Lake Mohegan, CT, United States
Lake Mohegan, CT, United States

Connecticut College is a private liberal arts college located in New London, Connecticut. Founded in 1911, the mission of the college is to "educate students to put the liberal arts into action as citizens in a global society," and the College's fourth strategic plan also introduced a set of values statements indicating its commitments to Academic Excellence; Diversity, Equity, and Shared Governance; Education of the Entire Person; Adherence to Common Ethical and Moral Standards; Community Service and Global Citizenship; and Environmental Stewardship. Connecticut College is a primarily residential, four-year undergraduate institution, with nearly all of its approximately 1,900 students living on campus. Students choose courses from 41 majors including an interdisciplinary, self-designed major.Connecticut College was founded as "Connecticut College for Women", in response to Wesleyan University closing its doors to women in 1909; the college shortened its name to "Connecticut College" in 1969 when it began admitting men.The College has been continuously accredited since 1932 by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. It is a member of the New England Small College Athletic Conference .Forbes ranked Connecticut College 84th in its 2014 overall list, 45th in the Northeast and 70th among private colleges. U.S. News & World Report ranked the school 45th among the top liberal arts colleges in 2014. Wikipedia.

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Stems that develop secondary vascular tissue (i.e. xylem and phloem derived from the vascular cambium) have unique demands on transport owing to their mass and longevity. Transport of water and assimilates must occur over long distances, while the increasing physical separation of xylem and phloem requires radial transport. Developing secondary tissue is itself a strong sink positioned between xylem and phloem along the entire length of the stem, and the integrity of these transport tissues must be maintained and protected for years if not decades. Parenchyma cells form an interconnected three-dimensional lattice throughout secondary xylem and phloem and perform critical roles in all of these tasks, yet our understanding of their physiology, the nature of their symplasmic connections, and their activity at the symplast-apoplast interface is very limited. This review highlights key historical work as well as current research on the structure and function of parenchyma in secondary vascular tissue in the hopes of spurring renewed interest in this area, which has important implications for whole-plant transport processes and resource partitioning. © 2013 The Author.

Jones C.C.,Connecticut College
Forest Ecology and Management | Year: 2012

Species distribution models (SDMs) are increasingly used to predict distributions of invasive species. If successful, these models can help managers target limited resources for monitoring and controlling invasive species to areas of high invasion risk. Model accuracy is usually determined using current species distributions, but because invasive species are not at equilibrium with the environment, high current accuracy may not indicate high future accuracy. I used 1982 species distribution data from Bolleswood Natural Area, Connecticut, USA, to create SDMs for two forest invaders, Celastrus orbiculatus and Rosa multiflora. I then used more recent data, from 1992 and 2002, as validation data sets to determine how model accuracy changed over time and if current and future accuracy were related. I also tested if three alternative approaches - iterative modeling, alternative methods of choosing suitability thresholds and using a risk assessment framework - improved accuracy in predicting future distributions. Model accuracy declined over time with greater declines for models of the species (Celastrus) with the higher initial accuracy. By 2002, 49% of Celastrus and 85% of Rosa new occurrences were correctly predicted by models. Neither iterative modeling nor alternative thresholds improved accuracy of predicting 2002 occurrences, but a risk assessment framework showed promise for guiding monitoring efforts. These results suggest that measures of current accuracy may not indicate a model's predictive accuracy and must be used cautiously. Distinguishing between predictions of current and future distributions is critical. While iterative models were not successful in this study, I argue that using models in a risk assessment framework closely tied to monitoring will greatly increase the utility of SDMs for managing invasive species. © 2012 Elsevier B.V.

Thompson D.M.,Connecticut College
Progress in Physical Geography | Year: 2011

In 1971, Edward Keller proposed the velocity-reversal hypothesis to describe observations where near-bed velocities in pools increased at a faster rate than in riffles. The reversal in conditions was used to explain the maintenance of pool-riffle sequences. The hypothesis continues to draw interest, and research shows that velocity reversals occur in limited conditions, but average cross-sectional velocities in pools do not universally exceed those in riffles at near-bankfull flows. A consensus is now beginning to form that flow convergence in pools is common at high flow and helps to form an isolated region of jet flow with high velocities that maintains the characteristics of the pool-riffle sequence. © The Author(s) 2010.

