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Spring 2023 Undergraduate Research and Creative Expression Fair

Alejandro Ciuba - Poster Board 1

Analyzing K-12 Classroom Discussion Quality through Data Analysis and Machine Learning

School of Computing and Information

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Diane Litman

Engaging, thought-provoking classroom discussion is key for student academic success, especially for younger children. Due to this, multiple methods for holistically measuring the quality of classroom discussions have been proposed such as accountable talk theory. From this, two quantitative metrics have been developed: the Instructional Quality Assessment (IQA) rubric and the utterance-level Analyzing Teacher Moves (ATM) sentence codes. By leveraging these quantitative metrics and machine learning, it is possible to create systems that automatically analyze classroom discussion quality. Our team had previously collected videos of classroom discussions from an anonymous Texas school district. The data set consists of fourth to fifth grade English-Language Arts (ELA) classes with 31 participating instructors and a majority Latinx student population (71%). These videos were then transcribed and evaluated based on IQA and ATM metrics, and several machine-learning models were created using this data set for fine-tuning. However, to better leverage machine-learning systems, data should be thoroughly analyzed not only through aggregated methods, but also through intersectional approaches which factor in participants’ demographic data (e.g. race/ethnicity, gender, familial-income, etc). My research objective has been to perform a detailed data analysis on this data set utilizing both approaches. My focus is divided into two parts: analysis on student-teacher dialogue patterns (including ATM code co-occurrences/patterns) and performing classroom-level intersectional evaluation. Through this analysis, we hope to gain a better understanding of classroom discussions and ultimately, improve our final model’s performance.   

Alexa Lascola, Colleen Gieringer, and Gary Wang - Poster Board 2

Examining the Effects of Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxal 5 Phosphate) on Mesenchymal Stem Cell Response to Oxidative Stress

School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Bridget Deasy

Stem cells are responsible for maintaining tissue health and homeostasis. They support the long-term regeneration of adult tissues and organs and as such show promising potential for regenerative medicine. Mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) multipotency and self-renewal are crucial to replace cells that have been damaged or destroyed in orthopedic diseases or injury, such as those related to skeletal muscle or cartilage. 

The stem cell niche is the microenvironment that helps maintain the undifferentiated and self-renewing state of the stem cells. The signaling pathways in the stem cell niche may become disrupted due to poor nutrition or aging and ultimately affect the robustness of the stem cell population, resulting in the inability of stem and progenitor cells to repair and regenerate damaged tissue. Several micronutrients specifically have a role in mitigating cellular damage.  

Current research regarding vitamin B6 and its impact on stem cell growth varies across the different stem cell types. Importantly, vitamin B6 has a role in mitigating cell damage by acting as a co-factor in the synthesis of glutathione, a key antioxidant in cells. Our research seeks to explore further and understand the relationship between vitamin B6 and the health of mesenchymal stem cells. We use time-lapse imaging to perform dose-dependent studies of vitamin B6-stimulated MSCs in an oxidative stress environment. The project examines the effect of vitamin B6 on MSCs and their capacity to maintain stem cell robustness after exposure to oxidative stress, which mimics cell damage we experience during aging, poor nutrition, or other tissue injury.

Alexander Kao - Poster Board 3

Is sleep quality a factor influencing clinical self-efficacy during undergraduate nursing students’ first clinical experience?

School of Nursing

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Weiwen Wang

BACKGROUND: Undergraduate nursing students' first clinical experience is essential because it affects their outlook on their profession. In the existing nursing literature, nursing students have struggled during their first clinical experience which caused some students to leave the profession. Students’ personal health such as sleep quality is noticed to affect their academics and clinical performance. The purpose of this study is to examine undergraduate nursing students’ sleep quality as a factor influencing clinical self-efficacy beliefs during their first clinical experiences.

METHODS: The objective population for this cross-sectional survey was undergraduate nursing students with first clinical experience who were enrolled in clinical courses at three universities. The survey consisted of demographics, sleep quality (Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) score), and clinical self-efficacy beliefs (Self-Efficacy Clinical Performance (SECP) scale. SPSS software was used to analyze the data with Pearson’s coefficient being calculated to find the correlation between sleep quality and self-efficacy beliefs.

