Poster Session A

Title: A modified arrestin1 increases lactate production in the retina and slows retinal degeneration

Authors: Tiffany Nelson, Chiab Simpson, Frank Dyka, Astra Dinculescu, Wesley Clay Smith

Abstract: Glucose metabolism in the retina is carefully orchestrated with glucose being delivered to photoreceptors from the choroidal circulation through the RPE. In photoreceptors, glucose is processed principally by aerobic glycolysis, from which the lactate byproduct is provided to the RPE and Müller glia for their energetic needs. In this study, we utilize a modified arrestin1 protein to enhance the glycolytic output of lactate from rod photoreceptors through disinhibition of enolase1 activity with the goal being to use this increased lactate production as an approach to slowing retinal degeneration. Mouse arrestin1 with E362G/D363G amino acid substitutions was packaged into AAV and tested for safety and efficacy in increasing retinal lactate production. Overexpression of ArrGG in C57BL/6J mice did not result in any detectable changes in either ERG function or photoreceptor survival as measured by outer nuclear layer thickness. Mouse retinas expressing ArrGG showed a ~25% increase in the rate of lactate secretion. Therefore, AAV-ArrGG was delivered intravitreally to heterozygous P23H rhodopsin knock-in mice (RhoP23H/+) to determine if enhancing glycolysis in photoreceptors can slow retinal degeneration in this animal model of retinitis pigmentosa. In the P23H mice, the expression of ArrGG led to significant preservation of photoreceptor function and slowing of retinal degeneration. These findings suggest that enhancing glycolysis by targeting increased enolase1 activity with a modified arrestin1 in photoreceptors may offer a therapeutic approach to slowing retinal degeneration.


Title: Parameters Influencing Tool Behavior during Magnetic Field-Assisted Finishing of Fused Silica

Authors: Julian Long, Hitomi Greenslet

Abstract: In Magnetic Field-assisted Finishing (MAF), the speed and direction of the self-spinning motion of the tool when finishing fused silica optics has been linked to the polishing characteristics, such as material removal and resulting surface roughness . This present study further examines and characterizes the iron-particle tool motion, especially the self-spinning tool motion, when finishing fused silica optics.

In MAF, the magnet placed under the workpiece plays an important role in driving the tool magnet. Various combination of the driving magnet and magnet tool are introduced, and the effects of the geometrical relationship between the driving magnet and tool magnet on the self-spinning motion (e.g., direction and speed) of the tool and the resulting polishing characteristics are examined. Tool self-spinning speed is seen to increase with magnetic field intensity. The geometry of the table magnet determines the consistency of tool self-spinning speed due to the concentration of the magnetic field at the edges of the magnets. Smaller table magnets reduce variation in the path and self-spinning speed of the tool magnets. This improves the understanding of the interaction of the polishing tool with the fused silica surface and resulting material removal characteristics.


Title: Epigenetic regulation and expression of a GRAS family transcriptional factor, NSP2 controlling peanut nodulation

Authors: Yichun Wang

Abstract: As a member of legume family, cultivated peanut (Arachis hypogaea L.) has the capacity of nodule formation for biological nitrogen fixation through a symbiotic association with Bradyrhizobia. AhNSP2-A08 or Na and AhNSP2-B07 or Nb genes encode GRAS family transcriptional factor were identified to control peanut nodulation. Plants with nanaNbnb genotype can be either nodulating (Nod+) or non-nodulating (Nod–) phenotype. Earlier studies revealed that only the Nb allele was expressed in the Nod+ heterozygous (nanaNbnb) plants while only the nb allele was expressed in the nanaNbnb Nod– plants’ root. The reciprocal crosses between nanaNbNb and nananbnb plants showed that the F1 hybrids (nanaNbnb) inherited the Nb allele from the female parents showed Nod- phenotype, which led to the hypothesis that expression of Nb in female gamete is inhibited thus imprinted in F1s. The objective of this study is to detect 1) the expression level of Nb gene in female and male gametes and 2) the methylation level variations of Nb in female and male gametes.
The qRT-PCR result showed that Nb in ovary expressed significantly less than in pollen regardless of genotype or phenotype, which indicated Nb expression was maternally inhibited. Bisulfite sequencing of the Nb sequence revealed that there was no significant methylation level differences between female and male gametes, which suggested that the maternally silenced Nb is not mediated by DNA methylation at this gene locus. 


Title: Novel Approaches for Isolating Hematopoietic Stem Cells Using a Planar Gradient Magnetic System

Authors: Heather A Blackwell, Samuel M Hart, Jon P Dobson

Abstract: Hematopoietic stem cell transplants are a life-saving treatment performed on patients who suffer from hematological malignancies including leukemias, lymphomas, myelomas, and sickle cell disease. Hematopoietic stem cells (CD34+), a rare population, are isolated from donors (allogenic) or patients (autologous) via bone marrow harvest (less common) or mobilized peripheral blood collection. It has been shown that an increase in CD34+ cells collected for transplantation can decrease the time to engraftment, reduce the potential for transplant related mortality, and increase the overall survival rate [1]. There is a need to develop additional strategies for increasing the CD34+ cell dosage obtained, and we have proposed a solution using extracorporeal magnetic filtration of the targeted cell population. Commercially available isolation kits are limited in the volume they can process and require extensive, time-consuming preprocessing steps that we plan to eliminate. The planar flow separation system we have designed has a high throughput capability and increased capture efficiency compared to available commercial models. Our process utilizes magnetic nanoparticles coated with a capture antibody that will be used to bind to the target population then isolated via our separation process. Initial testing will be performed on CD34+ cells in an aqueous solution then progressing to donated human cord blood samples. By validating our magnetic filtration system, we will demonstrate the system's ability to capture target cells bound to the magnetic nanoparticles. This system can be translated into the cellular therapy laboratory for CD34+ cell enrichment of transplant products for patients suffering from hematological malignancies.


