Post & Beyond

Post & Beyond

On April 22, LIU Post hosted the Post & Beyond Symposium in the Herbert and Dolores Goldsmith Atrium. Also known as “Discovery Day,” the annual event is an exhibition of students’ independent academic research, experiential learning, and community service.

Featuring work by students from disciplines across the University, a broad diversity of original research was displayed. In his welcoming remarks, Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Jeffrey Kane said that while the mentorship and instruction of professors and faculty mentors is invaluable in the educational process, Discovery Day celebrates the hands-on learning experience of students going out and encountering the world and trying to make sense of it on their own.

“There is no higher education than independent discovery, and we are very proud to celebrate it here at LIU,” Dr. Kane said. Below are abstracts of student research projects from the 2015 Post & Beyond Symposium.


Simeon Aina

Environmental Sustainability
Municipal Solid Waste in the U.S.

Municipal Solid Waste (MSW), commonly known as trash or garbage in the U.S. is a waste type consisting of everyday items that are discarded by the public. “Garbage” can also refer specifically to food waste. The two are sometimes collected separately. MSW management is very important for the continued development of any given society. The Thirteen towns and Two Cities of Long Island have different waste management policies and infrastructures. These waste management practices are often scrutinized by environmental and sustainability organizations. An example of such an organization is Sustainable Long Island (SLI). At SLI, environmental sustainability schemes and projects are primary goals. For the purpose of this research, SLI, where I intern, is looking into (with view to identify leverages at which interventions can be made) the municipal waste management prospects of Nassau and Suffolk county. For my part as an intern, I will collect, analyze and report on data and statistics regarding the market for recycled products and economic considerations for local companies in the business of waste disposal and/or recycling. In order to analyze this data and statistics, my research will: identify trends common to business practices of waste disposal and/or recycling companies; highlight regulatory barriers to recycling that those companies share; and highlight the economic obstacles to recycling that those businesses share. At the end of this research, Sustainable Long Island will generate a comprehensive report that will evaluate current waste management practices and recommend more effective ways based solely on the research.

Faculty Mentor:
Patrick Kennelly


Hani Alnakhli

Biomedical Sciences
The Overexpression of Ack1 Inhibits the Phagocytosis of E. coli

Activated Cdc42-associated kinase 1 (Ack1), is a non- receptor tyrosine kinase that when activated, transduces signals related to cellular growth, proliferation, and migration. Ack1 is phosphorylated in response to receptor tyrosine kinases such as activated epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). It has also been shown to play a role in the endocytosis and down-regulation of EGFR, which is internalized via the clathrin-mediated pathway. Although the role of Ack1 in the clathrin-dependent pathway has been well-studied, it remains unclear whether Ack1 has a similar role in other endocytic pathways. In this study, we are interested in determining the function of Ack1 in clathrin-independent pathways. We investigated the effect of Ack1 overexpression on phagocytosis, a process involving the binding and internalization of pathogens, performed by cells of the innate immune system. To test this, we used Alexafluor 594-conjugated Escherichia coli (K-12 strain) BioParticles® to measure phagocytosis in J774.2 cells, a murine macrophage cell line. We found there to be decreased phagocytic activity in cells transfected with GFP-Ack1 as compared to those expressing GFP, indicating overexpression of Ack1 may play a role in phagocytosis. In future studies, we are interested in determining whether the inhibition of phagocytosis in Ack1-expressing cells also results in a decrease in the cytokines normally released in response to the uptake of pathogens

Faculty Mentor:
Azad Gucwa


Kelly Bartley

Biology
Analyzing the Sex Ratios of Shrimp Species on Long Island and the Bronx

The three grass shrimp species native to the Northeastern United States (Palaemon pugio, Palaemon vulgaris and Palaemon mondusnovus) and the invasive Asian shrimp (Palaemon macrodactylus) were collected at 12 different locations on Long Island and Bronx, NY during the months of June through August 2014 as part of a larger study to assess general demographics of both groups of shrimp (native and non-native). This study in particular focuses on the sex ratios of these four shrimp species to better understand their overall life history in the area. For the month of June, female shrimp were only slightly more abundant on average across all sites than male shrimp (26.1+13.6 from females, 25+11.4 for males, and 2+0.73 for ovigerous females). However, when looking at the total percentages of males, females, and ovigerous females per site, four sites exhibit much higher percentages of males present over females or ovigerous females. This may suggest an uneven distribution of males and females across all sites. Data collected from July and August will be analyzed in the future as samples become dissected and processed

Faculty Mentor:
April Blakeslee


Catherine Bihun

Psychology
Designing a Writing-Based Therapy Program Using Findings from Psychology

My research explores the various types of writing therapies used to treat individuals recovering from a traumatic experience. I will be addressing what previous research has found regarding writing therapy. Numerous studies have been executed to explore how, when and why different types of writing can be therapeutic and constructive when overcoming a traumatic experience. I am combing the available data with the goal of designing a writing-based intervention program. I will be tying in my experience from the Herstory internship into the potential program I would be describing. While Herstory is not explicitly a therapy based writing program, my experience there has shown me the possible powers of expressive writing and journaling. The setting of Herstory, which includes its participants sitting in a circle while taking turns reading a writing entry based on a personal experience, is very much like a therapy group in which the rest of the participants listen and comment on what they have heard. However, since it is not intended explicitly to serve as therapy, utilizing findings from previous research may help to build some structure within a similar group based upon the Herstory program such as when to use positive and negative words, when to confide in others, and when the best time to participate in the program would be.

