Every February, undergraduate researchers from across the State of Tennessee convene at the State Capitol to share their projects with state legislators. In 2013, seven students from UT traveled to Nashville with staff from the Office of Research. They set up their posters in the Legislative Plaza, lunched with legislators, and explained their various projects. View 2012 Participants »
“The projects represent significant discoveries and achievements that build new knowledge, solve emerging problems, and expand creative thinking essential to healthy, productive society,” says Joseph A. DiPietro, UT president. “Our undergraduates’ areas of expertise reflect world-class research and creative activity that elevate our students and advance the frontiers of knowledge. We’re pleased to showcase these students’ work, providing a small window to the excellence going on within our classrooms and laboratories every day.”
Participants for 2013
Student: Sheryl (Kate) Benson
Faculty Mentor: Hollie Raynor
Project Title: Repeated Food Exposure Via the Olfactory and Gustatory Systems
Abstract: Developing effective dietary prescriptions for weight loss is essential for obesity treatment. Satiation, the process by which an eating bout ends, assists with eating regulation, and factors that quicken the onset of satiation may aid with decreasing intake. One factor believed to influence satiation is the rate of decrease in consummatory response (habituation) to repeated presentations of food orosensory cues. It is not clear if repeated exposure via the combined olfactory and gustatory systems increases the rate of habituation more so than repeated exposure singularly through one of these systems.
Student: T. Chad Effler
Faculty Mentors: Alison Buchan and Steven W. Wilhelm
Project Title: What Does it Take to Build a Virus? Computational Determination of Nutrient Stoichiometry Based on Genomic Sequence
Abstract: Viruses are pervasive components of marine systems, commonly reaching 107 particles per mL in aquatic systems and thus 1031 particles across all marine systems. Due to the rapid turnover of this pool, viruses thus not only affect biogeochemical cycles by releasing large amounts of organic matter from marine microorganisms, but moreover represent a significant pool of carbon themselves. To more accurately understand these interactions, it has become important to know exactly how much carbon is contained within individual virus particles.
Student: Connor Gorman
Faculty Mentor: Neal Stewart
Project Title: Construction and Validation of Promoter Testing Vectors for Switchgrass
Abstract: Functional characterizations of novel promoters are necessary to analyze spatial and temporal expression of genes for their use in the possible control of transgene expression in switchgrass. Vectors utilizing GATEWAY recombination technology for high throughput promoter analysis using strong promoters for selection are not available for monocots. Two GATEWAY compatible vectors containing the reporter genes – green fluorescent protein (sGFP) and Gus-Plus for promoter analysis will be constructed utilizing strong constitutive monocot promoters for selection.
Student: Clayton Greer
Faculty Mentor: Andy Sarles
Project Title: Using Dewetting Physics to Assemble Artificial Cell Membranes
Abstract: This study describes methods for characterizing the use of the dewetting phenomenon at an oil-water interface for the fabrication of novel biosensors. The biosensor features a surfactant bilayer, which mimics the structure of cell membranes found in the body. A study of dewetting and the construction of prototype biosensors is conducted to determine if dewetting can be used to initiate the assembly of the bilayer. The surfactant bilayer, and thus the biosensor, is not formed if dewetting does not occur.
Student: Grace Levin
Faculty Mentor: Micheline van Riemsdijk
Project Title: A Critique of Social Enterprise: The Global Impact of a Microfinance Crisis in India
Abstract: Generally, microfinance has been accepted as an effective method for empowering individuals and communities. However, recent events have revealed major problems with microlending, such as the failure of loan programs due to complex socioeconomic factors. Lending practices vary greatly to suit cultural differences, and each program must be evaluated in a geographic context in order to understand the needs of a community and the sustainability of the project. These necessary differences prevent standardization throughout the industry; as a result, microfinance institutions may operate without regulation.
Student: Victor Lollar
Faculty Mentor: Belle Upadhyaya
Project Title: In-situ Condition Monitoring of Components in Small Modular Reactors
Abstract: Components in small modular reactors (SMRs) are located in a hazardous environment and must be monitored remotely. Electrical signature analysis (ESA) is a viable option for component monitoring as it can be implemented on-line away from the actual equipment. This research attempts to use both electrical signatures from a pump motor and process variables such as flow and pressure to effectively monitor reactor components. An experimental flow loop with pump health monitoring equipment and a data acquisition system was used for experiments.
Student: Akshitha Yarrobothula
Faculty Mentor: Cong Trinh
Project Title: IRESistible: Novel Parts for Use in S. cerevisiae
Abstract: Internal Ribosomal Entry Sites (IRES) are an important but poorly understood part of the eukaryotic translational machinery, allowing cap-independent translation initiation. Unfortunately, the Registry of Standard Biological Parts contains few IRESs and even those are poorly annotated. In this work, we submitted five IRESs to the registry and plan to characterize them for relative strength. To do this, we will develop a methodology of determining relative IRES strength, as modeled by the methodology put forth by Kelly et. al in the Journal of Biological Engineering (Kelly et. al, 2001).