as well as their dopamine source (ventral tegmental area: VTA). Ninety min following consumption (10ml) of glucose, fructose or water, rats were sacrificed, and their brains were immunohistochemically processed for c-Fos. Glucose elicited significantly more c-Fos activation in the AMY, the NAc core and the VTA, but not in the NAc shell or mPFC than water. Fructose elicited a largely intermediate effect.Thus,sugars with orosensory and post-ingestive actions activate the dopamine mesotelencephalic reward pathway,suggesting a potential anatomical and chemical mediator of the learned preferences.


Poster #23

Influence Of Demographic And Sociolinguistic Factors On The Accuracy Of Responses For New Speech Recognition Materials

Mary NapolitanoMichelle D’Alleva and Lauren Donohoe

Linguistics & Communication Disorders (LCD) Department, Queens College

The Speech and Auditory Research Lab has developed new speech recognition materials to be used for speech-in-noise testing with non-native English speakers. With a simpler vocabulary, these materials, referred to as Basic English Lexicon (BEL) sentences, were specifically designed to reduce linguistic biases that non-native speakers of English face when being tested with current speech recognition materials. These BEL sentences were presented to 100 non-native English speakers. With this data, we explored different relationships between subject accuracy on the BEL sentences and sociolinguistic and demographic factors including native language, age of English acquisition, country in which English was learned, and the amount of time subjects use English on a daily basis. Understanding these relationships will allow us to better evaluate performance of non-native speakers of English on these speech recognition materials. 


Poster #24

Synthesis of Fe3O4 Nanoparticles, Characterization and Optical Properties

Henry Shum, J. Collins, P. Jagassar, R. Jadav, T. Nakanishi, E. Look and Harry D. Gafney

Chemistry & Biochemistry Department, Queens College

Iron oxide nanoparticles were prepared in this experiment. Iron oxide nanoparticles widely exist in two main forms hematite (Fe2O3) and magnetite (Fe3O4). I prepared magnetite nanoparticles (Fe3O4) by controlled hydrolysis1.  Magnetite nanoparticles were analyzed using UV/vis spectroscopy, dynamic light scattering, X-ray diffraction and transmission electron microscopy. UV/Vis spectroscopy determined that magnetite absorbs throughout the visible region, hence they are black. X-ray diffraction characterizes the sizes of the magnetite which range from 9 to 37 nm. Dynamic light scattering also help determine the size but the sizes were inconsistent. Magnetite exists as secondary particles because from DLS, the sizes were near a micron. Therefore it was concluded that aggregation was occurring which was confirmed by TEM. Transmission Electron Microscopy showed aggregation of magnetite nanoparticles clustering together.

(1) Synthesis of Fe3O4 nanoparticles with various sizes and magnetic properties by  controlled hydrolysis, Iida,Hironori; Takayanagi,Kosuke; Nakanishi,Takuya;    Osaka,Tetsuya ,J.Colloid Interface Sci., 2007, 314, 1, 274-280


Poster #25

Chronic heroin produces locomotor sensitization and abolishes preference for a food-paired environment (anhedonia) in rats

Robert Ranaldi, Matthew Koziolek and Ewa Pawul

Department of Psychology, Queens College

Chronic heroin users demonstrate anhedonia—a reduced capacity to experience reward (i.e., pleasure).  It is hypothesized that one cause for continued heroin use is the alleviation of anhedonia.  Thus, establishing an animal model of heroin-induced anhedonia would be useful for the development of treatments that could reverse the anhedonic effects of chronic heroin and prevent continued heroin use.  This study was aimed at establishing such a model, using rats.  The capacity to experience normal reward was measured using a conditioned place preference (CPP) paradigm where for all rats one chamber of a 2-chamber apparatus was paired with Lucky Charms reward (4 sessions) and the other chamber with nothing (4 alternating sessions).  Following this conditioning phase rats were treated with either saline or heroin for 10 consecutive days.  Three days after the last treatment all rats were placed in the CPP apparatus and time spent in either chamber, in the absence of reward, was measured.  The group treated with saline demonstrated significantly more time spent in the reward-paired chamber than in the chamber paired with nothing.  The group treated with heroin showed similar amounts of time spent in both chambers (no preference).  These results demonstrate that (1) this procedure can establish a preference for a reward-paired environment and hence can be used to measure the hedonic effects of reward-paired stimuli and (2) chronic heroin abolishes the preference for reward-paired stimuli, further demonstrating that it renders animals anhedonic (i.e., incapable of experiencing normal reward).


Poster #26

X-Ray Measurements of Nanometer Thick TaxO1-x and HfxO1-x Films on Silicon Substrates for Thickness and Composition Determination

Y. Rong, and R. W. Zuneska, I. Vander, F. J. Cadieu*

Physics Department, Queens College

Tantalum oxide, TaxO1-x, and hafnium oxide, HfxO1-x, films were prepared by magnetron sputtering Ta and Hf in oxygen onto heated silicon (100) substrates.  The film thicknesses were measured by three different techniques in order to obtain thickness as well as oxygen concentration.  The first method was by x-ray reflectivity which yields a thickness value independent of the film composition.  The second method uses the simultaneous measurements of Ta and Hf fluorescence counts.  For these less than 200 nm thick films there is very little matrix effects so the Ta and Hf fluorescence counts increase linearly with the film thickness.  The third method measures the attenuation of the Si Kα x-ray line from the underlying Si excited by a glancing incidence x-ray beam.  For the sputtering conditions employed tantalum and hafnium oxide films were observed to grow in an initial mode characterized by a high mass absorption times density product and then grow as characterized by a lower mass absorption product.  For the hafnium oxide films this change over occurred at a film thickness of 13 nm.  For the tantalum oxide films the change over occurred at a film thickness of 23 nm.  Pure Ta and Hf films were also made by magnetron sputtering from Ta and Hf targets in argon. 


Poster #27

Solving Multivariate Functional Recurrences

Michael Chon, Amy Lee and Christopher Hanusa

Mathematics Department, Queens College

Generating functions are key tools in combinatorics that help us to determine the number of objects that have the same properties. When we keep track of multiple properties at the same time, we have a multivariate generating function F(x,q,r,s), where terms are of the form xnqarbsc. For different combinatorial objects, we can find a multivariate functional recurrence that the generating function satisfies, such as F(x,q,r,s)=F(x,q,qr,1)+F(x,q,qr,qs).  In this presentation, we discuss solving multivariate functional recurrences. The main tool is expanding the recurrence multiple times and reordering the pieces to find a pattern. For simpler recurrences, we prove that the solution can be written as a sum over words from a finite alphabet. However, for more complicated recurrences, the solution is a q-Bessel function. We needed to introduce statistics on the words in able to write the formula compactly.  The result gives new insight into solving functional recurrences.


Poster #28

Novel Dopamine D3 Receptor Antagonist SR 21502 Inhibits Cocaine Reward and Cocaine-Induced Locomotor Activity in Rats

Ewa Pawul, Michelle Saliba and Robert Ranaldi

Department of Psychology, Queens College

Rationale:  There is a strong focus on developing D3 receptor antagonists as treatments for cocaine addiction. Objective: We investigated the effects of a novel selective D3 receptor antagonist, SR 21502, on cocaine reward, food reward, spontaneous locomotor activity and cocaine-induced locomotor activity in rats.  Methods: Rats were trained to self- administer cocaine under a PR schedule of reinforcement.  After stable responding was established the animals were tested with one of four doses (0, 3.75, 7.5 or 15 mg/kg) of SR 21502 and the effect of treatment on responding was measured.  In separate animals trained to respond for food under a PR schedule two doses (0 and 3.75) of the compound were tested.  In separate groups of animals the four doses of SR 21502 were tested on spontaneous locomotor activity during 120-min sessions.  Finally, in separate groups of rats the four doses of SR 21502 were tested on cocaine (10 mg/kg, IP)-induced locomotor activity in 120-min sessions. Results: SR 21502 produced a significant and dose-related reduction in BP for cocaine self-administration and cocaine-induced locomotor activity.  SR 21502 failed to reduce food self-administration and spontaneous locomotor activity. Conclusions: SR 21502 decreases cocaine reward at doses that have no effect on food reward and reduces the locomotor stimulant effects of cocaine without inhibiting spontaneous locomotor activity. The data suggest that SR 21502 may selectively inhibit cocaine’s rewarding and stimulant effects and may constitute a promising pharmacotherapeutic agent for cocaine addiction.


Poster #29

Identifying Impairments In Emotional Processing In Patients With Systemic Lupus Erythematosus: A Pilot Study

Dolores L. Paul; Philip Watson; and Justin Storbeck

Department of Psychology, Queens College

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disorder that causes multisystem tissue damage. Animal models and human imaging studies have revealed that the amygdala, an area of the brain involved in emotional processing, is subject to deterioration from SLE. The objective of this study was to validate tasks in order to examine emotional processing in people with SLE. Participants were recruited from the Queens College Psychology 101 pool. Two separate tasks were administered in order to measure recognition of emotional facial expressions and attention to emotionally relevant stimuli. Accuracy and reaction time (RT) were measured.Emotional Recognition: High levels of accuracy were exhibited for all emotional expressions (67.4(fear) – 97.8(happy)), with happiness as the most identifiable expression. Emotionally Modulated Attention: Participants attended to emotional stimuli faster than neutral targets (with the exception of exciting targets), F(4,68)= 2.525, p= .049. Stimuli that varied in emotional content were generally more recognizable and attracted attention faster than neutral stimuli. We conclude that these tasks are effective in assessing emotional processing in people with SLE. Future studies will be conducted in order to examine cognitive and emotional processing abnormalities in people with SLE, and to associate any deficits with disease related variables.


Poster #30

Does Parenting Style Moderate The Relation Of Inhibitory Control To ADHD Severity Two Years Later?

Xenia Kokkinos, S. O’Neill, Ph.D., K. Rajendran, Ph.D., & Jeffrey M. Halperin, Ph.D.

Psychology Department, Queens College

Objective. To determine whether parenting style moderates the impact of inhibitory control on ADHD severity two years later.   Methods. At 3- to 4-years-old 151 children were administered the NEPSY Statue subtest and a Go/No-go (GNG) task to assess Inhibitory control.  Parents completed the Alabama Parenting Questionnaire (APQ) to assess Inconsistent and Punitive parenting styles. Two years later children’s ADHD severity was evaluated. To do this, parents completed the semi-structured psychiatric interview the Kiddie-SADS. Responses to the 18 DSM-IV-TR ADHD symptoms were summed to give a dimensionalized measure of ADHD severity ranging from 0 to 36. Hierarchical linear regression analyses were conducted to assess whether parenting style moderated the relation between inhibitory control and later ADHD severity.  Results. Both measures of inhibitory control predicted ADHD severity two years later after controlling for age and SES. Neither Inconsistent nor Punitive parenting predicted later ADHD severity. There were no significant interactions between inhibitory control and parenting.  Conclusions. Early inhibitory control problems predict later ADHD severity irrespective of parenting as measured by the APQ.  More direct observational measures parenting may yield different results. 


Poster #31

Global Sea Level Changes Revealed In The Sediments Of The Canterbury Basin, New Zealand IODP Expedition 317

Myrna Gatica and Cecilia M. McHugh

School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Queens College

Continental margins are composed of thick sedimentary deposits containing a record of past global sea-level fluctuations. Past relative sea level changes must be understood in order to predict the extent of future sea level rise due to anthropogenic impact. The Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) Expedition 317 drilled four Sites (U1351, U1352, U1353 and U1354) in the offshore Canterbury Basin, eastern South Island of New Zealand in water depths of 85 m to 320 m. One of the main objectives of Expedition 317 was to test the concepts of sequence stratigraphy proposed by Vail and co-workers from Exxon Corporation by tracking sea level changes across the shelf and slope for the past 5 million years. Multichannel seismic data of the EW00-01 survey provide the seismic stratigraphic framework (Lu and Fulthorpe, 2004). Nineteen regional seismic sequence boundaries or major unconformities (U1-U19) were identified within the Miocene to recent section. The hypothesis is that these unconformable surfaces represent major sea level lowerings that occurred during Milankovich 100 ky glacial to interglacial cycles. Through shipboard and post-cruise analyses, these seismic surfaces have been correlated to the sediments by a multiproxy approach that uses grain size variability, x-ray fluorescence elemental analysis and biostratigraphic ages to help map and date the passage of the shoreline across the margin, and the amplitude of relative sea level changes through time. These findings can be applied globally.     


Poster #32

Anolis Carolinensis: Population Genetics And Phylogeography Of Genomic Model Species Using Mitochondrial And Nuclear DNA Sequences

Marc Tollis and Stephane Boissinot

Biology Department, Queens College and The Graduate Center

The green anole (Anolis carolinensis) is a North American lizard species that has served as an experimental model, is a member of a genus that has long attracted the attention of evolutionary biologists, and is the first lizard to have its entire genome sequenced. Surprisingly, the patterns of genetic diversity across its natural range, and thus the evolutionary history of this iconic species, have largely escaped scrutiny even as molecular, methodological and computational techniques in the fields of population genetics and phylogeography have matured over the past few decades. We used the publicly available Anolis genome sequence to design evolutionary markers in order to understand how natural populations of this lizard are structured across its range, and investigate the effects of historical processes recognized by other comparative phylogeographic studies. Our data set includes one mitochondrial (NADH2) and 10 novel nuclear loci that were screened across a sample of 190 anoles collected from nine U.S. states. Using Bayesian phylogenetic and clustering methods, and population genetic analysis, we describe four distinct evolutionary lineages of green anoles, the origins of which date to the Lower Pleistocene (~2 Myr ago). These lineages show evidence of population size expansion that predates the most recent Pleistocene glacial cycles.


