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Welcome to the 2017 UMaine Student Symposium: Research and Creative Activity electronic event program. This electronic program includes student abstracts, student presentation style descriptions, and presentation schedules. It also includes a map of the venue layout, schedule of the entire day’s events and programs, as well as details and information regarding our sponsors and selected university programs.

We hope you enjoy a full day of student presentations, guest speakers, award ceremonies, and the chance to network with UMaine students, faculty, staff, as well as local and state industry and community leaders! 
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Monday, April 24 • 10:45am - 12:00pm
Exhibits/Performances – Biomedical Sciences

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Francesca J. Armstrong

Biochemistry, 10:45AM-12:00PM
Identification and Characterization of the Novel Mycobacteriophage Cuke | | Mycobacteriophage (phage) are viruses that infect the genus Mycobacterium. Phage particles are the most numerous biological entities with an estimated population of 1031 individuals, yet to date only... Read More →

Wyatt Austin

Biological Engineering, 10:45AM-12:00PM
Neuropathy Detection/Adipose Innervation | | Abstract | Proper neural innervation and activation in white and brown adipose tissues (WAT, BAT respectively) are essential for certain metabolic processes such as lipolysis, thermogenesis and adipogenesis. However, the exact mec... Read More →

Kyle Capistrant-Fossa

Marine Science, Microbiology, 10:45AM-12:00PM
Effect of CFTR Deficiency on Host Pathogen Interactions of Danio rerio and Pseudomonas aeruginosa | | Cystic Fibrosis (CF) is a hereditary autosomal recessive disorder caused by mutations in the gene for the Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane Conductance Regulator (CFTR) protein... Read More →

Kaitlin Clark

Biology, 10:45AM-12:00PM
Human Color Acuities Dramatically Depend Upon Specific Background Colors and Individual Subject Differences. | | Visual Acuity examinations are commonly used to perform tests for visual function within the medical field. Traditional VA charts, like the Snellen and Landolt C, are printed with a black opotype on a white background. However, these charts preclude study on the effects of different foreground and background color combinations on individual human visual acuity values. With advancements in technology, computers can be programed to test for these effects. Recent developments of the VISION program allow researchers to examine how visual acuities may depend upon specific combinations of foreground and background colors. Sensory Cyber Systems, LLC has created a suite of... Read More →

Laura Horowitz

Microbiology, Biochemistry, 10:45AM-12:00PM
The Role of Cellular Stress in JC Polyomavirus Infection | | The human JC polyomavirus (JCPyV) causes a life-long persistent infection in the kidneys in 50-80% of the population. However, in immunosuppressed hosts, JCPyV can spread to the central nervous system and cause the fatal disease progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML). The role of host immunity in controlling JCPyV infection during a persistent infection in the kidneys is not clearly understood. However, the cytokine interferon beta (IFN... Read More →

Paul Dillon Kress

Biology, 10:45AM-12:00PM
Diabetic Neuropathy | | Diabetes is a debilitating condition in which the body’s capability to react to or produce insulin is diminished, resulting in an altered metabolic state. This condition is often accompanied by comorbidities, such as peripheral neuropathy, which is def... Read More →

Jessica Majors

Animal Science, 10:45AM-12:00PM
Haemonchus contortus in White-Tailed Deer: A Threat Assessment | | Haemonchus contortus (“Barber pole worm”, HC) is a parasitic nematode that poses an economic threat to sheep and goat producers (Sutherland et al., 2010; Westers et al., 2016). Anthelmintic drugs are becoming less effective as the worms develop resistance, and producers have turned to alternate strategies, including pasture rotation which involves moving sheep from one pasture to another, to prevent HC contamination. Sheep may not be the only source of HC infection, however. White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus; WTD) have been shown to carry HC, and HC of deer origin can be infective to sheep (McGhee et al., 1981). Between October 2015 and 2016, fecal samples from WTD were collected approximately weekly from deer beds in close proximity to sheep pastures at UMaine and tested for HC. Fecals were tested using modified... Read More →

Hannah Morgan

Bioengineering, 10:45AM-12:00PM
Scratch Assay Device for Keratinocyte Wound Healing Studies | | Scratch assays are widely used in wound-healing studies, however, current methods, which use a pipette tip to create the scratch and a light microscope to determine the width of the scratch, do not have reproducible results. We have designed and built a device which creates scratches of a precise and repeatable width ranging from... Read More →

