Student: Melissa L. Bigler
Faculty Mentor: Barry Bruce
Project Title: Isolation and Characterization of Monomerized Photosystem I complexes in Thermosynechoccus elongatus
Abstract: Successful disruption of the Photosystem I (PSI) complex in Thermosynechococcus elongatus has allowed for further characterization and understanding of its properties. These findings yield a new heat resistant source for photosynthetic applications such as the production of hydrogen for energy usage. PSI is a major complex involved in applied efforts for photosynthesis. This complex has been utilized for hydrogen production and photovoltaic applications.
Student: Jeremy Brooksbank
Faculty Mentor: Tom Zawodzinski
Project Title: Electrochemical Characterization of Metal-Triazole Complexes as Oxygen Reduction Reaction Catalysts for PEM Fuel Cell Applications
Abstract: Proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs) utilize platinum and platinum alloy metals to catalyze the reactions that take place on the surface of both electrodes. However, the relatively slow oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) at the cathode requires significantly more catalyst in order to proceed at a reasonable rate. Since platinum group metals (PGMs) require a high capital investment, replacing the Pt-containing catalyst with a non-PGM catalyst at the cathode is a primary research goal.
Student: Madelyn Crawford
Faculty Mentor: Jeffrey Becker
Project Title: Structure and Function Analysis of an Extracellular Loop in a Constitutively Active, C-Terminally Truncated GPCR
Abstract: More than a third of all the drugs used in human medicine function by interacting with a G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR). Despite their biological and pharmacological importance, the scientific understanding of this class of proteins is surprisingly limited. While it is generally accepted that GPCRs undergo a structural rearrangement when they bind to an extracellular ligand, shifting from a resting to an active conformation, little is known about the nature of the molecular changes that are associated with receptor activation and signal transduction.
Student: Megan Johnstone
Faculty Mentor: Michael B. Zemel
Project Title: Effect of Branched Chain Amino Acids on Mitochondrial Metabolism and Cell Cycle in Cancer Cells
Abstract: Amino acids are building blocks of proteins and proteins are the most functionally diverse molecules in living beings. Leucine is a branched chain amino acid that has been linked to fatty acid oxidation, mitochondrial number and thermogenesis. While all cells mainly rely on glucose and fatty acid oxidation (chemical “burning” of fat for energy usage) for energy, reliance on fatty acid oxidation via aerobic mitochondria is substantially more efficient (36 ATP) than glycolysis (2 ATP).
Student: Sarah Russell
Faculty Mentor: Bruce Wheeler
Project Title: ‘Stamp Out This Awful Cancer’: Reactions to the Threat of Atheism at the University of Tennessee in 1927
Abstract: In 1927, journalist Homer Croy published an exposé in World’s Work magazine about the American Association for the Advancement of Atheism. The article included a list of atheist associations in universities around the country, including one surprising entry at the University of Tennessee. The scandal of the supposed Atheist’s Club at the University of Tennessee reveals a deep-seeded fear of forces that could undermine the traditional conservatism of the post-War South, a fear that still resonates with some Southerners today.
Student: Kyter Steffes
(Jordan Bailey, Michael Nelson, Sam Bouck)
Faculty Mentor: Gregory Spaw
Project Title: Ro-CoN: Rotational Molded Concrete
Abstract: Because of its progressive nature, advancement in digital fabrication when it comes to architecture is often generated by experimental exploration and problem solving. Through self-actuated commission, we invented a process to mold concrete to incredibly thin proportions and create prefabricated, hollow objects. The scope of research and success involved in this exploration redefines the material as well as the methods used in the forming process.
Student: Luke Waring
Faculty Mentor: Sherry Cable
Project Title: Accepting the “Green Dragon:” Responding to American Evangelical Anti-Environmentalism through Contextual Analysis of Resisting the Green Dragon
Abstract: Tennessee provides an interesting setting in which to study these issues. The Lindquist Environmental Appalachian Fellowship (LEAF) is a Knoxville, Christian faith-based environmental organization, which works to limit mountaintop removal coal mining. However, more anti-environmental Christian influences can also be observed in the state. This project aims to better understand both positions and seeks to offer a constructive way forward for achieving better environmental and economic outcomes in public policy.