Faculty Mentor:
Nancy Frye


Michael Capobianco

Environmental Sustainability
Solar Heating for the Shinnecock Indian Reservation

My research this semester will evaluate the potential for heating the Shinnecock Indian Reservation with solar energy. Its implementation carries the potential for a higher standard of living for tribal citizens on the reservation as well as an overall reduction in the reservation’s carbon footprint. According to the Shinnecock Nation, one of the impacts of a changing climate is the loss of power during times of the year when heating is needed. Solar was chosen in an effort to meet heating needs in a sustainable manner. Phase one involves researching solar thermal and solar electric (PV) assisted heat pump water heating (HPWH). This includes quantifying the needs of the tribe through the analysis of current energy consumption patterns and conversations with tribal leadership. Two carbon footprints will be calculated - the first based on current consumption data and second estimated based on solar heating. Phase two involves an economic analysis of the costs associated with implementing solar heating. This cost-benefit analysis (CBA) will consider the initial costs of the project as well as potential savings for the tribe. Initial installation costs will be high but future operational costs will be below current heating costs. Funding opportunities will be explored, such as those provided through the EPA, DoE and BIA. Finally, the sociopolitical aspects of the project will be explored as part of phase two of the project. Cultural views of the Shinnecock as well as the structure of tribal government will be analyzed pertaining to investments in new heating technologies.

Faculty Mentor:
Scott Carlin


Lucie Chrastecka

Biology
Antiviral Activity of Naturally Derived Componds

Influenza is a deadly disease that is particularly dangerous for those most vulnerable, including little children, senior citizens, pregnant women and people with prior health conditions. In 2010, influenza was listed as the 8th leading cause of death in 2010 killing almost 54,000 people that year. While vaccines are important for prevention of disease, they are not foolproof as seen with this year’s flu vaccine which was 23% less effective than last year’s vaccine. Antivirals are also available to the public but only serve to lessen the severity of symptoms when given within 48 hours infection. Therefore, new methods of prevention need to be identified. Several natural products/organisms appear to have innate antiviral activity, including Spirulina, (blue-green algae), chitosan (derived from the exoskeleton of shellfish) and hemp oil (from Cannabis sativa). I will examine the antiviral properties of each natural “antiviral” against the influenza H3N2 virus using Madin-Darby canine kidney cells as a model organism. This research may provide evidence for potential antiviral substances to be used in the medical and scientific communities, providing new possible protection against the influenza virus in various areas.

Faculty Mentor:
Karin Melkonian


Alexander Courtman

Economics
Explaining NHL Points Percentage Using Analytics and Linear Regression

Analytics in hockey is currently in its infancy, but tremendous strides have been made in the last few years. The introduction of statistics, such as shot attempts for, even-strength save, and even-strength shooting, among others, has fundamentally changed how players and teams are evaluated. In some cases, these statistics have influenced changes within the game itself, such as the abolition of the “enforcer” role and movement away from the dump and chase system. The statistics are the result of excellent analysis by mathematicians, statisticians, and bloggers, who have a unique blend of analytical thinking and love of hockey. Recently, many of these pioneers have been hired by NHL teams to head newly created Analytics departments. My objective is to create a realistic model of how NHL teams can be expected to perform based on several variables. I will be explaining points percentage of NHL teams (independent variable) using a series of dependent variables: shot attempts for, even-strength shooting, even-strength save, shot generation and shot suppression, team salary, and average team age. I will be collecting data on all 30 teams over the three most recent full seasons (due to lockout, the 2012-2013 season was shortened to 48 games) for a total of 246 games per team. I expect shot attempts for, even-strength shooting, even-strength save, shot generation, team salary, and average team age to have positive influences on points percentage, and shot suppression to have a negative influence on points percentage.

Faculty Mentor:
Elizabeth Granitz


Randy Curth

Sociology
Ecological Modernization and the Risk Society Paradigm: A Visual Ethnography

Through ethnographic fieldwork and photography at local supermarkets, farmer’s markets, and community centers, I offer a critical reflection on inequality and access to environmentally sustainable lifestyle options. I analyze local food availability and electronic recycling as they relate to the increased risks present in our modern, global society. Some communities in the United States share a significant problem when it comes to the availability of nutritional and affordable foods. Instances of food insecurity and inequalities are evident throughout the country and are influenced by a host of factors hinging on income, location, transportation, and economic concerns. The cycle of consumption relies on consumers finding affordable goods in their local communities. In the case of food insecure communities, income and location can exclude them from healthy, diverse produce and other foods. Marginalized groups face a disproportionate burden in their access of environmentally sustainable and healthy lifestyles as a result of these factors. The most practical environmentally-friendly solutions often require access to goods and services that are unavailable to families with lower than average household income. Society does not readily allow for such access because we are operating primarily under a capital-driven economy and have not yet shifted to a more sustainable model by way of ecological modernization. This project explores the theories of ecological modernization and Risk Society, and how consumer demand can drive changes to food production and distribution. Additionally, my photographs illustrate examples of food insecurity and inequalities in Long Island, NY.

Faculty Mentor:
Jennifer Rogers-Brown


Morgan Dalis

Biology
Preliminary Phylogeographic Analysis of the Phoronid Worm, Phoronis pallida

Conservation efforts that preserve species richness in marine intertidal communities require information of species distributions, species interactions, and gene flow among distant populations. In addition to these factors, some species serve as ecosystem engineers providing habitat for numerous other commensal species. In particular, thalassinid mud shrimps create complex burrows in coastal mud flats that host as many as 15 other commensal invertebrate species. Commensal invertebrates include species of clams, fish, polychaetes, crabs, and in some cases, phoronid worms. Phoronids are marine invertebrate animals comprised of two genera and only 11 widely accepted species that are circumglobally distributed. Several species are noted for occurring in specialized niches with other marine invertebrates. One species in particular, Phoronis pallida, is found exclusively as a commensal in the burrow of the thalassinid mud shrimp, Upogebia pugettensis. We used a PCR-based approach and Sanger sequencing to gather two mitochondrial genes from select populations of Phoronis pallida in the Pacific Northwest coast of the USA to discern potential intra- and inter-population level differences. Populations of P. pallida from sites in Puget Sound, WA and Newport, OR, USA contain two distinct and largely concordant genetic parsimony networks. Members of the smaller network exhibit an intermediate level of genetic divergence (~ 6-7%) from all other P. pallida haplotypes. When considering intraspecific genetic distances estimated from other phoronid species, the divergent clade of P. pallida may suggest sympatric incipient speciation or possibly a cryptic species. Geographic differences in haplotype subclade frequencies are evident, but more population-level sampling is required.