Title: Molecular characterization of resistant and susceptible sister clones of sugarcane at early infection with orange rust disease

Authors: Yupeng Zhou

Abstract: Sugarcane is an important crop for Florida and provides many jobs for Floridians. However, since 2007, Florida sugarcane has been suffering from orange rust. During the hybrid process, 2 sister lines were found, coincidentally one of which was resistant to the disease and the other was not. By analyzing the molecular characteristics of the two sister lines at early infection with orange rust disease, we identified mechanisms of resistance at early infection with orange rust disease. Differential genes between the two varieties were identified at 0,3,6,12 and 24 h after inoculation and observed by microscopy for different periods of pathogen invasion. Naturally resistant compounds will be identified through metabolomic analysis by comparing differential metabolites before and just after disease onset.


Title: Optimization of model independent gravitational wave search using machine learning 

Authors: Tanmaya Mishra, Brendan O'Brien, GAYATHRI V, Marek Szczepanczyk, Shubhagata Bhaumik, Gabriele Vedovato, Imre Bartos, Sergey Klimenko

Abstract: The Coherent WaveBurst (cWB) search algorithm identifies generic gravitational wave (GW) signals in the LIGO-Virgo data by looking for excess power events in the time-frequency domain, with minimal assumptions on the signal model. The standard cWB pipeline improves signal significance by removing excess noise through the application of a set of a priori defined vetoes on summary statistics estimated by the pipeline. Designing vetoes in the multidimensional space of the summary statistics is challenging and requires re-tuning of the veto thresholds for each detector network configuration and each observing run. We propose to use a machine learning (ML) method to automate the signal-noise classification in cWB, for each detector network, and optimize the pipeline sensitivity to a special class of GW events known as binary black hole (BBH) mergers. Here, we test the ML-enhanced cWB search on strain data from the first, second and first half of the third observing runs (O1, O2 and O3a) of Advanced LIGO and compare all BBH events previously reported by cWB from GWTC-1 and GWTC-2. We demonstrate the improvement in the detection efficiency of approximately 20% for simulated events at a false alarm rate of less than one per year. To demonstrate the robustness of the ML-enhanced search for the detection of generic BBH signals, we show that it has an increased sensitivity to the spin precessing or eccentric BBH events, even when trained on simulated quasi-circular BBH events with aligned spins.


Title: Reproducibility Evaluation of Data Processing Tools for LC-MS Clinical Metabolomics Research

Authors: Xinsong Du, Farhad Dastmalchi, Timothy Garrett, William Hogan, Mathias Brochhausen, Dominick Lemas

Abstract: Motivation: Metabolomics is an emerging field and has been used in population science studies. Liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) is a widely used technique for metabolomics data acquisition. However, reproducibility in LC-MS metabolomics data processing is challenging partly due to the limitation of software tools. Reproducible research is defined as research that can allow others to obtain consistent results using the same input data. Biomedical research that is not reproducible does not only risk the safety of patients but also wastes scientists' time to pursue false leads, as well as research funding from agencies, hurts the impact of the research, and damages the researcher's reputation. Therefore, we conducted a critical review to provide insights into the reproducibility of existing LC-MS metabolomics data processing tools and pointed directions for improvements and future reproducible LC-MS metabolomics data processing software development.

Methods: We synthesized criteria related to reproducible bioinformatics software development from literature. Next, we extracted LC-MS metabolomics data processing tools from literature, evaluate their eligibility then reproducibility based on their publicly available documentations and code repositories. We also calculated percentage of tools that met each evaluation criterion.

Results: We synthesized 43 criteria from literature, and split them into four categories: transparency, usability, maintainability, and documentation. We extracted 124 tools from literature and added 2 additional tools that we knew they w


Title: Automation Strategy for Magnetic Field-Assisted Single Point Incremental Forming 

Authors: David Ryan Skelton, Zixi Shi, Dr. Hitomi Greenslet

Abstract: Magnetic field-assisted single point incremental forming (M-SPIF) is a new sheet-metal forming technique for rapid prototyping of nonferromagnetic workpieces without the need for expensive dies. In M-SPIF, an Nd-Fe-B magnetic ball tool is magnetically translated across a sheet metal workpiece using an Nd-Fe-B driving magnet attached underneath the workpiece to a 6-axis robotic arm. The forming mechanics of M-SPIF have been analyzed in the past with a focus on the multi-directional forming force acting on the ball tool. The next advancement of M-SPIF is to transition from a long step-by-step operation into an automated, continuous operation, which will significantly reduce the forming time. Additionally, further analysis of the spring back of the sheet metal is required to improve the controllability of the geometrical tolerance of the parts formed using this automation strategy. In M-SPIF, the major operational parameters include the size and magnetic property of the ball tool, the size and magnetic properties of the driving magnet, and the driving magnet motion (e.g., driving magnet path and speed). This study will focus on the driving-magnet path that influences the ball-tool motion and forming-force direction, and the M-SPIF process in this study is used to create a truncated cone in a 0.2 mm aluminum sheet. This presentation describes the programming strategy for the driving magnet, which controls the tool-ball motion and the effects of the driving-magnet motion on the forming characteristics, including the formed part geometry and the true strain distribution.


