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Abstract and Biographies

The Effects of Natural Repellents on Drosophila  

Gerard C. Heard

Principal Investigator(s): Rob Kulathinal, Ph.D., Philip Baldassari

Abstract: Drosophila melanogaster, or fruit flies, are very helpful in the scientific community. Drosophila are favored by researchers, as they are very easy to culture in a lab and offer a simple genome, which allows researchers to easily modify for experiments. Outside of the scientific community, Drosophila are considered pests. In households, they consume and lay their eggs in fruits or vegetables; this causes produce to ferment quickly. If someone looks for a quick solution to remove Drosophila from their home, they would most likely turn to Google. A quick Google search suggests using household items, such as peppermint or black pepper to repel the Drosophila. Our lab used Drosophila, with white eyes (called White Eye 118). Eight of these flies were placed into two styles of arenas: An arena that covers all the Drosophila in a repellent (8 covered)  and one that covers only two males and two females in a repellent (4 covered, 4 unaffected). Two control groups were also made, to analyze average Drosophila behaviors. A fine mint powder was made from a crushed Lifesaver Pep-O-Mint (which contains a “natural flavor” of Peppermint Oil, according to the FDA); Dried black pepper seasoning was also crushed into a fine powder. The mint arenas were analyzed for movements such as walking or chasing behaviors via JAABA (Janelia Automatic Animal Behavior Annotator). The videos were also observed, for any other behaviors that JAABA is unable to detect However, due to technical difficulties in the lab, the methodology had to be altered for the pepper powder. Instead of obtaining both quantitative and qualitative results, I was only able to obtain qualitative results.

Developing a Phenotypic Assay: The effect of Acetaminophen on Drosophila behavior

Amal Oubbari

Principal Investigator(s): Rob Kulathinal, Ph.D.

Abstract: Drosophila melanogaster are a model organism used to study genetics. The method most commonly used to experiment on Drosophila is through phenotypic assays which measure a phenotypic trait. This experiment used a phenotypic assay to measure Drosophila behavior when exposed to Acetaminophen. The phenotypic assay developed for this project was designed by me, my labmates, and the Kulational lab  for high school students to be able to follow. Acetaminophen was applied to the experimental groups and 15 minute videos were taken of the control and experimental groups. FlyTracker was used to calibrate the videos. Then, JAABA was used to predict the behaviors of the flies throughout all the videos. JAABAPlots was used to create charts and analyze the data. The results showed that flies in the experimental group did not have increased behaviors compared to the control group. This phenotypic assay was a success in that high school students were able to follow it to perform an experiment.

Drosophila Melanogaster: Creating an Assay for a High School Experiment

Kameron Moore

Principal Investigator(s): Rob Kulathinal, Ph.D., Philip Baldassari

Abstract: Drosophila Melanogaster are fruit flies studied in over 1,800 labs across the world. They are a model organism, which means they are easily cultured in the lab and offer a compact genome which can be manipulated to fit the needs of any experiment. However research done on the high school level is extremely lacking. This research was done to create a way for the common high school class to conduct an experiment on Drosophila behavior and how different substances can influence it. A document was created, adapted from a college level experiment, with a full step-by-step process on how a high school class can execute the experiment. It was then tested by following that process and seeing if it would work. We found success in recreating the experiment for high schoolers.

Chatbots in Education: Exploring Artificial Intelligence in the Classroom 

Sirnira Davis-Burke

Principal Investigator(s): Stephen MacNeil, Ph.D.

Abstract: The integration of chatbots in educational settings has sparked a growing debate regarding their role in modern-day teaching

Question: “Should students be taught to use chatbots?” This research aimed to examine the potential benefits and ethical concerns associated with incorporating chatbot technology into the learning process. Proponents: chatbots can enhance student engagement, be used as a learning tool, and promote digital literacy. The importance of a balanced educational approach to including ChatGPT must be incorporated into educational curricula. By doing so, we contribute to the ongoing dialogue on the role of technology in modern education and the ethical considerations that must accompany its adoption. In this experiment, interviews from various individuals who have worked amongst and with young people discuss their experiences, points of views, and perspectives. Alongside the interviews, I have done extensive research on scholarly websites. Based on all of the evidence gathered, I have come up with a method I believe will appropriately integrate ChatGPT into school learning.


A Study of Diversity in Computing Explanations

Maanasa Gogula

Principal Investigator(s): Stephen MacNeil, Ph.D.

Abstract: In the context of computing education, an explanation refers to the process of clarifying and elucidating concepts, principles, algorithms, code, or any other aspect related to computer science and technology. By measuring the distance between two points or two definitions in the multi-dimensional vector space of a word embedding, it is possible to define how semantically diverse two explanations are. The lab explored this definition using ChatGpt to generate the most diverse explanations for different lines of code. Using this definition of diversity, it is possible to calculate the extent to which explanations generated by Large Language Models can be used in computing classrooms and can be compared to the gold standard of a teacher.

Let’s Clamprehend The Clamity

Ayana Ward

Principal Investigator(s): Erik Cordes, Ph.D., Emily Cowell

Abstract: In the deep sea, there is insufficient light for photosynthesis and so organisms, such as Vesicomyid clams, use chemosynthesis. Chemosynthesis is the process by which food is made using chemicals as an energy source instead of light and forms the basis of the food web at methane seep sites. Vesicomyid clams play a crucial role in recycling methane from seeps, keeping it out of the atmosphere where it would act as a potent greenhouse gas, and instead retaining it in the community. An earthquake occurred between 2017 & 2018 at Mound 12, a methane seep site off the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, allowing for comparisons regarding seepage change and clam movement. A goal of the study was to find out if the clams can adapt to seepage changes within the timescale of one year. To explore this, clam track percentage cover from seafloor photo surveys was categorized, and ArcGIS and Excel were utilized to create graphs and portray patterns. The data suggests that seepage has now moved away from the clams. Subsequently, large clam movement was generated in search of new seepage locations.