RESULTS: Among the 37 participants, the mean age was 20.92 years and 91.9% were female. Participants reported poor sleep quality (M=7.60 ± 2.831) and high clinical self-efficacy beliefs (M=38.06 ± 9.227) during first-time clinical experiences. Pearson correlation test showed no statistically significant correlation (r = 0.138) between both variables. However, the results of this study showed that 77% of participants reported that they had poor sleep quality during their first clinical experience (PSQI>5). Additionally, the participants reported lower clinical self-efficacy beliefs in the nursing diagnosis (M=6.87±2.178) and evaluation (M=7.17 ± 2.204) stage of the nursing process.

CONCLUSIONS: The study revealed poor sleep quality during undergraduate nursing students' first clinical experience. This evidence should raise nursing educators' awareness of students' personal health and recognize the potential defects of poor sleep quality, Moreover, nursing educators should implement ways for improving students' sleep health and clinical judgment skills during their first clinical experience.

Anna Saber - Poster Board 4

Targeting Presynaptic Function Maintains Innervation and Improves Neuromuscular Function in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Model Mice

Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Stephen Meriney

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) in a neurodegenerative disease that results in the progressive deterioration and loss of function of the motor neurons leading to paralysis. Studies indicated that neuromuscular junction (NMJ) denervation occurs in the early stages of the disease while neuronal cell bodies in the spinal cord remain intact. This observation in which NMJ dysfunction precedes motor neuron death suggests that ALS is a “dying-back” neuropathy. To date, there are no treatments for ALS that target improving neuromuscular transmission, which would improve quality of life for ALS patients by enhancing neuromuscular strength. Here, we tested the effect of GV-58, a novel Cav2-specific voltage-gated calcium channel gating modifier that we have developed, on neuromuscular function and NMJ innervation in SOD1G93A ALS model mice. We hypothesized that a GV-58-mediated increase in synaptic activity may reduce denervation and provide better support for the NMJ. We used immunohistochemistry to determine the innervation rate by staining for neurofilament (NF) + synaptic vesicle protein-2 (SV2) to label nerves and α-bungratoxin (BTX) to label endplates, followed by confocal microscopy and ImageJ analysis. The percentage of the BTX endplate area that is colocalizing with NF+ SV2 stain was counted and synapses were categorized as (1) fully innervated, (2) partially innervated, and (3) denervated. First, we show significant denervation in the epitrochleoanconeus (ETA) muscle of SOD1G93A mice (which has not previously been documented as vulnerable) at the early symptomatic stage (P90). Interestingly, a chronic (20 day) treatment of GV58 starting at P90 delayed disease progression and maintained synapse innervation for the length of the treatment (20 days post-injection), compared to vehicle-treated mice. Therefore, we hypothesize that GV-58 could prove to be a new intervention approach to strengthen synaptic transmission, improve neuromuscular function, delay the loss of motor skills, increase the quality of life, and potentially prolong the life-span of ALS patients.

Anvita Anumolu - Poster Board 5

Depletion of Microglia using Liposome Clodronate in EAE

Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Bradley Taylor

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a chronic inflammatory demyelinating disease where over 50% of patients suffer from neuropathic pain (NP). The experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) model recapitulates aspects of MS including robust microglia activation and both mechanical and cold hypersensitivity. In multiple models of NP, microglia depletion alleviates hypersensitivity, however, its effects in EAE induced NP is unknown. We tested the hypothesis that spinal microglia maintain MS associated NP (MSNP). Adult male and female mice underwent EAE induction (subcutaneous MOG33-55 in CFA without pertussis toxin) and rapidly developed mechanical and cold hypersensitivity at the hindpaw. Mice then received an intrathecal injection of liposome-encapsulated clodronate (LEC, 10 µl) to trigger apoptosis in microglia. Mechanical and cold hypersensitivity were assessed 48-72 hours post LEC by applying von Frey hairs and an acetone drop respectively to the hindpaw plantar surface. Lumbar spinal cord was then collected and stained via immunohistochemistry for IBA-1 to determine the extent of microglial depletion. Behavioral testing demonstrated a significant increase in mechanical withdrawal thresholds following LEC in EAE mice peaking at 72 hours but not controls (CFA without MOG33-55 and naïve groups) and with no effect on cold allodynia in any group. Quantitative analysis of IBA-1 immunoreactivity in lumbar spinal dorsal horns showed over 50% depletion of microglia in LEC treated mice. These results demonstrate that microglia depletion significantly alleviates EAE-induced NP like behaviors without affecting healthy controls. We conclude that microglia maintain mechanical allodynia in EAE and represent a target for future pharmacotherapy for MSNP.