Title: Evaluating the Perception of Human-Robot Collaboration Among Construction Project Managers

Authors: Mahya Sam, Dr. Bryan Franz

Abstract: In construction applications, a robot is commonly seen a semi-automated tool or a piece of equipment that assists with specialized work tasks. However, as robots become more technically capable and widely available, they may be seen more as a teammate or co-worker that collaborates with human crews. Using a survey questionnaire, 63 project managers from two national construction management firms in the U.S were shown videos of three different applications of robotic systems, each exhibiting different characteristics, and were asked to share their perceptions of the robot. Through a between and across group comparison of their responses, we found that a robot was more likely to be seen as a teammate when its movement was less unpredictable, it was seen as more productive than human workers, it was considered durable, it remained constantly active, it took its surroundings into account before moving, it worked well alongside human workers, it was not unreliable, and it made the task more predictable. These findings identify clear challenges for human-robot teaming and the design of robotic systems for construction applications.


Title: Facilitating smallholder farmer engagement with data-driven agriculture: a case of study in the Yucatán Peninsula, México

Authors: Alejandro Sanchez

Abstract: Currently, data-driven and precision agriculture represent some of the most advanced and effective methods regarding productivity and crop resilience globally. However, these technologies are almost exclusively available in developed countries, where productivity is already high, and a diversity of data is significantly more accessible for the majority of farmers.

In comparison, smallholder farmers in the developing world are suffering from a significant lack of access to information and agricultural technologies. Whether if it's consulting weather information, agricultural inputs, financial tools, or market needs or, on the other hand, generating information associated with local soil characteristics, crop performance, plague incidence, and others to be used by policymakers and local governments, the smallholder farmers usually don't have, either the tools to use, or the specific capacities to access, the whole ecosystem of opportunities that data has to offer for agriculture.

In this MDP field practicum project, I worked with a Mayan smallholder farmer organization called the Seed Guardians to support and facilitate their transition to Data-Driven Agriculture. After finding out the precise data requirements of the organization, a new data collection system specifically tailored for their needs, was implemented.

This poster/talk will present the data collection process, the current performance of the new data management system, and, through qualitative data, a brief outlook on the importance of improved agricultural data collection processes for the organization, and 


Title: Rapid SARS-CoV-2 Diagnosis Using Disposable Strips and a Metal-oxide-semiconductor Field-effect Transistor Platform

Authors: Chan-Wen Chiu, Minghan Xian, Fan Ren

Abstract: The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has had a significant impact worldwide. Currently, the most common detection methods for the virus are polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and lateral flow tests. PCR takes more than an hour to obtain the results and lateral flow tests have difficulty with detecting the virus at low concentrations. In this study, 60 clinical human saliva samples, which included 30 positive and 30 negative samples confirmed with RT-PCR, were screened for COVID-19 using disposable glucose biosensor strips and a reusable printed circuit board. The disposable strips were gold plated and functionalized to immobilize antibodies on the gold film. After functionalization, the strips were connected to the gate electrode of a metal-oxide-semiconductor field-effect transistor (MOSFET) on the printed circuit board to amplify the test signals. A synchronous double-pulsed bias voltage was applied to the drain of the transistor and strips. The resulting change in drain waveforms was converted to digital readings. The RT-PCR confirmed saliva samples were tested again using quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR) to determine cycling threshold (Ct) values. The results indicate samples with a range of Ct values from 17.8 to 35 can be differentiated from negative samples, which highlights the increased sensitivity of this sensor technology. This research exhibits the potential of this biosensor technology to to be further developed into a cost-effective, point-of-care, and portable rapid detection method for SARS-CoV-2.


Title: Deep Learning Based Cine-MR Image Prediction and Analysis for Abdominal Motion

Authors: Jingxi Weng, Sri Hrushikesh Varma Bhupathiraju, Thomas Samant, Alex Dresner, Jian Wu, Sanjiv Samant

Abstract: Purpose: IGRT in abdomen can be challenging in the presence of organ motion, ranging from the mostly respiratory motion of dome of liver to more complex peristalsis and respiratory motions of stomach region. MR-linacs offer real-time internal anatomy based gating but there is latency between acquired images of patient states before and during beam delivery. Here we compensate for this latency by presenting a deep learning model for organ motion prediction.
Methods: Multiplanar cine-MRI was acquired every 600ms on 10 volunteers on Philips Ingenia MRsim, which is equivalent to the MR module on Elekta Unity MR-linac. A T2/T1 balanced turbo field echo (bTFE) sequence was used. A deep learning model, using 6 input images to predict future image(s), was generated with convLSTM neural network using SSIM (Structural Similarity Index) and MSE as loss functions. SSIM, MSE, NMI(normalized mutual information) and DTA(distance to agreement) were used to evaluate performance.
Results: Planar cine-MRI prediction was successful for time frames of 0.6s-3.0s. The performance of the model remained stable over the 2min of test data with variations in SSIM and MSE within 2std. Due to noise in the cine-MRI from fast acquisition, DTA here is defined that values within 10% are considered the same. For stomach, using a patient specific model, DTA of 3.8mm over 100% ROI volume and 1.8mm for 90% ROI volume were achieved. For liver, using nonpatient specific global model, DTA of 4.3mm over 100% ROI volume and 2.3mm for 90% ROI volume were achieved.
Conclusion: Deep learning models were constructed 


Title: Shear Thinning Properties of a Co-Assembling Peptide Hydrogel

Authors: Lucas Melgar

Abstract: Hydrogels are a category of biomaterial endowed with characteristics that make them attractive for in vivo applications. Early scientific studies focused primarily on the hydrogel composition and using them as supportive structures such as collagen joint implants. However, the ability to modulate biological activity at the molecular level with precise control employing hydrogels as the vehicle is a challenge not yet fully realized. Co- and self- assembling peptides have been shown to form hydrogels, and have garnered much attention because of their tunable properties, minimal immunogenicity, and ease of production. The Supramolecular BioLab focuses on a novel peptide system that uses charge as the driving force for co-assembly into a fibrillar hydrogel, which we refer to as CATCH (co-assembly due to charge complementarity). These gels can be modified by the addition of enzymes, however fully describing the stability of the cargo once administered remains as a next step. The peptide hydrogel is administered via a minimally invasive needle injection, which introduces shear force through the needle that may disturb the cargo. In the following study, we attach an enzyme to the gel capable of depleting soluble ATP, producing adenosine as the output – this enzyme has therapeutic implications for immunomodulation. A bioluminescence assay capable of detecting ATP is used as a quantitative measure of ATP depletion. This report will focus on the peptide hydrogels capacity to provide shear thinning properties by measuring the activity of the enzyme after a mock injection. 


