Thomasville, GA, United States
Thomasville, GA, United States

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Muller T.,Thomas University
Expert review of neurotherapeutics | Year: 2013

Parkinson's disease (PD) is characterized by a slowly ongoing neuronal death. This alters dopaminergic and glutamatergic neurotransmission and causes a wide variety of motor and non-motor features. Safinamide has a unique pharmacological profile, which combines modulation of dopamine metabolism by reversible, highly specific monoamine oxidase-B inhibition, blockage of voltage-dependent sodium channels, modulation of calcium channels and of glutamate release induced by abnormal neuronal activity. Therefore, safinamide represents an ideal candidate for the treatment of PD. This compound asks for one time daily intake only within an optimum dose range between 50 and 100 mg. In clinical trials, safinamide was well tolerated and safe, improved motor behavior even in combination with dopamine agonist only, ameliorated levodopa-associated motor complications. Safinamide has the potential to become an important compound for the therapy of PD, since its symptomatic efficacy appears to be superior to available monoamine oxidase-B inhibitors or N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor antagonists like amantadine, according to available trial outcomes.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 5.08K | Year: 2015

This project will build upon the infrastructure of Zooniverse.org to create authentic research experiences for introductory astronomy students. Education research indicates that including authentic research in science classes improves attitudes towards science and scientists in a diverse cross-section of students. The curriculum materials will be tested and refined at a broad spectrum of institutional settings before dissemination.

Introductory astronomy generally provides students little insight into the realities of being a scientist. This project will address this deficiency by introducing an authentic research experience for students into the astronomy for non-majors curriculum. It will utilize the classification and meta-data exploration capabilities of the Zooniverse platform. The proposed course curriculum will support students in building foundational research skills and practices through a series of in-class activities and a semester-long group research project. These activities will employ a state-of-the-art online platform to explore data collection, manipulation, and interpretation within the core topics in the curriculum. The project team will assess student learning and attitudinal gains through traditional in-class testing and conceptual questioning that is embedded within the Zooniverse online environment, as well as student interviews. This includes assessing the impact of the research experience on students understanding of the nature of science, conceptual astronomy learning gains (e.g. the Zooniverse Astronomical Concept Survey, Prather et al, 2013), and interest in pursuing a STEM major. The team will also assess the impact of different implementations of the online platform as well as the ease of implementation of the new curricular materials in a variety of institutional settings, course structures, and content focus. They will use the insight gained to develop the most effective curricular and training materials. All curricular materials, instructional guides, online Zooniverse tools, and underlying code will be widely disseminated.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 40.58K | Year: 2015

Studies have for a long time documented the need to introduce computational physics into the undergraduate curriculum. The future workforce needs to be computationally competent-in thinking as well as in skills and practice. This project is a response to the need and proposes exploration into a new change model using a research-based Framework. The Framework - a structure and a research strategy for introducing computation into undergraduate physics was born in 2006 and developed by the Partnership for Integration of Computation into Undergraduate Physics (PICUP).
The purpose of this collaborative research exploration is to design and test an adaptation of the Framework that is effective and sustainable and that can be scaled up by replication. It is a proof of concept study centered on this projects attempt at significant curricular reform through faculty development starting at the grass roots. The research-based PICUP Framework is used in a local approach at a sectional meeting of the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) followed by extensive collaborative development work among participating faculty. Research-based faculty development is implemented at regional sites and is scaled up by replication in any of the 47 AAPT sections. Central to the evaluation plan is assessing how this novel approach helps a computational community to develop. An experienced evaluator is developing metrics to measure progress.


1336062 / 1336165 / 1336604
Schoenfuss/Martinovic-Weigelt/Schultz


Urbanization has resulted in many aquatic ecosystems becoming impacted by effluent discharges from wastewater treatment plants. In recent years, treated wastewater effluent has been identified as a pathway for endocrine active compounds, including hormones and pharmaceuticals, to enter aquatic ecosystem with adverse effects for the health of exposed fish populations. Despite these dramatic alterations to pre-industrial conditions, effluent dominated systems sustain many fish species and are used by the human population for recreation. Updates to the wastewater infrastructure supplying these urban aquatic ecosystems cannot accomplish restoration to pristine condition, and instead need to strive for the greatest cost-benefit of the infrastructure investment. This project explores the idea that large-scale wastewater infrastructure improvements will reduce overall endocrine active compound concentrations in an effluent dominated urban aquatic ecosystem and, thus, will enhance the sustainability of fish populations despite continued presence and inputs of these compounds. A case study will examine the efficacy of upgrading two major wastewater treatment plants in the Greater Chicago Metropolitan Area to disinfection (Ultraviolet (UV); chlorination/dechlorination). This aquatic ecosystem has been the focus of intense biological and chemical study for several years and provides a unique opportunity to assess (i) how two approaches to effluent disinfection will reduce endocrine active compound loads in the final effluent; (ii) how estrogenicity, a measure of the total biological activity in the system, is affected by the upgrades to two treatment plants contributing roughly 50% of all effluent in the Greater Chicago Metropolitan Area; (iii) how the two treatment technologies (UV vs. chlorination/dechlorination) compare in their efficacy of removing endocrine active compounds from the final treated effluent; and (iv) how adverse biological effects in exposed fish will be mitigated.

