Erickson Conference Awards Presentations

Welcome and Introductions (3:00 - 3:05 pm)
Keynote Presentation (3:05 - 4:05 pm)

Recording of Dr. Bebej's presentation (requires SPU login)

Poster Session (4:10 - 5:00 pm)

Oral Presentations (5:00 - 6:15 pm)

Session 1: Molecular Biology and Biochemistry

5:00 pm - 5:15 pm Sequence Analysis of Antibody-Treated Samples in the MgpB and MgpC Variable Regions of Mycoplasma genitalium Shows Antigenic Variation in Off-Target Regions
Presented by: Joshua Gere, Angie Vazquez and Jasmine Vo
Advised by: Dr. Derek Wood, Dept. of Biology and Dr. Gwen Wood, University of Washington [abstract]Mycoplasma genitalium causes urethritis in men and cervicitis in women and is capable of host immune evasion through antigenic variation. In this study, we use minION Cas9-targeted sequencing to enrich the MgpB, MgpC, and MgPar5 genomic regions of antibody-treated M. genitalium samples. Mutations were found in vitro, but were not unique to targeted regions. These findings suggest an activating compound present in vitro that may facilitate identification of the signal initiating in vivo antigenic variation.

5:15 pm - 5:30 pm Whole-Genome Sequencing of Mycoplasma genitalium strain Sea-2 shows amino acid changes in the MgpB and MgpC genes that may cause structure changes versus a highly lab-passaged strain
Presented by: Austin Dodd, Gloria Foster, Rose Matta and Lam Trieu
Advised by: Dr. Derek Wood, Dept. of Biology and Dr. Gwen Wood, University of Washington [abstract]Mycoplasma genitalium is a sexually transmitted pathogen known to cause nongonococcal urethritis. Our study compares the novel genome of the Sea-2 strain against a highly lab-passaged strain and finds that the MgpB and MgpC genes coding for immunodominant adherence proteins show frequent insertions and deletions. These findings show the differences between a newer and a well-passaged, well-traveled M. genitalium strain, providing a better foundation for future experiments.

5:30 pm - 5:45 pm The Effect of Genetic Variation in Region B of Mycoplasma genitalium MgpB on Fragment Stability and Antibody Binding
Presented by: Morgan McGovern and Haley Ernst
Advised by: Dr. Ben McFarland, Dept. of Chemistry and Biochemistry [abstract]Mycoplasma genitalium persists in the body and exhibits genetic variation. We will determine if variation in the protein MgpB affects antibody binding. We designed a mutated fragment of region B in MgpB to avoid insolubility in vitro. Two timepoints of this designed fragment were refolded using stepwise dialysis and purified using column chromatography, then assessed with size-exclusion FPLC. Surface plasmon resonance (SPR) will determine association and dissociation rates of antibody binding.

5:45 pm - 6:00 pm Characterization of a Designed Protein Fragment Implicated in Persistent Bacterial Infection and Immune Evasion
Presented by: Abdullah Bashmail
Advised by: Dr. Ben McFarland, Dept. of Chemistry and Biochemistry [abstract]Mycoplasma genitalium establishes persistent infections using the MgpB/MgpC complex for adhesion, which also exhibits genetic variation. We have designed and characterized fragments of MgpB variants to understand how MG evades immunity. A 39-kDa MgpB EF region protein fragment was calculated to be more stable than alternative fragments. We expressed and purified this fragment with FPLC to see if it was stable enough in vitro for epitope binding tests with surface plasmon resonance spectroscopy.

* Best Oral Presentation awardee

Session 2: Molecular Biology

5:00 pm - 5:15 pm Guinea pig complement in SP4 broth induces in vitro generation of antigenic variants of Mycoplasma genitalium in the MgpB and MgpC genes
Presented by: Ivan Sanchez, Suzanne Stafford, Sam Kimmel and Tristan Wine
Advised by: Dr. Derek Wood, Dept. of Biology and Dr. Gwen Wood, University of Washington [abstract]Mycoplasma genitalium, a sexually transmitted pathogen, generates antigenic variants in the mgpB/mgpC regions of its genes through recombination following the host’s specific immune response. We mimic this interaction in vitro, applying antibodies and complement to M. genitalium and sequencing survivors. We find the presence of complement in SP4 broth induces variation in the variable regions of MgpB/MgpC. Identifying this relationship allows future research to identify the components of the system that trigger the recombination mechanism.