Poster #33

Molecular Phylogenetics Of Ethiopian Mud Puddle Frogs

Ioannis Demopoulos, Xenia Freilich, Karen Shum, Victoria Arrue and Stephane Boissinot

Department of Biology, Queens College

African puddle frogs (g. Phrynobatrachus) are one of the most diverse and species-rich of the anuran lineages, occupying a wide variety of habitats, including forests, grasslands, and savannah. Their small size and the unreliability of morphological characters require a multi-disciplinary approach to studying their biogeography and delineating the relationships between species. To this end, molecular data has been used recently to construct the first phylogeny of puddle frogs. In this study we reconstruct the phylogeny of mud puddle frogs collected in Ethiopia using mitochondrial genes (12S and 16S rRNA). Phylogenetic analyses were conducted using maximum likelihood and Bayesian methods, and a new species (P. bongaensis sp. nov.) was identified and recovered as monophyletic in both analyses. This new lowland forest species is represented by several (7) individuals within our collection and is likely endemic to Ethiopia. The data presented here has implications for the biogeography of Phrynobatrachus as well. The range of two species (P. bullans and P. kakamikro) has been extended beyond their initial African biotic zone. This adds to the ten species previously identified as occurring in more than one African biotic zone and suggests that the range of the Phrynobatrachidae might be underestimated due to morphological similarity. Taken together, our results indicate that morphological similarity and cryptic species are confounding attempts at an accurate estimation of species range and distribution, and that molecular approaches will prove invaluable as we try to understand the relationships between puddle frogs.


Poster #34

Acquisition And Expression Of Corn-Oil Conditioned Flavor Preferences In Rats: Roles of Opioid And NMDA Receptors.

V.S. Bae, J.A. Dela Cruz, D.P. Icaza-Cukali, C. Sampson, D. Bamshad, A. Samra, S. Singh, N. Khalifi, A. Grossman and R.J. Bodnar

Psychology Department, Queens College

Neuropsychology Doctoral Sub-Program, The Graduate Center

Sugars and fats elicit conditioned flavor preferences (CFP). Dopamine receptor signaling is involved in sugar- and fat-CFP. Because NMDA, but not opioid receptor signaling is involved in sugar-CFP, the present study examined whether opioid (naltrexone, NTX) or NMDA (MK-801) antagonists affected acquisition and expression of fat-CFP. In expression, rats were trained (10 days) to drink flavored 3.5% (CS+, e.g., cherry) or 0.9% (CS-, e.g., grape) corn oil (CO) solutions. Two-bottle choice tests with both flavors in a 0.9% CO solution occurred after vehicle (VEH), NTX (0.1-5 m/kg), or MK-801 (50-200 ug/kg). Expression of fat-CFP following VEH was significantly attenuated by NTX and MK-801. In acquisition, rats received VEH, NTX (0.1-1 mg/kg) or MK-801 (100 ug/kg) prior to 10 training trials. Two-bottle preference tests were then conducted. MK-801 and NTX significantly reduced the acquisition of fat-CFP. These data implicate opioid and NMDA receptor signaling in the expression and acquisition of fat-CFP.


Poster #35

C-Fos Induction In Mesotelencephalic Reward Pathway Sites Following Oral Sugar Intake In Rats

J. Dela Cruz, T. Coke, C. Sampson, T. Karagiorgis, K. Kest, D. Icaza-Cukali, R. Ranaldi, K. Touzani, A. Sclafani, R. J. Bodnar.

Psychology Department, Queens College

Neuropsychology Doctoral Sub-Program, The Graduate Center

Both increased spontaneous intake and conditioned flavor preferences (CFP) are elicited by the monosaccharides,glucose (through orosensory and postingestive signals) and fructose (through only orosensory signals). Because both glucose and fructose sugar-CFP are attenuated by dopamine D1 antagonism in the amygdala (AMY), nucleus accumbens (NAc) or medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), we hypothesized that this effect acted through glucose and fructose activation of these brain sites as well as their dopamine source (ventral tegmental area: VTA). Ninety min following consumption (10 ml) of glucose, fructose or water, rats were sacrificed, and their brains were immunohistochemically processed for c-Fos. Glucose elicited significantly more c-Fos activation in the AMY, the NAc core and the VTA, but not in the NAc shell or mPFC than water. Fructose elicited a largely intermediate effect. Thus,sugars with orosensory and post-ingestive actions activate the dopamine mesotelencephalic reward pathway,suggesting a potential anatomical and chemical mediator of the learned preferences.


Poster #36

Flavor Preferences Conditioned By Fat Are Observed in BALB/C And SWR Inbred Mice

T.T. Kraft, Y. Yakubov, G. Fitzgerald, D. Huang, O. Avizova, B.D. Faulding, E. Natanova1, R. Stern1, R.J. Bodnar

Psychology Department, Queens College

Neuropsychology Doctoral Sub-Program, The Graduate Center

Sugars (sucrose and fructose) produce conditioned flavor preferences (CFP) in inbred mouse strains that are subject to genetic variance. Dopamine (DA) D1 antagonism suppressed the acquisition and expression of sucrose- and fructose-CFP in BALB/c and SWR mice. In contrast, opioid antagonism suppressed the expression of sucrose-, but not fructose-CFP in BALB/c and SWR mice, and impaired the acquisition of sucrose- and fructose-CFP in BALB/c mice. The present study examined whether fat-CFP could be conditioned in these strains. In ten 1-bottle training trials, mice drank a more-concentrated fat (Intralipid, 5%) and flavored (cherry) solution,  and a less-concentrated fat (0.5%) and flavored (grape) solution followed by 2-bottle choice tests. Both strains displayed comparable fat-CFP. In an acquisition study, DA D1, but not opioid antagonism eliminated the acquisition of fat-CFP in SWR, but not BALB/c mice, indicating that genetic variance, type of CFP and neurochemical systems differentially mediate sugar and fat preferences


Poster #37

Fructose-Mediated Conditioned Flavor Aversions: A Counterpoint To Fructose-Conditioned Flavor Preferences In Rats

FM Rotella, A Badalia, SM Duenas, M Hossain, S Saeed and RJ Bodnar

Department of Psychology, Queens College

Neuropsychology Doctoral Sub-Program, The Graduate Center

Sugars increase intake through innate sweet-nutritive mechanisms as well as learned Pavlovian associations between neutral flavors and sugars. These conditioned-flavor preferences (CFP) are mediated by orosensory (flavor-flavor) and post-ingestive (flavor-nutrient) processes. Flavor-flavor CFP is elicited by fructose, which fails to produce a post-ingestive effect. Fructose-CFP is both profound and lasting, mediated by dopaminergic and NMDA systems and limbic sites of action. In fructose CFP, one flavor (CS+, e.g., cherry Kool Aid) is paired with a fructose (8%) and saccharin (0.2%) solution with a second flavor (CS-, e.g., grape) paired with saccharin (0.2%). To determine if the same transmitter systems and sites modulate fructose-mediated conditioned flavor aversions (CFA), a paradigm was employed in which one flavor (CS-, e.g., cherry) is paired with the identical CFP stimulus (8% fructose, 0.2% saccharin) solution, and a second flavor (CS+, e.g., grape) is paired with fructose (8%), saccharin (0.2%) and different quinine concentrations (0.001-0.03%).


Poster #38

Coordinate-Free Mappings From A_\INFTY  Unbounded Apollonian Circle Packings

Todd Gaugler, Tim Heath, Tasos Moulinos, and Alex Berenbeim

Department of Mathematics, Queens College

This poster aims to informally introduce Apollonian circle packings to a general audience. It will include appropriate parts of a paper written while the presenting student was at Columbia University; it will support a discussion regarding mappings from the Apollonian group to specific types of Apollonian circle packings.


Poster #39

CNTNAP2 KO Mice Exhibit Reduced Sociability in Three-chamber Test

Gregory S. Fitzgerald, Yongsoo Kim, Pavel Osten

Osten Lab, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

Queens College

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is highly heritable neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by, among other criteria, impaired social behavior. Recent human genetic studies identified many ASD candidate genes including mutations in the Cntnap2 gene. In this study, we evaluate the social behavior of a mouse model with a CNTNAP2 deletion using the three-chamber apparatus. This method allows us to measure sociability and preference for social novelty quantitatively. Our results indicate that CNTNAP2 KO mice exhibit significantly reduced sociability, but no significant difference in preference for social novelty compared to wild type littermates. It suggests that CNTNAP2 knockout mice may be a useful animal model for further investigating the physiological correlates of ASD as well as potential therapies.


Poster #40

Using Lexical Features To Predict Winners Of U.S. Presidential And Vice-Presidential Debates

Ian Kaplan, Dr. Andrew Rosenberg

Computer Science Department, Queens College

U.S. Presidential and Vice-Presidential debates are a unique form of discourse; the debate is used both as a platform to showcase the debater’s personal viability as a presidential candidate, and as an arena to demonstrate the validity or superiority of the candidate’s political views. As a result, this speech is both emotive and argumentative. Our motivation in examining presidential debates is to attempt to identify the lexical characteristics of personally appealing, persuasive, and politically effective speech. We investigate the characteristics that lead polled audiences to declare a debater victorious, by calculating lexical qualities that may correlate with personally appealing or politically persuasive language. We find that with a set of surface-level lexical features from historical debates, we can predict which participant in the 2008 debates won with 72.2% accuracy and which party won with 94.4% accuracy. We also find that, due to the fact that word vectors were significantly the most important features, there is a dramatic impact of word usage on the winner of US Presidential and Vice-Presidential debates.


Poster #41

Investigating the Cardiac Contractility Requirement for Epicardium

Sana Khan, Kevin Werkheiser, and Nathalia G. Holtzman

Department of Biology, Queens College

The outermost layer of the heart, the epicardium is formed late in heart development.  Once formed, the epicardium patterns and contributes to the coronary vessels, myocardium, endocardium and other cardiac tissues during development. This stem-cell-like quality of epicardial cells is essential for development and regeneration. While understanding epicardial development is important, very little is understood about how and where this tissue originates and how it matures. A model for epicardial development can be constructed by looking at the key aspects of epicardial development that are conserved among vertebrates. In chick and mouse, the proepicardial organ (PEO) forms from the sinus venosus region (SV) and migrate via a bridge or villi to the atrioventricular region (AV). Examination of the origins and maturation of the zebrafish epicardium in our lab has demonstrated the presence of PEO villi. Based on our preliminary findings we hypothesize that PEO villous cell transfer is dependent on cardiac contractility and differential adhesion to populate the AV myocardium. To test this hypothesis, we observe PEO cell transfer onto the myocardium in hearts with defective myocardial contractions. We expect inhibition of villous PEO cell transfer due to aberrant cardiac contractions. We track PEO cell migration to the epicardium using live time-lapse imaging and verify deficiencies in PEO migration through in situ hybridizations of myocardial and proepicardial markers.


Poster #42

Photochemical Synthesis of Fe3O4 in Porous Vycor Glass

Joel Heitman, Frankie Lou, Dr. Sunil Dehipawala, Dr. Harry Gafney

Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Queens College

Solar energy conversion demands thermodynamically robust materials that absorb visible light and create excited states capable of excited state electron transfer and/or acid-base chemistry.  Containing two Fe3+ and one Fe2+ ions, magnetite, Fe3O4, is a mixed valence oxide that offers the potential for low energy, intervalence charge transfer (IVCT) transitions within the visible range.  Indeed, the oxide adsorbs throughout the visible and into the near-IR. This research was undertaken to explore the synthesis of Fe3Owithin porous Vycor glass (PVG) by photolysis of Fe3(CO)12, triiron dodecacarbonyl, adsorbed into PVG.  Electronic spectra confirm that Fe3(CO)12 physisorbs into PVG and 312-nm photolysis of the physisorbed complex leads to it decomposition.    The results of current efforts focused on the characterization of the oxide formed in PVG by 57Fe Mossbauer spectroscopy and XANES and EXAFS spectroscopies will be described.   