Title: Inhibition of Mps1 Kinase Enhances Taxanes Efficacy in Castration Resistant Prostate Cancer 

Authors: Sadia Sarwar, Viacheslav M. Morozov, Hamsa T. Purayil, Yehia Daaka, Alexander M. Ishov

Abstract: Androgen ablation therapy is the standard of care for newly diagnosed prostate cancer (PC) patients. PC that relapsed after hormonal therapy, referred to as castration-resistant PC (CRPC), often presents with metastasis (mCRPC) and is the major cause of disease lethality. The few available therapies for mCRPC include the Taxanes Docetaxel (DTX) and Cabazitaxel (CBZ). Alas, clinical success of Taxanes in mCRPC is limited by high intrinsic and acquired resistance.  Therefore, it remains essential to develop rationally-designed treatments for managing therapy resistant mCRPC disease. The major effect of Taxanes on microtubule hyper-polymerization is a prolonged mitotic block due to activation of the Spindle Assembly Checkpoint (SAC). Taxane sensitive cells eventually inactivate SAC and exit mitosis by mitotic catastrophe, resulting in genome instability and blockade of proliferation. Resistant cells remain in mitotic block, and, upon drug decay, resume mitosis and proliferation, underlying one resistance mechanism. In our study we explored the possibility of forced mitotic exit to elevate Taxane efficacy. Inactivation of the SAC component, mitotic checkpoint kinase Mps1/TTK with a small molecule inhibitor (Msp1i), potentiated efficacy of Taxanes treatment in both 2D cell culture and 3D prostaspheres settings. Mechanistically, Mps1 inhibition forced mitotic catastrophe in cells blocked in mitosis by Taxanes. Androgen receptor (AR), the main driver of PC, is often mutated or truncated in mCRPC. Importantly, Mps1i significantly potentiated CBZ cytotoxicity regardless of AR status, in both AR-WT and in AR-truncated CRPC cells. Overall, our data demonstrate that forced mitotic exit by Mps1 inhibition potentiates Taxanes efficacy. Given that several Mps1i’s are currently in different stages of clinical trials, our results point at the Mps1 as a new therapeutic target to potentiate efficacy of Taxanes in mCRPC patients.



Authors: Arati Joshi, Dharmendra Kalauni

Abstract: Large cardamom is the second most exported agricultural commodity in Nepal, with significant economic, nutritional, social, and religious importance. It is grown commercially in more than 43 districts of Nepal, and over 67, 000 households are involved in this industry. Trade Integration Strategy 2010 (NTIS-2010) and Agriculture Development Strategy (ADS) 2015-2035 have recognised it as the most potential cash crop for export with comparative advantages. Bhojpur is one of the large cardamom producing zones as identified by PMAMP. The purpose of the study was to find linkages between the existing value chain of large cardamom and food and nutritional security in Bhojpur district. Also, the study focuses on revealing different aspects of production economics and marketing. A survey study was conducted with 150 farmers. Further, 10 local, 10 medium, and 10 large traders and 10 exporters were selected from Bhojpur, Khadbari, and Birtamod markets to study marketing aspects and export performance of large cardamom. Microsoft-Excel was used for data assembling and SPSS and STATA were used for data analysis. Large cardamom cultivation was found to contribute 42.9% to total household income and 77.8% to total farm income. The contribution of large cardamom was the highest among the total household income from different professions in the study area. Cash generated from the sale of large cardamom was used to buy cereals, pulses, and fruits, which ultimately play a critical role in maintaining food and nutritional security to an extent. The value chain of large cardamom helps to improve the food and nutritional security situation by generating greater economic returns for the value chain actors, influencing food affordability and diversifying the consumed food sources by improving the purchasing ability of value chain actors.

Youtube link:


Title: Super Bowl LV's Impact on Host Community Sentiment & Destination Perceptions of Tampa, FL

Authors: Rayven Crisafulli, CMP, CMP-HC; Rachel J.C. Fu, PhD

Abstract: For more than 30 years, the Super Bowl has been the most highly watched American
television broadcast with over 100 million viewers. Despite its popularity, the Super Bowl
has largely been neglected in travel and sport event literature. The 2021 Super Bowl was hosted in Tampa, Florida and took place during the COVID-19 pandemic, raising unprecedented questions about the event’s impact on resident and nonresidents’ perception of the city. Additionally, Tampa’s own NFL team, the Buccaneers, played in and subsequently won the 2021 Super Bowl, providing a unique circumstance in which to analyze a mega-event’s psychic income for residents. In light of this knowledge gap, this study analyzes how travelers’ Super Bowl experiences affect their perception of the host city and its residents through the prism of different generational cohorts. Additionally, this is the first study to detail resident and non-resident perceptions of a city hosting a mega-event during the COVID-19 pandemic. 


