Grants and Research Office
University of Wisconsin-Superior
Belknap and Catlin
P.O. Box 2000
Superior, WI 54880
Grants and Research Office
2010 Natural Science Symposium
2010: 12th Annual Symposium
Amy Kemen and Thomas Johnson
Advisor, Dr. Ralph Seelke
ABSTRACT: Understanding the evolutionary potential of an organism is important for understanding the capabilities and limitations of evolution in a population. The evolutionary potential of an Escherichia coli double mutant, RS202, was examined in a mutator (mutH471::kan) background. RS202 has two mutations on the trpA gene. One mutation, E49V, completely inactivates the gene, producing E. coli incapable of synthesizing tryptophan.
The other mutation, D60N, lowers, but does not eliminate, trpA gene function. RS202 populations would be expected to follow a sequential path to becoming Trp+, reverting first at position 49 and then at position 60 to become first partially and then fully Trp+. However, this pathway has only been observed once. We sought to determine if altered environmental conditions could enhance the evolutionary potential of RS202. This was done by passaging RS202 populations between low and high-tryptophan media and screening for evolutionary events after each cycle.
We also increased mutational rates by treating these cultures with the mutagen methyl methane sulfonate. Our results indicate that altering the environment in this manner did not increase the ability of RS202 populations to evolve the ability to make tryptophan. We also determined the DNA sequence of the trpA gene from the strain that had evolved to become weakly Trp+. Comparison of DNA sequences of the evolvant to the ancestral RS202 showed an expected reversion at position 49 from valine to glutamic acid in the weakly Trp+ evolvant.
Advisot, Dr. Ralph Seelke
ABSTRACT: Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) was first observed at Colorado State University in 1967 where captive mule deer were observed showing unusual symptoms. Those symptoms included drooling, extreme thirst, staggering, drooping ears, unusually wide stance, rough coats, lost interest in feeding, and being very lethargic.
CWD was later found to be caused by a prion that essentially would produce spongy brain tissue in these deer. Other known diseases caused by prions include scrapie in sheep, mad cow disease, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans. Not just mule deer were found to be affected by CWD; other cervids including elk, white tail deer, and moose can get the disease. CWD is not a curable or treatable disease and will eventually kill infected individuals. CWD prions can be transmitted to the environment or other individuals through the infected animal's saliva, feces, urine, and through decomposing corpses. The prions can last in the environment for up to two years, increasing the chance of their infecting healthy animals.
Since CWD was found in 1967 it has spread to 18 US states and 2 Canadian providences with the latest state testing positive for a CWD infection being Missouri in March of 2010. Managing of CWD is difficult because incubation periods can last 13-17 months to 3-5 years, and no clinical signs of being infected are shown in the early stages of the disease. Many states in a response to CWD have made regulations to ban the baiting and feeding of deer.
Advisor, Dr. Michael Waxman
ABSTRACT: This presentation gives detailed analysis of the native biodiesels that have been prepared at the UW-Superior chemistry laboratories over the past year. Details will be discussed about why they were chosen for analysis and their specific properties such as: onset of freezing, end of melting, and gross heat of combustion.
The types of instrumentation used to do the analysis of the biodiesel will be discussed in detail, as well as how to interpret the results of the performed analysis. Techniques used to improve the cold flow properties of the biodiesel samples will also be discussed. The presentation will conclude with a short description on the newest instrument purchased for the biodiesel research project: the Cloud Point/Freezing Point Analyzer.
Advisor, Dr. James Lane
ABSTRACT: Biodiesel is one of the promising alternative fuels for petroleum. The most common way to synthesize biodiesel (Fatty Acid Methyl Ester, FAME) is from vegetable oil with base catalyst. However, for reasons that will be discussed, this method is not compatible with certain oil feed stocks, such as waste cooking oil, which contain a high percentage of free fatty acid (FFA). In this presentation, the advantages and disadvantages of the use of Lipase as a catalyst for FAME synthesis from acid oil will be discussed.