Poster #43

The effect of VEGF on astrocyte morphology after seizures

Firmause Payen, Janice Lenzer, Thomas Li, Alishba Aslam, Diptesh Tailor, and Susan D. Croll

Department of Psychology, Queens College

Seizures affect approximately 3 million people in the United States.  Repeated seizures can result in neuronal loss and corresponding behavioral deficits.  Our laboratory has shown that vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) protects animals from acute seizure-induced hippocampal neuron death and longer-term functional impairments (Nicoletti et al., 2008; Nicoletti et al., 2010). However, little is known about VEGF’s impact on post-seizure hippocampal astrocytes. The current study investigated astrocyte morphology one month following pilocarpine-induced status epilepticus (SE) in animals treated with VEGF or with inactivated VEGF. Animals received continuous hippocampal infusions of VEGF or inactivated VEGF for 5 days before the pilocarpine-induced SE and VEGF infusions continued for 9 days following SE. One month later, the brains were collected and stained with the astrocyte marker GFAP.  Astrocytes in both the CA1 and CA3 regions of the hippocampus were reconstructed using Neurolucida software (Microbrightifeld, Inc.), and their morphology was analyzed in Neuroexplorer software using Branched Structure Analysis and Sholl Analysis. Results suggested that VEGF prevented the pathological increases in astrocyte size and complexity induced by seizures.  Because cell morphology influences cell function, it is possible that VEGF’s effects on post-SE astrocyte morphology impacts the functioning in the hippocampus.  This finding could help explain the finding that behavioral preservation induced by VEGF after seizures outlasts the neuronal preservation (Nicoletti et al., 2010).  


Poster #44

Diversity and Distribution Of Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria In The Hudson River Estuary

Suzanne Young, Gregory O’Mullan and Andy Juhl

School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Queens College

Sewage indicators and heterotrophic bacteria resistant to tetracycline and ampicillin, two commonly prescribed antibiotics, were assessed in the Hudson River Estuary.  The abundance of the fecal-indicator bacteria, Enterococci, positively correlated with levels of resistant bacteria, suggesting a shared sewage-associated source.  The abundances of culturable ampicillin-resistant and tetracycline-resistant bacteria were positively correlated with one another in paired samples and increased following precipitation events, supporting the use of Enterococcus as an indicator of water quality conditions potentially hazardous for human contact.  Analysis of 16S rRNA genes from isolated microbes identified a phylogenetically diverse group of resistant bacteria, including the genera AeromonasPseudomonasStenotrophomonas, andEscherichia/Shigella.  All of these genera include opportunistic pathogens and have been associated with antibiotic-resistant infections, especially in immuno-compromised individuals.  This study is the first to document antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the Hudson River Estuary and to demonstrate a linkage between the abundance of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and levels of sewage contamination.  Antibiotic-resistant bacteria pose a threat to the local ecosystem and to public health. Results demonstrate the need for restorative measures in the Hudson River Estuary regarding stormwater management and sewage overflows. 


Poster #45

Correlation Between Mouse Body Mass Index and Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes Frequencies In The Gut

Shanawaj KhairDaniel Arango, James Carpino, and Dr. John Dennehy

Department of Biology, Queens College

John Bowne High School

Over the past two decades, there has been a dramatic increase in obesity in the United States. About 97 million American adults in the United States are either overweight or obese (NHLBI, 2006).  Recent research suggests that gut bacteria in humans plays a crucial role in obesity, by extracting more energy from the diet of the host (Turnbaugh et al., 2006). This study aims to find a correlation between the natural BMI of the mice and dominant gut bacteria populations of Bacteroidetes (Bac) and Firmicutes (Firm). Fecal samples from 16 C57BL/6 mice were collected. Bacteria DNA were extracted using a stool DNA Extraction kit. Quantitative Real-Time PCR was performed on the DNA samples using primers specific to Bac and Firm. Results indicate that as weight increased over time and length stayed constant, BMI didn’t significantly correlate to amount of Bac and Firm . There was a significant difference in Firm but not Bac amount among mice but this difference didn’t correlate to weight. Mice with lowest weight gain rate had more Firm than mice with highest weight gain rate per day. Data Analysis of a second trial and data collection of a third trial are underway.


Poster #46

Barcoding of Ethiopian Anurans Using the 16S Gene

Jessica GonzalezElizabeth Vera, Xenia Freilich, Stephane Boissinot

Department of Biology, Queens College

The mitochondrial gene 16S rRNA has been widely and successfully used for the barcoding of amphibians. In this study 16S is used on samples of tadpoles and juveniles collected in the highlands of Ethiopia. DNA barcoding with the mitochondrial marker 16S is helpful for the identification and phylogenetic analysis of the anuran species. This way we can identify species that are similar morphologically but genetically different. Anurans are some of the most diverse vertebrates in Ethiopia with the highest level of endemism in the country. Ethiopia is known for the extensive differences in its environment, contributing to the biological diversity of species found in this region. The country is divided into two separate western and eastern highland portions by the Great Rift Valley. This separation is thought to be a dispersal barrier of the highland species. Presently there is no key for the identification of early life stages of anuran species using morphological characters. Previous studies have shown that the number of amphibian species reported for the country is highly underestimated. Many of the recognized species are actually species complexes harboring an undetermined number of unknown cryptic forms. We recovered several potential new undescribed species and others that are known to science but have not been previously reported for Ethiopia.


Poster #47

The Role of Intruded Cues in Animal Timing

Sho Araiba, and Bruce L. Brown

Department of Psychology, Queens College

The peak interval (PI) procedure was used to study the effect of  intruded stimuli on temporal aspects of performance. In the PI procedure, a  discrete-trial modification of a fixed interval (FI) schedule, the availability of reinforcement on an FI schedule (e.g., FI 30 s) is signaled by the presentation of an explicit cue (e.g., a yellow keylight). On probe trials, in which the reinforcer is omitted, well-trained pigeons produce a response rate function that rises to a peak rate at about the time (peak time) of programmed reinforcer delivery (i.e., 30 s) and declines thereafter.  As peak time approximates the FI value, it is taken as representing the animal’s estimate of that interval. When an intruded cue is presented on a test trial (e.g., illumination of another keylight for 6 s) the peak time shifts to a later time, reflecting interruption in timing.  The present study investigated the effect of intruded cues pretrained as conditioned inhibitors (CIs). We first pretrained CIs to signal the absence of reinforcement at a particular delay (e.g., 27 s). Then, in testing, the CIs were presented as intruded cues on probe trials, at a location representing a delay to nonreinforcement that matched their function as a CI, and at a control location.  Results indicated that CI training was successful. In the test phase, 2 groups of  2 birds were tested with counterbalanced intruded cues (6-s houselight offset or 6-s illumination of a keylight), presented 3 s or 15 s after trial onset on different test trials. There was no evidence in testing that CI cues presented at their trained delay produced different peak times than when presented at a nontrained delay. However, there was a gradual shift in peak time as a function of number of test sessions, leading to an overreset effect -- an exaggerated shift in peak time -- with the houselight CI. This is a novel finding in that overreset has only been reported for intruded cues with a history as strong appetitive cues, and implicates stimulus salience as a critical factor in the overreset effect.


Poster #48

An Assessment of Stimulus Control in the Intruded Stimulus Paradigm in Pigeons

Sho Araiba, Robert Lanson, Amanda Mentzer,Tara Laveaux & Zachary Barnwell

Department of Psychology, Queens College

Assessing the stimulus control of an intruded stimulus is based on the reliability of a baseline fixed interval (FI) response pattern (Farmer & Schoenfeld, 1966). This study presented baseline FI (NON) trials and intruded stimulus FI (INT) trials within the same session. Response rates during NON trials and INT trials changed when the proportion of the INT trials relative to NON trials was varied. Data suggest that stimulus control is best assessed within each phase.


Poster #49

Photochromic Tungsten Blues: Synthesis and Characterization of K8[α-SiW11O39]13H2O

Freida Zavurov, Dr. Harry Gafney

Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Queens College

Photochromic Tungsten Blue is a compound that when exposed to visible light, changes color from white to blue.  This color change is attributed to a mixture of oxidation states, W+5/W+6, that exist within the compound.  The light induced color change is manifested through a redox reaction, where the electron is promoted from the W+5 to W+6.  This type of transition is known as an intervalence charge transfer. The exact molecular formula of the tungsten oxide, WxOy, which exhibits this low energy absorbance is unknown. These experiments were undertaken to synthesize and characterize a known model compound K8[α-SiW11O39]13H2O to gain insights into the electronic structure of these mixed oxidation state oxides. Photochromic K8[α-SiW11O39]13H2O was synthesized and characterized via IR and UV spectroscopy.  Because of its inorganic nature, the IR spectra via KBr disk method yielded an unusual spectrum.  The absorbance spectrum of the vanadium complex of the heterpolyanion better characterized the compound, but the extinction coefficients did not agree with the literature value.   A summary of the available spectroscopic data will be presented.   


Poster #50

Interstrand Crosslink Repair in MMS2 – Deficient Yeast

Ariel Fromowitz, Dr. Wilma Saffran

Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Queens College

DNA damage in yeast was incurred by the use of psoralen + ultraviolet light, a treatment that has been linked to skin cancer. This leads to interstrand crosslinks (ICLs), covalent linkages that occur between the individual strands of DNA. ICLs hinder DNA transcription and are lethal to cells. They are repaired by homologous recombination (HR) involving interaction with an undamaged homologous gene, or by post replication repair (PRR) which bypasses damage that leads to stalled replication. Two methods of PRR are template switching which is error free, and an error prone pathway which arbitrarily places nucleotides. The MMS2 gene functions in the error free pathway of PRR. I measured crosslink induced recombination in a strain missing MMS2 gene function. Genetic and physical analysis were done to determine the type of recombination occurring. Colonies that did not grow after replica plating were determined to be deletions. PCR (polymerase chain reaction) and XbaI digestion followed by gel electrophoresis on an agarose gel was then done to determine the amount of triplications and gene conversions. Repair of interstrand crosslink (ICL) induced damage in mms2 yeast was found to occur mainly through the mechanisms of deletions, and to a lesser extent, gene conversions. Triplications were rarely found as a repair mechanism in this experiment. Repair proficient yeast, in contrast, produced mostly gene conversions. It was determined from these results that MMS2 is important for genome stability.


Poster #51

Comparison of Two Concept Formation Training Protocols

Jandy ChoeSteven FloumanhaftNicole Wright, Lauren Blackorsky, Ranita Ramotar, and Daniel M. Fienup

Department of Psychology, Queens College

Instruction based on the stimulus equivalence paradigm has been applied to a number of college-level academic topics, such as algebra, statistics, and disability categorization.  A recent review noted that there are several technological variations between protocols found in the research literature.  The current research examined the influence of training protocol on the number of learners who successfully formed equivalence classes as well as the total time to complete training and testing.  Neuroanatomy concepts were taught.  In one protocol, participants were trained on all relations serially and then tested for equivalence.  The second protocol, called simple-to-complex, included symmetry, transitivity, and equivalence probes prior to the test for equivalence.  Two studies examined the formation of 3-member classes and 4-member classes.  The simple-to-complex protocol produced a larger number of learners who successfully formed equivalence classes for both 3 and 4-member classes.  Total time differed between studies with serial training being more efficient with 3-member classes and simple-to-complex being more efficient with 4-member classes.  The results have implications for how researchers and teachers effectively and efficiently structure concept learning.


Poster #52

The Impact of pH On the Coprecipitation of Arsenic with Truvite

Ning Ma, Ashaki A. Rouff

School of Earth and Environmental Sciences Queens College

Earth and Environmental Sciences Doctoral Program, Graduate Center

The demand for phosphorus-bearing fertilizer has been boosted by the dramatic increase in world population.  However, the largest phosphorus supply, phosphate rock, will reach its production peak in less than 20 years. Sewage water has been used as an alternative source of phosphorus due to its high phosphorus content and accessibility. Struvite, (MgNH4PO4∙6H2O), a common precipitate formed during sewage treatment, has been widely studied as a phosphorus-bearing fertilizer. Contaminants in sewage water will interact with struvite during mineral formation. This study focuses on the interaction between arsenic (As) and struvite as impacted by pH and As oxidation state. The increase of pH from 8 to 11 resulted in the production of more struvite, but with higher As concentration. Pentavalent arsenic (As(V)) was the preferred oxidation state in struvite rather than trivalent arsenic (As(III)). Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) showed distinct morphologies at different pH. The X-ray Diffraction (XRD) patterns indicated reduced struvite crystallinity as pH increased. The results from X-ray Absorption Fine Structure (XAFS) spectroscopy revealed that the removal mechanisms of As(V) and As(III) were coprecipitation and adsorption, respectively. This study can help to recover eco-friendly struvite-based fertilizer with low contaminant content from sewage water, with implications for addressing the potential world food crisis.


Poster #53

Characterization Of Nitrifying Microbial Communities Along an Estuarine Salinty Gradient

Simon Lax and Gregory O’Mullan

School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Queens College

Nitrification, a two step process involving the oxidization of ammonia to nitrite (ammonia oxidation) and then nitrate (nitrite oxidaction) by chemolithotrophic microbes, is an important process for understanding the fate of nitrogen pollution in aquatic ecosystems. This study investigates the distribution and diversity of ammonia oxidizing bacteria (AOB), ammonia oxidizing archaea (AOA) and nitrite oxidizing bacteria (NOB) along the salinity gradient of the Cape Fear Estuary of North Carolina. DNA was extracted from sediments along the salinity gradient of the Cape Fear Estuary and the ammonia monooxygenase (amo) and nitrite oxidoreductase (nxr) genes were amplified, cloned and sequenced. Analysis of approximately 600 sequences indicate that AOA and NOB were found to be distributed along the entire salinity gradient, while AOB were detected primarily in the higher salinity sites of the lower estuary. Of the three groups of sequences analyzed, amoA from AOA had the greatest sequence diversity. The spatial patterning of Operational Taxonomic Units (OTUs) demonstrates the presence groups whose distribution appears to be restricted by salinity, including both high and low salinity specific OTUs. This change in species composition of ammonia oxidizers along the estuarine salinity gradient may be important to understanding the rate of nitrification and the consequences of nutrient pollution to coastal waters.   