Faculty Mentor:
Scott Santagata


Sam Epstein

High School Student
The Effects of the Modulation of TOR Signaling and Microorganism Exposure on Food Consumption in Drosophila melanogaster

Dietary restriction studies with subjects ranging from yeast to mammals have shown that reducing dietary intake can increase lifespan and decrease the risk of cancer in mammals. Caloric restriction is accomplished by dietary alteration and the manipulation of genes in nutrient sensing pathways can have similar benefits. The effects of the activity of genes in the target of rapamycin (TOR) nutrient sensing pathway and the presence of microorganisms on feeding were studied using the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. The Capillary Feeder (CAFE) assay was utilized to measure the volume of food the flies consumed. This study found that the manipulation of TOR signaling has a statistically significant effect on feeding behavior and that this effect is influenced by the type of microorganisms present in the fly. Data suggest that the optimal combination of the expression of nutrient-sensing genes, microbes, and diet can significantly increase lifespan.

Faculty Mentor:
Theodore Brumme


Nicole Grace

High School Student
Compassion, Demographics, and Government Intervention in the Economy: A Study of the Determinants of Support for a Higher Minimum Wage and Government Involvement in the Economy

This study tested for correlations between opinions about government involvement in the economy, measures of compassion, and demographic factors. It was hypothesized that compassionate people would be more likely to support a higher minimum wage and government intervention in the economy. A survey instrument was developed and distributed to 167 people. Chi Square Tests, ANOVA, and Ordered Logistic Regressions were run. Results indicated that compassion is not an accurate explanation for specific attitudes. Many of the demographic questions also did not result in statistically significant correlations with participants’ attitudes toward a government involvement in the economy. However, participants’ political views did result in significant findings. Liberals were very likely to support a higher minimum wage and government involvement in the economy, and believed that a higher minimum wage would result in the creation of more jobs. Conservatives were less likely to support a higher minimum wage believing it would cause unemployment, and supported a free market economy.

Faculty Mentor:
Veronika Dolar


Diane Grzebyk

Behavior Analysisbr /> Preference Assessments for Teachers by Children with Autism

Preference assessments have been widely researched; however preference for teachers by children with autism still needs more evaluation. If students develop preferences for teachers, it would also make sense that these preferences may have an effect on the student’s behavior. Establishing preference hierarchies for students could possibly lead to a strengthened therapeutic relationship and process for both the student and therapist. Evaluating preference of teachers for students with autism may also lead to unique opportunities for staff training within schools. Most research for preference assessment of staff includes adults with developmental disabilities as participants, making research regarding students with autism and their teachers unique to the field. Previous research in this area is discussed and potential future implications for assessing students’ staff preference are explored. Future research must be conducted to demonstrate if a relation between preference for particular teachers and student task performance can be established.

Faculty Mentor:
John Neill


Isabela Kernin

High School Student
Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Competition by an Invasive Shore Crab and Parasitism by an Invasive Parasitic Barnacle Influences Population Abundance and Survivability in Native Mud Crabs of Long Island

The ranges of the invasive crab, Hemigrapsus sanguineus (Asian shore crab), and the invasive rhizocephalan barnacle, Loxothylacus panopaei, have expanded along the Eastern North American Coast and into Long Island. In this study, competition and predation/cannibalism between native mud crabs, Eurypanopeus depressus and Panopeus herbstii, and the invasive shore crab H. sanguineus were examined¸ as well as the additional influence of parasitism by the castrating parasite, L. panopaei. First, a two-year (2013-2014) field study was conducted at different north and south shore sites of Long Island for population demographics and L. panopaei prevalence. Second, in 2014, a laboratory study of intraspecific and interspecific competition and predation was performed using different combinations of crab size and infection status. Field surveys revealed a significant negative correlation between mud crab abundances and H. sanguineus, and that infection by L. panopaei was restricted to north shore sites. Results demonstrated a significant effect of large H. sanguineus on small mud crab and infected mud crab survivability over the fourteen day group trials. In addition, in individual trials without competition/predation, a greater proportion of mud crabs survived longer without feeding over a 60 day period than did H. sanguineus; however, infected mud crabs did significantly worse than uninfected mud crabs. Overall, these results suggest that native mud crabs are being detrimentally influenced by two invaders, one through direct predation and competition, and the other through parasitism and castration, and synergistically they appear to be lowering population abundance and survivability of mud crabs in areas where all three species overlap.

Faculty Mentor:
April Blakeslee


Nigina Khaitova
International Studies

Ariana Safi
Biology
Model United Nations Club

The Model United Nations Club at LIU Post is a first-year organization, which has already gained 20 active members. The Club originated in Fall 2014, when two ambitious freshmen Nigina Khaitova (Uzbekistan) and Stacey Wells (USA) met, thanks to the help of Dr. Amy Freedman, the Chairperson of the Political Science and International Studies department of Post’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Members of the Model UN Club simulate the delegates of other countries and represent the positions of chosen states, while participating in mock Model UN Conferences regularly organized by the Club`s executive board. Students with different majors, such as political science, international relations, economics, healthcare, education, chemistry, journalism and others, can learn and practice the basics of writing position papers, public speaking, and diplomatic negotiation. With the support of the Model UN Club`s Faculty Advisor, Prof. Oscar de Rojas, Director of Global Partnerships, the Club has already established a collaboration with the United Nations Academic Impact program, and is looking forward to work more with other Offices of the UN at its headquarters. With the support from LIU Post, especially from the Department of Political Science and International Studies, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs, and the Campus Life Office, 13 members of the Model UN Club are currently preparing to represent LIU Post at a very large-scale event – the National Model UN Conference in New York, to be held at the end of March 2015 with more than 5,000 participants from universities from all around the world.