Experiments were performed to seek the best condition for FAME synthesis from Soybean oil and oleic acid (acid oil) using lipase catalyst with methyl acetate and methanol. The reaction progress was followed by HPLC. The results indicate that methanol reacts with FFA first and adding methanol near completion of reaction could increase final FAME yield to over 90%. A summary of these results will be presented as well.
Advisors, Ralph Seelke and Dr. James Lane
ABSTRACT: Acinetobacter sp. HO1-N has been reported to be able to split long chain hydrocarbons into ten carbon decandedoic acids (sebacic acid) and shorter chain hydrocarbon. With catalytic deoxygenation of this fatty acid, biofuels of lower melting point can be produced. We tried to develop growth and assay conditions for the production and detection of sebacic acid. We were able to demonstrate the oxidation of short chain alcohol (ethanol), however oxidation of hexadecanol was barely detected.
These oxidation reactions were catalyzed by alcohol dehydrogenase and used NAD+ as the cofactor. The cells grow in hexadecanol solution so although hexadecanol dehydrogenase activity was not detected, we tried to develop HPLC condition to detect sebacic acid. The sebacic acid was not detected most of the time. We conclude that assay conditions for hexadecanol dehydrogenase activity found in literature will not work and better HPLC or GC conditions needs to be developed to detect sebacic acid.
Advisor, Dr. Kurt Schmude
ABSTRACT: During the summer of 2009, I had an internship at the Brule River Fish Hatchery in Brule, WI. Daily duties included feeding the trout and cleaning out the screens that separate the runways and ponds. Mortality counts were taken each day after feeding and the trout were examined to determine how they may have died. I also took length and weight measurements from three species of trout (St. Croix brook trout, brown trout, and Erwin rainbow trout) and compared these measurements to a fish management chart from the book Fish Hatchery Management (USFWS).
These measurements are used to determine how many fish occur per pound to make transporting and stocking easier. Total numbers of fish can be estimated by weight instead of individually counting thousands of fish. Measurements from 6/30/2009 showed the average length of brook trout at 32 fish/lb was 4.15 inches compared to an average of 4.26 inches in the fish management chart. Brown trout at 35 fish/lb averaged 4.00 inches in length while the fish management chart showed an average length of 4.15. Rainbow trout at 16.5 fish/lb averaged 5.12 inches compared to the management chart average of 5.33 inches. Measurements from 7/30/2009 showed fish length averages to be nearly identical (brook 14.2 fish/lb 5.66 - 5.59; brown 20.1 fish/lb 4.82 - 4.92; rainbow 11.3 fish/lb 6.06 - 6.03).
The results show that the fish management chart can be used to estimate the total number of fish/lb from the length of individual trout.
Advisor, Dr. Mary Balcer
ABSTRACT: An environmentally orientated work program was used to engage at risk youth and teach them workplace skills. The students took initiative in creating and working on projects throughout the summer. The students grew a garden, made a nature trail and were given responsibilities for the daily care and management of a herd of twenty-eight horses.
By the end of the summer the students learned how to work as a team and creatively use the resources around them. The students also gained knowledge, appreciation and concern for their local environment. By participating in this internship not only did I gain experience working with and leading a group of at risk students ,but I also learned how to research and teach about a unique local environment.
David Braun and Kim Slanga
Advisor, Dr. William Bajjali
ABSTRACT: The residents of Superior have a vested interest in the quality of water in their community, of which Newton Creek is centrally located. The creek headwaters start at the wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) at the Murphy Oil refinery and discharges at Hog Island Inlet, a part of Lake Superior. UWS has been monitoring the creek weekly since February of 2005 for electrical conductivity (EC), dissolved oxygen (DO), temperature (T), and pH. The EC and T showed higher readings at the first site then the other four sites due to proximity of the site near Murphy Oil, which is warmer. The pH of the stream fluctuated heavily and ranged from slightly acidic to highly alkaline. DO fluctuated throughout the year and was generally lower at the first site than other sites, possibly because the water became more aerated as it flows downstream.
A complete chemical analysis with major cations, anions, trace elements, and nutrients were collected to verify the origin of contamination at the creek. The results revealed two important factors; the WWTP impacts the quality of water in Newton Creek, and the effluent of the creek affects the quality of water in Hog Island Inlet. A hydro-chemical model showed the chemistry of water in Hog Island to be a mixture, 90% from Lake Superior and 10 % from Newton Creek.