Wang M.-T.,University of Pittsburgh | Fredricks J.A.,Connecticut College
Child Development | Year: 2014

Drawing on the self-system model, this study conceptualized school engagement as a multidimensional construct, including behavioral, emotional, and cognitive engagement, and examined whether changes in the three types of school engagement related to changes in problem behaviors from 7th through 11th grades (approximately ages 12-17). In addition, a transactional model of reciprocal relations between school engagement and problem behaviors was tested to predict school dropout. Data were collected on 1,272 youth from an ethnically and economically diverse county (58% African American, 36% European American; 51% females). Results indicated that adolescents who had declines in behavioral and emotional engagement with school tended to have increased delinquency and substance use over time. There were bidirectional associations between behavioral and emotional engagement in school and youth problem behaviors over time. Finally, lower behavioral and emotional engagement and greater problem behaviors predicted greater likelihood of dropping out of school. © 2013 Society for Research in Child Development, Inc.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: Molecular Biophysics | Award Amount: 599.39K | Year: 2014

The goal of this project is to increase the understanding of how living organisms convert chemical energy into light. Bioluminescence--the emission of light by living organisms--is a beautiful natural phenomenon that has enchanted children, challenged those who have tried to understand it, and provided the basis for an important research tool. The project addresses the need to produce novel luciferase proteins to improve current research applications of bioluminescence and to advance the development of new ones. The proposed research will be carried out at a liberal arts college with an established record of effective research training of undergraduate students. Modern facilities and equipment provide an excellent environment for students and faculty to engage in collaborative research. The PI has actively directed undergraduate research projects for 37 summers. Approximately 98 undergraduate students, approximately 70% of whom are women and approximately 10% who are from traditionally underrepresented groups, have worked with him and approximately 60% of these participants entered graduate or professional school. Students who work in the PIs lab and make substantive contributions to a project become co-authors and are actively involved in the writing of manuscripts and presenting their results at scientific meetings. The aim is to offer a meaningful research experience to a diverse group of students. Moreover, several of the students in the proposed program will be participants in a department collaborators NSF S-STEM grant. All program participants will engage in modern mainstream bioluminescence research and will contribute positively to increasing the numbers of well-prepared graduates for entry into graduate programs and professional scientific careers.

Two major objectives are addressed in this project that were developed during related investigations with prior NSF-RUI grant support. The first is to determine the basis for the altered emission color (574 nm), resistance to low pH red shifting, and unexpectedly greater specific activity (compared to the brightest North American firefly Photinus pyralis) of a newly cloned luciferase from Photinus scintillans. The main aim is to better understand the natural determinants of firefly emission color and pH stability through mutagenesis studies of the enzymes from both species. The PI will fully characterize the physical and spectral properties of the new enzyme and undertake biochemical studies to identify key amino acid residues that determine the enhanced properties. The proposed investigation will involve a mutagenesis approach and variants of the enzymes will be studied by: steady state kinetics, quantitative analysis of bioluminescence reaction products, and spectral methods including fluorescence and bioluminescence emission techniques. With collaborator Professor Andrew Gulick, the crystal structure of a complex of the novel luciferase with DLSA, an inhibitor that binds to the active site, will be determined and the mutagenesis data will be interpreted in a structural context. The second objective is to develop new substrates and red-emitting luciferase variants for improved dual color (analyte) reporter gene applications. The plan is to seek new assay methodology with greater convenience of performance and enhanced sensitivity compared to current technology. The PI will use 2 luciferase variants and 2 bioluminescence-producing substrates-- beetle luciferin and a novel analog called benzothiophene luciferin. Additionally, the PI may explore the use of fluorine-containing derivatives of benzothiophene luciferin to be made by synthetic routes that have been designed. The 2 luciferase variants are engineered to produce well-separated green (~520 nm) and red (~617 nm) emission spectra. The PI will use several mutagenesis strategies to produce enzymes that produce light with further separated emission maxima. The assays will be optimized with respect to pH, signal stabilizers, lysing agents, substrate concentrations and spectral filters.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: PHYLOGENETIC SYSTEMATICS | Award Amount: 151.83K | Year: 2011

Scaled chrysophytes are microscopic organisms common to all freshwater environments. Most species grow under very specific conditions, making them excellent indicators of environmental change and of the health of the environments in which they live. These organisms are so named because they form highly ornate structures out of glass, called scales, which are unique in design for each species. These scales accumulate in sediments where they can be recovered later and used to piece together the history of the water body. Study of scaled chrysophytes, including use as bioindicators, has been hampered by the lack of taxonomic resources available to new researchers. The primary objective of this project is to synthesize three decades of research on scaled chrysophytes from thousands of collections made along the east coast of North America, and archive corresponding materials from all samples in international museums. A synthesis of the data is expected to yield insights for new research initiatives on global climate change and for addressing biodiversity and evolutionary questions.