Faculty Mentor:
Oscar de Rojas


Kelley Kroft

Biology
Comparison of Parasite Diversity in Two Native Mud Crabs (Panopeus herbstii and Eurypanopeus depressus) and the Invasive Asian Shore Crab (Hemigrapsus sanguineus) on the Atlantic coast of North America

Introduced species are often successful in their new environments and a loss of natural enemies, such as parasites, may be a reason for their success. Since populations of introduced species are typically infected by fewer parasites in their introduced range, it has been suggested that they may be able to compete more successfully with ecologically similar species that are more heavily infected. I examined parasite species richness, prevalence, and incidence of infection in the invasive Asian shore crab (Hemigrapsus sanguineus) and two species of native mud crab (Panopeus herbstii and Eurypanopeus depressus) on the Atlantic coast of North America. Crabs were sampled at ten locations along the Atlantic coast to identify parasites. Three parasite species infected H. sanguineus while four parasite species infected mud crabs collectively. Though not significant, mud crabs had a higher prevalence and incidence of parasites across sites. Though H. sanguineus continues to be infected by fewer parasites in its introduced Atlantic coast range than in its native range, the crab’s escape from parasites in the non-native region demonstrates a linear decline over time, suggesting that invasive species can accumulate parasites over time in their introduced range. Moreover, high rates of infection in mud crab populations on Long Island with the parasitic castrator Loxothylacus panopaei could provide H. sanguineus with an advantage in competitive interactions.

Faculty Mentor:
April Blakeslee


Douglas Kupferman

Behavioral Analysis
Presentation: Effects of Utilizing Self-Management Techniques on Increasing Productive Study Skills

Self-management has been defined as the personal application of behavior change tactics that produces a desired change in behavior. The present course exercise examines the effectiveness of these techniques in which the researcher created a behavior intervention program for himself. A distraction reduction program was implemented in an effort to increase productivity while studying. Following this initial phase of treatment, a contingency of reinforcement was put in place in order to increase the effectiveness of the distraction reduction program. This study utilized a withdrawal design in which the final phase of treatment included the removal of the behavior intervention in order to verify that the changes in behavior were, indeed, a result of the independent variable.

Faculty Mentor:
John Neill


Tyler Lewis

Biology
Jonathon Merino
Biology
Palladium Catalyzed Carbon Carbenylation>

Organic synthesis has become an irreplaceable asset for pharmaceutical industries worldwide. Additionally, there has been a continuing trend towards increasing the specificity of drugs to potentially diminish their toxicological effects. Our research aims to make this a reality by utilizing Palladium-catalyzed cross coupling reactions to generate new carbon-carbon bonds. With a special interest in functional groups, our carbene insertion methodology may allow for beneficial drugs to be produced that may have a greater efficacy in the human body. Carbene insertion assembles an sp3 hybridized center which has the potential to produce a chiral center. Our research will contribute to the field of organic chemistry by allowing for potential asymmetric induction with the use of functional groups.

Faculty Mentor:
Sean Devine


William Loughlin

High School Student
Should I Stay or Should I Go: Wage Comparison of College Graduates and Drop-outs of Computer and Information Science Majors using NLYS79 data

This experiment was aimed at determining whether college students studying the computer sciences benefit from graduating college. Because of the need for talented computer programmers, it was hypothesized that the success of those employed in the computer science field would not be dependent upon a college degree. Using the NLSY79 archived data, a sample of workers in the computer science field was created. With this sample, the salaries at age 29 of those who had obtained a degree to the salaries were compared to those that had chosen not to pursue a college education. Regression analyses indicated that graduating from college had no significant effect on the salaries of individuals working in the computer science field to within 95% confidence. Results suggest that employers in the technology field value talent and creativity in their employees, rather than a college education. Adjustments to the current education systems should be considered in order to allow students to continue their education without delaying their careers.

Faculty Mentor:
Veronika Dolar


Joseline Luna

Criminal Justice
Auj Kausar
English/Philosophy
Seerat Kapani
Psychology
Herstory Writers Workshop

Herstory Writers Workshop is a nonprofit organization interested in helping those who do not have a voice to rise and be heard. Herstory is defined as a story through personal perception, although that is not the only thing that the organization is known for--it is a place where burning issues are confronted and dealt with. It is invested in empowering the underprivileged of Long Island by giving many of them a way to express their identities, and enabling them to be seen, instead of being invisible. Writing one’s own story creates a process that allows an individual to reach inside him or herself; in writing, one must first compose one’s own thoughts, memories, and experiences before pouring them onto paper. Then, when one shares one’s own story aloud to a group of strangers, he or she benefits from the therapeutic effects. Herstory’s writing process is unique in that it is not your everyday, standard style of writing. It helps you create your own personal memoir that allows others to walk in your shoes, while also showing them they are not alone and that together, we can all bring about change.This semester, it is our privilege to work with advocates who are passionate about raising the age of criminal liability from 16 and 17 years old to 18 in the state of New York. We are currently working with Uniondale High School students who share the same ideologies and have powerful stories that enlighten the truth about personal struggles. For example, students write about experiences of racial discrimination, domestic violence, and gender inequality, which shed light on how our criminal justice system can be changed because it is not effective enough in carrying out its policies. If the right people with power hear these stories, it is possible for those policies to be rewritten.

Faculty Mentor:
Amanda-Beth Campbell


Christopher Malatesta

Medical Biology; Immunology
NuA4 and Its Interaction with RNA Polymerase II

Transcription is governed in large part by chromatin, which condenses and limits access to genomic DNA. RNA polymerase II (Pol II), which is responsible for transcription of protein coding genes, interacts with many complexes that regulate chromatin. Many of these complexes interact with the C-terminal domain of Pol II’s largest subunit (CTD), which is composed of 26 repeats of a seven amino acid sequence. The phosphorylation status of the CTD is important for controlling what can bind. NuA4, the major histone H4 lysine acetyltransferase in yeast that stimulates transcription, is one Pol II-interacting protein complex. We previously showed that NuA4 interacts with the Pol II CTD, but the mechanism of this interaction is unknown. We investigated which phosphorylation states of the CTD NuA4 binds. We have evidence that phosphorylation of both serines 5 and 2 of the CTD repeat stimulates NuA4 binding, because loss of serine 2 phosphorylation in bur2Δ or ctk1Δ cells or loss of serine 5 phosphorylation in kin28 cells reduces NuA4 recruitment to ARG1. It also appears that NuA4 binding to the CTD requires more than three repeats and that a subcomplex of NuA4 called piccolo NuA4 (picNuA4) may bind a different phosphorylated form of the CTD than the entire NuA4 complex. We continue to investigate whether the Mediator complex also contributes to NuA4 interaction with the Pol II CTD. Overall, our results provide evidence that NuA4 may be one of the first complexes shown to bind the doubly phosphorylated form of the CTD.