Sacha Mkheidze Advisor
Advosor, Dr. William Bajjali
ABSTRACT: In recent years, GIS has cemented its role in the world of environmental science. Scientists are using it for various purposes ranging from monitoring populations of fauna throughout the world to land use activates. One of the most recent additions to ArcGIS has been the ability to create watersheds for specific areas. In the past people had to undertake the long and tedious task of watershed delineation by hand using a 1:24,000 topographic map, but that is no longer the case. In recent years, a Hydrology tool has been developed to make this task simple and much more accurate. This hydrology tool was adopted in this study to delineate a watershed for Newton Creek in Superior, Wisconsin.
The Newton Creek watershed did not exist as the creek was very small and was considered by governmental institutions such as DNR to be a ditch rather than a stream. In this research we utilized a digital elevation model (DEM), which was obtained from the USGS. The DEM was processed through several stages in order to obtain the resultant watershed. This research presents the methodological steps that were used to create the interactive watershed delineation. The Newton Creek watershed was delineated quickly and accurately in order to be used to create the land use/land cover map that was important for studying the quality of water within the watershed.
Jan O'Malley and Allan Siers
Advosor, Dr. William Bajjali
ABSTRACT: This study focuses on creating, identifying, and classifying impervious land cover/land use features covering the ground surface of Newton Creek watershed. Specifically, features such as roads, parks, and buildings which prevent precipitation from infiltrating impervious layers down gradient. Land cover features were created by digitizing a high resolution aerial photograph (0.5 meters) registered in UTM Zone 15. The digitized features within the watershed were integrated into a geodatabase system which is the common data storage and management framework for ArcGIS to create a central data repository for spatial data storage, management, and analysis.
Sound land use practices within the Newton Creek watershed are a result of considering presettlement landscape, transportation infrastructure, commercial, industrial areas (Murphy Oil), natural areas, and today's land use patterns. All these categories affect the water quality and quantity. Surface water and its quantity and quality within any given watershed are always impacted by various types of land cover / land use practices. The running water in the Newton Creek watershed is no exception. Study results demonstrated that the total watershed area of Newton Creek is 3.94 km2, and 0.359 km2 for the total area of the impervious layers within the watershed. Surface runoff was estimated to be 129,240 m3 per year. The calculation utilized empirical equation (Q = C I A), where the Q is the surface runoff, C is a surface runoff coefficient, I intensity of rain, and A is the area.
Jeremy Bates and Jillian Holm
Advisors, Mr. Mathew TenEyck and Dr. Kurt Schmude
ABSTRACT: Newton Creek in Superior, WI is currently monitored by the Wisconsin DNR and the University of Wisconsin-Superior. Benthic invertebrate samples from Newton Creek have been missing organisms which are indigenous to our local freshwater ecosystems. Common benthic invertebrates found in our local freshwater ecosystems are: Oligochaeta (worms), Chironomus sp. (midge larva), and Hyalella azteca (scud). Each one of these organisms possesses a different level of sensitivity to varied concentrations of toxic substances. Recent sediment samples taken from Newton Creek had specimens of Chironomus sp. present, but specimens of Hyalella were scarce or not present (K. Schmude, pers. comm.). Hyalella azteca is a good indicator of contaminant exposure due to the level of sensitivity of this species to toxins (M. TenEyck, pers. comm.).
This study was conducted to determine if sediment from Newton Creek has a toxic effect on these organisms. Sediment toxicity tests were performed on each organism (10-day for Chironomus dilutus and 28-day H. azteca) exposed to sediment collected from five different sites in Newton Creek. Sediment was also collected from the Brule River as a control treatment, and silica sand was used as a performance control. The null hypothesis was: there will be no significant difference in survival of C. dilutus or H. azteca between the control sample and the test sample. A reduced survivability of organisms was determined in upstream sediment samples from Newton Creek, therefore we rejected the null hypothesis.