Ariel Barreiro - Poster Board 6

The Process of Scientific Journalism

College of General Studies

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Rachel Bezanson

Dr. Bezanson is the leading scientist for UNCOVER, a research endeavor through the James Webb Telescope. I interviewed her and I wrote an article about the socioeconomical effects and the importance of space exploration through instruments like the JWST. The article I wrote became the Cycle 1 feature article for the Pitt Pulse magazine. I used multiple research sources to explain the concept of looking back in time and the vast distances of space for an audience that does not study astronomy. My presentation is on the process of how to write a scientific article that includes complex subject matter and how to make this level of science accessible to the public. The process begins with a topic proposal and the location and verification of reputable sources of information. The process continues with several drafts as the journalist collaborates with different editors and conducts at least one interview with an expert on the subject. Finally, the process concludes with the journalist presenting the final draft – equipped with a title – and awaiting the news of publication.

After publication, I received follow up questions from non-science students and adults via my social-media platforms. I will include answers and processes on how to address further questions once an article has been published.

Caroline Ronsivalle - Poster Board 7

Reflections of illness identity in language choices among African Americans affected by  Parkinson’s Disease

School of Nursing

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Jennifer Lingler

Background: Understanding how individuals from underrepresented communities from illness identities is fundamental to effective, culturally responsive nurse-patient communication.

Purpose: To characterize patterns of language used by patients with Parkinson’s disease (PWPD) and their caregivers, who identify as Black or African American, when discussing their experiences with PD symptoms and treatment.

Methods: Using qualitative description, we analyzed verbatim text from remote interviews with two PWPD, one who had been diagnosed for 2 years and one for 14, both of whom held Master’s degrees. Data were also analyzed from five PD caregivers ranging in age from at least 30 to over 60 years old, with education levels ranging from high school to Bachelor’s degrees. Their length of time caregiving ranged from three months to four years. Interviews about patients’ and caregivers’ experiences were coded and categories were generated to identify language patterns used when referencing PD.

Results: There were two overarching categories of language used when referencing PD during the interviews: label-focused and emotion-focused. Label-focused language was explicit and spanned from acceptance to rejection of the medical diagnosis label of PD, often personifying PD (e.g., “the silent killer”). Emotion-focused language reflected feelings of fear, loss of control, and confusion. These illness identities emerged within the context of discussion of PD disease progression and personal unfamiliarity. Participants also noted that concerns about privacy and fear of the unknown are common in their community.

Conclusions and Implications: Disease progression and unfamiliarity may be acting to create feelings of confusion and fear, which are reflected in the language patterns of PWPD and their caregivers. Nurses should be aware of the potential for language choices (e.g., rejection of a diagnostic label) to reflect patient or caregiver’s feelings concerning a diagnosis. Culturally responsive approaches are needed to promote effective communication among patients and caregivers from underserved communities.

Chelsea Chao - Poster Board 8

A scoping review on the association between long-term exposure to ultraviolet radiation and the risk of developing ovarian cancer

School of Nursing

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Young Ji Lee

Introduction: There is a strong association in developing external cancers (e.g., skin cancer) due to excess exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light. However, there is limited research on the harmful effect of UV rays on ovarian cancer (OvCa), the deadliest gynecological cancer. Understanding the effect of UV rays may guide us in changing lifestyles to reduce the incidence rates of OvCa. The purpose of this review is to understand the association between long-term exposure to UV radiation and the risk of developing OvCa.

Methods: We conducted a review using the following keywords: “ovarian cancer” AND “UV radiation” in PubMed. We excluded articles that did not investigate the direct correlation between UV light and the risk of developing OvCa (Figure 1). Population, study location, UV light exposure time, health outcomes, and confounding variables were extracted from the included articles. The second author (RS) confirmed the review process and results after the first author completed the review.

Results: Eleven studies were included in this review. All studies showed an inverse correlation between UV rays and risk of developing OvCa. Eight articles had confounding variables related to the environment such as places of residence, air quality, and seasons. Seven articles presented dietary differences related to OvCa prevention: supplements (e.g., vitamin D), fruit, and vegetables. Five studies included ethnicity and/or racial information. Other cancers were also identified in all studies except one: colon, breast, prostate, bladder, endometrial, esophageal, gastric, pancreatic, rectal, renal, vulvar, Hodgkin's, and non-Hodgkin's. 