Poster Session B

Title: Peripartum women’s perspectives on research study participation in the OneFlorida Clinical Research Consortium during COVID-19 pandemic

Authors: Ke Xu, Chu J Hsiao, Hailey Ballard, Nisha Chachad, Callie Reeder, Elizabeth Shenkman, Elizabeth Flood-Grady, Adetola Louis-Jacques, Erica L Smith, Lindsay A Thompson, Janice Krieger, Magda Francois, Dominick J Lemas

Abstract: Objective: To evaluate research participation experiences and preferences among Florida women who eligible to participate in clinical research studies related to pregnancy and postpartum during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Methods: Eligible participants were 18 years or older, pregnant or had an infant, and lived in Florida within 50 miles of sites participating in the OneFlorida Clinical Research Consortium. Participants were recruited via Qualtrics panels between April and September 2020. Respondents completed items about their prior research experiences as well as barriers and facilitators to participation and answered socio-demographic questions.

Results: Of 533 respondents, most were between 25-34 years of age (n=259, 49%), had a college degree (n=250, 47%), and identified as White (n=303, 47%) and non-Hispanic (n=344, 65%). Among those reporting prior research participation (n=129, 24%), over half participated in pregnancy-related research (n=74, 60%). The most frequently investigated pregnancy topic was allergy and immunology (n=37, 29%). The most common barriers to research participation were: poor explanation of study goals, discomforts to the infant, family concern, and time commitment. Respondents preferred text (n=303, 57%) or email (n=296, 56%) as communication methods. Recruitment through healthcare providers (e.g. physician) was perceived as the best way to learn about clinical research studies. In determining research participation, 'myself' has the greatest influence, followed by familial ties (e.g. spouse), and finally other social ties (e.g. neighbor/co-worker). Non-invasive biological samples (e.g. human milk, saliva, urine) were highly acceptable and more than half of respondents had a positive response to releasing personal health information and participating in a randomized study.  

Conclusion: During the COVID-19 pandemic, women during pregnancy and postpartum were generally interested in participating in clinical studies that required non-invasive biospecimen collection. When recruiting women for perinatal studies investigators should consider protocols that account for physical discomfort, communication mode, and time commitments.  


Title: Listeria monocytogenes biofilm formation affected by  surface topography and coating composition of stainless steel

Authors: Tingting Gu

Abstract: Listeria monocytogenes (L. monocytogenes) biofilm formation on food-contact surfaces is a significant food safety concern. With the objective of assessing the combined effects of substrate topography and coating composition on L. monocytogenes biofilm formation, we used stainless steel 304 with three surface topographies combined in each case either uncoated or coated with five FDA-approved food-contact substances. Results indicate that surface topography and composition significantly affected fouling resistance. The combined variation of substrate topography modification and coating composition provides a new approach to enhance the fouling resistance of stainless steel against L. monocytogenes biofilm for the improved sanitary design of food processing equipment.

Youtube link:


Title: Fire Science Information Needs of Southeastern Cooperative Extension Professionals

Authors: Hope Miller, Dr. Raelene Crandall, Jennifer Fawcett, Dr. David Godwin, Laurel Kays, Dr. Marcus Lashley

Abstract: Cooperative Extension professionals are often highly regarded by members of their community as reliable sources of information. Recent initiatives have identified Extension professionals as well-poised to become more actively involved in wildland fire outreach and education, thereby increasing community resilience to fire. Their status as a trusted messenger allows most Extension professionals to reach large audiences and disseminate information and training related to the community’s wildland fire needs. Few Extension professionals, however, are currently prepared to act a resource on these topics.

As part of a project supported by a USDA Renewable Resources Extension Act Capacity Grant, Southern Fire Exchange at the University of Florida conducted a semi-structured, interview-based needs assessment of southeastern U.S. Extension professionals that either already conduct or want to begin conducting fire-related programming. Respondents (n=23) identified their audience demographics, barriers to engaging community members with fire, and the fire training that would be of most benefit. This poster explores the major themes and findings of these interviews, grounded in Ostrom’s Social-Ecological Systems framework, and outlines the steps necessary for equipping southeastern U.S. Extension professionals with the knowledge and skills to support wildland fire resilience within their communities. 


Title: Who bit you? Using genetic forensics to identify shark species involved in human bites 

Authors: Tyler Bowling, Lei Yang, Gavin Naylor

Abstract: Traditionally the International Shark Attack File (ISAF) has used physical wound characteristics to identify shark species involved in human shark interactions. However, bite marks often lack significant definition for identification, or species tooth morphology may be too similar to differentiate. Recent analysis has successfully identified species using residual DNA evidence from objects bitten during encounters. However, most human shark interactions involve the person sustaining physical lacerations, and contamination of human DNA is high from the open wound. Using specially designed primers, we amplify shark but not human DNA. These primers are designed to amplify short fragments (300-700bp). These precise segments allow for easier PCR amplification and DNA sequencing when using low-quality template DNA. At New Smyrna Beach (NSB), Florida, we have collaborated with the beach patrol to collect swabs of victim wounds immediately after a bite. We have collected 7 swabs, 3 of which have been identified as Carcharhinus limbatus, and 2 more were likely C. limbatus as determined by our amplification technique. These accurate species identifications have informed tagging priorities at NSB for a current movement ecology study focusing on shark bite prevention in the area. While this work is ongoing and further calibration is needed, initial results suggest that this technique could be widely used in shark bite species identification. Accurate classification can be used to create precise local safety recommendations, augment life history studies, and provide answers to victims.


