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Salt Lake City, UT, United States

Westminster College is a private liberal arts college located in the Sugar House neighborhood of Salt Lake City, Utah, United States. The college comprises four schools: the School of Arts and science, the Bill and Vieve Gore School of Business, the School of Education, and the School of Nursing and Health science. It is the only accredited liberal arts college in the state of Utah. Wikipedia.

Foreman K.B.,University of Utah | Addison O.,University of Utah | Kim H.S.,Westminster College, Utah | Dibble L.E.,University of Utah
Parkinsonism and Related Disorders | Year: 2011

Introduction: Despite clear deficits in postural control, most clinical examination tools lack accuracy in identifying persons with Parkinson disease (PD) who have fallen or are at risk for falls. We assert that this is in part due to the lack of ecological validity of the testing. Methods: To test this assertion, we examined the responsiveness and predictive validity of the Functional Gait Assessment (FGA), the Pull test, and the Timed up and Go (TUG) during clinically defined ON and OFF medication states. To address responsiveness, ON/OFF medication performance was compared. To address predictive validity, areas under the curve (AUC) of receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves were compared. Comparisons were made using separate non-parametric tests. Results: Thirty-six persons (24 male, 12 female) with PD (22 fallers, 14 non-fallers) participated. Only the FGA was able to detect differences between fallers and non-fallers for both ON/OFF medication testing. The predictive validity of the FGA and the TUG for fall identification was higher during OFF medication compared to ON medication testing. The predictive validity of the FGA was higher than the TUG and the Pull test during ON and OFF medication testing. Discussion: In order to most accurately identify fallers, clinicians should test persons with PD in ecologically relevant conditions and tasks. In this study, interpretation of the OFF medication performance and use of the FGA provided more accurate prediction of those who would fall. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.

Stracey C.M.,University of Florida | Stracey C.M.,Westminster College, Utah | Robinson S.K.,University of Florida
Journal of Avian Biology | Year: 2012

The northern mockingbird Mimus polyglottos is a native species that is more abundant in urban than non-urban habitats (i.e. an urban-positive species). Abundance alone, however, is not an accurate index of habitat quality because urban habitats could represent ecological traps (attractive sink habitat) for urban-positive species. We compared mockingbird nesting productivity, apparent survival, and decision rules governing site fidelity in urban and rural habitats. If the higher abundance of mockingbirds in urban habitats is driven by higher quality urban habitat, then we predicted that productivity of urban mockingbirds would exceed the estimated source-sink threshold and productivity of non-urban mockingbirds. If, on the other hand, urban habitats act as ecological traps, productivity would be lower in urban habitats and would fall below the estimated source-sink threshold. Productivity of urban pairs exceeded that of non-urban pairs and more than offset estimated adult mortality, which makes urban habitat a likely source habitat. Apparent adult survival was higher in urban habitats than in non-urban habitats, although this could be driven by dispersal more than mortality. Decision rules also appeared to differ between urban and non-urban populations. Females in urban habitats with successful nests were more likely to return than those with unsuccessful nests, whereas return rates of females in nonurban habitats were unrelated to nesting success and may be more related to nesting habitat availability. We conclude that urban habitats do not act as ecological traps that lure mockingbirds into sink habitat and that increased breeding productivity contributes to their success in urban habitats. © 2012 The Authors. Journal of Avian Biology © 2012 Nordic Society Oikos.

Son J.-H.,University of Utah | Latimer C.,Westminster College, Utah | Keefe K.A.,University of Utah
Neuropsychopharmacology | Year: 2011

Methamphetamine (METH) induces neurotoxic changes, including partial striatal dopamine depletions, which are thought to contribute to cognitive dysfunction in rodents and humans. The dorsal striatum is implicated in action-outcome (A-O) and stimulus-response (S-R) associations underlying instrumental learning. Thus, the present study examined the long-term consequences of METH-induced neurotoxicity on A-O and S-R associations underlying appetitive instrumental behavior. Rats were pretreated with saline or a neurotoxic regimen of METH (4 × 7.5-10 mg/kg). Rats trained on random ratio (RR) or random interval (RI) schedules of reinforcement were then subjected to outcome devaluation or contingency degradation, followed by an extinction test. All rats then were killed, and brains removed for determination of striatal dopamine loss. The results show that: (1) METH pretreatment induced a partial 45-50% decrease in striatal dopamine tissue content in dorsomedial and dorsolateral striatum; (2) METH-induced neurotoxicity did not alter acquisition of instrumental behavior on either RR or RI schedules; (3) outcome devaluation and contingency degradation similarly decreased responding in saline- and METH-pretreated rats trained on the RR schedule, suggesting intact A-O associations guiding behavior; (4) outcome devaluation after training on the RI schedule decreased extinction responding only in METH-pretreated rats, suggesting impaired S-R associations. Overall, these data suggest that METH-induced neurotoxicity, possibly due to impairment of the function of dorsolateral striatal circuitry, may decrease cognitive flexibility by impairing the ability to automatize behavioral patterns. © 2011 American College of Neuropsychopharmacology. All rights reserved.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: PETROLOGY AND GEOCHEMISTRY | Award Amount: 107.64K | Year: 2015

