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Abstract and Biographies

Investigating Surface Chemistry Effects on Cuprous Oxide Nanoparticle Catalyzed Light Driven Sonogashira Coupling

Taleen Hamad

Principal Investigator(s): Yugang Sun, Ph.D. and Shea Stewart

Abstract: Sonogashira coupling reactions occur when an aryl halide bonds with terminal alkyne to form a carbon – carbon bond. In our research, we performed sonogashira coupling reactions between phenylacetylene and iodobenzene on modified copper oxide surfaces to test and attempt to improve the efficiency of the reaction. We use copper oxide cubes as the surface for the coupling reaction, avoiding palladium which is expensive and toxic, but the common surface used for the reaction. Copper oxide cubes are heterogeneous catalysts that are easy to recycle and remove from the mixture. We created the copper oxide cubes using two different synthesis reactions, one involving heat and dropwise addition of a reactant, and the other lacking thus. The cubes were run through UV-VIS testing, to ensure the presence of a phenylacetylene surface complex. We then performed the sonogashira coupling reactions. The prep A cubes (no heating) were used in two batches. One set of reactions was performed on the cubes normally, while another set was performed on the cubes after they were mixed with sodium oleate. The comparison between these two reactions showed that  the sonogashira coupling reactions were dependent on the appearance of sodium oleate in the mixture. The prep B cubes (with heating and dropwise addition of product) were also used in two batches. One batch of cubes were tested in an argon atmosphere, while the other was tested in a CO2 atmosphere. The results of these experiments show that the coupling reaction may take place only in the argon atmosphere, and not in the CO2 atmosphere.

Deep-sea Seep Fauna of Costa Rica: Effects of Biogenic Habitat Complexity

Dia Shaji

Principal Investigator(s): Erik Cordes, Ph.D., Melissa Betters, Emily Cowell and Ryan Gasbarro, MSc.

Abstract: Methane seeps are areas where methane gas leaks from the sediment into the ocean above it. Biogenic habitats (mussels and tubeworms) were collected along with their associated organisms using quantitative sampling from Pacific Costa Rican seeps using Alvin, a deep-sea research submersible. Tubeworm bushes seem to host more diverse organisms and appear to be a potential brooding habitat, therefore these are the areas that need to be highly protected. I have also attached the pdf version of my poster.

Quantifying Squirrel Activity in Camera Traps in Philadelphia: Observation and Analysis

Namira Nera

Principal Investigator(s): Jocelyn Behm, Ph.D. and Payton Phillips

Abstract: Habitat fragmentation has become a growing issue in today’s society. The research question established is whether the number of squirrels and the time of day that they’re active vary between urban and rural parks. Utilizing a camera trap database, WildLife Insights, that has recorded thousands of images collected by the iEcoLab, which includes various species in the urban and rural parks of Philadelphia. In addition, by identifying the species and using data to analyze the significance, using graphs and a Mann-Whitney U-test. It was found that more squirrels are visible in urban populations, and a higher activity time, supporting the initial hypothesis. Future experiments will look at having a larger sample size for an improved statistical difference, and overall a better, more reliable report.

Biocomplexity and Biodiversity of Cold-water Coral Reefs Offshore of the Southeast USA

Jacob Serrano

Principal Investigator(s): Erik Cordes, Ph.D., Melissa Betters, Emily Cowell and Ryan Gasbarro, MSc.

Abstract: Cold-water corals are found throughout the world’s oceans. Most of these reefs are made up of the species Lophelia pertusa. Taking samples from locations along the US Atlantic Margin we tested  the relationship between the biocomplexity and biodiversity of L. pertusa habitats. Our findings from the physical samples gathered showed little to no significant relationships, likely due to a lack of representative samples. Indeed, with more samples from video imagery we found that biocomplexity and biodiversity are positively correlated. Our findings suggest that with more research we will be able to accurately think of ways to preserve these habitats as the growing issue of climate change already threatens surface corals. 

Organic Chemistry Teaching Materials: Software Development of Reaction Pathway Animations

Collins Chokki

Principal Investigator(s): Steven Fleming, Ph.D.