Faculty Mentor:
Daniel Ginsburg


Vivin Mathew

Biomedical Technology
Do NuA4 & Set3C compete for binding to nucleosomes?

Chromatin, the protein-DNA complex that makes up the chromosomes in eukaryotic cells limits the amount of DNA accessible to other factors. Because of this, processes that require the DNA to be unwound also need chromatin to be disassembled. During transcription, chromatin disassembly and reassembly is a dynamic process. If there is not enough chromatin disassembly, transcription cannot take place. If there is too much disassembly, the wrongs parts of the genome can be transcribed. Part of what controls chromatin dynamics is histone acetylation, with acetylation leading to disassembly and deacetylation leading to reassembly. NuA4 is the only essential lysine acetyltransferase complex in yeast. We have shown that its binding to nucleosomes is stimulated by dimethylation of histone H3 lysine 4 (H3K4me2). Binding of the Set3C histone deacetylase complex to nucleosomes is also stimulated by H3K4me2. Thus, we tested the hypothesis that these two complexes physically compete for binding to H3K4me2 by examining how stress response and histone acetylation are affected by deletions of Set3C subunits (HOS2 and SET3) and the H3K4 methyltransferase SET1. We found that loss of H3K4 methylation suppressed the temperature sensitive (ts) phenotype of set3 cells and exacerbated the ts phenotype of hos2 cells. We observed a similar result for set3 cells with caffeine sensitivity and histone H4 acetylation. Our data provide some support for a model in which NuA4 binds hypomethylated nucleosomes leading to acetylation and chromatin disassembly, while Set3C can displace NuA4 from nucleosomes containing H3K4me2 leading to deacetylation and chromatin reassembly.

Faculty Mentor:
Daniel Ginsburg


Lindsay Miller

Behavioral Analysis
Incorporating Polyvagal Therapy Approaches and Best Practice ABA into Desensitization Programs for EEG Examinations in Children with a Diagnosis of Intellectual Disability

Children with developmental disabilities, including epilepsy and intellectual disability, commonly demonstrate difficulty cooperating with health care procedures. Conducting an EEG (electroencephalogram) recording is necessary in order to accurately diagnose and treat epileptic seizures. To decrease the potential behavioral difficulties commonly present in children with developmental disabilities, neurologists often times use restraints, sedation, or even general anesthesia. Unfortunately, these interventions can create artifacts and alter test results. Desensitization programs may be used to increase patient compliance and obtain accurate EEG evaluations. In addition to effective methods utilized in standard ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) practice, there are a number of resilience strengthening techniques that can be implemented during therapy sessions to increase patient compliance with EEG procedures. Stephen Porges has proposed the polyvagal theory, which explains the underlying physiological defense states that lead to patient non-compliance. Formal integration of polyvagal therapy in combination with effective ABA practice has not yet been incorporated into EEG desensitization programs. Further research is needed to demonstrate if an intervention program of this nature would prove effective for individuals with a comorbid diagnosis of intellectual disability and epilepsy.

Faculty Mentor:
John Neill


Megan Mladinich

Biology
Antiviral Activity of Novel DABCO-hydrocarbon Molecules on Influenza H3N2 Virus

DABCO (1,4-diazabicyclo[2.2.2]octane) is a novel hydrocarbon molecule found to have antimicrobial properties when bound to carbohydrate or protein substrates. Inactivation of both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria by DABCO-hydrocarbon molecules has been found to be permanent upon contact. DABCO inactivation of fungal strains has also been observed. The antiviral activity of DABCO, however, has not been determined. A preliminary study in a prokaryotic system has shown that DABCO-modified cloths have the ability to remove T4 bacteriophage virus particles in the environment. This research focused on the potential antiviral activity of DABCO-modified cloths (cotton) in a eukaryotic system. Influenza A virus (H3N2) was propagated in Madin-Darby canine kidney (MDCK) cell lines and cells were observed for cytopathogenic effects. Each of several DABCO-modified cloths was tested for antiviral activity on influenza A infected cells. When cells are exposed to virus, they typically die within three to four days. However, when virus is first exposed to the DABCO-hydrocarbon cloth, the cells survive up to six days with normal morphology. We predict that the hydrocarbon chain destroys the lipid membrane surrounding the virus, rendering it incapable of infection. Furthermore, the DABCO-modifications found to be most successful for viral inactivation correspond with the modifications that were found to be both antibacterial and anti fungal. Adding antiviral properties to the existing antibacterial and antifungal activities of these chemically-treated surfaces would make them invaluable to the medical field (hospital linens, scrubs, etc.) and our armed forces (protective uniforms, wound dressings, etc.) in the future.”

Faculty Mentor:
Karin Melkonian
Yuan Pu

Biomedical Sciences
A Comparative Analysis of Vaccine Administration in Urban and Non-urban Skilled Nursing Facilities

The U.S. population is aging at an unprecedented rate, resulting in an increased demand for skilled nursing facilities and long-term care. Residents of these facilities are at an increased risk for pneumococcal disease, severe influenza-related illnesses and death. For this reason, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services use pneumococcal and influenza vaccination rates as a quality measure in determining 5-Star Quality Ratings of nursing homes. Disparities have been reported amongst vaccination rates in urban and non-urban populations. Thus, the purpose of this study was to compare influenza and pneumococcal vaccination in urban and non-urban nursing homes. Independent t-tests were performed to compare the mean percent of residents who had received the vaccines. Linear mixed binary logistic regression models controlling for urban locales were performed to determine which covariates were associated with vaccination rates. Of the 15,639 nursing homes included in the study, 10,107 were in urban areas, while 5,532 were deemed non-urban. Urban nursing homes showed lower rates of influenza and pneumococcal vaccination. T-test analysis comparing the overall rating, type of ownership, and geographic location yielded statistically significant results (p < .001) in which the overall rating, ownership-type and certificate-type favored urban nursing homes. Stata mixed model logistic regression analysis indicated urban nursing homes with a higher overall rating had a lower percent of eligible and willing residents with an up-to-date influenza and pneumococcal vaccination. These results can be used to encourage the development of programs to improve vaccination rates and the quality of care in these facilities.