This project will address an understudied area in the environmental sciences that has a direct impact on the majority of our population, which resides in urban areas with effluent dominated ecosystems. The ability to study the effects of two disinfection technologies side-by-side in two size-matched urban wastewater treatment plants will provide efficacy information to wastewater treatment plant engineers and will help guide investment into future infrastructure upgrades. Urban ecosystems will benefit from a better understanding of how technology can help to reduce the environmental loads of endocrine active compounds and provide for sustainable fish populations.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 166.91K | Year: 2012

Intellectual Merit: Observational astronomy exercises are essential in the undergraduate introductory astronomy laboratories. But, to engage in real observational astronomy, students need access to computerized telescopes equipped with electronic detectors (CCD cameras, etc.). Additionally, students and instructors need access to the processing tools and technical expertise required to perform the data analysis. If a significant fraction of institutions are to implement observational labs, there must be a way to share access to existing resources. The growing number of available Internet accessible robotic observatories are the answer.

The project is to develop flexible inquiry-based laboratory curricula and easy-to-use data processing tools that allow any institution, regardless of available local equipment and on-site expertise, to easily integrate real observational astronomy exercises into their introductory astronomy courses. A consortium of six institutions within the Minneapolis-St. Paul area is developing, testing, and implementing a set of observational labs, associated data processing tools, and supporting materials for use on the University of St. Thomas (UST) Physics Department robotic observatory. Following testing at the UST Observatory, the consortium is purchasing observing time from Global-Rent-A-Scope, a commercial enterprise that sells observing time on telescopes at dark sites, and modifying and testing the materials for use on their systems.

Broader Impacts: Nearly every undergraduate institution offers an introductory astronomy course for nontechnical majors. These courses involve an enormous number of students who have little additional contact with scientific thought in their college careers. This project directly addresses the need for access to high quality observational equipment by institutions lacking the resources to purchase and maintain their own. This project impacts students, staff, and faculty at institutions of all levels. The consortium was selected specifically to represent a full spectrum of institutions that could benefit from this work. They include two community colleges (North Hennepin and Normandale), a state university (Metro State), a liberal arts university (The University of St. Thomas), an R1 institution (The University of Minnesota), and a high school (Cretin-Derham Hall) that have participated in developing a pilot of this project.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 22.00K | Year: 2015

This unique, high-risk, multidisciplinary study will bridge microbial ecology, environmental genomics, archaeology and urban ecology. The investigators posit that studies of soil microbial communities will reveal new insights into the activities of past civilizations, particularly at sites that have undergone repeated urbanization. Samples will be collected from soil profiles at an archaeological site in Turkey (Tel Tayinat) and Israel (Tel Gezer). DNA sequences will be recovered from soils and used to profile the microbial communities, and correlate them with other geological measurements. A model will be formulated using the multiple lines of evidence generated from this experimental regime, and informed by previous excavations and interpretations of the cultural history of the two sites. The research involves international collaborative work with colleagues in Australia and Canada, and at sample sites in Turkey and Israel. The project will also involve hands-on, process-oriented, guided inquiry learning field trips for undergraduate and high school students to archaeological sites in Montana and Wyoming. The project will broaden participation in science by supporting the involvement of an a faculty member at a Hispanic American-serving institution.