Worldwide taxonomic expertise in scaled chrysophytes has significantly declined over the last decade, a fact that has undermined the importance and use of these organisms for advancing our knowledge of key environmental issues such as global climate change. In addition, unlike most groups of organisms, there are no museum collections available to aid new researchers. These facts provided the primary stimuli for this project, namely to develop a comprehensive guide to the organisms and simultaneously archive materials and specimens that directly correspond to the guide in internationally recognized museums.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: S-STEM:SCHLR SCI TECH ENG&MATH | Award Amount: 436.31K | Year: 2012

This Connecticut College project: S-STEM Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics is a continuation of an existing and effective four year Science Leaders program which targets traditionally underrepresented students in science. The project builds on that success and expects to increase even more underrepresented students majoring in science by adding two new features: a summer bridge program prior to the freshman year and a study group program.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: Biodiversity: Discov &Analysis | Award Amount: 379.76K | Year: 2012

Over 40 million years ago, long before anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions was an issue, the Earth was engulfed in an extremely warm period known as the Cenozoic hot house. The warming correlated with an ice-free Earth, lush forests on land masses near the North Pole, and alligators, giant tortoises and tapirs roaming the high Arctic. Indeed, the warmth experienced during the Cenozoic hot house was strikingly similar to future warming estimates derived from climate models. Thus, the Cenozoic hot house represents an ideal analog for understanding future changes resulting from warmer climates. The goal of this project is to document the remains of microscopic plant and animal organisms from three extensive Arctic lake cores that collectively span the Cenozoic hot house, and use the findings to evaluate the development and resilience of freshwater ecosystems in a warm greenhouse world. Preservation and sheer numbers of microfossils in the three cores are unprecedented and the project will also yield a unique opportunity to address long-standing evolutionary questions for ecologically important freshwater organisms.

Global warming, caused by higher concentrations of greenhouse gases, is advancing at an unprecedented rate and is arguably the most pressing environmental issue facing society today. Computer models predict significantly elevated warming in Arctic regions, and all indications are that the warming will cause profound reorganizations of biological communities. However, since there are no Arctic ecosystems currently experiencing such warm conditions, we lack data that could be used to verify the computer models. The project offers a unique chance to understand how Arctic freshwater ecosystems did, and most likely will, respond to warming.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: Physiolg Mechansms&Biomechancs | Award Amount: 395.06K | Year: 2013

Woody plants provide critical sources of energy and building materials and play important roles in carbon sequestration, hydrologic cycles, and habitat assemblies. Despite the many services provided by woody plants, very little is known about how woody stems develop and how vascular connections are formed between the older woody portions of a stem and the younger, non-woody growth. The main objective of this project is to determine how movement of the plant hormone auxin controls vascular development in a woody plant using the model species Populus tremula x alba. By using a combination of chemical analyses, genetic modification and microscopy, the movement of auxin will be tracked from the young developing leaves to the woody stem below and related to the time course of vein formation. The movement of auxin will also be disrupted with chemical inhibitors in order to determine the effects of auxin transport on wood structure. This work is expected to shed light on how the vasculature -- the network of veins that supply leaves with water and distribute sugars to the rest of the plant -- is established in woody plants and how the hormone auxin determines important physical properties of the stem. In particular, liquid permeability is important for improved utilization of plant materials (e.g., wood) as well as plant survival and is determined during vascular development, a process that may be regulated by auxin flow. This project also provides multiple training opportunities for undergraduates interested the sciences both during the academic year and through summer internships. It is expected that this project will encourage ten or more undergraduates to pursue careers in science related to plant biology including forestry, carbon cycling and the development of new raw materials for biofuels.

Connecticut College | Date: 2014-11-24

Described herein are novel chimeric luciferase molecules with enhanced properties, and methods of using these chimeric luciferase molecules.

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