Poster #54

Synthesis and Characterization Of Sol-Gel Based Nanoparticles

Reeta Yadav, Yakov Masheev, Jacob Noveck, Francisca Hernandez, Jessica Lee, Uri Samuni. 

Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Queens College

Nanogels are cross-inked polymeric sol-gel based nanoparticles that offer an interior network for incorporation and protection of biomolecules, exhibiting unique advantages for polymer based delivery systems. We have successfully synthesized stable sol-gel nanoparticles by means of [a] silicification reactions using polycationic peptides like polylysine as gelating agents, and [b] lyophilization of solgels. We have used Transmission Electron Microscopy and dynamic light scattering to characterize nanogel size, shape, size distribution and aggregation. Macromolecules like Hemoglobin and Myoglobin as well as small molecule drugs like Thymoquinone and Distamycin A were encapsulated inside the nanogels. Our initial studies have indicated that the nanogel encapsulated proteins and drugs remain intact, stable and functional. Functional groups were attached to the surface of the nanogels using co-hydrolysis with different organosilane reagents like phosphonate groups, which increased the solution stability of the nanogels. The aggregation of the nanogels is also considerably reduced by addition of surfactants like Polyethylene glycol (PEG). The interactions of Polyethylene glycol with nanogels and solgel matrices were also studied and it was found that PEG is adsorbed on the surface of the nanogels opening the door for many possible applications related to PEGylated nanoparticles. These results indicate that our approach can provide a high degree of control over the formation of protein/drug incorporated nanogels raising the prospect of fine tailoring to specific applications such as drug delivery and bioimaging.


Poster #55

Effects of fear on visual perception: lack of generalization across face databases

Emily Montal, Nadezhda Bababekova and Andrea Li

Department of Psychology, Queens College

Recent studies have suggested that visual perception can be altered by one’s emotional state via back projections from areas such as the amygdale to visual cortical areas. For example, when fearful face stimuli are presented briefly before oriented bars of specific bar-width (spatial frequency), sensitivity to the orientation of the bars is enhanced relative to when these stimuli are preceded by neutral faces, if the bars are of low spatial frequency (wide), but surprisingly sensitivity is reduced relative to neutral faces if the bars are of high spatial frequency (narrow) (Bocanegra & Zeelenberg, 2009). These results suggest that fear may enhance your ability to see low frequency information (which is useful for coding position and movement), but at a cost of sensitivity loss for high frequency information (which is useful for coding fine details such as sharp edges). The goal of the present study is to determine whether these results generalize across face databases. Instead of the classically utilized Eckman face database, face stimuli were taken from the RadBoud face database, a more-extensive, freely available set of face stimuli that are well-controlled for emotional expressions and low-level stimulus characteristics. Results do not appear to generalize to this database. Specifically, fear faces from this database have thesame effect on orientation perception as neutral faces: processing of low frequency (position and movement) information after fear faces was not enhanced relative to the processing of the same information after neutral faces, nor was the processing of high frequency (fine detail) information reduced relative to neutral faces. Results from a preliminary control experiment suggest that the RadBoud fear faces are perceived as more fearful than the neutral faces, and that differences in contrast between the two databases do not affect how intensely fearful the faces appear. Other differences between the two databases will be considered and discussed.


Poster #56

The Effects Of Sensory Deprivation On Perineuronal Nets In The Barrel Cortex

Philip ChuAndrew Cristi, Reena Abraham, Usma Khan, Faraz Khan, and Joshua Brumberg

Department of Psychology, Queens College

Perineuronal nets (PNN) are a dense meshwork of extracellular matrix proteins and proteoglycans that have been shown to have multiple roles in the CNS including regulating plasticity, stabilizing synapses and fear memories, as well as modulating neuronal excitability. It has also been found that PNN maturation coincides with the closing of critical periods of plasticity. Moreover, enzymatic digestion of PNN components reactivates this early period of heightened malleability. However, the effects of reduced levels of PNN on the functions of the mature neurons they encapsulate are not yet well understood. In this study, we sought to decrease the levels of PNN in the adult barrel cortex of the mouse brain using an in vitro enzymatic digestion model. To achieve this goal we developed a single slice preincubation chamber for patch clamp electrophysiology. We were able to generate viable acute slice preparations using only 1 ml of artificial cerebral spinal fluid loaded with our PNN digesting enzyme. We found that one hour of digestion resulted in a 65% total reduction in PNN, which resulted in a shift in action potential thresholds for a subset of regular spiking neurons. Second, we extended previous findings showing that sensory deprivation from birth could impact PNN densities in the barrel cortex. For this second result, we discovered a trend towards reduced levels of PNN levels in sensory deprived mice in all layers of the cerebral cortex. These results raise the intriguing possibility of subtle, but heretofore undetected sensory deprived changes in a unique subset of PNN expressing cells, thus providing a basis for future investigations. 


Poster #57

Zebrafish As A Model To Study Cardiomyopathy

Jaymie Estevez, Corinna Singleman, Dr. Nathalia Holtzan

Biology Department, Queens College

Heart disease accounts for a large number of deaths each year, making the demand to study this organ very high.  Zebrafish hearts develop in a very similar fashion as the human heart. It is for this reason, along with the ability to watch the development of the heart through the clear embryo without disturbing the organism, that it is a popular model organism. Development of the heart during the embryonic stage is crucial for survival. Following embryogenesis, environment and genetics play key roles in heart maturation. Although this is not as widely studied, it is very important when looking to understand the continued normal maturation of the heart. Understanding normal development allows for easier comparison when looking at cardiac mutants, such as the weak atrium zebrafish mutant.  The development of the heart is greatly affected by contraction and the flow of blood. Studying the maturation of the mutant hearts that have a reduction in contractility allow for a better understanding of the mechanisms that regulate cardiac maturation. In the weak atrium mutants, the contraction of the atrium is either greatly reduced or absent. This abnormality has shown to affect the size and function of the ventricle. Through dissection we are able to compare the wildtype and mutant hearts, showing dilated cardiomyopathy in the surviving adult mutant zebrafish.


Poster #58

The Effects of Smoking and Maternal Depression on Neurological Development

Mordechai GrabieStephanie Gampel, Yoko Nomura, Ph.D

Psychology Department, Queens College-CUNY, Flushing, NY 11367

Previous research has shown that children born preterm were at a greater risk for sup-optimal neurological development. The current study investigated the interference of the critical continuous in utero development due to maternal environmental exposure and emotional dysregulation such as depression.  The study examined the effects of pregnant mothers smoking marijuana and cigarettes, as well as maternal depression on the neurological development of their children in utero.  The study was conducted using a sample of 59 pregnant women, who received prenatal care at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City from 2010-2012.  All participants consented to participate in the study and were followed throughout pregnancy until 3 months post-partum.  Their 59 offspring were assessed at 3 months of age for distress and sadness.  We used Analysis of Variance to test the developmental differences between the children of mothers who smoke marijuana, cigarettes, and have increased feelings of depression, and children of non-exposed mothers.The results showed that children of mothers who smoked marijuana during pregnancy, relative to their counterparts, scored significantly higher in distress (p=.01). Children of mothers who smoked cigarettes scored significantly higher on sadness (p=.049).  Children of mothers with increased feelings of depression also scored significantly higher on sadness (p=.007). The study found that children born to mothers, who smoke and suffer from depression, are at a significantly greater risk for sup-optimal neurological development in early infancy.  Communication of these findings will play a critical role in spreading awareness of the risks involved in smoking, as well as the necessity to provide support for mothers with depressed mood through positive activity and therapy.


Poster #59

Affect And False Memory Reduction In A Stroop Task

Esther Halpern, Aliza Schwartzblatt, and Justin Storbeck

Department of Psychology, Queens College

Prior research has found that positive affect results in more false memories, whereas negative affect results in fewer false memories (Storbeck & Clore, 2008). Our goal was to examine possible mechanisms for why negative affect reduces false memories. We believe that negative affect increases attention to perceptual features of incoming information, which may reduce attention to semantic meaning of incoming information. The reduction in processing incoming information semantically may then reduce such false memories. To test this assumption, we designed a task to explicitly direct attention to the semantic level or to perceptual features. This was done by coloring the whole word in the same font color (semantic) or a single letter of the word in the font color (perceptual), and this was a between-subjects manipulation. Five words highly related to a single word, referred to as the critical lure, were all presented consecutively, but prior to the presentation of these lists, participants were shown sometimes positive, sometimes negative, or sometimes neutral images. These images serve to induce brief flashes of affective states. We found that for the single letter color condition (perceptual) the presentation of positive, negative, and neutral images all reduced the time to respond to the critical lure, suggesting less semantic processing was observed, when these reaction times were compared to the whole word color condition (semantic). In addition, we found that the perceptual condition had fewer instances of false memories, p = 0.04, on a surprise recall test compared to the semantic condition. These findings are consistent with the prediction that by directing attention to the perceptual level false memories can be reduced, even when positive affective states have been induced.


Poster #60

Discovery Of A Frog Species Complex In The Ethiopian Highlands

Xenia Freilich and Stephane Boissinot

Department of Biology, Queens College

Ptychadena is a genus of African frogs of the family Ranidae. In Ethiopia, it is the most diverse amphibian genus, with 13 species; seven of which are endemic. Most of the endemics are highland species, some are widely distributed and are present on both sides of the Great Rift Valley, and some have a very restricted distribution and are present only on one side.  Morphologically theses frogs are very similar and it is difficult to identify them based on morphological characters alone. Many authors have suggested the presence of species complexes with an undetermined number of cryptic forms within them. During July and August 2011 Ptychadena specimens were collected in Ethiopia on both sides of the Great Rift Valley. Specimens were identified by DNA barcoding using the mitochondrial gene 16S. Phylogenetic analysis using the mitochondrial gene COI, of specimens identified as Ptychadena neumanni revealed 6 new clades. Some of these new forms are morphologically identical and some present slight differences.  This analysis suggests that the diversity of the genus Ptychadena in Ethiopia is severely underestimated. Future work includes the use nuclear markers to complement the findings of the mitochondrial barcoding and the phylogenetic analysis.


Poster #61

Evolutionary Affinities of Ethiopian Populations of Amietia angolensis

Ordaliza Calderon, Jolanta Bukala, Xenia Freilich and Stephane Boissinot

Department of Biology, Queens College

Amietia angolensis is a widespread species in Africa, from South Africa to Ethiopia.  However it is possible that this species includes multiple cryptic lineages.  These cryptic lineages could qualify as distinct species, even in the absence of distinct morphological features. To test this possibility we analyzed populations from the northern part of the range, namely from the highlands of Ethiopia. Using mitochondrial sequences (16S and 12S rRNA) we found that Ethiopian populations are divergent genetically from Southern Africa populations. We compared the divergence between Ethiopian and South African populations with inter-specific divergences in several African genera of frogs: Amietia, Cacosternum, Strongylopus, and Tomopterna. We found that the level of differentiation of Ethiopian populations is as large or larger as the one between species suggesting that Ethiopian and South African populations constitute different species.


Poster #62

Influenza A Infection Induces Autophagy Through ER Stress

Shawna Benjamin, Emmanuel Datan, Fiorella Tapia-Ortiz, Zahra Zakeri

Department of Biology, Queens College and The Graduate Center

Autophagy is a process of “self-cannibalization,” a normal occurrence in the cell in response to various stimuli including starvation, toxins, and infections. Though the signaling behind autophagy has been characterized for various conditions such as starvation, and IGF stimulation, the pathway during infection still remains unknown. Here we report that influenza infection induces autophagy. This autophagy is momentarily induced, therefore we explored the upstream signaling that led to this quick response. Calreticulin, a marker for ER stress is transiently induced during early infection suggesting its role in virus-induced autophagy. UV irradiation of influenza virus prevents influenza-induced apoptosis, a normal consequence of viral reproduction, and restricts viral protein synthesis. Infection of UV irradiated influenza triggers autophagy suggesting activation of autophagy after binding and entry.  Deficiency of autophagy during infection leads to early cell death as observed in ATG5 KO and Beclin-1 KD cells. We are currently establishing the involvement of ER stress in autophagy during infection by inhibiting ER stress using salubrinal and 4-phenyl butyric acid (PBA). In summary, our results suggest that influenza A virus triggers autophagy in cells through a mechanism involving the ER stress pathway.  This work was supported by MARC-USTAR grant from NIH. 


Poster #63

Rational Design Of 2-(arylsulfonyl)oxiranes as a Cell Active Covalent Inhibitor of Protein Tyrosine Phosphatases.