Ross Dudzik and Samantha Licht
Advisor, Dr. William Bajjali
ABSTRACT: Currently information on registered sex offenders in the state of Wisconsin can only be found on a city to city basis. This poses a problem for social scientists who wish to analyze statewide sex offender trends. In order to gain insight into sex offender residences in the state of Wisconsin, it is valuable to display data by county. Using GIS technology, it is possible to integrate each city's sex offender data into the county that they reside in. The result is a map that facilitates the examination of the trends of registered sex offender residences across the state. After looking at this bigger picture, it is useful to perform a spatial analysis of the residential locations of sex offenders in Superior, WI for law enforcement and public safety purposes. The buffer zones created with GIS provide a clear visual of the proximity of sex offender residences and schools, parks, churches, bars, and day cares. The result of this project is a color-coded map that showcases the spatial locations of sex offenders in our community for public education and further analysis.
Advisor, Dr. Kurt Schmude
ABSTRACT: Animal shelters are viewed as sad places where unwanted animals are brought. Adoption is often the only way out of a shelter for a dog. However, it is the responsibility of the shelter to ensure that the animal is adoptable before it goes to a permanent home. A dog's behavior is a determining factor for adoption. At the Animal Rescue Federation of Superior, WI, every effort is made to overcome behavior problems in dogs. The environment in a shelter is not ideal for a dog. The small facilities, strange smells, and loud noises can easily trigger stress in a dog. However, with assessment, specific behavior problems can be identified and corrected to ensure the dogs adoptability. Body language is a good way of identifying behavior problems in dogs. Different training methods are used for different behavior issues.
Once the dog becomes accustomed to the daily routine and training in the shelter, an improvement in behavior is usually seen. Another issue with shelter dogs is their health. Some of the dogs that arrive at the shelter need medical attention and must be completely recovered before being adopted. Besides physical injury, some dogs may have diseases that can spread to other dogs or people. To ensure the health and safety of both animals and people at the shelter, health and safety requirements are expected and enforced.
Advisor, Dr. Ralph Seelke
ABSTRACT: The medical field of stem cell transplantation has provided us with better ways of helping people who have medical conditions that previous treatments could not sustain them as healthy individuals and to improve the quality of life for those afflicted with disease. I examined one particular type of treatment that reduces the chances of relapse and reduces the recovery time of patients who have certain types of diseases. Autologous stem cell transplantation (ASCT) provides patients with these benefits.
This type of stem cell transplantation removes bone marrow from a patient who will undergo chemotherapy which may include radiotherapy depending on the type of cancerous on non-cancerous disease. This process is called conditioning. The conditioning will destroy the normal cells of the hematopoietic system as well as the afflicted cells. The bone marrow contains stem cells and they are filtered from the marrow. These stem cells are collected and are re-introduced into the patient's body after the treatment has been completed. Once the stem cells are in the body they begin to help the hematopoietic system to regenerate cells destroyed by the treatment. This transplantation provides new possibilities that can help to cure a variety of afflictions and reduce the dependence on high doses of medication to suppress diseases.
Advisor, Dr. William Bajjali
ABSTRACT: Duluth is bisected by 43 streams; many flowing through urban development, from higher elevation to St. Louis River and Lake Superior confluence in a general north/south direction. These water bodies have been given a "designation" by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency that reflects their use. Failure to facilitate healthy biological function leads to"impairment," mandating a water quality improvement plan. Several Duluth streams have received this designation because of low dissolved oxygen levels, sediment load binding heavy metals, high temperature and dissolved salts. High runoff over impervious surface after precipitation and snowmelt flows along roadways, into stormwater sewers that empty directly into streams. This high flow condition has greater potential effect on stream water quality as it carries imparing levels of contaminant concentrations.
This research used GIS technique to study the surface water flow direction, delineation of the watershed, mapping sample site locations on roads and streams using a handheld GPS device and calculating various conversions of the measured data within the database. Chester and Tischer Creeks were studied to test the effect of winter road salt application and its effect on the Conductivity (EC) of stream water. Roadflow salt concentration varied from 1,020 to 5,440 mg/l. The stream water salinity also increased from head to mouth in both Tischer and Chester, 40% and 37 % respectively.