Title: Contrast Thresholds For Detection of Various Iodine Concentrations in Subtraction CT and Dual Energy CT

Authors: Anahita Heshmat, Sitong Liu, Romin Patel

Abstract: Objective: To estimate the minimum iodine concentrations detectable in subtraction CT and dual energy CT. Methods: Fillable tubes (Diameters: 1 mm, 3 mm, 5mm) were filled with a variety of iodine concentrations (Range: 0 - 20 mg/mL), placed in the center of 28-mm cylindrical rods and surrounded with water. Rods with and without fillable tubes were placed in a 20-cm cylindrical solid-water phantom to simulate administration of iodine in blood vessels. The phantom was scanned with clinical subtraction CT (SCT) and dual energy CT (DECT) head protocols to assess the detection of minimum iodine concentrations in both systems. The SCT and DECT images were evaluated quantitatively with a Matlab script to extract regions of interest (ROIs) of each simulated vessel. ROI measurements were used to calculate the limit of detectability and signal-to-noise ratio of Rose criteria for the assessment of the contrast thresholds. Results: Both detectability methods agreed, and determined the minimum detectable iodine concentration to be 0.4 mg/mL in the 5-mm diameter vessel for SCT. While, the minimum detectable concentration in the 5-mm vessel with DECT was 1 mg/mL. The 3-mm vessel had a minimum detectable concentration of 0.8 mg/mL for SCT and 2 mg/mL for DECT. Lastly, the minimum detectable iodine concentration for the 1-mm vessel was 10 mg/mL for SCT and 10 mg/mL for DECT. Conclusion: In this phantom study, SCT showed the capability to detect lower iodine concentrations compared to DECT.Based on this knowledge radiologists can modify CT protocols to increase contrast enhancement.


Title: Characterizing forest vegetation community structure prior to slough flow restoration treatments in the Apalachicola River floodplain.

Authors: John Tracy

Abstract: The Apalachicola River floodplain in Florida’s panhandle has experienced significant alterations to its hydrologic regime since the 1950s. A combination of anthropogenic and climatic variables have impacted flow of the river and led to increased duration of low flow and drought periods that impact health and survival of swamp tree species. Past research in the floodplain has determined a 37% decrease in swamp species density between 1976 and 2004 and suggests that low bottomland hardwood forest distribution may be expanding into areas that were a swamp forest type prior to alterations in flood regime. Here, we present an analysis of forest vegetation structural composition in an area of floodplain forest that is in the pre-treatment phase of a slough flow restoration project. Analyses of species diversity, richness, frequency, and density are assessed at the overstory, midstory, understory, and ground vegetation levels across an elevation gradient that includes low bottomland and swamp forest types.  We aim to determine how elevation impacts community structure in this project site and whether there are any signals of forest type change at low elevations prior to restoration. These initial analyses set a baseline from which to determine future success of the project in supplying more water to low elevation swamp environments during low-flow periods and improving health and productivity of swamp forest communities.


Title: Evaluating the Impacts of Organic Amendments on Organic Peanut (Arachis hypogea L.) Production in Florida

Authors: Samantha Victores

Abstract: With the negative impacts of conventional agriculture becoming more apparent, organic crop production has emerged as a possible solution to these issues. Organic agriculture avoids the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers and instead opts for composts, manures, crop rotations, intercropping, biological nitrogen fixation, and more to sustain the cropping system. Currently, peanut production in the southeastern United States is a majority conventional, due to concerns in organic production over loss in yields from nutrient source, weeds, pests, and disease. This research project aims to study the feasibility of organic production of peanuts in Florida by testing the five major cultivars against three different amendment combinations to see not only the overall success of the crop, but also which nutrient source and cultivar can provide the best results for producers. The success will be measured based on different facets of agricultural success: yield, soil fertility/ health, weeds, nematodes, and nodule numbers, gaining a well-rounded view of organic production of peanuts and their benefits or drawbacks in Florida. If successful, the results can be used for extension materials to make organic peanuts more accessible for Florida growers. Organic peanut production may be seen as a more realistic feat than what was considered before by Floridian producers, and this can contribute greatly to the expansion of sustainable agriculture in the state.  


Title: Development of a monoclonal antibody to vibriophage as a proxy for Vibrio cholerae detection


Abstract: Cholera is an acute watery diarrheal disease that causes high rates of morbidity and mortality without treatment. Early detection of the etiologic agent Vibrio cholerae is important to mobilize treatment and mitigate outbreaks. Monoclonal antibody (mAb) based rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) enable early detection in settings without laboratory capacity. However, the odds of an RDT testing positive are reduced by nearly 90% when the common lytic bacteriophage ICP1 is present. We hypothesize that adding a monoclonal antibody for the common lytic bacteriophage ICP1 as a proxy for V. cholerae to an RDT will increase diagnostic sensitivity when lytic ICP1 phage are present. In this study, we used an in-silico approach to identify immunogenic ICP1 protein targets that were conserved across disparate time periods and locations (Bangladesh and Africa). Specificity of targets to cholera patients with known ICP1 was determined and expression of final targets for monoclonal production in a murine model was performed. Candidate mAbs (e.g. ICP1ORF122_mAbCL5; ICP1ORF122_mAbCL6) to the head protein (ORF122) demonstrated specificity to ICP1 by ELISA and an ICP1 phage neutralization assay. The limit of detection of the final mAb candidate for ICP1 phage particles spiked into cholera stool matrix was 8 X 105 plaque forming units (PFU) by Western blot analysis. This monoclonal antibody will be incorporated into a RDT prototype for evaluation in a future diagnostic study to test the guiding hypothesis behind this study.