Conclusion: We found several factors involved in OvCa in addition to UV rays, such as vitamin D. Further studies may need to focus on specific confounding factors. Also, many confounding variables were unmodifiable and unavoidable. Future studies are needed to examine management strategies of non-modifiable factors in our daily lives.

Chiayun Cheng - Poster Board 9

Is a Digital Phenotype Really a Phenotype?

Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences

Faculty Mentor: N/A

In the increasingly online world of today, researchers have been using data gathered from human interaction with digital technology to try to diagnose human illnesses. The processes used to carry this task out are called “digital phenotyping.” However, definitions given for digital phenotypes themselves have been quite broad, and authors of papers in this field have a tendency to focus on digital phenotyping rather than the digital phenotype itself. Is a digital phenotype really a phenotype? To answer this question, one must consider the biological phenotype, and how its definition has changed and stayed the same over time. An assessment of the definitions of digital phenotypes provided in previous literature shows that they are flawed, and there is a disconnect between the definitions of digital phenotypes and the definitions for digital phenotyping. Ultimately, I argue that a digital phenotype is indeed a phenotype, because it is a behavior. However, digital phenotyping is often used in mental health research and diagnosis, and in that context, a digital phenotype is usually only a proxy for the more elusive behavioral phenotype. This matters because researchers could potentially be overlooking valuable information that comes directly from individuals themselves, or from the digital phenotypes alone.

Dat Bui - Poster Board 10

Deciphering the Regulatory Mechanisms of MXL-3 and LBP-1 by TCER-1 in the Immune Response and Lipid Metabolism of Caenorhabditis elegans

Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Arjumand Ghazi

Immunity is an important aspect of healthspan that declines with age. The traditional dogma has been that genes that promote longevity also improve healthspan. Previous research from our lab discovered that TCER-1, the Caenorhabditis elegans homolog of the human transcription elongation & splicing factor TCERG1, promotes longevity but also confers immuno-susceptibility. TCER-1 promotes longevity by remodeling lipid metabolism. Here, we investigated mechanisms by which it represses immunity. We examined the immune capacity of potential downstream targets of TCER-1, identified in our lab by transcription profiling of animals infected with the human opportunistic pathogen, Pseudomonas aeruginosa (strain PA14), the genes mxl-3 and lbp-1. mxl-3 encodes a MAX-like transcriptional repressor that regulates lipid metabolism and was downregulated upon PA14 infection, while lbp-1, encoding those functions as a lipid chaperone was upregulated. Our data suggest these genes’ expression is dynamically controlled by TCER-1. Our pathogenic assay confirmed the increased longevity of tcer-1 loss of function mutants compared to wild type. While lbp-1 mutant did not show a consistent impact, mxl-3 loss of function mutants exhibited significantly longer survival times when exposed to PA14. Importantly, fluorescent imaging of an mxl-3 transcriptional reporter demonstrated that mxl-3 expression was downregulated in intestinal nuclei, the main tissue where immune response is orchestrated, in infected animals. Our findings offer insights into the molecular interconnections between the regulation of fat and immunity.

Galen Lovejoy - Poster Board 11

Loving Impartially: Reconciling Morality and Partiality in Kant and Aristotle

Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Thomas Pendlebury 

My research has addressed how Aristotelian and Kantian cosmopolitanism can be reconciled through a comparative analysis between Aristotle’s The Nicomachean Ethics and Kant’s The Metaphysics of Morals and Critique of Practical Reason. Cosmopolitanism, here, is understood as the premise that all humanity is worthy of ethical concern, not just special relations (friends, family, fellow citizens, etc.), because all humanity is equally valuable. Cosmopolitanism can be further differentiated into two categories: radical and moderate. The former proposes that because we ought to value everyone equally, we cannot be principally partial towards our special relations. Moderate cosmopolitanism proposes that we can value everyone equally all while principally doing more for our special relations. In my research, I demonstrate how both Aristotle and Kant can be read as moderate cosmopolitans through their overlapping accounts of generic ethical value. Aristotle positions the capacity for rational action as the source of generic value and Kant proposes rational nature; each are universally instantiated in human beings and, most importantly, each instantiation (each person) represents a self-existent end, which is to say that each represents an incomparable value. Consequently, each person can be valued equally insofar as they are an instantiation of a generic source of value, but they also can be valued for their unique value insofar as each is a self-existent end. This distinction in value ultimately differentiates our obligations towards all humanity and our personal relations, and so provides the basis for both a moderate cosmopolitan world and the distinct morality of interpersonal love.

