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STEM Fellow: Mitochondrial Disease in C. elegans

By Katherine Hartigan, VI Form

Mitochondrial Disease in C. elegans

Abstract

Mitochondrial disease refers to a class of hundreds of disorders related to the mitochondria that are caused by mutations in either mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) or nuclear DNA

Please Click The Image To Download/See the  Poster

(nDNA). These mutations disrupt cellular respiration and the production of ATP, resulting in the overproduction of damaging free radicals. Mitochondrial diseases were once thought to be rare, but links between mitochondrial defects and many diseases of aging have been discovered, making these diseases far more prevalent than previously thought. A cure is nonexistent, and treatments are often individualized or ineffective. Antioxidants, such as Coenzyme Q10, have the ability to neutralize free radicals, making them a logical choice as a dietary supplement for mitochondrial disease patients. In this experiment, the C. elegans mev-1 mutant was used as a model organism for human mitochondrial disease. MitoQ, a reengineered form of Coenzyme Q10 targeted to the mitochondria, was added as a supplement to the diet of mev-1 mutants. The groups of mev-1 mutants were observed and data was collected every 12 hours until their death to determine their approximate lifespan. Following experimentation and data collection, it was found that there was not a significant difference in between the lifespans of the control mev-1 mutants without MitoQ, and the experimental mev-1 mutants with the MitoQ added to their diet. It is necessary to repeat this experiment while collecting data in shorter time intervals than 12 hours in order to draw more accurate conclusions when completing future research. (more…)

Carbon Dioxide vs. The Ocean

By Laura Drepanos, IV Form

Carbon Dioxide vs. The Ocean: What I learned at the High School Marine Science Symposium

Are the ocean’s problems really my problems?

This was the only question going through my head as I pulled up to front circle two days before March break at 6:50 in the morning.

The short answer: yes.

When Ms. Lohwater announced at school meeting that there was an opportunity to go to the High School Marine Science Symposium (HSMSS) at Northeastern University, I immediately took it. I have always loved learning about the ocean and visiting the Wood’s Hole Oceanographic Institution since I was young. Missing a day of classes for this at the end of the academic window required an overwhelming amount of planning ahead: I had to take tests on my own time and finish all of my assignments. However, I left the HSMSS with many takeaways that made it all worth it.

My first takeaway: Sea Acidification is very real. (more…)

STEM Fellows: Fragile X Syndrome in Fruit Flies

By Jenny Deveaux and Samantha Sarafin, VI Form

Peripheral Nervous System Deficits and Social Behavior in Drosophila FMR1 Mutants

1.1 Abstract

Click here to view full size of poster

Fragile X syndrome is a genetic disorder caused by a trinucleotide repeat mutation in the FMR1 gene, occurring in one in 4,000 males and one in 8,000 females. The syndrome is characterized by a variety of social, learning, and cognitive deficits specific to each patient. The pathways surrounding the expression of the fragile X phenotype are largely unknown, and there is no current treatment for the disorder. Numerous studies have been conducted to investigate the role of the central nervous system in developmental disorders such as Fragile X Syndrome; however, there is a lack of studies focusing on the role of the peripheral nervous system. In our study, we developed a line of Drosophila melanogaster, using the GAL4-UAS system, that expresses the dFMR1 mutation only in the olfactory sensory neurons, a vital part of the Drosophila’s peripheral nervous system. We conducted aggression and courtship assays to test the social behavior of the peripheral dFMR1 mutants. We compared these behavioral results with the results of control wild-type flies and with Drosophila that have the dFMR1 mutation in their entire anatomy. Our preliminary results suggest that both aggression and courtship should be further researched, as it was found that specific characteristics of each social behavior were impaired in some way. The most noteworthy data that was collected was significantly lower courtship index in the experimental line and a complete lack of dominance of the experimental line in the aggression assay. Because the Drosophila that were genetically crossed using the GAL4-UAS system had the dFMR1 gene silenced in their olfactory sensory neurons, the flies had an abnormality in their ability to detect pheromones, which studies show are the basis of Drosophila social interaction and behavior. (more…)

Artifact of Learning: What Is Cancer?

By Gillian Yue, V Form

Artifact of Learning: What Is Cancer?

Editor’s Note: This video is from the following assignment in Advanced Biology

Click Image for Video

Charge:  Create an Artifact of Learning* that will clearly explain to someone not in this class: What is Cancer? And How Does it Arise? Your artifact should synthesize the content from this unit (DNA Structure & Replication, The Cell Cycle, Mitosis & Cytokinesis, and Control of the Cell Cycle), as well as integrate new information that you have researched to better make sense of this disease.  Your answer should not be a review of EVERYTHING examined; rather you should selectively integrate elements of each topic that help to explain what cancer is and how it arises. Note:  This assignment does not ask – how do we treat cancer, detect cancer, prevent cancer, etc.  Simply – What is Cancer?

Click here for video.

*Scroll to bottom for definition of an “Artifact of Learning” (more…)

1-Take Video on Cyanide: The Mystery of the Seven Deaths

By Lindsey Dumond and Sada Nichols-Worley, V Form

1-Take Video on Cyanide: The Mystery of the Seven Deaths (click here)

Editor’s Note: After completing a deep examination of the process of Cellular Respiration, Advanced Biology students were randomly assigned to small groups (2-3) students and tasked with tackling a case study. The case of “The Mystery of the Seven Deaths” examined the true story of cyanide poisoning that occurred in the early 1980s. This case study required students to analyze data, make conclusions, and explain mechanisms of action. The students were then required to present the case to a lay person in 3 minutes through a 1-Take Video. A 1-Take Video is exactly what the name implies: a video shot in 1-take. This entire assignment was completed in an 80-minute block.

Click on the image below for the video!

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Sea Acidification

By Jiawen (Angela) Li, IV Form

Sea Acidification

Editor’s Note: This is the assignment prompt for a unit on ecology–You will be given one week of class and homework time to investigate a topic of your choosing that relates to ecological or environmental sustainability. The goal will be to research the topic in depth and produce a final product that displays your understanding of the concept. You may choose to produce a video, Prezi, infographic, children’s book, or paper.

sea-acidification-1Angela’s pre-reflection: I chose the topic Sea Acidification because I was intrigued by the podcast about how oysters are affected by seawater acidification, and I wanted to know more about how it also affects other species, especially how it affects marine food chain/web. I hope to gain more knowledge on how seawater acidification generally affects marine life and expand my understanding from oysters to a larger variety of organisms. I wish to produce a piece of informative work including the introduction of seawater acidification, explanation of how it works, and details as to what the effects on the sea life are. This is related to these units because it expands on the “Science Friday” podcast on oysters and is connected with food webs, sustainability, and ecosystems. I’ll be working on my own, because I want to work on an infographic and working in pairs really slows the process down and complicates matters unnecessarily, and there could be an uneven distribution of work. My strategy would be to learn from my last experience with making an infographic, dividing my work into clear sections, maybe three to five, before doing research to be more efficient.

See the large infographic below! (more…)