5:15 pm - 5:30 pm Bioinformatic analysis of antibiotic resistance and variation of mgpBC genes and MgPar loci in previously unexplored Mycoplasma genitalium strain Sea-1
Presented by: David Ahmann, Johren Carpenter and Sarae Simpson
Advised by: Dr. Derek Wood, Dept. of Biology and Dr. Gwen Wood, University of Washington [abstract]Mycoplasma genitalium causes approximately 20 million STIs per year and many strains are developing resistance to current antibiotic treatments. We investigated Sea-1 and Sea-2, two strains isolated in Seattle, for evidence of antibiotic resistance and of antigenic variation of M. genitalium’s mgpBC genes, the proposed mechanism of immune evasion. Our findings generated an uncomplicated pipeline for reference-guided genome assembly, suggested azithromycin resistance in Sea-1, and discovered significant divergence between Sea-1 and the G37 type strain.

5:30 pm - 5:45 pm Antibody production in Mycoplasma genitalium infected pig-tailed macaques and antigenic variation in the MgpB and MgpC adhesion proteins
Presented by: Clara Ingraham, Victor Hanson, Alexandra Gonzalez and Henry Duchow
Advised by: Dr. Derek Wood, Dept. of Biology and Dr. Gwen Wood, University of Washington [abstract]Antigenic variation from recombination in genes for adhesion proteins on the surface of Mycoplasma genitalium are believed to assist the bacterium’s evasion of host immune defense recognition. In this study, we use multiplexed Nanopore Flongle sequencing to show correlation between antigenic variation within mgpB and mgpC genes of M. genitalium and appearance of antibodies in pig-tailed macaques. These findings implicate antigenic variation as a potential mechanism for antibody resistance and persistence of M. genitalium infections.

5:45 pm - 6:00 pm Mycoplasma genitalium undergo antigenic variation in mgpBC genes as a response to antibody presence in pig-tailed macaques
Presented by: Kelsey Furiya, Precious Hnin, Jarod Cockerham and Felix Amenyo
Advised by: Dr. Derek Wood, Dept. of Biology and Dr. Gwen Wood, University of Washington [abstract]Mycoplasma genitalium (MG) undergoes antigenic variation through recombination within its mgpBCgenes and MgPar sites to evade immune response, allowing persistent MG infections. In this study, we use MinION sequencing to analyze the mgpBC sequences in MG-infected pig-tailed macaques to observe if antigenic variation appears before (week 2) or after (week 8) antibody detection. Our data indicate that antibody pressure selects for MG populations that exhibit sufficient antigenic variants in mgpBC to evade immune response.

* Best Oral Presentation awardee

Session 3: Biology

5:00 pm - 5:15 pm The Role of Ultrasonic Vocalizations of Peromyscus californicus Mice During Aggression
Presented by: Bethelehem Gebre
Advised by: Dr. Janet Bester-Meredith, Dept. of Biology [abstract]The California mouse (Peromyscus californicus) is strictly monogamous. Whereas both male and female P. californicus display similar physical aggression against same sex-intruders, the ultrasonic vocalizations during aggression are distinct. However, the role of ultrasonic vocalization characteristics in modulating aggressive encounters of sexually naïve California mice has not been studied previously. Our findings will enable us to expand our understanding of the characteristics of ultrasonic vocalizations during aggressive encounters of P. californicus.