Gary Wang - Poster Board 12

The role of micronutrients in supporting stem cell function

School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Bridget Deasy

Stem cells and progenitor cells are unspecialized cells that have the potential to develop into a variety of specialized cell types and functions. Pluripotent stem cells can in principle differentiate into almost any cell. Such an ability to differentiate gives stem cells significant value in clinical regenerative medicine. More about the stem cell environment needs to be understood to fully harness this potential for regenerative medicine. Stem cells are a subset of the community of tissue cells; they reside in the microenvironment known as the stem cell niche. The molecules and cells in the stem cell niche maintain the undifferentiated and self-renewing state of the stem cells. Age-related diseases have been found to disrupt the niche signaling pathway and cause damage to stem cells. 

However, proper nutrients have been shown to significantly counter non-communicable diseases (NCDs), and micronutrients like vitamins are critical for many cellular processes. Micronutrients, unlike macronutrients, are only required in small quantities, but they play vital roles, including acting as antioxidants, cell signaling, and even acting as enzymes. What is now known as vitamin A was first observed in the 1800s and was the first vitamin discovered in an era when proteins, fats, and carbohydrates were believed to be the only necessary nutrients. Since then 13 essential vitamins have been identified as necessary for healthy growth and development.  

While the general function of the micronutrients is understood, only recently have studies begun to examine the effect of vitamins on the stem cell niche. Here we systematically review and summarize the emerging role of vitamins as signaling and protective molecules in the stem cells niche.

Harsh Hiwase - Poster Board 13

Multiancestry GWAS and Functional Genomics Analysis of HNF1A Locus to Define Novel Pathogenic Mechanism for Ischemic Stroke in populations of African descent. 

Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Wei Sun

Background: Ischemic stroke (IS) disproportionately affects populations of African descent due to their genetic predispositions. A recent large-scale multiancestry Genome-wide Association Study (GWAS) identified Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) highly associated with IS, exclusively in population of African descent. Analysis of this ancestry-specific genomic architecture will elucidate novel pathogenic mechanisms for IS.

Methods: Functional SNPs were identified by Electrophoretic Mobility Shift Assay (EMSA) that bind preferentially to nuclear proteins from human vascular endothelial cells. Proteomics identified the bound transcription factors (TF) in risk alleles. TF Knockdown and stress experiments in vascular cells determined the function of TFs on target gene.

Results: Non-coding SNP rs55931441 in HNF1A locus is exclusively involved in risk of ischemic stroke in African populations. The risk allele is present 3.8% in African populations and is absent in other ethnicities. This SNP did not show TF binding but linked SNPs rs137969189 and rs144534697 presented with allele-imbalanced nuclear protein binding. Proteomics revealed ILF3, a vascular function-related TF binds preferentially to non-risk allele C of rs144534697 compared to risk allele A. We determined ILF3 to be a repressor of HNF1A. The lack of binding of ILF3 to risk allele A caused the overexpression of HNF1A, augmenting vascular cell dysfunction and conferring stroke risk. IS-associated stressor hypoxia downregulated ILF3 which further heightens risk. 

Conclusion: The newly identified ILF3-HNF1A pathway may serve as a general mechanistic explanation for the pathogenesis of IS, given their response to vascular stressor hypoxia. This also opens a novel diagnostic approach for diseases with ancestry prominence.