Michelle Gutsch and Marian Ashpurdy
Dr. Jeffrey Schuldt
ABSTRACT: Multiple morphotypes of lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush) exist in Lake Superior. Traditionally these morphotypes have been distinguished strictly by appearance. The purpose of this study is to develop a tool to distinguish between lean and siscowet morphotypes. A whole body morphometric analysis was used to quantify variations in body shape based on 32 truss elements (distances between specific landmarks on fish). Truss elements were measured from digital images of 199 lake trout collected by gill net during a Minnesota DNR survey. Linear regression was used to standardize each truss element for fish size. We used a stepwise discriminant function analysis to determine important distinguishing variables between lean and siscowet lake trout. Seven truss elements that differentiated groups were identified during the stepwise procedure. A discriminant function including these truss elements had a cross validated error rate of 16%. Our results demonstrate that these morphotypes can be quantitatively distinguished with high accuracy using image analysis and discriminant function analysis.
Advisor, Dr. Jeffrey Schuldt
ABSTRACT: WisDOT is responsible for planning, building and maintaining Wisconsin's network of state highways and Interstate highway system, and supports air, rail, water, bicycle and pedestrian travel. Often times in the event of constructing roadways and paths, wetlands are impacted. As of 1987 any time wetland impacts are unavoidable, the impacted acreage must be mitigated. Mitigation is restoring or rectifying previously converted wetland back to a natural state. In 1946 United States Highway 53 was constructed through a wetland adjacent to 2 Mile Lake south of Gordon WI. In 1995 the Wisconsin DNR and WisDOT agreed to remove the roadway from the wetland. WisDOT will receive wetland credits for the restoration, which can then be used for impacted acreage in the future.
In determining restoration credit the DOT would receive, I conducted a wetland delineation to determine the acreage of wetlands that will be restored by moving the road be and the acreage of impact for the new road. For an area to be a considered wetland, it must meet 3 criteria. It must have hydric soil indicators, a hydrophytic plant community, and hydrology indicators. The 3 criteria are set and regulated by the Army Corps of Engineers. Once the wetland boundary was delineated, I captured it using a differential GPS. The data was then given to the project engineer who then can determine the exact acreage of impacts and restoration credit.
Advisor, Dr. Kurt Schmude
ABSTRACT: In the summer of 2009, I participated as an intern at the Brule River Fish Hatchery in northern Wisconsin, a rearing station located on the Little Brule River. In 2009, personnel housed nearly 400,000 fish that consisted of rainbow, brook, and brown trout. I participated in normal activities such as daily feeding, cleaning, and maintenance. Other activities included interacting with visitors, treating raceways that held fish that were infected with a gill fungus, and installing a device to prevent wild fish from entering the hatchery. I participated in a study that calculated the number of fish per pound and average length of the fish. These data were compared to the fish management guidelines used for finding the amount of food the fish should be fed.
The fish were found to be heavy for their size in June, but approached their expected size in August. I participated and witnessed part of a survey of the fish in Lake Superior that the crew conducted on a ship named the Hack Noyes. I assisted the fish biology crew near the Hatchery with clearing brush, establishing stream stations, and surveying fish using electrofishing equipment. These tasks were done to make streams more accessible to fishermen and to gain an overview of the fish population in the area managed by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
Advisor, Dr. Ralph Seelke
Jesa Hall and Eta Obeya
ABSTRACT: Evolution through multiple independent events is thought to be a difficult process. However, previous work in our lab had shown that Escherichia coli could evolve resistance to three different antibiotics, provided that populations were exposed to sublethal doses of the antibiotics during the entire selection process. The objective of this project was to determine if significant levels of resistance could be achieved through serial transfer into increasingly higher levels of antibiotics. Once this was achieved, the levels of antibiotic resistance would then be determined for each antibiotic, and the effects of this resistance on fitness determined.