5:15 pm - 5:30 pm The assessment of 2-deoxyglucose as an inhibitor of murine gamma herpesvirus-68 virus production in NIH-3T3 cells
Presented by: Kelsey Furiya
Advised by: Dr. Tracie Delgado, Dept. of Biology [abstract]Oncogenic viruses are notorious for upregulating cellular metabolic pathways, such as glycolysis, in order to allow for rapid production of viral progeny. 2-deoxyglucose (2-DG) is a clinically relevant glycolysis inhibitor that may be used to block viral production. The goals of my research project are to 1) determine the optimal non-cytotoxic concentration of 2-DG in NIH-3T3 cells and 2) determine if that concentration is sufficient for inhibiting production of murine gamma herpesvirus-68 (MHV-68) viral progeny.

* Best Oral Presentation awardee

5:30 pm - 5:45 pm Murine Herpesvirus 68 (MHV-68) Infected Cells Require Glutamine for Effective Viral Production
Presented by: Angie Vazquez
Advised by: Dr. Tracie Delgado, Dept. of Biology [abstract]Our lab studies Murine Herpesvirus 68 (MHV-68) as a model system to understand how human gamma herpesviruses cause cancer. Cancer cells often increase glutaminolysis, an alternative energy source to glucose. To determine if this phenomenon plays a role during MHV-68 infections, I performed glutamine starvation assays and quantified virus production using plaque assays. Glutamine starvation of host cells resulted in a 20-fold decrease in virion production; suggesting that glutamine is required for MHV-68 production.

5:45 pm - 6:00 pm Investigation of Glutaminase (GLS) expression in Murine Herpesvirus 68 infected NIH/3T3 cells
Presented by: Samantha Kimmel
Advised by: Dr. Tracie Delgado, Dept. of Biology [abstract]Murine herpesvirus 68 is a model gammaherpesvirus system which shares 80% of its genome with the human gammaherpesviruses Kaposi’s Sarcoma Virus and Epstein Barr Virus. Preliminary data from our lab suggests that MHV-68 infected cells require glutamine during the viral life cycle to produce infectious virions. In this project, the expression of glutaminase, an enzyme that converts glutamine to glutamate, was examined at various time points post MHV-68 infection by western blot analysis.

6:00 pm - 6:15 pm The Effect of Mechanical Wounding and Exogenous Glutamate Treatment on Plant Structure and Healing in Arabidopsis thaliana
Presented by: Samuel Madasu and Casey Tolcser
Advised by: Dr. Charlotte Pratt, Dept. of Biology [abstract]Arabidopsis thaliana was wounded and treated with exogenous glutamate to determine if either of the two can affect the plant’s growth and healing processes. Physical measurements such as height, weight, and carbon to nitrogen ratio were taken as well as color measurements using photographs of the plants. The resulting data was largely inconclusive due to the limit in sample size, but it did show some noticeable differences between the different treatment groups that suggest that previous wounding can help heighten the defense response in plants and that treatment with exogenous glutamate can alter the plant’s composition.

Session 4: Biology and Sociology

5:00 pm - 5:15 pm Survivorship of Columbian Black-Tailed Deer on a Predator-Free Island
Presented by: Sarah E. Daman and Grace Barthelmess
Advised by: Dr. Eric Long, Dept. of Biology [abstract]We investigated the survivorship of a high-density black-tailed deer (Odocoileus hemionus columbianus) population on Blakely Island, a predator-free island in the San Juan Archipelago, Washington, USA. We examined survivorship curve type, sex-specific survivorship, and juvenile survivorship using skulls that were opportunistically collected from the island. Teeth were extracted, sectioned, and microscopically analyzed to determine age of death according to cementum annuli.

5:15 pm - 5:30 pm Disproportionate brain mass reduction in an insular, dwarfed population of black-tailed deer
Presented by: Claire O. Geiman
Advised by: Dr. Eric Long, Dept. of Biology [abstract]Insular large mammals tend to reduce body size, and that size reduction may not scale isometrically across all body parts. The brain has been a particular subject of interest due to its high energy requirements. Here, using previously validated cranial parameters to estimate brain and body mass, we report that an extant island population of black-tailed deer (Odocoileus hemionus columbianus) exhibits disproportionately reduced brain mass relative to body mass in comparison to their mainland conspecifics.