Yellowstone National Park and vicinity is home to three volcanic super-eruptions within the last two million years. Between super-eruptions, smaller effusions of compositionally similar lavas have erupted onto the surface, however the relationship between the timing of magma production for precursory and super-eruptions is unknown. This project seeks to test the contrasting hypotheses that Yellowstone super-eruptions are the culmination of gradual accumulation of magma that is periodically tapped by precursory eruptions, or alternatively, super-eruptions are the result of independent episodes of rapid magma production without connection to the smaller pre-cursor eruptions. This research bears on our understanding of how quickly large super-eruption volumes of magma may be generated and reside under active volcanic calderas, with implications for the assessment of eruption recurrence and volcanic hazards.

To assess the potential connections between super-eruptions and smaller lava effusions, the morphological, chemical, thermometric, isotopic, and age characteristics for small volume rhyolitic lavas that erupted between the 2.1 and 1.3 million year old super-eruptions will be used to establish the timescales and processes by which magmas are generated and evolve. These processes include partial melting of earlier-formed volcanic products and associated crystal recycling, magma crystallization and differentiation, as well as mixing and hybridization with mantle-derived basalts; the relative importance of each process is best explored through the crystal cargos of each eruption. Specifically, the minerals zircon and sanidine will be extracted from the lavas and analyzed by various state-of-the-art methods to assess the contribution of small volume magma batches to the super-eruption. Dating the intermittent eruptions will provide a framework for the recurrence interval of Yellowstone volcanism and bear upon the question of lifespans of eruptable magmas. This award will allow three undergraduate students from Westminster College (Utah) to participate in field and lab based research over three years, and promote knowledge and technology transfer between this undergraduate-only liberal arts college and the Isotope Geochronology Laboratory at Boise State University (Idaho). The collaborative model will allow students to interact with graduate students and laboratory technicians at Boise State University, and conduct hands-on research with instrumentation not available at Westminster College. Students will participate in data processing, interpretation, and presentation at local and national conferences; results from this study will be included in undergraduate courses at Westminster College, and displayed as interpretive materials on public lands near the eruption sites.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: GEOBIOLOGY & LOW TEMP GEOCHEM | Award Amount: 99.89K | Year: 2016

The Great Salt Lake in Utah is a major stop over for millions of migratory birds each year. These birds feed on brine shrimp and brine flies that live in the Lake, putting them at risk of mercury toxicity due to the very high concentrations of methylmercury in the Great Salt Lake. Methylmercury is one form of the toxic heavy metal mercury, and it is the only form that is readily accumulated to increasing concentrations moving up the food chain. It is currently unknown why the Great Salt Lake has some of the highest methylmercury concentrations ever measured in a natural water body. The goal of this research is to determine the primary locations of methylmercury production in the Great Salt Lake. Such information could help scientists and government regulators to develop ways to decrease mercury exposure to humans and animals at the Great Salt Lake. This research will support multiple students from backgrounds underrepresented in the geosciences, in particular multiple women. This project will also support the development of new science curriculum by teachers at both the high school and university levels.

The hypersaline Great Salt Lake (GSL) is a major stop over for millions of migratory birds each year. It is also home to some of the highest concentrations of methylmercury (MeHg) ever reported for a natural water body. The highest concentrations of MeHg are found in the South Arms anoxic deep brine layer, which is created by the flow of denser, more saline water from the North Arm into the South Arm. While the high levels of MeHg throughout this ecosystem have been well documented, the primary source of MeHg and the underlying reasons for the exceptionally elevated concentrations of MeHg here are not known. The closure of two culverts in the causeway separating the North Arm and South Arm of the GSL has resulted in the recent disappearance of the deep brine layer, while the completion of a new bridge on the causeway in the second half of 2016 is expected to lead in the redevelopment of the deep brine layer in the South Arm. This unique and transient event provides the conditions for an unintended regional-scale natural experiment and opportunity to track the possible sources of MeHg (either the anoxic deep brine layer or sediment underlying this layer). The investigators will use a multifaceted approach to test these hypotheses, including the measurement of MeHg concentrations, Hg methylation and demethylation rates, and naturally occurring stable Hg isotope ratios in water and sediment collected before, during, and after the reestablishment of the deep brine layer.

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