Ilana Kersh - Poster Board 14

An investigation of comorbidities: an analysis of symptoms, quality of life, and poor health outcomes in patients with knee osteoarthritis and hypertension 

School of Public Health

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Elizabeth A. Schlenk

Approximately a quarter of the United States adult population is estimated to have at least one comorbidity (Boersma et al., 2020). Defined as the combination of two or more chronic illnesses, comorbidities are associated with poor health outcomes, more difficulty managing illness, and more costly and timely methods of care (Valderas et al., 2009). Thus, the goal of the proposed study is to examine individuals with comorbidities to better understand how comorbidities affect health-related quality of life (HRQoL). Through the means of HRQoL and comorbidity questionnaires, a literature review and a table of studies, statistical analyses, and a correlational descriptive design, this proposed study will allow me to describe the impact of comorbidities on HRQoL, describe symptoms and their correlation to HRQoL, and identify the most debilitating chronic illnesses to anticipate in a population of older adults. Thus far, I have conducted a literature review and filled out a table studies, which is a milestone in this research project. I am not completing an IRB application, and beginning to get familiar with my data set. 

Janet Kim - Poster Board 15

Impact of Age on Frequency of ACE2 Receptors

Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Ivona Pandrea

There are more than 500 million SARS-CoV-2-infected patients worldwide. The US has reported the highest numbers of both COVID-19 cases (greater than 90 million) and deaths (about 100,000,000). Therefore, COVID pandemic is one of the most critical global health problems ever known to mankind. SARS-CoV-2 has the potential to become a seasonal pathogen, similar to other respiratory infections, likely a significant cause of morbidity worldwide and thus it is imperative to understand the pathogenesis of this viral infection in numerous organs and systems and determine what are the population at risk to develop severe disease.

Increased COVID mortality was reported in aging people and in those with comorbidities, but the exact cause is not known. The role of the gut in COVID pathogenesis is also not completely elucidated.

We hypothesize that a high frequency of the angiotensin converting enzyme-2 (ACE2) which is the main receptor for SARS-CoV-2 in the tissues may be responsible for the severity of the infection in aging individuals. The number of receptors present on different tissues may vary based on different factors, which are not well known. It is therefore difficult to identify the people at high risk for severe COVID.

We designed a study in which we sought to test the impact of age on ACE-2 expression in tissues such as lung, colon, jejunum, kidney, and liver collected from chronically SIVmac-infected old (greater than 15 years) and young (less than 5 years) Rhesus macaques. The expression of the ACE2 receptor was quantified by immunohistochemistry and real-time PCR. 

Jatin Singh - Poster Board 16

CT-Derived Features are Predictors of Systemic Sclerosis-Related Lung Transplant Survival

School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Jiantao Pu

Background: Systemic Sclerosis (Ssc) is an autoimmune disease that can require lung transplantation in cases of severe pulmonary compromise. Survival after systemic sclerosis-lung transplants (Ssc-LTx) is poor and patient management is not well understood, so few centers conduct this procedure. This study combines clinical variables with body composition data derived from CT scans that describes whole-body health to identify risk factors. 

Methods: This cohort includes 102 patients who underwent an Ssc-LTx procedure. Patients had paired preoperative CT scans and clinical information in a prospectively collected database. Body composition features were automatically extracted from the CT images using a 3D convolutional neural network. Cox regression models identified variables associated with survival. Model performance was evaluated based on the time-dependent area under the receiver operative characteristics curve (AUC). CT-derived features were removed for the best-performing models and statistical significance was tested using the DeLong test.  

Results: Demographic features that univariately predicted survival post Ssc-LTx include BMI (p=0.011) and Race (p=0.0234). Clinical features include Hospital Length of Stay (p=0.005), ICU Length of Stay (p=0.004), Age-Adjusted CCI (p=0.003), Tracheostomy (p=0.0097), Washout (p=0.039), and Major OR Takeback (p=0.013). CT-derived features include Muscle Ratio (p=0.0234), Bone Density (p=0.027), Artery Vein Ratio (p=<0.0002), and Heart Ratio (p=0.005). Final composite model with CT-derived features achieves an AUC score of 0.834, comparatively improved to the composite model without CT-derived features.  

Conclusion: CT-derived features derived from preoperative CT scans may be an important tool in predicting survival after Ssc-LTx.

Joanna Samuel - Poster Board 17

Assess the Effectiveness of Visual Biofeedback on Improving Gait in People with Gait Impairments

School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Goeran Fiedler

Many Americans have trouble walking and develop improper gait patterns due to their health, age, or injury [1] and may be prescribed an orthotic device in response. An illustrative example of the population of individuals who have poor gait ability, are those who have received total knee replacement surgery (TKA). Rehabilitation requires patients to exercise alone or with healthcare personnel with less experience than that of a physical therapist, pushing patients to be independent with their rehabilitation [2]. With real-time visual biofeedback systems (VBS) advancing as a method for rehabilitation, our aim is to see whether introducing this system to TKA patients’ post-surgery will bring improvement and confidence in their gait retraining [3-5].The data from the sensors showed that the preliminary study of four participants were demonstrating a regular gait with regular stride time and similar leg flexion for both legs. Effective gait retraining is an important component of optimizing outcomes for the population of orthotics (or prosthetics) device users.