* Best Oral Presentation awardee

5:30 pm - 5:45 pm The effect of avian fecundity on efficient evolutionary response to climate change
Presented by: Maria Garcia
Advised by: Dr. Cara Wall-Scheffler, Dept. of Biology [abstract]Currently, no studies exist focused on the effect of avian reproduction strategy on evolutionary response. I argue that in order to adjust to climate change, species with a higher rate of reproduction will rely more on advantageous genetic changes being passed down to offspring while species with lower reproductive rates will rely on temporary, plastic changes that cannot be passed to offspring. To improve conservation efforts, more research on this topic is crucial.

5:45 pm - 6:00 pm Use of technology by SPU students in order to make health decisions.
Presented by: Gray Kolde
Advised by: Dr. Cara Wall-Scheffler, Dept. of Biology [abstract]This study surveyed 102 undergraduate students across departments at Seattle Pacific University to determine how they leverage the internet to seek health information, assess the information’s credibility, and employ this information in healthcare decision making. It was found that most students look to the internet first for health information, but may not always trust the information they find. These findings could have implications for the format in which health services are offered by the university.

* Best Oral Presentation awardee

6:00 pm - 6:15 pm Asian Americans' Political Participation and Immigrant Geneartion
Presented by: Jamie Lee
Advised by: Dr. Joshua Tom, Dept. of Sociology [abstract]This project focuses on political participation within Asian Americans. Asian Americans are a large, complex, and diverse population that continues to have the lowest voter turnout rates. The literature is lacking when it comes to the Asian American experience and the potential they have to influence public policy. This project explores immigrant generation with political participation. It also looks at whether the age group of political sources in people’s lives impacts their political engagement.

Session 5: Health and Human Performance

5:00 pm - 5:20 pm The Influence of Lifestyle, Posture and Muscle Imbalances on Low Back Pain
Presented by: Abril Rexach-Roure and Keyaira Corbray
Advised by: Dr. Dale Cannavan and Dr. Katie Butte, Dept. of Health and Human Performance [abstract]Low back pain effects over 84% of adults in their lives. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the given shift into online learning, college students are likely to be sitting for extended periods, and as such they might be more susceptible for low back pain risk factors without presenting low back pain symptoms. Therefore, this research was to explore the relationship between various low back pain risk factors and time spent sitting in college aged adults.

5:20 pm - 5:40 pm Effects of stretching intervention on anterior pelvic tilt and range of motion in lower extremities among collegiate soccer players
Presented by: Jake Ferry and Nik Reierson
Advised by: Dr. Dale Cannavan, Dept. of Health and Human Performance [abstract]Anterior pelvic tilt is a common occurrence among soccer players due to the nature of the sport. College athletes are also more susceptible as they sit for long durations doing school work and this time has been further extended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The quadricep and hip flexor muscles become short and tight as athletes sit with these muscles in a short position for long periods of time between training sessions. This may have implications on the range of motion of not only the quadriceps and hip flexors, but the hamstrings as well because the hamstrings are biarticulated muscles which are effected by the positioning of the pelvis. Our study aimed to investigate if a PNF stretching protocol targeting the hip flexors and quadriceps could increase hamstring range of motion as well as quadricep and hip flexor range of motion. The study analyzed this change in male collegiate soccer players. The implications of this research are novel and could help reduce hamstring strains, and overall tightness of the hamstrings which is a common phenomenon in the soccer community.

* Best Oral Presentation awardee

5:40 pm - 6:00 pm The relationship between lifting experience and posterior pelvic tilt during a barbell back squat
Presented by: Michaela Abueg
Advised by: Dr. Dale Cannavan, Dept. of Health and Human Performance [abstract]The squat exercise is used to induce total body strength and this movement is performed various ways depending on the type of athlete that is doing it. For example, experienced lifters perform squats differently than recreational athletes. Variations in stance width, ankle mobility and barbell placement are common. A major bodily deviation at the bottom of the squat is a posterior pelvic tilt, often referred to as the “butt wink”. While there are many factors that affect the butt wink, it is unclear if the athlete’s experience level can change the magnitude of the pelvic tilt. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to explore the experience of lifters on the magnitude of posterior pelvic tilt (butt wink).