Faculty Mentor:
Veronica Dolar and Azad Gucwa


William Rosencrans

High School Student
Stable Nitrogen Isotopes can be Used to Measure Long-Term TOR Signaling Activity in Drosophila melanogaster

Since aging is regulated by numerous molecular-genetic pathways, long-term measurements of these pathways will enhance the understanding of aging mechanisms and facilitate the design of anti-aging interventions. Many commonly used techniques do not provide long-term data of gene activity, and are not practical for clinical studies. By measuring the stable isotope ratios of fruit flies subjected to manipulations known to down regulate TOR signaling, it was found that all three types of manipulations increased 15N /14N ratios. Specifically, Drosophila melanogaster were subjected to dietary, genetic and pharmacological interventions. The 15N assay also suggested that other manipulations not widely acknowledged to affect TOR signaling did impact the pathway, thereby providing new avenues of research. Thus, stable isotope analysis may be useful as a tool for studying aging in humans not only in a laboratory setting, but also in a clinical environment.

Faculty Mentor:
Theodore Brummel


Michael Roy

Biology
Sorry We Crashed the Party Folks: The Distribution, Abundance, and Rates of Parasitism of Native and Non-native Shrimp in Long Island and the Bronx NY

Ballast water mediated introductions of nonindigenous species are a threat to native ecosystems worldwide. In our study, a recently introduced Asian grass shrimp, Palaemon macrodactylus, and the native Western Atlantic palaemonid shrimps (Palaemon vulgaris, Palaemon mondusnovus, and Palaemon pugio) were studied during the summer of 2014 in Long Island and Bronx, NY. We determined the relative abundance, distribution, size and sex frequencies, and rates of trematode parasitism of these species. Very low average abundances of the introduced shrimp, P. macrodactylus, were found in nine sampling sites during June and July (n=0.4+0.375 in June; n=0 in July). In contrast to these data, the native shrimp were significantly more abundant on average at these sites (n=53.1+28.4 in June, n=42.4+27.34). Native shrimp also had an even ratio of males to females, low abundances of ovigerous females, and relatively high average parasite prevalence (51%) among all sites. The number of ovigerous females increased during July as the breeding season progressed for two of the native species (P. vulgaris, and P. pugio). Our study represents the first extensive survey of these shrimp species in the Long Island Sound region providing important baseline data for future assessments of these native and introduced species.

Faculty Mentor:
April Blakeslee


Johan Rundquist

Economics
The Treatment of Minimum Wage in Undergraduate Economics Teaching

The purpose of this study is to survey professors and instructors at American colleges and Universities to determine how the topic of minimum wage is treated, how it is taught and what are included. This paper analyses U.S economists’ support for the minimum wage, what is frequently included in their teaching, and studies if the treatment and opinion of the minimum wage are changing among U.S economics instructors. Data in the paper suggest that some perspectives of the minimum wage topic are almost without exceptions taught at the same time as some perspective are widely ignored. The paper shows a continued substantial disagreement in key statements concerning the minimum wage, and concludes that despite existing consensus among economists in other key issues, the topic of minimum wage remain its position as a dividing question.

Faculty Mentor:
Veronika Dolar


Ariana Safi

Biology
Dieatary Effects on Drug Toxicity in Drosophila

Dietary restriction (DR) in rodents has been shown to increase longevity, reduce the rate of cancer and protect against cognitive decline. Similar benefit of DR have been described or proposed to exist in other organisms ranging from yeast to primates. The fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, is a powerful model organism that has been used to uncover mechanism of behavior, development and disease. Studies in Drosophila have shown that manipulation of diet can dramatically extend longevity. This study aims to address whether alterations in diet can modulate the toxic effects of drugs. Using caffeine and nicotine, two common social drugs, we have found that dietary restriction protects against these drugs. One complication in this work is that both drugs alter food consumption, making a clear interpretation of the results more difficult. We have acquired flies that are deficient in the ability to taste caffeine and are using these to determine whether the alterations in food consumption are mediated by the aversive taste of these compounds or whether the changes in feeding are due to appetite suppressive effects of these drugs. The possibility that diet can block or enhance the effects of drugs could have fundamentally critical consequence when evaluating medication to be taken by elderly patients, since these often have greatly reduced dietary intake relative to younger patients.

Faculty Mentor:
Theodore Brummel


Nicole Salmen

Medical Biology
Resistance of HER2 Positive Breast Cancer Cells and the Involvement of MET

About 25-30% of breast cancers over-express the receptor HER2, which is what drives the oncogenic pathway in these cancers. Lapatinib is a dual kinase inhibitor that targets both HER2 and the EGFR receptor on cells and has been studied regarding resistance in different cell lines. HCC-1954 cells are HER2 positive, and it is hypothesized that these cells express intrinsic resistance to the HER2 inhibitor, lapatinib. Resistance to different treatments, both inherent and acquired, may come about through the expression of other receptors and pathways; the receptor of interest in this study is MET. MET is a receptor tyrosine kinase that is atypically expressed in breast cancers, and over-expression of this receptor predicts a poorer prognosis. In this study, cellular proliferation assays determined whether the combination of crizotinib, a MET inhibitor, and lapatinib on HCC-1954 breast cancer cells would have a greater inhibitory effect. The results have offered an idea of how MET plays a role in these cells. SDS-PAGE and western blot analyses were performed to detect the presence of MET in HCC-1954 cells. MET expression has been confirmed and the pathway affected is currently being explored. The continued investigation of other resistance mechanisms in breast cancer is a necessary step in developing new drugs.