Anibal Davalos Morinigo, Dibyendu Dana, Tirtha Kamal Das, Isha Kumar, Gopal Subramaniam, Sanjai Kumar

Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, Queens College

A rational structure-based approach has been undertaken to develop 2-(arylsulfonyl)oxiranes as a potential covalent inhibitory agents of protein tyrosine phosphatases. A kinetic analysis of inactivation by a series of synthesized 2-(arylsulfonyl)oxirane compounds revealed that this class of compounds inhibited a panel of PTPs in a time-dependent manner, consistent with the irreversible modification of the enzyme active site. An inactivation experiment in presence of a known competitive inhibitor of PTP indicated that these inhibitory agents were active-site bound. Further, a structure-activity relationship analysis revealed that the inclusion of an aryl group into the inhibitory species was essential for hPTP1B inhibition, and that both electron withdrawing and electron-donating substituents at the para position of phenyl ring had only modest influence on the covalent reactivity of PTP1B. Further experiments revealed while 2-(arylsulfonyl)oxiranes were inhibitory towards PTPs, they remain inert towards alkaline and acid phosphatase. Cell-based experiments with human A549 lung cancer cell lines indicated that 2-(phenylsulfonyl)oxirane blocked intracellular PTP-mediated signaling pathways in a dose dependent manner thereby indicating that these active compounds are cell permeable. This newly discovered class of PTP inhibitory agents could serve as a novel chemical inhibitory motif for the development of activity-based probes and therapeutic agents for the PTP superfamily of enzymes.


Poster #64

Sex in the Urban Community: Education, SES, and Sexually Transmitted Disease

Jackie Finik, Nancy Huynh, Mordecai Grabie, Michelle Yoon, Judy Mason, CSW, Holly Loudon, M.D., and Yoko Nomura, Ph.D.

Department of Psychology, Queens College

Previous research has shown that low education level is a significant factor associated with sexual risk-taking behavior (Luster and Small, 1994). Increased rates of sexually transmitted disease (STD) has resulted in heightened awareness in the field of sexual health. STD’s are particularly relevant among a population of pregnant women, as the consequences, ranging from miscarriage and preterm delivery to severe infection and blindness, pose serious health risks to both mother and developing child. This study was designed to investigate the relationship between socioeconomic status (SES) and STD in pregnant females. Among the three major components of SES, i.e., education, income, and occupation, we only used education level and entitlement status as indicators for SES, since occupation could be irrelevant for some participants. We hypothesize that low SES will be associated with increased risk of contracting STD’s. 250 pregnant women, receiving prenatal care at the Mount Sinai Medical Center, were given a battery of questionnaires assessing demographic information, including education level, entitlement status, and obstetric history and a social history interview, including sexual behaviors, substance use, and in-depth financial and interpersonal history. A logistic regression was used to analyze the risk for STD’s associated with SES, adjusting for potential confounders such as, age of intercourse. Results indicated low SES is associated with an increased risk for STDs. Specifically, a significant associations between entitlement status and STD rates (p=.04), and low education level, and STD diagnoses (p=.05) were found. Participants of low educational attainment (less than 12 years) were approximately three times as likely to contract an STD (p=.07). The potential harm STD’s pose for pregnant women are extremely serious, and at times life threatening. Increased research and awareness of risk associated with STD’s, namely low SES  should help public health officers eliminate hindrances for receiving education, among young individuals living in poverty. That in turn may result in significant change to the education system in low SES areas, which may lead to a reduction in STD’s in pregnant women, especially adolescent teens.


Poster #65

Autophagy is Required in Germ Line Differentiation in C. Elegans

K. Ames1, A. Meléndez1,2

1. Biochemistry Program, The Graduate Center

2. Biology Department, Queens College

In C. elegans, the switch from mitosis to meiosis is highly regulated through the activation of GLP-1/Notch in the germline by the DSL protein ligands produced in the Distal Tip Cell of the somatic gonad. Endocytosis of ligand in the signaling cell is required for signaling activity of DSL proteins, but the role of endocytosis or the mechanism by which it contributes to signaling activity is not yet resolved. We find that a mutation in bec-1/beclin 1, a key regulator of autophagy that also plays a role in retrograde transport, suppresses the germline proliferation defect caused by a loss-of-function mutation of glp-1, and enhances the Tumorous (Tum) germline defect caused by a glp-1(ar202), a gain-of-function mutation. In addition, inactivation by RNAi of genes that encode other autophagy or retromer subunits also enhances the glp-1 gain-of-function Tum phenotype. Intriguingly, a mutation in rrf-1, which preferentially blocks somatic RNAi without affecting germline RNAi, abolishes the ability of bec-1, autophagy or retromer genes RNAi to enhance glp-1(ar202) activity, suggesting that the autophagy and retromer genes function in the signaling cell. As glp-1(ar202) is ligand-sensitive, our results suggest that autophagy and retrograde transport function is important for the activity of Notch ligands.


Poster #66

Childhood Precursors of Future Alcohol Related Problems

Bahaa Abdelqader,  Qudsia Chaught, Yoko Nomura Ph.D.

Psychology Department, Queens College

There is still uncertainty whether children with lower IQ scores tend to have an increased frequency of alcohol consumption later in life. A longitudinal study was conducted to examine if there were any significant precursors in childhood that may signal certain maladaptive behaviors in adulthood. Participants in this study had IQ and neurological exams administered to them by clinical research professionals from the ages of 4-7, and later were followed up with in adulthood (ages 27-33). The results of this study indicate that participants with lower IQ’s have had more significant alcohol related issues that have led to hospitalization. Our study found that adults who consume five or more alcoholic drinks a day had, at childhood, significantly lower IQ’s (p=.02) and more difficulty with concept formation (p= 0.02), relative to those who had less than five drinks a day. Participants who were admitted to the emergency room with alcohol related issues had, relative to their counterparts, more neurological abnormalities (p=0.05). In addition, participants who were admitted as inpatients from the emergency room with alcohol related issues, had significantly lower IQ’s (p= 0.05) than participants who were not admitted.   While other factors do contribute to increased alcohol consumption, it may be in the interest of educators to adjust their style of teaching to help those who have difficulty with concept formation and lower IQ’s. This early intervention will help in their future academic achievement, which in turn will limit future alcohol related problems.


Poster #67

Lateralization of Adult Neurogenesis in Avian Auditory Cortex, Caudomedial Nidopallium (NCM)

Leen Feliciano, Shuk C. Tsoi, and Carolyn Pytte

Department of Psychology, Queens College

Adult neurogenesis is the formation of new neurons in the adult brain and is known to continue throughout life in all animals. The songbird zebra finch is a model system for studying adult neurogenesis because new neurons are incorporated into regions which subserve well known behaviors related to song production and perception. One of these regions is the caudomedial nidopallium (NCM), a higher order auditory area, which functions in the recognition of conspecific songs and stores long-term song memories. Recent work has demonstrated functional hemispheric specialization in NCM such that one side may be more specialized for song learning and the other for song memory. In this study, we asked whether the numbers of new neurons incorporation in NCM differed consistently between the hemispheres by comparing new neuron number between left and right NCM 30 days after labeling newly formed cells with BdrU (n=10). Using immunocytochemistry, new neurons were labeled with fluorescent markers conjugated to antibodies to Brdu and and the neuron-specific proteins Hu or NeuN. We found significantly more new neurons in left NCM than right NCM. Subsequent work will determine whether left NCM recruits more neurons, or whether new neurons have a longer survival time than neurons in right NCM.  This is the first demonstration of lateralized new neuron incorporation or survival in the adult brain.  Funding by NIH MARC U-STAR Program.


Poster #68

Media Coverage and Awareness of the Release of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and MyPlate.

Shoshana B. Epstein, Kaleena Jean-Pierre, Stefanie Lynn, Ashima K. Kant

Family, Nutrition, and Exercise Sciences (FNES) Department, Queens College

Background/ Objective: The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (2010 DGA) and MyPlate were released in 2011. Because mass media is an important avenue for dissemination of nutrition information to the US population, it is important to know whether and how the popular media covered the release of this guidance. Therefore, we examined the extent and content of coverage of the 2010 DGA and MyPlate in selected mass media outlets in the New York metropolitan area, and determined the prevalence of awareness of this recent guidance in three different samples of adults.  Methods: The content of stories, published/broadcast from 1/2011 to 10/2011, to cover the release of the 2010 DGA and MyPlate in four newspapers (New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Daily News, and New York Post), three network television channels (ABC, CBS, NBC), and six print magazines,  (Cooking Light, Ebony, Essence, Jet, and O! The Oprah Magazine, and Shape) was examined. Three convenience samples of community-dwelling adults aged > 50 years (n=200), college students  (n=219), and college-educated, African-American women (n=167) were surveyed about their awareness of the 2010 DGA and MyPlate.  Results and conclusions: Twelve newspaper, fourteen television, and two magazine stories covered the release of the DGA and MyPlate. The DGA coverage emphasized sodium recommendations and MyPlate coverage emphasized the plate icon. Awareness of the DGA and Myplate varied from ~6% in college students and 22% among >50 year olds. In conclusion, the newspapers and television (but not magazines) did cover the release of both the 2010 DGA and MyPlate in the NY metro area and the content was accurate. However, the awareness of this guidance in our samples was low. lowthconveniensample of this study was lower than previously reported.


Poster #69

Assessment of Evapotranspiration Dynamics In Complex Terrain

Donna Gangadeen and T. Eaton

School of Earth and Environmental Studies (SEES), Queens College

Global climate change due to human emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) is one of the most important environmental challenges today.  The cycling of CObetween the atmosphere, soil and plants is intimately linked to the energy budget and water cycle, through evapotranspiration (ET).  Making ET estimates critical in various fields of study, such as water resources planning, water balance computation, irrigation management, ecosystem modeling, and carbon cycle analysis. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the accuracy of subregional ET estimates made in complex terrain.  GEOTop, a physically distributed coupled water-energy balance hydrologic model, is applied to Black Rock Forest, New York. Resulting ET and sensible heat flux data will be validated using available eddy-covariance measurements and field data collected from Black Rock Forest. Extending rigorous estimates of ET and heat flux from a site-specific to a sub-regional scale is critical in order to understand the overall interactive dynamics of CO2 flux (absorption and release) between vegetation and atmosphere, and between soil and atmosphere in this region.  Upscaling of CO2 flux estimates from site specific to regional and ultimately global scales addresses a major challenge of current climate change studies.


Poster #70

Cognitive Mindsets Change the Priorities of the Affective Agenda

Damian Sidorski, Chelsea Dahl, Nicole Davidson, and Justin Storbeck

Department of Psychology, Queens College

Emotion serves as an internal cue to change the cognitive agenda (Ekman & Davidson, 1994; Lazarus, 1991; Simon, 1967). Prior research has found that negative and positive affective states promote spatial and verbal cognitive abilities, respectively (Gray, 2001; Storbeck, in press). In two studies we examined whether cognition could serve as an internal cue to change the affective agenda. Participants were randomly assigned to complete a verbal or spatial working memory task (WMT), then evaluated either a series of affective pictures (exp.1) or completed a dot probe attentional task (exp. 2). As predicted, participants in the verbal condition had higher accuracy evaluating positive, p = 0.05, and neutral pictures, p = 0.04, than participants in the spatial condition. However, participants in the spatial condition were more accurate when evaluating negative pictures, p < 0.01, than participants in the verbal condition. For the dot probe attentional task, Participants in the verbal and spatial conditions showed a stronger orientation toward and a slower disengagement from positive and negative affective stimuli, respectfully. Our findings suggest cognition can in fact serve to prioritize an affective agenda such that spatial and verbal cognition promote spatial and verbal affective agendas, respectively. These findings further support the functional integration of affective states and cognitive processing abilities.


Poster #71

Relationship Between Adult Neurogenesis and Auditory Learning and Memory in the Zebra Finch

Shuk C. Tsoi1, 2, Leen Feliciano1, Mimi Phan3, David Vicario3 and Carolyn L. Pytte1, 2

1. Department of Psychology, Queens College

2. The Graduate Center

3. Rutgers University

The caudomedial nidopallium (NCM) is a higher order auditory region in songbirds, and has been shown to store long-term memories of songs heard as a juvenile, and function in the recognition of novel songs. Auditory learning of new songs and strength of auditory memory can be assessed by recording neuronal responses to playback of song stimuli in NCM. When the song stimulus is novel, neurons have a higher firing rate which subsequently decreases (adapts) as the song becomes familiar. Memory of the auditory stimulus is manifest in a persistent decreased firing, and a lower adaptation rate. NCM incorporates new neurons throughout life, providing an opportunity to assess the relationship between individual differences in new neuron incorporation, song learning, and song memory. To do this, new neurons were labeled in the adult zebra finch with fluorescent markers and antibodies to the cell birthdate marker BrdU and the neuron-specific protein Hu. We compared the numbers of new neurons in NCM with the rates of neural population adaptation to novel and familiar song stimuli (n=4). Across individuals, we found a correlation between rate of adaptation to novel songs and rates of new neuron incorporation. Within individuals, the left NCM had more new neurons and a higher adaptation rate than the right hemisphere NCM. Both correlations suggest that new neurons may contribute to auditory learning of new songs.