Title: A Hierarchical Assessment of Response to Conversation Cues of Uninterest Conducted via Telehealth

Authors: Catherine Kishel, M.Ed., BCBA; Timothy Vollmer, Ph.D., BCBA

Abstract: Individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) exhibit deficits in social interaction and communication. Kronfli, Vollmer, et al. (in press, p. 1) developed an in-person assessment to evaluate participant response to social cues indicating uninterest in a conversation. In the current study, we sought to extend these procedures to the assessment of conversation skills via telehealth given the ongoing pandemic and so that participants in remote areas could receive services. Participants progressed through a hierarchy of social cues of uninterest ranging in salience from one-word responses to a clear verbal statement of uninterest. Initial results support the utility of using a remote assessment model to screen for sensitivity to specific social cues in conversations and to provide services to participants via telehealth.


Title: Reverse Engineering Barrier: SEM Image Analysis on Covert Gates

Authors: Tasnuva Farheen, Ulbert Botero, Nitin Varshney, Damon L. Woodard, Mark Tehranipoor, Domenic Forte

Abstract: IC camouflaging has been proposed as a promising countermeasure against malicious reverse engineering. Camouflaged gates contain multiple functional device structures, but appear as one single layout under microscope imaging, thereby hiding the real circuit functionality from adversaries. The recent covert gate camouflaging design comes with a significantly reduced overhead cost, allowing numerous camouflaged gates in circuits and thus being resilient against various invasive and semi-invasive attacks. Dummy inputs are used in the design, but SEM imaging analysis was only performed on simplified dummy contact structures in prior work. Whether the e-beam during SEM imaging will charge differently on different contacts and further reveal the different structures or not requires extended research. In this study, we fabricated real and dummy contacts in various structures and performed a systematic SEM imaging analysis to investigate the possible charging and the consequent passive-voltage contrast on contacts. In addition, machine-learning-based pattern recognition was also employed to examine the possibility of differentiating real and dummy contacts. Based on our experimental results, we found that the difference between real and dummy contacts is insignificant in SEM imaging, which effectively prevents adversarial SEM-based reverse engineering.


Title: Transcriptional Profile of Human Pancreatic Acinar Ductal Metaplasia 

Authors: Corey Perkins, Jinmai Jiang, Hesam Hakimjavadi, Julie K. Bray, Alyssa Gosling, Lais da Silva

Abstract: Aberrant acinar to ductal metaplasia (ADM), one of the earliest events involved in exocrine pancreatic cancer development, is typically studied using pancreata from transgenic mouse models. We used primary, human pancreatic acinar cells to evaluate the transcriptional profile during the course of ADM. Following six days of culture on Matrigel, acinar cells underwent morphological and molecular changes reminiscent of ADM. RNA was sequenced from 14 donor’s paired pancreata (day 0 and 6 of culture). Unsupervised hierarchical clustering demonstrated complete separation of the gene expression profile between culture day 0 (acinar phenotype) and day 6 (ductal phenotype). By and large, acinar-specific genes were downregulated in the samples from day 6 ADM while ductal-specific genes were upregulated. Using a gene set enrichment approach, we identified regulons that are involved in regulating ADM including downregulated, acinar-associated transcription factors (including PTF1A, RBPJL, and XBP1) and upregulated, ductal- and progenitor-associated transcription factors (SOX11, SOX4, and YAP1). The expression of pancreatic cancer associated genes significantly correlated with the gene expression/regulon activity observed in normal pancreas undergoing ADM. We reported a detail analysis of the transcriptional profile during human ADM. Our findings confirm that many ADM-related transcription factors and signaling pathways discovered in transgenic mouse models are applicable to human ADM and highlights the relevancy of in vitro models of pancreas plasticity using human tissue.  

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Title: Preparation of BF3-imines complexes and its utilization towards alicyclic amine functionalization

Authors: Subhradeep Dutta, Dillon R. L. Rickertsen, Kamal Bhatt, Daniel Seidel

Abstract: Amine functionalization through nucleophilic addition to imines activated by Lewis acids is an important strategy in synthetic organic chemistry. Although previously less traversed, recent times have seen the application of this strategy to enolizable alicyclic imines. In 2019, our group reported the Lewis acids mediated addition of organometallics to transient cyclic imines. Lewis acids like TMSOTf and BF3∙Et2O were suitable for this transformation. It is quite apparent that the Lewis acid-imine complex is a key intermediate for this transformation or its related type, prior to the attack by the nucleophile. However, precedence for the existence of such an entity is extremely limited and has only been achieved with stable, acyclic/linear imines. Additionally, the application of isolated Lewis acid-imine complexes towards the functionalization of amines is largely unexplored. Here the preparation and isolation of such complexes with alicyclic imines have been realized and their use as building blocks to access alpha-functionalized amines is demonstrated. Furthermore, in comparison to the intermolecular hydride transfer chemistry previously developed by our group, this methodology avoids the need for any sacrificial ketone oxidant (for imine generation) and can be performed under non-cryogenic conditions (for nucleophilic addition).


Title: Engaging Preservice Teachers in the Design of Digital Breakout Games in an Educational Technology Course  

Authors: Lauren Weisberg

Abstract: Educators have recently begun using digital breakout games as an instructional strategy in K-12 and higher ed curricula. However, research has thus far explored outcomes associated with playing these games rather than designing them. This study investigates what happened when 23 preservice teachers in a technology integration course designed digital breakout games for the secondary curriculum. By conducting a basic qualitative analysis, we found that the digital breakout game design process promoted skills, competencies, and perspectives in support of preservice teachers’ future practice such as TPACK development, 21st-century learning, and positive technology integration perceptions and intentions. Evidence and implications for these findings are provided, as well as opportunities for further research.