After only nine rounds of serial transfer, an E. coli strain (A30-9) was obtained that was resistant to a mixture containing ampicillin, kanamycin, and nalidixic acid, each at a concentration of 10 µg/ml. A30-9 was also resistant to 20 µg/ml ampicillin, kanamycin, and nalidixic acid, when these antibiotics were tested individually. The ancestral E. coli strain was significantly more sensitive to these antibiotics, whether singly or in combination. However, this resistance came at a severe fitness cost; A30-9 is now unable to grow at 42oC, and its growth rate in liquid culture was only 75% of that of the ancestral strain. This stands in contrast with our previous results, although it is consistent with other reports that antibiotic resistance comes at the expense of overall fitness in an environment free of antibiotics.
Advisor, Dr. Ralph Seelke
ABSTRACT: Research throughout the past few decades has indicated that the type of dietary fat consumed greatly impacts an individual's health. Studies have shown that the consumption of trans-isomer fatty acids can be associated with health concerns such as coronary heart disease, Type II diabetes, and certain types of cancer. Trans fats are found primarily in processed foods that require a longer shelf life. They are formed as a byproduct of the hydrogenation of vegetable oils. Until recently, medical experts recommended margarine and spreads containing partially hydrogenated oils as butter substitutes.
The American Heart Association reversed its decision in 2003 when they encouraged the consumption of mono and polyunsaturated fats and discouraged trans fat intake. Since then, the Federal Drug Administration has been working to decrease the amount of trans fat found in commercial food items. In the US and Europe some legislation has been passed regarding nutritional labeling and trans fat content, but current labeling procedures are still problematic. The FDA must determine if some amount of trans fats are safe for daily consumption. Further regulation for determining the trans fat content in foods and nutritional labeling must also be established in order to give consumers more control in deciding the types of dietary fats they take in.
Advisor, Dr. Jeffrey Schuldt
ABSTRACT: During a two week internship at Cross Country Vet Clinic in Clark, SD I have gained hands on experience with large and small animals. Learned and helped with the process of; bull testing, animal castrations, spays and neuters, calf cast application/ removal, and record keeping. I have seen a cow that suffered from Schistosomus Reflexus Syndrome. I have also increased my contact list of veterinarians that I can contact if I have any questions about the profession. Overall it was a nice experience and I look forward to more field experience as I continue my education.
Advisor, Dr. Mary Balcer
ABSTRACT: This internship at the University of Wisconsin-Superior's Lake Superior Research Institute (LSRI) was focused on learning how an aquatic biologist conducts research. I learned to use proper laboratory techniques that followed standard operating procedures. I participated in culturing aquatic organisms, set up and maintained ballast water treatment systems, and helped conduct bench scale and whole effluent toxicity testing. I was also involved in field work collecting water, plankton, and sediment samples. This experience provided me with the basic scientific background to develop into an aquatic biologist.
Dr. Edward Burkett
ABSTRACT: Montastrea annularis is a massive boulder type scleractinian (stony) coral, which is ubiquitous on Caribbean reefs and has been the most important reef building coral in the region since the last ice age. This study tracks the growth of individual colonies of M. annularis in the Caye Caulker Marine Reserve (CCMR), Caye Caulker, Belize, over a period of four years from 2006-2009. The purpose of the project is to investigate the growth dynamics of the most abundant coral in the CCMR at a fine scale and compare this data with previous broad scale studies of scleractinian coral in the CCMR. Data was gathered through the sampling of 10 permanent 50 meter transects established in the reserve in 2002 by the Caribbean Coral Reef Studies program.
Each transect consists of 26, 0.5m2 quadrants photographed each year from 2006-2009 using SCUBA equipment and high resolution digital cameras. Quad photographs were analyzed to determine the surface area of over 400 individual M. annularis colonies for each of the four years. The resulting numerical data was transformed to calculate the instantaneous relative growth rate of colonies for each year. Multi-linear regression indicated no significant relationships between growth rate and year, transect, or any of several other environmental factors recorded.
Frequency analysis and ANOVA indicated significant size related differences in growth and mortality dynamics, which average out to indicate minimal change in overall annual coral bottom coverage. These findings support previous findings while also providing evidence that the patch reef ecosystem is more dynamic than previously indicated.
Copyright © The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System
University of Wisconsin-Superior is an equal opportunity educator and employer