Session 6: Computer Science and Engineering

5:00 pm - 5:15 pm Ez-Test
Presented by: Rami Isaac, Kai Thai, Alex Pan and Aryan Khorram
Advised by: Professor Andy Cameron, Dept. of Computer Science [abstract]EZ-Test is a universal and compact web browser application that streamlines COVID-19 testing by being an all-in-one system for health providers, patients, labs, and relevant authorities. EZ-test will shorten the time and ability it takes for a patient to sign up for a COVID test, health-care providers to administer the test, patients receiving their results, and everything in between. EZ-Test will also provide insights for administrators and relevant officials to assist in their decision making.

5:15 pm - 5:30 pm LingoJive
Presented by: Chris Moroney, Andrew McLain, Aden Yilma, Sangha Yoon and Jonah Bufford
Advised by: Professor Andy Cameron, Dept. of Computer Science [abstract]The system we are proposing is called LingoJive, a platform which connects language learners worldwide primarily using the “language exchange” method of learning. Language exchange simply means that instead of paying money to a teacher, peers can “pay” each other by reciprocating language instruction in their own native language. People have been unable to experience different cultures during the COVID-19 pandemic, and LingoJive hopes to bring a little bit of diversity to people’s lives during this time without payment.

* Best Oral Presentation awardee

5:30 pm - 5:45 pm ARTEMIS - Aquatic Removal of Trash for Ending Messes In Seas
Presented by: Andrew Josselyn, Kellie Cobb, Jordan Barde and Colt Hawley
Advised by: Dr. James Walker, Dept. of Engineering [abstract]ARTEMIS is a consumer-based remote-controlled boat designed to collect trash from local waterways to help mitigate ocean pollution. ARTEMIS' market is aimed at anyone interested in drones or the environment – thus encouraging as many people as possible to take part in a collective effort to improve the Earth!

5:45 pm - 6:00 pm Electrostatic Disinfectant Sprayer
Presented by: Chelsea Bates and Nathan Wichser
Advised by: Dr. James Walker, Professor Gina Howe, and Dr. Grant Ellis, Dept. of Engineering [abstract]The Electrostatic Disinfectant Sprayer adapts to pre-existing HVLP sprayers and will positively charge water-soluble disinfectant fluids to "cling" on to surfaces. Reducing waste and making the solution cover a more complete surface area.

6:00 pm - 6:15 pm Neptune II
Presented by: Caleb Kumamoto, Lauren Isaak, Rostik Borenko, Nick Leidig and Erin So
Advised by: Dr. James Walker, Dept. of Engineering [abstract]The Neptune II is a utilities system that can be rapidly deployed in areas of need such as rural hospitals or refugee camps and will provide electricity and clean water using solar energy, an integrated back up generator, and a Reverse Osmosis filtration system.

Session 7: Engineering

5:00 pm - 5:15 pm Desert Rose
Presented by: Go Inose, Delyla Vue, Katelyn Ashworth, Sultan Alsulaiti and Jannet Rivas
Advised by: Dr. James Walker, Dept. of Engineering [abstract]The Desert Rose is a sustainable greenhouse, specifically made for countries that experience hot climates year-round. It will alleviate the problem of crops not surviving harsh climates and emphasizes a sustainable approach to farming by utilizing solar panels, eco coolers (a cooling mechanism that does not require electricity), and plant growth through aeroponics.