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Title: Cruise Tourism Markets Investigation:  Price Sensitivity Meter (PSM) and Multiple Linear Regression (MLR) 

Authors: Tianyu Pan, Rachel Fu

Abstract: This study offers three theoretical implications about pricing a cruise product based on consumer psychology. 1,540 valid surveys were collected in the U.S. The data collection of this paper followed the population distribution in the Census Bureau so that the data’s representativeness is ensured. This study extends the existing hospitality pricing literature, especially in the context of cruises. The results provide an extensive understanding of cruise pricing, especially in terms of consumers’ perceptions and behaviors. This study establishes the indifference price point, the indifference percentage, the optimum pricing point, the stress level, and the acceptable price range, indicating that this study provides managerial insights about cruise pricing structure. Finally, considering consumers’ psychological factors when pricing offers a new pricing direction to scholars who are interested in cruise tourism.


Title: One pot synthesis of asymmetric substituted ureido benzene sulfonamides as effective inhibitors of Carbonic Anhydrase enzymes

Authors: Jacob Combs, Gioele Vannozzi, Robert McKenna, Silvia Sgambellone, Emanuela Masini, Fabrizio Carta

Abstract: We report a one-pot procedure for the synthesis of asymmetrical ureido-containing benzenesulfonamides based on in situ generation of the corresponding isocyanatobenezenesulfonamide species, which were trapped with the appropriate amines. A library of new compounds was generated and evaluated in vitro for their inhibition properties against a representative panel of the human (h) metalloenzymes carbonic anhydrases (EC, and the best performing compounds on the isozyme II (i.e., 7c, 9c, 11g, and 12c) were screened for their ability to reduce the intraocular pressure in glaucomatous rabbits. A health disparity exists with this disease as black individuals are 15 times more likely to have visual impairment than white individuals as a result of glaucoma. In addition, the binding modes of 7c, 11f, and 11g were assessed by means of X-ray crystallography.


Title: Quantifying Locomotor Phenotypes in the Horse with Artificial Intelligence 

Authors: Madelyn P. Smythe, Savannah Dewberry, Elizabeth A. Staiger, Kyle Allen, Samantha A. Brooks

Abstract: The domestic horse has unmatched within-species polymorphism in locomotor pattern and provides an advantageous model to study genetic contributors to locomotion. To further understand the heritable components gait quality and risk for injury there is a critical need for tools that can reliably and accurately quantify various locomotor parameters. We utilize an available software package, DeepLabCut (DLC) to apply anatomical landmarks to video recordings of trotting horses. Geometric calculations within a custom gait analysis pipeline produce summary gait parameters from raw output files produced by DLC. Preliminary work investigating 47 sport horses demonstrated the effectiveness of this approach identifying a significant difference in duty cycle and a downward trend in speed both post-exercise (P = 0.0323 and P = 0.0624 respectively). On-going work will apply this new phenotyping approach to investigate the range of motion in horses carrying variants for heritable connective tissue disorders. DNA from pulled tail hair will be genotyped via a PCR-RFLP. Further work will determine the presence of carrier genotypes among sport horses, and investigate the effect of this genotype on locomotor traits. Improved quantification of locomotor phenotypes, and our understanding of the physiology of known connective tissue disorders will aid in management decisions and selective breeding tools to reduce the welfare and economic costs of locomotor problems.

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Title: Janus Crosslinks in Supramolecular Networks

Authors: Swagata Mondal, Jacob J. Lessard, Chhuttan Meena, Gangadhar J. Sanjayan, Brent S. Sumerlin

Abstract: Thermosets composed of cross-linked polymers demonstrate enhanced thermal, solvent, chemical, and dimensional stability as compared to their non-cross-linked counterparts. However, these often-desirable material properties typically come at the expense of reprocessability, recyclability, and healability. One solution to this challenge comes from the construction of polymers that are reversibly cross-linked. We relied on lessons from Nature to present supramolecular polymer networks comprised of cooperative Janus-faced hydrogen bonded cross-links. A triazine-based guanine-cytosine base (GCB) with two complementary faces capable of self-assembly through three hydrogen bonding sites was incorporated into poly(butyl acrylate) to create a reprocessable and recyclable network. Rheological experiments and dynamic mechanical analysis (DMA) were employed to investigate the flow behavior of copolymers with randomly distributed GCB units of varying incorporation. Our studies revealed that the cooperativity of multiple hydrogen bonding faces yields excellent network integrity evidenced by a rubbery plateau that spanned the widest temperature range yet reported for any supramolecular networks.


Title: Preliminary Identification of a Quantitative Trait Locus for Head Shape in the American Quarter Horse

Authors: Barclay Powell, Samantha A. Brooks

Abstract: The action of artificial selection during domestication produced diverse morphological traits in the horse.  Growth and skeletal development phenotypes impact the desirability of horses for diverse disciplines, and these traits are often key characteristics in the development of breeds under a defined standard. In certain breeds, facial morphology represents a unique characteristic valued by breeders to showcase extreme facial traits for flashy or extravagant looks.  Here we utilize body measurements taken at two years of age from 91 American Quarter Horses bred and owned by the University of Florida.  To investigate skull size relative to body size we constructed a quantitative trait using the length from the poll to the nostril, normalized by the height at the withers (top of the shoulder).  DNA was sampled from blood and hair through previously published methods and genotyped at GeneSeek on the Affy Axiom Equine HD 670k. We then conducted a genome wide association study with 311,085 high quality SNPs (poly-high resolution, and a MAF > 0.05).  This preliminary analysis suggests a quantitative trait locus on chromosome 7 (P = 4.721e-07 and Bonferroni = 0.635) influencing facial length. Further investigations will locate additional loci relevant to skull morphology and aim to create models to predict these phenotypes in the horse.