Abstract: Previous studies have drawn attention to the way in which chemistry is taught currently at the secondary and post-secondary levels. Current methods of teaching chemistry, including textbook instruction and lectures, have been the standard for the course in undergraduate settings everywhere for quite some time. Chemical Education is a field that would benefit from additional teaching resources. Specifically, more adequate 3D depictions can further learning for current students by providing detailed and clear visualizations. Due to modern society’s focus on digital methods of learning, previous methods of learning may no longer be as accessible to ensure that every student excels.1 Perceptual ability is a key component of organic chemistry learning and comprehension that should be prioritized. Studies have found proper visualization experiences have allowed students to generate a meaningful and long-lasting understanding of classroom content. Therefore, it is of significant value to produce new teaching material, such as the website webORA and it’s accompanying app iORA. webORA is a free, online tool developed recently to provide students with highly interactive and easy-to-use animation software. This investigation will explore the effectiveness of such animation software in classrooms by analyzing past data on previous efforts to implement web-based tools in classrooms.

Study of Drosophila in an High School Environment, Percentage of Male Chasing

Mokorede Gbadamosi

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

Abstract: Drosophila, an excellent module to understand genetics. This research’s main focus is to showcase how to perform high powerful experiments with Drosophila ethomics in a high school setting. So as to be used as a teaching tool to further inspire students into STEM. Taking this idea into account, I experimented into finding the percentage of male chases in a Drosophila arena. 

Interactions Between Ants and Spotted Lanternflies

Harmoni Jones

Principal Investigator(s): Sebastiano De Bona, Ph.D. and Matt Helmus, Ph.D.

Abstract: Identifying genetic connections to the evolution of reproductive isolation and speciation has long been an overarching goal of evolutionary biology. Current studies display that populations of Drosophila melanogaster from Zimbabwe yield females who would not mate with D. melanogaster males from cosmopolitan populations. These findings demonstrate a possible case of incipient speciation in select African Drosophila populations. This study aims to obtain a deeper understanding of the genetic processes that dictate mating behaviors in Drosophila. Phase 1 of the project consists of identifying clusters in Drosophila populations through a PCA plot. These clusters could suggest a differentiation of genes between populations that affects mating. The results show expected geographical divides in clusters of flies from the U.S. and France with fly clusters in African populations. In addition, the plots displayed clustering in flies without geographical barriers, indicating a possible case of sympatric speciation in it’s incipient stages. In Phase 2, a pairwise per site FST analysis will be used to identify the most highly differentiated genes between populations, or “candidate genes.” Additional analysis is required to identify candidate genes and test their impact on Drosophila mating behavior. We hypothesize that the most differentiated gene between the populations will be the fruitless genes. Phase 3 entails programming Flytracker and JAABA to interpret and track fly behavior in response to certain candidate genes being knocked down.

Principal Investigators and Student Researcher Biographies

Investigating Surface Chemistry Effects on Cuprous Oxide Nanoparticle Catalyzed Light Driven Sonogashira Coupling

Yugang Sun, Ph.D. is a Professor in the Department of Chemistry who received their B.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Science and Technology of China. He had completed postdoctoral research at the University of Washington and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His research focuses include nanomaterial synthesis, nanofabrication, nanophotonics, and photocatalysis. Most recent publication is “In Situ Synchrotron X-ray Characterization Shining Light on the Nucleation and Growth Kinetics of Colloidal Nanoparticles”.

Taleen Hamad is a rising senior at Central High school. In her free time she writes poetry, reads, and belly-dances! She has loved science for as long as she can remember and hopes to become a research neuroscientist, along with writing on the side!

Deep-sea Seep Fauna of Costa Rica: Effects of Biogenic Habitat Complexity

Melissa Betters is a doctoral candidate of Biology in Erik Cordes’ lab. Her research focuses on the evolutionary history, biogeography, and taxonomy of deep-sea gastropods from the Costa Rica Margin. She is particularly interested in understanding how different regions of the deep ocean are connected to one another, and what barriers exist that may keep them separate. She has spent a total of 124 days at sea and 72 hours at the bottom of the ocean. Prior to beginning her doctoral work in Philadelphia, Melissa was born and raised in Southeastern Wisconsin. She then earned her bachelor’s degree in Biology from Florida State University where she conducted research on coastal sea urchin reproduction dynamics. When not conducting research, she enjoys hiking, reading, and making art.

Emily Cowell is a marine ecologist with a current focus on deep-sea methane seep systems off the pacific coast of Costa Rica, and how their physical conditions structure their associated animal communities. She is particularly interested in how changes in the flow of chemicals at these sites may influence succession patterns over time and space. She grew up in a coastal town in the UK, and developed a love of marine ecosystems from there. She earned a 1st class honors undergraduate degree in Marine Biology from Newcastle University (UK) and her M.Res from the National Oceanography Center, Southampton (UK) where her work focused on the taxonomy of crustaceans from the Arabian Sea. She is currently a Ph.D. Candidate in the Biology Department at Temple University under the supervision of Dr. Erik Cordes.