Martha Sanderson

Biology
Examining Life History Traits Between Two Ecotypes of a Local North American Population of Littorina saxatilis

Littorina saxatilis is a littorinid snail with the capacity for strong local adaptation, leading to the emergence of distinct ecotypes. Most research on L. saxatilis ecotypes has been conducted in Europe, but relatively little is known about the North American ecotypes. A local population of L. saxatilis at Crab Meadows Beach in Long Island, NY (where two of the most common North American ecotypes, ‘barnacle’ and ‘typical’, reside) was examined during 2013 and 2014 to determine whether the ecotypes differed in their proportion of brooding females and growth rates. 100 snails per ecotype were collected monthly and dissected to determine proportions of brooding females per ecotype. Growth rates of the snails were measured over several months beginning at the ‘crawl-away-juvenile’ stage and every two-three weeks thereafter using a stereomicroscope. Some monthly differences in the proportion of brooding females were found between ecotypes—with the lowest proportions in hot summer months and the highest in spring and fall for both years. Growth rates differed between ecotypes, with the typical ecotype growing faster than the barnacle ecotype. Our investigation represents the first in-depth study of ecotypic differences of L. saxatilis from Long Island Sound, providing essential data for furthering the understanding of this species’ life history traits.

Faculty Mentor:
April Blakeslee


Sharon Sextus

Marketing
YSOP at Washington D.C.

YSOP is a nonprofit organization founded in New York City which provides direct volunteer services for the hungry and homeless. Volunteers at LIU Post attended the overnight workcamp program in the Church of Epiphany in Washington D.C. from February 27th-28th.During the first night, volunteers cooked for and served approximately 30 individuals while engaging in conversation with them. Volunteers heard their stories and reflected upon them towards the end of the night. The next morning, volunteers packed their own peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch to understand the simplicity of a homeless person’s lifestyle. Throughout the day, volunteers split into groups to help serve the D.C. community in various ways. Before leaving, volunteers reflected upon their service to the community as a group.

Campus Life Mentor:
Irina Ostrozhnyuk


Joey Stabile

Biomedical Sciences
Chromatin and its Role in the Protection of DNA

The chromosomes in eukaryotic cells are organized into a DNA-protein complex called chromatin. The basic unit of chromatin is the nucleosome, in which ~147 bp of DNA are wrapped around eight histone proteins. Because of its tight association with histones, DNA in a nucleosome is inaccessible to most cellular proteins. Thus, chromatin regulates processes involving DNA including transcription, replication, and repair. We hypothesized that one of the functions of chromatin would also be to protect DNA from damage. To test this hypothesis, we investigated the sensitivity of yeast strains carrying histone mutations to DNA damaging agents and caffeine, a DNA repair inhibitor. We found two separate regions of histone H3 that seemed to be important for resistance to UV light (17-20) and caffeine (13-16). Each of these regions contains an acetylatable lysine, which may be important for the ability of the histone to incorporate into chromatin. We also analyzed whether DNA repair proteins are recruited to actively transcribed genes, in which the chromatin has been disassembled. We found that Rad16, a double-strand break repair protein, was recruited to the open reading frame of the GAL1 gene in a transcription-dependent manner, suggesting that there may be damage taking place as the chromatin is disassembled during transcription. Our results support our hypothesis that chromatin serves to protect DNA from at least some types of damage.

Faculty Mentor:
Daniel S. Ginsburg


Elizabeth Stirling

Biology
The Antiviral Activity of Novel Modified Cloth

Viruses are internal parasites that hijack an organism’s cellular machinery to produce more of itself. There are over 700 different types of viruses that infect humans. Many are responsible for a variety of contagious diseases that result in tens of thousands of deaths per year. Influenza virus alone is responsible for more than 200,000 hospitalizations and 24,000 deaths/year in the US. These numbers will continue to increase as evidenced by the recent Ebola and Enterovirus outbreaks. The ability to protect our healthcare workers, the general population and our military is critical. To this end, I have shown that a novel DABCO- hydrocarbon molecule covalently bound to cotton cloth has the ability to reduce the number of T4 virus particles available for infecting bacteria. Using detergents, I have shown that a charge interaction between the positively charged cloth and the negative tail fibers of the virus are responsible for this reduction in virus. Essentially, the cloth acts like a “virus-magnet”, removing the virus from the environment. These cloths could provide a “first line of defense” protective measure for those in the medical field as well as the general public against viruses. In the medical field, these modified cloths could be used to attract viruses before they reach medical personnel beneath their gowns or scrubs. The modification could be added to airplane air filters to attract and trap respiratory virus particles that are re-circulated during a flight. In addition, these cloths could help protect our military forces from biological attacks.

Faculty Mentor:
Karin Melkonian


Ramita Suwal

Clinical Lab Sciences
Vanessa Rivera
Health Sciences
Characterization of a Novel Gene that Exhibits Conditional Resistance to Rapamycin and May be Localized to Stress Granules

Cell cycle arrest in response to the antifungal agent rapamycin in yeast occurs through binding of FKBP12 protein (FPR1p) with rapamycin, forming a complex with the TOR1/TOR2 proteins. Deletions of the FPR1 gene and specific point mutations in TOR1 and TOR2 genes prevent interaction with the FKBP12-rapamycin complex and result in a resistance to rapamycin phenotype. A previously unknown gene was identified via a yeast two-hybrid analysis (Uetz et al, 2000) to putatively interact with FKBP12. We have characterized this novel gene and found that deletion mutants demonstrate temperature-sensitive resistance to rapamycin. We have observed that the null mutation results in an eight-fold increase in growth in the presence of 100 ng/ml rapamycin at 37˚C after six hours of growth. Wildtype strains exhibit only a 2.8 fold increase of growth under the same growth conditions. We have named this gene XRR1 (eXhibits Rapamycin Resistance). We examined a GFP-tagged XRR1 strain to look at the distribution of this gene product in the cell by fluorescence microscopy. Our study showed that the gene product has a cytoplasmic distribution. Approximately 40% of cells exhibited GFP fluorescence uniformly throughout the cytoplasm. In 30% of the cells, the GFP-tagged protein appears excluded by the prominent vacuole in the cell. 2% of the cells visualized showed a punctated GFP staining which appeared indicative of stress granules. Further studies using the GFP-tagged XRR1 strain indicate a possible localization to stress granules under conditions of glucose starvation or extended growth, but not after heat shock or NaN3 treatment.