* Best Oral Presentation awardee

5:15 pm - 5:30 pm Farm Budd-E
Presented by: Amadeus Awuy, Brandon Koss, Taylor Howard, Colin Rensberger and Davis Flintoff
Advised by: Dr. James Walker and Professor Gina Howe, Dept. of Engineering [abstract]CAD-BT Design aims to design and build an electric powered machine that aids transplanting and harvesting of small crops. Research shows that leafy greens are among the most profitable per square foot crop which is why our machine is focusing on those kinds of vegetables. Currently, the market is populated with products that require more land and mainly serve the needs of large scale farms using industrial size machines that require extensive labor hours and cost to operate. Our machine would fill in the demand of small scale farms while promoting a sustainable and cost-effective alternative in the farming market

5:30 pm - 5:45 pm Morpheus Hand
Presented by: Eric Helke, Matthew Wolf, Kelvin Por and Sean Liu
Advised by: Dr. James Walker, Dept. of Engineering [abstract]Morpheus Hand is a prosthetic hand made to be a middle market option for those affected by limb loss with some functionality. The prosthetic accomplishes this through EMG sensors connected to another appendage to control the hand. This will allow for the hand to mimic the movement of the other appendage. This hand will also feature grabbing and pinching motions toggleable via a switch.

5:45 pm - 6:00 pm Bird's Eye
Presented by: Elius Graff, Jake Kim, Rupinder Khabra, Christian Myhre, Dylan Stewart
Advised by: Dr. James Walker, Professor Gina Howe, and Dr. Grant Ellis, Dept. of Engineering [abstract]Our presentation/poster is about a design project we have been creating in our senior capstone class. The project is a scalable version of a mobile security camera that can be remotely controlled and move freely through a 2-D area of installation.

Session 8: Mathematics and Physics

5:00 pm - 5:15 pm An Examination of the Properties of the Biham-Middleton-Levine Model
Presented by: Christian Alfonso
Advised by: Dr. Brian Gill, Dept. of Mathematics [abstract]The Biham-Middleton-Levine model belongs to a class of computational models called cellular automata, and was originally created to simulate traffic flow in a grid. Over many iterations of the model, a unique property called a phase transition can occur, where all of the simulated cars experience gridlock and can no longer move. In this project, we examine the efficiency of the model and its properties, including explorations into the conditions that permit phase transitions.

* Best Oral Presentation awardee

5:15 pm - 5:30 pm How Long Are We Playing Tenzi?
Presented by: Nicole Svoboda
Advised by: Dr. John Hossler, Dept. of Mathematics [abstract]Tenzi is a game where individual players roll ten dice and the end goal is to have all ten be the same number. We wanted to know the expected number of rolls that it would take to achieve Tenzi, so we looked at the binomial distribution which represents this. We also looked at Markov Chains, which describe the probability of moving between states within the game of Tenzi.

5:30 pm - 5:45 pm Mathematics in Martin Square
Presented by: Hannah Roosendaal
Advised by: Dr. Robbin O'Leary, Dept. of Mathematics [abstract]A mathematical exploration of the acoustic phenomenon in Martin Square on the SPU campus, known as the Martin Square Squeak.

5:45 pm - 6:00 pm Identifying student resources for understanding linear momentum
Presented by: Brynna Hansen
Advised by: Dr. Amy Robertson, Dept. of Physics [abstract]Existing physics education research (PER) on student ideas about momentum focuses on the difficulties that students face when learning this topic. These difficulties are framed as obstacles for students to overcome in order to develop correct understandings of physics. We take a resources-oriented approach to analyzing student responses to momentum questions, viewing student ideas as valuable for learning, over and above correctness. In this presentation, we highlight four conceptual resources that provide insight into students’ ideas about momentum.

6:00 pm - 6:15 pm Exploring Student Conceptual Resources About Heat and Temperature
Presented by: Yohannes M. Abraham
Advised by: Dr. Amy Robertson, Dept. of Physics [abstract]Previous literature about students’ understanding of heat and temperature emphasizes students’ misunderstandings of canonical physics concepts. In our study, we used a resources-oriented approach to analyze data from 653 students’ responses to questions about thermal phenomena, highlighting ways in which their responses could serve valuable resources for continued learning. We categorized our findings into four common conceptual resources.