Soil microorganisms provide a potentially tractable system to investigate repeated urbanization events. These communities, or microbiomes could provide new insight into the processes that shape and modify urban landscapes across time scales. This team hypothesizes that natural and anthropogenic processes localized at tells (archaeological mounds created by human occupation and abandonment) have produced measurable signatures from microbiomes, and that these microbiosignatures can be correlated to human impacts as reflected in urbanization and land use dynamics. Two Middle Eastern tells representing a gradient of duration of abandonment (4000 to 40 years) will be studied with two objectives in mind: i) characterization of each tell using compound-specific isotopic, biogeochemical, stoichiometric, and archaeological approaches in combination with novel biosignature/-omics approaches providing a description of the legacy of human occupation and use and ii) parameterization of a process-based model capable of defining the complex evolution of microbiosignatures to help predict human disturbance effects. The novel approach of this project addresses these questions: i) What secondary metabolite inventory is resident in tell soils that is not found in non-urbanized soils? ii) How does this inventory reflect the complex urbanization history of tells? iii) How can Hardins Law of Human Ecology help frame the mass and energy balance dimensions of urban tells? Hardins law states that total human impact on the ecosphere (here, each tell) is the product of the population and per capita impacts. The outcome will be the ability to define human carrying capacity (in terms of the occupation of each tell) which include the ecological footprint and boundary extent of each tell to that area of land provisioning ecological goods and services. The cross disciplinary team includes biologists, archaeologists, microbial ecologists, and a soil scientist and relies upon the integration of expertise across a broad range of disciplines to frame the question of urbanization impact in a novel historical, biological, and environmental context. The resulting product will be a microbiome-based protocol for understanding historical human impact in urbanization settings. This will transform our capabilities of predicting current and future environmental consequences of urbanization. The team will naturally impact a broad range of research communities as well as K-12 education through a summer workshop utilizing process-oriented guided inquiry learning (POGIL) techniques and archaeological sites in the Greater Yellowstone Area.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: COMPUTATIONAL MATHEMATICS | Award Amount: 190.49K | Year: 2014

From microscopic DNA to massive solar flares, string-like objects are replete in nature at every scale. These objects can be entangled and transition between different types of knots. Sometimes nature needs to eliminate this knotting, such as when enzymes called type II topoisomerases cut and reattach strands of DNA to release interlinking during replication. These type II topoisomerases are targets for some chemotherapy drugs, as well as the antibiotic Cipro which is used to treat anthrax poisoning. At other times, knotting is created for a purpose, such as in the folding of some proteins into their functional knotted native state. While the exact function of the knotting in these proteins is unknown, determining the function could make it possible to manipulate proteins or design new proteins for medical applications. At still other times, changes in knotting are the product of natural deterioration. For example, as sub-atomic glueball particles decay through their lifetimes, they change between different types of knots. Indeed, knotting in nature is a dynamic process and the transitions between different types of knots reveal properties of the physical systems. In this project, the PI, a multi-disciplinary group of collaborators, and undergraduate students study knotting transitions for topoisomerase II, proteins, and glueballs to gain insights into the role of knotting in these systems. This project has broad educational objectives. Several undergraduate students will be supported directly by the grant. They will be trained by the PI and contribute to the projects, gaining both content knowledge and experience in the research process. The students will participate in professional meetings and disseminate their findings in talks and posters. These research experiences are essential in training the next generation of science and mathematics educators, researchers, and practitioners. To reach a wide-audience, the PI will continue to be active in giving presentations to students, non-specialists, and multi-disciplinary audiences. The results will be published in mathematics and science journals. The PI will organize interdisciplinary conference sessions to bring together scientists from traditionally disparate fields and create new interdisciplinary collaborations with researchers across the world. In addition, the research results, data, and software generated as a part of this grant will be made publicly available via the world wide web.

While the mathematical study of knotting has focused traditionally on closed loops, much of the knotting in nature occurs in objects with free ends (i.e. open chains). This project will establish a firm understanding of open knotted structures, including knotted substructures within open chains and closed loops. This knowledge will be applied to classify the knotting in proteins and the data will be made publicly available. Relationships between knotting, geometric structure, and the amino acid sequence in knotted proteins will be determined to establish the function of the knotting in knotted proteins. Modeling knotting transitions due to the action of type II topoisomerases will lead to a better understanding of their effectiveness in untangling DNA strands. A similar analysis will be used to determine how subatomic glueballs decay through knotting. Together, these projects will reveal fundamental insights into knotting in nature. More specifically, the main objectives of this grant are to 1) decompose complicated knots into their essential elements, 2) reveal the function of knotting in knotted proteins, 3) determine where type II topoisomerases perform their cutting and reattaching action, and 4) understand the decaying process in glueballs. A combination of new and established models and computer applications will be used to analyze these physical systems. In addition to the scientific goals, this project has broad educational objectives. Several undergraduate students will be supported directly by the grant. They will be trained by the PI and contribute to the projects, gaining both content knowledge and experience in the research process. The students will participate in professional meetings and disseminate their findings in talks and posters. These research experiences are essential in training the next generation of science and mathematics educators, researchers, and practitioners. To reach a wide-audience, the PI will continue to be active in giving presentations to students, non-specialists, and multi-disciplinary audiences. The results will be published in mathematics and science journals. The PI will organize interdisciplinary conference sessions to bring together scientists from traditionally disparate fields and create new interdisciplinary collaborations with researchers across the world. In addition, the research results, data, and software generated as a part of this grant will be made publicly available via the world wide web.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: S-STEM:SCHLR SCI TECH ENG&MATH | Award Amount: 117.47K | Year: 2012