Poster #72

Geometric Morphometrics of the Developing Gonopodium in Guppy (Poecilids)

Sung Jin Kim, Pokay Ma and Peter Park

Department of Biology, Queens College

Sexual selection has contributed to a dazzling variety of sexual dimorphic morphologies in fishes. In the live-bearing guppy (Poecilids), males and females differ drastically in anal fin morphology because males must be able to deliver sperm within the cloaca of females. As a result, the anal fin in males form a specialized sperm transfer organ called the gonopodium while the counterpart in females exhibits no such structure. In the present work, an ontogenetic sequence was constructed for the developing gonopodium, and compared to anal fins from a separate sample of adult males and females. Geometric morphometrics was used to capture shape variation of the anal fin. Landmarks (LM) were placed at its outer edge for each specimen. Measurements were made on each of four individuals over a period of up to five weeks. Anal fin morphologies of males and females occupied opposite ends of the shape space along principal component 1(PC1) that accounts for most of the variations. The developing gonopodium males exhibited early morphologies resembling those of control adult females. Over the course of development, the gonopodium gradually transform into adult male morphology. In contrast, the anal fin morphology of developing females do not vary considerably from that of control adult females. This research may serves as a reference for a variety of investigations such as hormonal control of sex differentiation, fin regeneration, developmental constraints, or phenotypic plasticity.


Poster #73

Photo-Induced Plasmonic Resonance of Colloidal Gold Nanospheres

Navindra D. Singh, Neena Punnoose, Luat T. Vuong

Department of Physics, Queens College

When a particle is illuminated with light, the excited electrons give rise to both an internal (absorbed) and external (scattered) electric field. Here, we demonstrate and model a photo-induced magnetic response in an aqueous solution of gold nanospheres. To model the scattered field, we use an extended Mie theory and examine the non-linear current density that arises from the coupling of an incident circularly-polarized wave and the scattered electric field.  Samples are placed in sealed glass containers in front of a beam of collimated circularly-polarized light and given time to stabilize to constant pressure. The scattering spectra is measured before, during, and after application of a ~1.5 mT magnetic field in the direction of propagating light. After the magnetic field is applied, we see an increase in the scattering of light in a neighborhood surrounding the nanospheres’ peak absorption wavelength. This increase is sustained for up to several hours after the magnetic field is removed.  This photo-induced change in scattering is an indication of the existence of surface plasmons. Our low-intensity experiments show potential for solar applications and high-sensitivity bio-imaging.


Poster #74

Increased Internalizing And Externalizing Behaviors Among Youth With Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): Evidence Of DAT1 X DRD4 Epistasis

Solomon W. Bienstock, Juliet Gerber, & Dr. Yoko Nomura

Department of Psychology, Queens College

In this study, we applied advanced statistical methodology to delineate whether DAT1 and DRD4 are independently and interactively associated with increased comorbid behavioral problems among youth with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Participants were 216 youth, ranging from 6-16 years, 71% males, who met DSM-IV criteria for ADHD, as confirmed by the Kiddie Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia for School-Aged Children-Present and Lifetime Version (K-SADS-PL), and who had ratings of at least 1.5 standard deviations above age and gender norms on the ADHD Rating Scale-IV-Parent Version (ADHD RS). Information on participants’ DRD4 7-repeat (DRD4-7R) and DAT1 10-repeat (DAT1-10R) genotypes were obtained from DNA that was extracted with a PureGene kit from 15 mL of whole blood. The Child Behavioral Checklist (CBCL/6-18: Achenbach, et al., 2000) was used to obtain the parents’ dimensional assessment of their youth’s behavioral problems. We tested two models: 1) a model with only a direct path from DRD4-7R and DAT-10R to internalizing and externalizing problems (Model 1); and 2) a direct path from DRD4-7R to internalizing and externalizing problems using a multi-group model by DAT1-10R (Model 2). Model 1, which tests independent effects of DRD4-7R and DAT1-10R, showed an excellent model fit [X2(df)= 18.6 (17), p=.20, CFI=.996 NFI=.958, RMSEA=.02]. DRD4-7R was associated with elevated internalizing behavioral problems (β=.25, p=.001) whereas DAT1-10R had no notable associations with either internalizing or externalizing behavioral problem. Model 2, which tests the interactive effects in the multi-group model by DAT1-10R, also showed an excellent fit [X2(df)= 29.6 (24), p=.20, CFI=.986 NFI=.935, RMSEA=.034]. DRD4-7R was significantly associated with an increase in both internalizing (β=.39, p<.001) and externalizing (β=.22, p=.01) behavioral problems only among youth with the DAT1-10R genotype. In comparing youth with the DAT1-10R genotype to those without, DRD4-7R had a nearly 10-fold greater adverse impact on internalizing problems (.04 versus .39) and over a 5-fold greater adverse impact on externalizing problems (.04 versus .22), suggesting epistasis between DAT1-10R and DRD4-7R. These results suggest that genetic polymorphisms on DAT1 and DRD4, known susceptible genes for an increased risk for ADHD, seem to also increase the risk for internalizing and externalizing comorbidity. If comorbid internalizing problems among youth with ADHD has its origin in genetic susceptibly, this information could be useful to clarify important issues regarding heterogeneity in ADHD. 


Poster #75

The Determinants of Helminth Infestation In Baboons

Rita Monfort and Stephane Boissinot

Department of Biology, Queens College

The prevalence of intestinal parasites in natural populations is highly variable. The ecology and behavior as well as the genetic make-up of populations can all affect the rate of infection, yet the relative importance of ecological and genetic factors remain unclear. We addressed this issue by performing a four-year survey of parasite infestation in baboons in Awash National Park, Ethiopia. Awash national park hosts populations of olive baboons (Papio anubis) and hamadryas baboons (Papio hamadryas), as well as hybrid populations that are phenotypically intermediate between olive and hamadryas baboons. We analyzed 342 fecal samples over a 4 year period (2008-2011) using the fecalyzer fecal flotation method or a modified McMaster flotation method. Several species of helminthes were detected including Trichurissp., Schistosoma sp., Enterobius sp., Strongyloides sp., Trichostrongylus sp., and hookworm. Olive baboon populations had a much higher prevalence of intestinal parasite than the hamadryas and the hybrids and this was true every year. In addition, the average number of eggs found in olive baboons was always higher than in the other two populations. This is likely to reflect the higher humidity of their habitat and/or their proximity to humans. Hybrid baboons had a moderate prevalence (~40%) but the number of parasite eggs was always very small. The prevalence in hamadryas baboons varied considerably from one year to another and apparently correlates with period of intense drought. Although hamadryas are adapted to extremely dry habitats, the droughts of 2009 and 2011 were so severe that thehamadryas have modified their ecology and came closer to human habitats, possibly increasing their exposure to worm eggs. Our results strongly suggest that ecological factors constitute the main determinant of parasitic worm infestation in baboons.


Poster #76

Summer 210Po and 210Pb Distributions And Plankton Community Structure In The Northeast Pacific

Hiu Y. Choia, Gillian M. Stewarta, Michael W. Lomasb, S. Bradley Moranc, Roger P. Kellyc

a. School of Earth and Environmental Science, Queens College

b. Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences

c. Graduate School of Oceanography, University of Rhode Island

The 210Po and 210Pb natural radionuclide pair has been studied increasingly as a tracer for particulate organic carbon due to the preferential removal of 210Po by biota relative to its grandparent 210Pb. In this August 2010 study, we investigated the summer distribution of dissolved 210Po and 210Pb in the upper 500m of the North Pacific Subarctic Ocean in relation to plankton community using data from seawater. This is the first 210Po/210Pb seasonal data set presented for Line P and Ocean Station Papa (OSP) out of a series of six planned cruises. Results show that the highest 210Po/210Pb deficits occurred in the transition zones where copepods made up a larger percentage of the zooplankton community biomass compared to coastal and open ocean stations. Surface 210Pb activity was found to be low in the Salp-dominated P4 coastal station, suggesting that high surface adsorption of lead on large Salp fecal pellets and transportation to depth might have occurred. Future data sets from February and June cruises will enable us to interpret seasonal and spatial changes in 210Po and 210Pb activity in relation to plankton community composition.


Poster #77

Altered Song-Related Feedback Impacts New Neuron Survival In The Auditory Region Caudomedial Nidopallium (NCM) of the Zebra Finch

Palma Ribeiro, S.; Wasner, K.; Korman, S., Perez, A., Pytte, C.L.

Department of Psychology, Neuroscience Program, Queens College

The songbird is used as a model system for studying adult neurogenesis (formation of new neurons) in relation to song learning, sensory feedback, and behavior. Song is produced by the syrinx, the vocal organ in birds, which is bilaterally innervated by the tracheosyringeal (TS) motor nerve. In this project, we asked whether altering song-related feedback would impact new neuron survival in the region of the auditory association cortex that processes auditory song information, the caudomedial nidopallium (NCM). NCM receives ascending auditory information and is analogous to the mammalian auditory-association cortex. We labeled new neurons in fifteen adult male zebra finches using bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU), a mitotic marker that takes the place of thymidine during DNA replication. Two days later, the birds received surgeries in which the TS motor nerve was lesioned unilaterally; either receiving a right or left-TS cut. Birds were allowed to sing naturally, and were then sacrificed 28 days after the BrdU injection. New cells were identified with immunocytochemistry to mark BrdU with fluorescent antibodies and neurons were co-labeled with an antibody to the neuron-specific protein, Hu. Double labeled cells in NCM were quantified using fluorescence microscopy and Neurolucida software and we evaluated the number of new neurons in left and right NCM.  We found that in untreated controls, more new neurons were recruited in left NCM than right NCM, consistent with other recent findings from our laboratory.  Left TS-cut birds did not alter the L : R ratio of neurons in NCM, showing the same pattern as in control findings.  Right TS-lesions, however, decreased the ratio of new neurons suggesting either an increase in new neurons on the right side, decreased new neurons on the left side, or both.  These results reinforce physiological findings of functional differences in NCM based on electrophysiological responses to song playback and suggest that new neuron survival can be altered unilaterally.


Poster #78

Changes of Movement Coordination during Learning a Multi-joint Kicking Task

Ya Ching Hung, Silky Kataria, Maryam Mudasir, Aurona Qamar

Family, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences (FNES) Department, Queens College

Long-term practice effects on movement organization have not been extensively investigated in previous research. Therefore, the purpose of the current research is to investigate how individuals organize multi-joint lower limb movement during learning a kicking task.  A total of twelve individuals (age 18-32years old; six males and six females) who considered themselves novice soccer players were included in this study. Each participant stood and practiced kicking a soccer ball into a tarpaulin target container made up of five concentric circles (diameters 240, 190, 140, 90, and 40 cm). Each circle was numbered 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9, with the outermost circle being one and the innermost circle being nine. Kicking accuracy was measured by deviation distance of the kicked soccer ball from each circle in the target container. Participants completed 13 practice sessions and a retention test one month after the last practice session. Each practice session included 50 trials and middle 15 trials were analyzed with 3-dimentional kinematic system. After practice, all participants improved their kicking accuracy significantly (p<0.05) with no differences between male and female participants. As the result of practice, participants were able to decrease the variability of linear foot velocity with the changes of joint coordination underlying the movement. The results provide better understanding of joint coordination during learning a multi-joint kicking task. 



Poster #79

Identifying Mycobacteriophage: DNA Primer Design for Phage Clusters

Lauren Esposito, Lauren Mordukhaev, and John Dennehy

Department of Biology, Queens College

To date, 246 mycobacteriophage have been fully sequenced and assigned to one of 31 clusters or subclusters. However, greater than 1,500 collected phages remain unidentified. In order to identify and categorize unknown mycobacteriophage, we designed DNA primers specific for genes or groups of genes unique to each cluster or subcluster of mycobacteriophage. These DNA primers were tested using Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) against control phage DNA representative of the corresponding cluster/subcluster for suitability (ability to produce amplicons visible by gel electrophoresis). Working primers were then tested against non-corresponding template phage DNA to ensure their specificity to the original cluster/subcluster. Preliminary results show that most of the DNA primers created for each cluster/subcluster suitably identified the corresponding cluster/subcluster template phage DNA. To show the set of primers’ optimal particularity for a certain cluster/subcluster, primers are being tested on non-corresponding template phage DNA from other clusters/subclusters. To sift out optimal DNA primer sets opens the door to a simple, efficient, and less costly system of identifying newly discovered phage.    


Poster #80

Neurodevelopmental Outcomes In Early Childhood Associated With Greater Alcohol Consumption In Adulthood

Annick Fremont, Adjoa Anor, Yoko Nomura

Department of Psychology, Queens College

Attention problems, learning and memory deficits, and abnormalities in social and emotional development are all problems faced by children during their childhood. In accordance with these findings, we hypothesized that the poor scores received by children, between the ages of 0 and 8, in cognitive function abnormalities and impairment of speech development would lead to excessive and problematic alcohol abuse in adulthood. In order to test the aforementioned hypothesis, we randomly selected mothers and their newborns receiving prenatal care and delivering at the John Hopkins Hospital. The infants were continuously followed and their progress recorded over a period of 8 years. They received a 7 year psychological and/ or language, hearing and speech assessment. Follow-up studies were also conducted between ages of 7 to 27-33. Our data and results showed that offspring with various sub-optimal neurodevelopment outcomes in early childhood were associated with greater consumption of daily alcoholic drinks in adulthood. These early indicators included speech deficiency in 3 (p= .009) and 8 (p=.061) year olds, neurological abnormalities in 7 year olds (p=.004), and low IQ in 8 year olds (p=.006).