Faculty Mentor:
Marci J. Swede


Julie Visser

Art History & Theory
Dada: Reaction and Response to World War I

Dadaism was developed as a response to a new awareness brought about by the traumas from World War I, as a way to expand the artists’ possibilities of understanding a world now filled with chaos. The complete disorder that came from the war seemed to be mimicked by the artwork created by the Dadaists not just from the actual concepts developed but by the artwork itself. World War I led to the birth of a new awareness and drove the art world to question how and why things had been done previously. As a movement, Dada was meant to be a reaction to World War I. It was a way for the artists involved to express their disgust with the chaos ensuing throughout Europe. It was an international movement that was not just about art but was a political and moral statement about the nationalist and materialistic values that emerged from the war. The Dadaists were looking to create artwork that had never been attempted before by using techniques, which contradicted conventional ones. Poets like Hugo Ball and artists like Marcel Duchamp and George Grosz communicated their disgust with World War I in their own unique ways that would be considered anti-art. The concept behind anti-art was to contradict what was previously defined as art. The art rejected the institution that was responsible for labeling the classical forms of artwork ultimately making it a political statement towards the traditional notion of art.

Faculty Mentor:
Niria Leyva-Gutierrez


Heather Weiland

Biology
Behavioral Analysis of Age Dependent Decline in Fitness

Traditional aging studies rely on lifespan measurements as a tool to measure the rate of aging. This approach yields a quantitative measurement, which is intuitively related to the rate of aging, based on the understanding that increasing age leads to increased frailty and thus higher mortality. Numerous genetic, pharmacological, and environmental manipulations can enhance longevity, however, it is not always clear whether these manipulations also enhance the quality of life. Using the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, I am performing behavioral assays to measure the age related decline in fitness in fruit flies of different genotypes and raised under different conditions. Currently, the focus is on how negative geotactic behavior declines with age. The results for wild type flies are being compared to those of flies with alterations in the Target of Rapamycin (TOR) pathway, which is one of the most important genetic components that affect aging in numerous organisms. Future work will focus on other more complex behavioral assays, such as flight and phototactic behavior. This work is important because it will allow for an independent and less labor-intensive method of measuring changes in aging. It is also beneficial since the goal of most aging research is to improve the nature of life in old age and not simply prolong life.

Faculty Mentor:
Theodore Brummel


Talia Wigod

Clinical Psychology
Yonina Goldberg
Clinical Psychology
Family Check-In: Supporting Families in Need

The mission of the Clinical Psychology Doctoral Program at LIU Post is to train psychologists to serve traditionally underserved populations. The Family Check-In program supports this effort by helping parents of 2-8 year-olds develop strategies to foster positive relationships with their children and make informed decisions about seeking help. Doctoral student clinicians pursue this goal through two avenues: a 3-session assessment and referral service and free psycho-educational community workshops. The 3-session service involves gathering information regarding the family’s strengths and challenges, observing parent-child play interactions, and a comprehensive feedback session in which parents and therapists create an action plan incorporating recommendations and next steps. The free parent workshops are provided in various local community settings (churches, synagogues, libraries, schools, community centers). The overall goal of Family Check-In is to equip families who have preliminary concerns about their children with concrete parenting strategies while providing them access to low-cost individualized services. Through both program avenues, Family Check-in has been successful in engaging parents from low-income backgrounds and underserved populations into mental health services. Family Check-In now aims to expand services to Spanish-speaking Latino families. Through peer mentoring, the program has allowed Post’s doctoral students to gain hands-on experience at varying levels of expertise. It has been wonderful to learn about underserved populations and help families in need. Giving back to the community has been fulfilling. We have learned a multitude of skills, ranging from public speaking, community outreach, psychoeducation, and interactions with families from different countries who speak different languages.

Faculty Mentor:
Hilary Vidair


Nicole Zaccone
Psychology

Nahed Desouky
Psychology
Kristin Blyverket
Psychology
Jiatong Ma

Psychology

Jonathan Singh

Psychology
CS-dependent Cardiac Deceleration in a Brief Mantra-Breathing Exercise

Psychologists and Yoga instructors teach a similar behavioral pattern to induce relaxation: take a deep breath and slowly exhale while saying a mantra, such as “Ohm”. This forms the basis for a variety of therapies for anxiety disorders. The present research, based on Porges’ Polyvagal Theory, proposes this therapy is effective because the vagal system is conditioned to produce a cardiac deceleration response by pairing a breathing pattern with the sound of a mantra. We hypothesize: a) a conditioned cardiac deceleration response, consisting of decreases in heart rate and blood pressure, will be conditioned by training subjects to make a mantra-breathing association daily; b) following conditioning, the cardiac deceleration response will occur just before the breathing-mantra response, demonstrating adaptive anticipatory conditioned suppression of sympathetic tone; c) when the breath-mantra correlation is disrupted, the conditioned cardiac deceleration response will decrease. If effective, this may allow more effective therapy for anxiety disorders in the future. Subjects: five undergraduate students (one male, four females). Experimental design: multiple baseline design, with nightly training and weekly laboratory probes of pulse rate and blood pressure across subjects. After stable pulse rates are obtained for at least three baseline sessions, the first subject will begin to introduce the relaxation intervention. Subsequent subjects will begin to introduce the intervention in a staggered series, using multiple baseline experimental design. Data analysis: pulse rate, blood pressure and scales of relaxation will be graphed and visually analyzed for treatment effects.

Faculty Mentor:
John Neill