Dia Shaji is an AP capstone junior at the Northeast Magnet High School. During her free time, she loves doing arts and crafts, listening to music, and spending time with friends and family. After high school graduation, she is hoping to pursue a career in medicine, and her research interests span anything related to medicine. She is very excited to be a part of SPROUT 2022 and cannot wait to gain a wonderful research experience.

Quantifying Squirrel Activity in Camera Traps in Philadelphia: Observation and Analysis

Jocelyn Behm, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology who received her Masters and Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin and did her postdoctoral work at Vrije Universiteit – Amsterdam. As an ecologist, her research focuses on how human activities affect biodiversity.  She has studied biodiversity on four continents in both tropical and temperate ecosystems.  Currently, research in her lab is focused on how the conversion of natural habitats into urbanized habitats and the addition of invasive species affect biodiversity. She also likes cats.

Payton Phillips is an ecologist with interests in how human-altered landscapes influence mammalian populations and communities. Her broad ecological interests have led to work on multiple continents and in multiple systems including urban caracals in South Africa, black-footed ferrets in South Dakota, and currently, Lyme disease hosts in Pennsylvania. Payton is currently a PhD candidate and Future Faculty Fellow in the Biology Department at Temple University. She earned her M.Sc. in Conservation Biology with a focus on genetics at Central Michigan University and her Bachelor’s in Biology and Environmental Science from the College of William and Mary.

Namira Nera is an International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme senior at Northeast High School. Science and medicine are what she wants to pursue in her future career, as those have been her passions since she was a little girl.

Biocomplexity and Biodiversity of Cold-water Coral Reefs Offshore of the Southeast USA

Erik Cordes, Ph.D.  received his M.S. from Moss Landing Marine Labs, his Ph.D. from Penn State University, and was a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University. He has worked on the ecology of the deep sea for over 25 years, spending over a year at sea on 32 research cruises (14 as Chief Scientist) and making 46 dives in the manned submersibles Alvin and Johnson Sea-Link. His work is centered around the ability of organisms to shape their environment and increase habitat heterogeneity but has increasingly become focused on the ability of humans to impact these processes in the deep sea.

Ryan Gasbarro is a marine ecologist with wide-ranging interests in understanding how animal communities are structured within and across dynamic ecosystems, and using data to make predictions that can aid in protecting biodiversity from threats such as climate change. These broad interests have led him to work in systems including the intertidal, fjord basins, hydrothermal vents, submarine canyons, cold hydrocarbon seeps, and cold-water coral reefs. He has been to sea on multiple research cruises, exploring the seafloor with both manned and unmanned submersibles. Ryan is currently a Ph.D. Candidate and Presidential Fellow in Temple University’s Department of Biology with supervisor Dr. Erik Cordes. He earned his M.Sc. in Earth & Ocean Sciences at the University of Victoria, in British Columbia, Canada, and his Bachelor’s with Honors at Arizona State University.

Jacob Serrano is a rising senior at Girard Academic Music Program. He is interested in Marine Biology and he hopes to become a marine biologist in the future. To further explore his interests, Jacob Serrano is researching in the Cordes Laboratory which focuses on deep-sea ecology and ocean exploration.

Organic Chemistry Teaching Materials: Software Development of Reaction Pathway Animations

Steven Fleming, Ph.D. is a Professor in the Department of Chemistry who received their B.S. at the University of Utah and Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin. As a Chemist, his research focuses on the area of chemical education, primarily in the development and assessment of teaching tools. Some of the teaching tools he helped create was a textbook called Organic Chemistry, 5th Edition and a software named Organic Reaction Animations (ORA).

Collins Chokki is a student at Central High School. In his free time, he plays clarinet and performs in his school’s ensembles and robotics team. His research interests include chemical studies and organic chemistry. He hopes to be a chemical researcher.