The transition from lower-level to upper-level physics courses is difficult for many physics and engineering students: the course material becomes more abstract, and the mathematics more sophisticated. Yet, the United States needs to increase the number of students who earn physical science and engineering degrees to meet the demand of industry and maintain the countrys leadership in technology innovation. At the same time, our curricula needs to be modernized in order to expose physics and engineering students to current theories and applications, state-of-the-art experimental apparatus, and current computational modeling techniques.

This project is developing a sophomore-level Applications of Modern Physics course and laboratory for both physics and electrical engineering students that bridges the lower-level and upper-level curriculum and gives students the analytical, modeling, and experimental skills they need, while also addressing weaknesses in mathematical skills. Materials science and nano-science in particular provide an excellent context in which to address these issues. The course being developed starts from the atom and quantum mechanics, builds up to nano-scale systems, and finally addresses solids and devices. Applications, such as lasers, quantum dots, diodes, and superconductors, are interwoven throughout the course. The accompanying laboratory is closely tied to the class and illustrates complex concepts such as quantized energy levels and probabilities within both classical and quantum physics. The laboratory materials serve to guide students in writing their own simulations and in performing state-of-the-art experiments that motivate and incorporate the theory addressed in the course. The laboratory program highlights the interplay between modeling and experiment that is central to the advancement of scientific knowledge.

The fully developed course directly addresses the needs and misconceptions of students, and it increases students computational modeling skills and understanding of the physical principles that govern semiconductor and nano-scale devices. It thus serves as an interdisciplinary model for bridging the gap between the lower-level and the upper-level curriculum in physics and engineering. Results from this curricular development are being submitted to journals and digital archives of the physics and engineering education communities, and further dissemination is to occur at regional and national meetings of the AAPT and ASEE.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 116.22K | Year: 2012

This proposal requests funds for the purchase of a high-speed imaging system to be housed in the School of Engineering at the University of St. Thomas (UST) in Saint Paul, Minnesota. The system will consist of a Photron Fastcam capable of recording at 675,000 frames per second, associated micro-objective lenses for viewing phenomena on the microscale, laser and high-intensity LED lighting sources, precision manual positioning stages, and computing resources to drive the system and conduct image processing. The School of Engineering will be financially responsible for its maintenance and operation.

High-speed imaging of complex fluid flow is leading to a deeper understanding of the fundamentals in a diverse array of fields such as micro-particle formation and atomization cooling. Dr.?s Wentz and Shepard have been involved with the design and development of similar instrumentation and advanced analysis techniques in their previous work at the University of Illinois and the University of Minnesota. Dr. Shepard?s fundamental research on air injection into a liquid cross-flow has shown that wall shear stress is more strongly correlated to bubble diameter than bulk liquid velocity when generating micro-bubbles which find application in drag reduction, heat transfer enhancement and sprays.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 78.34K | Year: 2015

This collaboration among five diverse institutions will build and nurture a community of faculty committed to integrating computation in undergraduate physics courses. Although computational methods are important in physics research, they are scarce in the undergraduate physics curriculum. This project will address this need through faculty development workshops, a post-workshop support system, and a community building research project.

This project will focus on developing transportable, adaptable, and sustainable methods for infusing an instructional strategy into the undergraduate physics curriculum. It will place computer-based, algorithmic problem solving in a position that is coequal to traditional mathematical and experimental methods. Participants will develop computational exercises to be integrated into their physics courses at the workshops, and later will receive support to ensure that the integration of their developed materials into their courses is successful. Faculty ownership will be emphasized in the participants development activities and is essential for transportability and sustainability. The project will conduct a thorough research study of the effectiveness of the community building approach, as well as the degree to which integration of computation into undergraduate physics courses has increased. It will serve as a case-study informing the literature on change in higher education practices. This research component and its dissemination plan will ensure that the community will continue to grow not only in membership, but also in the large-scale assessment and implementation of best practices. When the computational materials developed are used in physics classrooms, STEM student learning across the country will be enhanced.

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