Poster #81

The Impact of the Lee Silverman Voice Treatment (LSVT) on Facial Expression Frequency in Parkinson’s Disease:  Preliminary Effects of Emotion and Gender

Michelle M. Halfacre, Karin Alterescu, Elizabeth Murray, Jamie Twaite, Kerri Scorpio, Kimberley R. Savage, Jennifer L. Spielman, Lorraine O. Ramig, and Joan C. Borod

Department of Psychology, Queens College

Neuropsychology Doctoral Subprogram, The Graduate Center

The lack of emotional expressivity in Parkinson’s disease (PD) has been shown to create problems with social communication and interpersonal relationships (e.g., Pentland et al., 1987). PD patients are often perceived as exhibiting negative affect and as being unlikable. We examined facial emotional expression in PD patients and demographically-matched healthy controls (HCs) to determine the effect of a voice therapy treatment. Participants were 25 non-demented, early-stage PD individuals (76% male) and 9 HCs (44% male). There were three PD groups:  9 participants received a targeted voice therapy (i.e., LSVT LOUD), 9 received a targeted articulation therapy (LSVT ARTIC), and 7 received no therapy (i.e., untreated). All participants were video-taped, before and after treatment, while producing emotional (happy, sad, and angry) and neutral monologues from the New York Emotion Battery (Borod et al., 1992). Monologues were divided into 15-second segments and evaluated by 12 naïve raters for frequency of emotional expression (i.e., how often facial emotional expressions occurred during each video segment). A Group X Gender X Time X Emotion mixed-design ANOVA was conducted. There was a significant 4-way interaction (p=.002). Women with PD showed a greater increase in the frequency of facial expressions during happiness monologues following LSVT LOUD treatment compared to the other participant groups. In addition, there was a trend (p=.091) for the main effect of Gender, with women more facially expressive than men.  Results suggest that LSVT LOUD may be an effective treatment for increasing positive affect with PD. Findings may have implications for improving interpersonal relationships in PD given that PD patients are perceived as showing more negative affect compared to healthy controls. Further, results provide support for research demonstrating that women are more emotionally expressive than men (e.g., Borod & Madigan, 2000).


Poster #82

New Authors And New Technologies In Book Publishing

Oscar Lugo, Ana Arbalaez, Dana McKnight, Dana Weinberg (supervisor)

Department of Sociology, Queens College

The research examines the effects of the influx of new writers on the publishing industry. In the last decade, new technologies have changed the way people publish books. Using data from Bowker’s Inc. on all books in print in North America from 2007-2011, we examine the number of new authors entering the market through both self-publishing and traditional publishing. We then compare the extent of ebook publishing among new authors to trends for established authors across fiction genres.


Poster #83

Developmental Changes in the Song of the Swamp Sparrow (Melospiza Georgiana)

Lauren Adragna, Jeff Podos and David Lahti

Department of Biology, Queens College

The swamp sparrow (Melospiza georgiana) is a small songbird with a wide distribution within the Nearctic biogeographical region, inhabiting open wetlands and other similar habitats. The males of this species learn songs during early development, and sing them as adults to attract females and defend their territories. In the wild, young sparrows typically hear their father’s songs and songs of other nearby adults throughout the day, and memorize a subset of these songs during a restricted sensitive period of song learning. The purpose of this research is to study the development of the swamp sparrow’s song throughout juvenile ontogeny and to distinguish the aspects of its vocalization that are learned versus those that are inherited. Hatchling male birds were reared in a lab setting and exposed to songs that were digitally manipulated so that they had different syllable lengths and were delivered at different speeds than that of wild songs. The young birds songs were recorded as they matured and practiced the songs they learned. Working backwards through development, we used sound analysis software to measure how features of songs changed over development, quantitatively and qualitatively. We are finding that birds increase in tonality, evenness of rhythm, and consistency of syllable structure over the course of about four weeks. Results also provide insights into developmental differences between learned and inherited aspects of behavior.


Poster #84

Patterns Of Contamination At An Urban Combined Sewer Outfall (CSO): Bacteriological and Heavy Metal Indicators

Diana Morgan, Gregory O'Mullan, Ashaki Rouff and Timothy T. Eaton

School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Queens College

Continuous sewage discharge from a combined sewer outfall (CSO) into a tidal wetland creek in New York City was detected and characterized for levels of the fecal indicator bacterium Enterococcus, total suspended solids, and dissolved metals. Sampling shows complex contaminant variation due to dilution, source, adsorption/desorption and tidal backwater effects. The spatial and temporal distribution of contamination showed high concentration, low-volume loading in dry weather, and diluted concentration but higher volume loading over a larger area in wet weather. In contrast to commonly expected CSO impacts, the total sewage loading to the creek is present in dry weather but greatly increased during wet weather. Time course sampling during a rain event demonstrated complex first flush patterns. Variable patterns of peak metal concentration, with respect to precipitation and Enterococci level, suggest either changes in source or adsorption/desorption during wet weather events as well as the effect of tidal backwater. 


Poster #85

Autophagy Regulates Lipid Metabolism

Melissa Silvestrini, Louis Lapierre, Sara Wong, Lizbeth Núñez, Malene Hansen, & Alicia Meléndez.

Department of Biology, Queen’s College

Autophagy is highly dynamic catabolic process resulting in the degradation of cytosolic components including damaged organelles and misfolded proteins.  Double-membrane bound autophagosomes engulf cellular components and eventually fuse with the lysosome where its contents are broken down and recycled. Autophagy has been shown to regulate lipid metabolism via a process termed lipophagy resulting in mobilization of neutral lipid stores.  In contrast, we report an anabolic role of autophagy to facilitate storage of netural lipid droplets in C. elegans.  Using both CARS microscopy and Oil Red O staining to detect lipid levels, we observe that mutants in the gene bec-1 (and other autophagy genes), fail to store neutral lipid droplets in their intestines.  Moreover, the loss of bec-1 results in a decrease in lipid storage indaf-2 insulin/IGF-1 receptor mutants and in glp-1 germline-less animals, both previously characterized by elevated neutral lipids and increased autophagy levels.  This study further implicates autophagy as a regulator in lipid metabolism and may have important implications for human metabolic diseases.


Poster #86

Already Mentally Worn Out? How Emotion-Cognition Interactions Regulate Self-Control Resources

Cindy Urdinola, and Justin Storbeck

Department of Psychology, Queens College

Previous research has found that emotion prioritizes cognitive processing.  Positive and negative affect promote verbal and spatial cognitive abilities, respectively (Gray, 2001; Storbeck, in press). We predicted that when the affective state promotes the appropriate cognitive process (Alignment) to complete a task, self-control resources are conserved. However, when the affective state is incongruent with the current task demands (Misalignment), regulatory processes are invoked to reconfigure cognitive abilities. This regulatory process, however, results in depleting self-control resources (Storbeck, in press).  Previously, we have found that Misalignment conditions perform more poorly on the first Block of a working memory task (WMT).  We hypothesize that when self-control resources are depleted prior to the start of the WMT, performance would be reduced throughout the WMT task.  Ps first completed a Stroop task, which served to deplete self-control resources. Then positive or negative mood states were induced and for the control condition no induction mood was given. Ps were then randomly assigned to complete a verbal or spatial WMT.  As predicted, performance for the Misalignment conditions was worse in the first block, p < 0.05, and the last block, of the WMT when compared to the Alignment conditions, p = 0.001, reflecting a regulatory cost. These findings suggest that when self-control resources were previously depleted from the preceding cognitive task, the misalignment conditions were less likely to overcome this depletion and performed more poorly on the subsequent WMT. Therefore, when emotion and cognition are aligned self-control resources are conserved enhancing high-level cognition


Poster #87

Sensory and Physical Properties of Mac and Cheese Prepared by Replacing Whole-Fat Cheese with Reduced-Fat and Fat-Free Cheeses

Sommer, V., Kalinski J., Borg, K., Maksym, L., and Choi, S.E.

Family, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences (FNES) Department, Queens College

Macaroni and Cheese (MC) is known to be a comfort food made with a cheese sauce that is very calorie dense and is not considered an ideal food for those trying to lose weight. The objective of this study was to develop a low-fat MC.  A MC recipe made with full-fat cheese was prepared as a control sample. A MC (Reduced Fat) which full-fat cheese was replaced with reduced fat cheese and a MC (Low Fat) which full-fat cheese was replaced with 50% reduced fat cheese and 50% fat-free cheese were prepared as modified samples. Sensory characteristics measured by twenty panelists and viscosity measured by line spread test were compared among the three samples. Yellowness, cheese flavor, viscosity, and overall acceptability were evaluated using a 15 cm line scale as sensory characteristics. One-way analysis of variance was used to analyze the differences in those variables across the three samples. The ‘Low Fat’ MC showed the highest values in yellowness (8.61±2.49), viscosity (9.62±2.89) and overall acceptability (8.90±3.54) and the cheese flavor of ‘Reduced Fat’ (9.05±2.56) was rated the highest among all the samples. But, there is no significant difference for any variables. The ‘Low Fat’ MC formula contained half the fat (7g/serving) when compared to the control (14g/serving) and exactly half the saturated fat. This study demonstrates that using a combination of 50% reduced fat and 50% fat-free cheese could contribute effectively to the preparation of palatable low-fat MC.


Poster #88

Bimanual Coordination during Walking for Children with Hemiplegia

Geneva Meredith and Ya Ching Hung

Family Nutrition and Exercise Sciences (FNES) Department, Queens College

Children with hemiplegia were previously found to have bimanual coordination deficits when performing asymmetric bimanual tasks. However, they were able to compensate their more-affected side with the less-affected side during symmetric bimanual tasks while seated. It is unknown how children with hemiplegia will coordinate their hands for bimanual tasks during walking. Ten children with hemiplegia (age 4-10 years; MACS levels I -II) and ten age-matched, typically-developing children participated in the study. To assess their bimanual coordination, children were asked to first walk along a path and then to walk along the same path while carrying a box. Children with hemiplegia showed less bimanual organization with uneven vertical box positioning and more elbow and shoulder joint excursion. In addition, they had shorter stride lengths and slower velocity while walking with the box. These findings indicate that children with hemiplegia have bimanual coordination deficits above and beyond their more-affected side movement impairments.


Poster #89

Bimanual Coordination for Children with Hemiplegia during a Lifting Task

Julissa Vargas, Zahava Polishuk, Juan Cifuentes, Ya Ching Hung

Family Nutrition and Exercise Sciences (FNES) Department, Queens College

Children with hemiplegia have shown impaired bimanual coordination when compared their performance to age-matched typically developing children in a functional drawer task. However, the influence of posture control to the coordination of the involved and non-involved hand during functional bimanual task in children with hemiplegic CP is not well understood. Eight children with hemiplegia (age 4-12 years; MACS levels I -II) and eight age-matched, typically-developing children participated in the study. Children were asked to pickup an empty box with both hands while standing. Children with hemiplegia showed less bimanual organization with delayed movement time of the more-affected hand. Therefore, children with hemiplegia were unable to synchronize the movement of their more- and less-affected hands, while typically-developing children maintained their synchronization of both hands. The results highlight the importance of task constraints on bimanual coordination and suggest that posture control may affect bimanual coordination strategies.


Poster #90

C-FOS Induction In The Rat Amygdala In Response to the Intake of a Glucose-Saccharin Solution

Cristal Sampson1, Julie Dela Cruz1,3, Karen Kest1,3, Gregory Fitzgerald1, Tricia Coke1, Robert Ranaldi1,3, Khalid Touzani2, Anthony Sclafani2,3,4, Richard J. Bodnar1,3.

1. Psychology Department, Queens College

2. Psychology Department, Brooklyn College

3. Neuropsychology Doctoral Subprogram, The Graduate Center

4. Cognition, Brain and Behavior Doctoral Subprogram, The Graduate Center

The present study examined c-fos expression in the amygdala (AMY) produced by oral intake of a palatable glucose (8%) + saccharin (0.2%) solution (G+S). Male rats, food-restricted (85% of baseline weights), were pre-trained with a 0.2% saccharin solution over four days and then given either 10 ml of the G+S solution  or water (control). All rats were sacrificed 90 min thereafter, and brains were immunohistochemically processed for c-Fos. AMY neurons showing Fos-like immunoreactivity (FLI) were counted in three common representative sections by uninformed observers. An initial pilot study found significantly more AMY neurons showing FLI in the G+S ( = 355.0) relative to the control ( = 215.6) rats. Ongoing studies are analyzing specific AMY sub-nuclei for differential c-fos induction as well as other components of the mesotelencephalic reward pathway (medial prefrontal cortex, nucleus accumbens, ventral tegmental area) with the latter site also exposed to tyrosine hydroxylase immunohistochemistry to determine c-Fos and dopamine double-labeling. Additional groups are being tested to differentiate among solutions that produce learned flavor preferences conditioned by the sweet taste (oral fructose) or post-oral (intragastric (IG) glucose) nutrient actions of sugars and important controls (oral water, IG fructose, IG water). The latter controls are necessary because fluid intake in control rats was less than that of the G+S rats. These data will provide insights into how the mesotelencephalic reward pathway is activated during exposure to unconditioned stimuli that give rise to flavor-taste and flavor-nutrient conditioning.