Study of Drosophila in an High School Environment, Percentage of Male Chasing

Rob Kulathinal, Ph.D.  is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biology and Director of the Ph.D. in Bioinformatics graduate program at Temple University. Dr. Kulathinal is also a founding member of the Center of Computational Genetics & Genomics (CCGG) and the Institute of Genomics & Evolutionary Medicine (iGEM). His lab’s primary research interests focus on how rapid evolutionary processes generate remarkable molecular and organismal patterns of diversity across populations and species. Dr. Kulathinal’s work on speciation incorporates a broad spectrum of approaches including population, comparative, and functional genomics as well as Drosophila behavioral genetics. His lab focuses on the genetics of dynamic reproductive systems, particularly gene networks involved in sexually dimorphic patterns of expression including male fertility. His lab’s recent work on sexually dimorphic behaviors is beginning to provide an exciting new neurogenomics framework to study sexual isolation. Dr. Kulathinal further studies the broad implications of this rapid evolutionary framework on a variety of biological phenomena from the effects of anthropogenic distress on deep-sea habitats (e.g., forthcoming Acid Horizon movie) to the rapid proliferation of cancer due to ancestry (e.g., news release). Dr. Kulathinal and colleagues from Management and Information Sciences are also developing an “evolutionary sciences of the artificial” based on their common interest in detecting evolutionary signals from all types of “big” digital data–whether biological, technological, or social (e.g., news release). Dr. Kulathinal teaches “Honors Introduction to Biology”, “Evolutionary Genetics & Genomics”, and is developing a University-wide course called D.A.T.A. (Data Acquisition, Transformation, and Analysis) that teaches big data to students from science to business to the arts. Dr. Kulathinal also teaches “Introduction to Graduate Research” to all incoming doctoral students in Biology each fall, and co-teaches an interdisciplinary Studio course on the Bio-Social with Dr. Allison Hayes-Conroy as part of a funded NSF Research Training (NRT) grant.

Mokorede Gbadamosi is a high school junior from Collegium Charter School. He is working under Dr. Rob Kulathinal with a research interest on evolutionary processes and the speciation theory. After highschool, Mokorede plans on pursuing a career in either physics, Computer science, or a career through a technical school. He is interested in Computer Science, Data science, analytic processing, and Physiology. Some of Mokorede’s hobbies include soccer and baseball.

Interactions Between Ants and Spotted Lanternflies

Matt Helmus, Ph.D. is an Ecology Professor in the Department of Biology. Dr. Helmus came from humble means, growing up miles down a dirt road in the backwoods of Arkansas, where his love for biodiversity began. Through scholarships and financial assistance, he attended the University of Central Arkansas and graduated Magna Cum Laude with a BS in Biology and Sociology. While an undergraduate, he studied the behavior of monarch butterflies feeding on milkweeds and the calling behavior of frogs in Nicaragua. He attended the University of Wisconsin, where he obtained a Ph.D. in Zoology studying how humans have changed fish biodiversity across US and Mexican lakes and rivers. After graduating, he won several postdoc fellowships to continue his research on how humans have changed biodiversity. He performed this research while at the Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanic Garden in China, the University of Chicago, and the Amsterdam Global Change Institute. Following his postdoc in Amsterdam, he became a professor at Temple where he focuses on how the spotted lanternfly invasion is changing the forest biodiversity of Pennsylvania. Dr. Helmus has published in several prominent journals including Nature and won the Dean’s Award for Distinguished Teaching in 2022. He lives in the Philly suburbs with his partner and a precocious toddler. Together they love to explore the biodiversity of their own backyard.

Seba De Bona, Ph.D. is a postdoctoral researcher in the Integrative Ecology Lab. Growing up, he developed his love for nature and biodiversity while running wild in the wooded foothills of the Italian Alps. He obtained his Bachelor’s Degree in Biology at the University of Padua, studying how climate change causes ecological mismatches in migratory species. For his Master Degree he moved to the University of Jyväskylä, in Finland, where he worked with passerine birds, studying how predators are tricked by some of prey’s unconventional colorations such as bright warning signals and scary-looking eyespots. During his Ph.D., he studied how changes in the predator community shape dispersal and habitat use in a wild tropical fish, the guppy. His thesis work included tropical fieldwork in Trinidad. For his first postdoc, at Temple University, he’s studying the spread of the Spotted Lanternfly across the U.S., using a combination of data science approaches, statistical, and mathematical modeling.

Harmoni Jones is a rising senior attending Academy at Palumbo High School. During her free time, she enjoys reading and listening to music. She is interested in a range of fields including neuroscience, forensic criminology, and biology. After graduating high school, she hopes to pursue a career in the STEM field. This summer for SPROUT, she will be working with Dr. Sebastiano De Bona on Ecological Interactions between Invasive and Native Species. She is grateful to be surrounded by her peers and mentors at SPROUT and looks forward to gaining new experiences through her research.