Ryley Thompson

Microbiology, 10:45AM-12:00PM
Determining Role of LytR Protein in Pathogenicity of Streptococcus agalactiae | | Streptococcus agalactiae is a bacterial pathogen that can exist in our normal microbiome, only causing disease when it gains access to certain tissues, or when it infects immunocompromised individuals. To find ways to combat these infections, it is important to determine the bacterial defenses which allow it to evade our immune responses. The cell envelope of S. agalactiae is important for many virulence functions, such as survival in the host environment and evading the host immune response. Because of the importance of the S. agalactiae capsule in the establishment of infection, we will be researching the function of two proteins, LytR and CpsA, which are part of a widespread class of proteins found in many Gram-positive bacterial species and are involved in cell envelope regulation and stability. Based on the role of LytR in regulation of the cell envelope, we hypothesize that the LytR protein plays a key role in the recruitment of immune cells to the site of infection. We will be investigating how the presence or absence of the protein affects the recruitment of immune cells in systemic and localized infections. To accomplish this, we will be injecting zebrafish larvae with S. agalactiae strains that have mutations in the lytR gene and observing the differences in mortality and in recruitment of immune cells to the site of infection, compared to injections with the wild type strain. Results from this study will provide new information on how the S. agalactiae cell envelope protects the bacteria from immune responses. | | Faculty Mentor: Melody... Read More →

Jasmine Waite

Biochemistry, 9:15AM-10:30AM, 10:45 AM-12:00PM
Determining gene expression profile changes in cluster E mycobacteriophage Ukulele infection (Section A Poster, 23  9:15AM-10:30AM) | | Mycobacteriophage (phage) are viruses that infect mycobacterial hosts, including pathogenic Mycobacterium tuberculosis and non-pathogenic M. smegmatis. Understanding phage-host interactions is important considering that pathogenic strains of Mycobacterium typically carry prophage. Prophage are latent phage genomes integrated into the host's DNA and are hypothesized to contribute to bacterial virulence or fitness. We are investigating the impact of cluster E phage lytic and lysogenic infection on host M. smegmatis. Mycobacteriophage possess diverse genomes, are abundant and ubiquitous, and much of their population remains to be explored and understood. Clusters are used to organize mycobacteriophage based upon genome similarity. While some clusters are well-characterized, the knowledge of Cluster E remains underdeveloped. The genome of Cluster E phage Ukulele was previously sequenced and annotated with some gene functions predicted. This provides insight to the biology of Ukulele, but fails to explore host response to viral infection. RNA sequencing addresses this gap in knowledge, through isolation and subsequent analysis of RNA samples at pre-, early and late lytic infection time points. Based on gene expression profiles in M. smegmatis infected by mycobacteriophage Giles, we expect that host gene expression will be altered. Particular genes that were affected, as well as the biological motivations for these changes, are being explored. | | Examining CFTR and CYP2C19 Mutations through Genetic Screening (Table 5 Side L, 10:45 AM-12:00PM) | | Response to drugs can vary by patient, which may require testing before an effective treatment can be administered. In addition to these delays, early diagnosis of genetic diseases is not always available. Genetic screening provides a solution for this gap in patient knowledge. Screening may detect mutations within genes required for the activation of drugs as well as those linked to genetic diseases. The CFTR and CYP2C19 genes were investigated as representations of the importance of genetic analysis. The CFTR gene is responsible for regulating chloride ion movement across cell membranes; the two mutations investigated were M470V and... Read More →


Amalia Harrington

Marine Biology, 1:00PM-2:15PM
Effects of ocean acidification on the physiology of subadult American lobsters (Homarus americanus) | | Increases in anthropogenic input of CO2 into the atmosphere has caused widespread patterns of ocean warming (OW) and ocean acidification (OA). Both processes will likely have major impacts on commercially important species, but OA may pose a particular threat to marine calcifying invertebrates. In the State of Maine, commercial fisheries landings are valued in excess of $600 million, the majority of which is sustained by the American lobster (Homarus americanus) fishery. Previous research explored the effects of OA and OW on larval lobsters, but little work has focused on subadult or adult stages. We present preliminary results of a short-term study exploring physiological impacts of OA on subadults. We used Honeywell Durafet pH electrodes in combination with a... Read More →

Melody Neely

Faculty, UMaine
I study infectious diseases using a zebrafish model. My research interests include analysis of the interactions that occur between the host and pathogen during an infection. We examine this dynamic interaction in real time using microscopy of labeled bacteria and zebrafish immu... Read More →

Monday April 24, 2017 10:45am - 12:00pm

Attendees (6)