Poster #91

Quantification of Nitric Oxide Production by different Hydroxamic Acids

Imran Babri, Ishita Patel, Dr. Jorge Ramos and Dr. Uri Samuni

Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Queens College

Hydroxamates (RC(O)NR'OH, HXs) such as hydroxyurea are used as therapeutic agents for a variety of conditions including Thalassemia where patients can suffer from iron overload. Hydroxamates, which are good metal chelators, can chelate the excess iron to prevent its deleterious effects. Recently, new hydroxamate derivatives, such as trichostatin have been shown to be effective anti-cancerous agents representing a new strategy in cancer therapy. Part of the anti-cancerous effects of HXs may derive from their ability to release HNO and nitric oxide (NO). NO is a potent biological mediator, however, high levels of NO or HNO, are known to be toxic. We have studied the kinetics of HNO and NO formation form different hydroxamates under conditions of oxidative stress (in the presence of Met-myoglobin and hydrogen peroxide). The results indicate that of the hydroxamates tested hydroxyurea has the fastest rate of NO production and acetohydroxamate the slowest. These results will be compared to the rates of HNO/NO formation for the same hydroxamates when they are metal (copper, iron) bound.


Poster #92

Stable Folding Intermediates Of Profilin1 Provide Clues For Dissociation Of Profilin-G-Actin Complex: A MD Simulation Study

Walter PolkosnicClara Merino, Andreas Hadjigeorgue and Glendon D. McLachlan

Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Queens College

The Profilins are a family of actin monomer (G-actin) binding proteins found in all eukaryotic cells, and function in the regulation of the actin cytoskeleton. Profilins are integral to dynamic cellular processes such as cell division, cell motility and cell adhesion, as well wound healing and cancer metastasis. And the availability of G-actin is fundamental for actin filament (F-actin) formation and cytoskeleton assembly. How the G-actin-profilin complex dissociates at sites undergoing F-actin remodeling, have not been elucidated. We have used molecular dynamics (MD) simulation, employing the MD simulation protocol GROMACS (GROningen MAchine for Chemical Simulations), to gain insights into the accessible conformations and stable folds of profilin1. Our studies suggest that discrete structural changes in profilin1, which might result from changes in the local intracellular solvent polarity relative to the bulk conditions, could result in sampling conformations which preclude G-actin binding. In addition, the data is consistent with a previous experiment-based mechanism, which proposes that protonation of a single solvent exposed residue on profilin result in the promotion of a highly populated stable, partially folded conformation with a disrupted G-actin binding surface. The results are important for understanding both physiological and pathological processes involving actin filament assembly and underscore the structure-function paradigm in cell regulation and signal transduction. 


Poster #93

Different Organism as a Model for Ethiopian Phylogeography

Ronveer Chakraborty, Xenia Freilich & Stephane Boissinot.

Department of Biology, Queens College

Molecular phylogenetics, a subject that started in the 1960's and has seen much progress within the last decade, combines molecular and statistical techniques to infer evolutionary relationships among organisms or genes and visually represents them using phylogenies. The techniques from this field have been used successfully to identify the origins and phylogeography of many species, such as those found in the Horn of Africa, the part of Africa also known for its geological rifting. Particularly in Ethiopia, molecular techniques have been used to identify the history of species found on both sides of The Rift Valley such as the Ethiopian Red Wolf, the Gelada baboon, and the Xenopus frog. However, the types of organism used for molecular studies in this region thus far have been highland species only; the origin history that may differ for a species also found in lower elevations has not been addressed. Since there is no clear understanding of how the geography of a rifting land mass affects life forms with broader elevation ranges, we looked into the frog genus Tomopterna of Ethiopia, which can tolerate  drier habitats relative to other frogs and is found in both high and low elevations throughout Ethiopia, using molecular techniques to understand its phylogeographic origins and how it may differ from highland species.


Poster #94

Flavivirus Autophagy Protects Cells Against Death by M-TOR Pathway

Gabrielle Germain, Jeffrey E McLean, Emmanuel Datan, Zahra Zakeri

Biology Department, Queens College and The Graduate Center

Flavivruses such as Dengue-2 and Modoc (a murine flavivirus), induce an upregulated autophagy in epithelial cells, which protects the cells against death, thus allowing viral replication to persist in the host. We have previously shown that in the case of Dengue-2 and Modoc (a murine flavivirus) NS4A is the gene that uniquely upregulates this autophagy. In attempt to explore the mechanism by which NS4A induces autophagy, we hypothesize that NS4A insertion into the ER induces ER stress, leads to the induction of Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS). This increase in ROS will then activate the ATM pathways, down regulate the M-TOR pathway, which will then lead to autophagy. This work was supported in part by funding from the NIH (MARCUSTAR), grant 2T34GM070387-03, to Zahra. Zakeri.


Poster #95

The Performance of Cerebral Palsy Children in Boxwalk and Walk Tasks

Geneva Meredith and Ya Ching Hung, Ed.D

Family, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences (FNES) Department, Queens College

Children with hemiplegic cerebral palsy (CP) have early non-progressive lesions of the brain that result in a number of impairments predominantly on one side of their body. The non-dominant side (arm and leg) was found to have slower movements during boxwalk and walk tasks as well as the dominant side (arm and leg) was shown to move slower than both arms and legs of a healthy subject. In previous boxwalk and walk tasks, there was little attention of how children with hemiplegic CP coordinate their joints to cope with this type of tasks. The current study was performed on ten children with hemiplegic CP and ten age-matched typically developed children that randomly participated in boxwalk and walk tasks at Queens College. The purpose of the study was to determine to evaluate the differences in motor and joint coordination control during boxwalk and walk tasks in children with and without hemiplegic CP. The current study drew attention to the discrepancies in joint movements control for not only the non-dominant side but also the dominant side of children with hemiplegic CP. Children with hemiplegia showed deficits in boxwalk and walk tasks in motor control and joint movement control of their dominant side; having greater proximal compensations of the trunk movements and less joint range of motion at the distal joints of elbow flexion movements. The results showed that the non-dominant side of children with hemiplegic CP had a slower movement during boxwalk and walk tasks compared to their dominant side and both arms and legs of the control group. Additionally, the non-dominant side was found to have greater compensatory trunk movements during boxwalk task when compared to the control group. Greater shoulder and elbow movements were also found during boxwalk task. The results demonstrated that future treatments or assessment can potentially impact on the joint movements control for both the non-dominant and dominant side (arm and leg). The boxwalk and walk tasks are feasible to be used as an assessment tool for future treatments to quantify the quality of joint movements. In addition, 3-D kinematic analysis of boxwalk and walk tasks might be very useful to test the efficacy of rehabilitation protocols.


Poster #96

Sad Moods Reduce False Memories by Reducing Activation of Directly Associated Semantic Information

Rachel FeldmanJulie Itty, and Justin Storbeck

Department of Psychology, Queens College

Prior research has found that happy moods increase false memories, whereas negative moods decrease false memories for semantically related information (Storbeck & Clore, 2005). However, people induced into a negative mood still produce false memories. The goal of the current study was to examine how negative moods reduce false memories. We predicted that negative affect serves to reduce direct semantic associations, but negative affect does not reduce indirect semantic associations. On the other hand, we predicted that positive affect increases both direct and indirect semantic priming. Deese-Roediger-McDermott false memory lists were used and each list contained words that were both directly and indirectly related to a single word referred to as a critical lure (Roediger & McDermott, 1995). Within a modified Stroop task, thirty-three DRM word lists were presented in 1 of 4 font colors, and five directly related or five indirectly related list items were presented followed by the related critical lure. However, prior to each list positive, negative, or neutral pictures from the International Affective Picture System (IAPS; Lang, Bradley, & Cuthbert, 1999) were presented to induce a transient mood state. As expected, negative pictures slowed down responses to related critical lures when shown after direct list items (p = 0.506), but priming was observed when indirect list items were presented after negative (p = 0.001). Both direct and indirect priming was observed following positive and neutral images. Therefore, as predicted, negative affect serves to suppress direct priming, and this may be why negative affect reduces the production of false memories.


Poster #97

Geometric Morphometrics of the Developing Gonopodium in Guppy (Poecilids)

Sung Jin Kim, Pokay Ma and Peter Park

Department of Biology, Queens College

Sexual selection has contributed to a dazzling variety of sexual dimorphic morphologies in fishes. In the live-bearing guppy (Poecilids), males and females differ drastically in anal fin morphology because males must be able to deliver sperm within the cloaca of females. As a result, the anal fin in males form a specialized sperm transfer organ called the gonopodium while the counterpart in females exhibits no such structure. In the present work, an ontogenetic sequence was constructed for the developing gonopodium, and compared to anal fins from a separate sample of adult males and females. Geometric morphometrics was used to capture shape variation of the anal fin. Landmarks (LM) were placed at its outer edge for each specimen. Measurements were made on each of four individuals over a period of up to five weeks. Anal fin morphologies of males and females occupied opposite ends of the shape space along principal component 1(PC1) that accounts for most of the variations. The developing gonopodium males exhibited early morphologies resembling those of control adult females. Over the course of development, the gonopodium gradually transform into adult male morphology. In contrast, the anal fin morphology of developing females do not vary considerably from that of control adult females. This research may serves as a reference for a variety of investigations such as hormonal control of sex differentiation, fin regeneration, developmental constraints, or phenotypic plasticity.


Poster #98

The Effect Of Small Head On Sensory System

Michael Aghelian and myself, Alysson Azra and Mariah Caroll

Psychology Department, Queens College

In the past, there have been different psychological studies that have focused on head size, brain size and intelligence. The studies tried to determine if there were associations among these factors. Capitalizing advances in technologies, in current years, to measure the size of the brain, we have begun to use the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). By using the MRI in one of the studies, one recent study examined IQ and head size, as well as the actual brain size, using MRI, among 40 right-handed healthy females, between the ages of 20-30 years old and found a positive relationship between the size of the brain and the intelligence of the individual. The current study will examine the effects of different head sizes, on a variety of sensory systems. A head circumference of less than 34 cm was considered small in this study. Data was collected by research psychologists from participants with normal and small head sizes by when they were three and eight years old. There were significant difference in language perception (p<.001), language expression (p<.001), hearing (p=.11), speech mechanism (p= .016), and speech production (p=.055) between participants with normal head size and participants with small head size when they were at three years old. At 8, similarly, there was a marginally significant or marginally significant difference between the two groups, including hearing (p=.075), auditory behavior (p<.001), language (p=.000) reading (p=.000), and speech (p=.036). Taken together, children with a small head size (<34cm) were significantly or in some cases marginally, impaired in their sensation, perception and motor systems. In conclusion, our findings suggest that a small head size may be a good predictor for cognitive impairments and could be used as an early marker for potential delays in sensory-motor functioning in young children. For future studies concerning head size, psychologists should focus on the causes of small head abnormality, and if it has any relationship to drugs and alcohol.  In this study the sensory systems such as audition were studied, it would also be interesting to study the effects of small head size on the visual systems.


Poster #99

Increased Temperatures Associated with Increased Chlorophyll and Flagellates in Long Island Sound

Edward Rice and Gillian Stewart

School for Earth and Environmental Sciences, Queens College

Annual surface temperatures in Long Island Sound (LIS) have been warming since the 1970s at the rate of 0.04C/y (p=0.0002).  This warming is largest in winter, but most consistent during fall.  Annual surface Chl A in the Central Basin of LIS has also been increasing from the 1990s and Generalized Additive Modeling indicates fall temperatures best explain this increase (p=0.03).  Several new flagellate phytoplankton groups have appeared in LIS since the 1950s and Non-metric Multidimensional Scaling confirms that during the fall flagellate groups appear associated with higher temperatures. This paper will argue that higher temperatures associated with global warming are resulting in increased chlorophyll as previously unoccupied niches in the LIS foodweb are filled by new flagellates.


Poster #100

The Effects of Physical Appearance, Social Status, and Attachment Security in Mate Selection

Danny Sanchez & Claudia Brumbaugh

Psychology Department, Queens College

The objective of this study was to learn more about whether evolutionarily desirable features in potential partners play a role in the selection of insecurely attached partners. In two studies people rated their attraction to targets that varied in security. Profiles contained photographs (Study 1), or status information (Study 2). In Study 1 we found that men preferred physical beauty over attachment security. Conversely, women generally preferred securely attached men who were not handsome. However, insecure women were attracted to good looking, insecure men. In Study 2 all people, regardless of sex, generally preferred attachment security over status. Similar to Study 1 however, we found insecure women had a heightened preference for insecure, high status men. These findings help explain how people end up with insecure partners.


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