Kathryn Hannah - Poster Board 18

The Association of the SLC6A3 gene and Postoperative Pain   in Women treated for Breast Cancer  

School of Nursing

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Susan W. Wesmiller

Background: Postoperative pain is well documented in women following breast cancer surgery.  Much research has focused on strategies to reduce pain experienced postoperatively. However, recent attention to the opioid crisis, and the need to find alternative therapies, has underscored the importance of precision health. SLC6A3, the dopamine transporter gene, is commonly associated with the modulation of pain sensitivity and perioperative opioid use.  Thus, this study aimed to determine the association between the variation of pain scores reported by women following breast cancer surgery with two common single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), rs464049 and rs403636, of the SLC6A3 gene.   

Methods: We employed a secondary analysis of symptom data collected as part of a larger, longitudinal study studying genetic underpinnings of symptoms experienced by women treated for breast cancer. IRB approval and informed consent were completed prior to data collection. For this project, a cross-sectional design was used to explore the association of pain assessed 48 hours postoperatively with genotypes of the identified SNPs. Pain was assessed using an 11-point verbal pain scale.  Genotype data were collected from DNA extracted from saliva samples obtained from all study participants at the time of surgery. 

Results: Subjects (n=292) ranged from 28-88 years of age, A single factor analysis of variance (ANOVA) was conducted to compare the severity of postoperative pain across the three genotypes for rs464049 and rs403636.  The results showed no statistical difference between the three genotypes for rs403636 with respect to the severity of postoperative pain.  However, a strong trend (F=2.77, p&lt;0.06) was noted for rs464049

Conclusions: This study demonstrates the potential of using genetic markers to predict patients at increased risk for experiencing pain following surgery for breast cancer.

Khushi Rai & Jhanvi Dasaka - Poster Board 19

Role of Gamma Knife Stereotactic Radiosurgery for Foramen Magnum Meningioma

Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Ajay Niranjan

The foramen magnum is a portion of the brain that connects the brain and spinal cord, an important passageway for the relay of information. Foramen magnum meningiomas (FMM), or brain tumors of the foramen magnum, are often benign. But, due to proximity to cranial nerves, which regulate head and neck functions, FMMs may negatively impact daily living. Stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) is a non-invasive procedure that uses targeted radiation treatment in lieu of surgical incision. Gamma Knife radiosurgery (GK) is a form of SRS that consists of firing 192 low dose gamma radiation beams to the focal point of brain tumors, preventing further growth while minimizing damage to surrounding tissue. This project is a retrospective, longitudinal study analyzing clinical and neurological outcomes of FMM patients treated with GK. The vast depth of clinical data from Gamma Knife Research Center is used to analyze tumor progression outcomes, cranial nerve function, and survival rates to better understand the efficacy of GK in FMM treatment. Collected data will include tumor size and characteristics, parameters of treatment such as gamma radiation dose, and clinical data regarding symptomology commonly associated with FMMs, such as prevalence of motor deficits, facial numbness, and headache. Preliminary data suggest that GK treatment for FMMs is positively associated with preserved cranial nerve function and progression-free survival. Additional data analysis will help to answer questions specific to the impact of GK on FMM patients and predictive factors of success, improving clinical care and outcomes.

Kyla Gallipoli - Poster Board 20

Documentary Filmmaking as a Communicative Tool: Visualizing London’s Epidemiological History

Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Sarah Joshi

In 1854, Dr. John Snow pioneered the method of field epidemiology amidst a cholera outbreak in the neighborhood of Soho, London, England. Today, the importance of epidemiology and scientific communication has only grown in light of the recent COVID-19 pandemic. As I began my study abroad experience with the University of Pittsburgh London Film Programme, I sought to combine my interests in science and research with my filmmaking background. My goal was to utilize film as a tool to research the past and present of public health and epidemiology in London. In the semester I spent there, I conducted archival reviews of documents, photographs, and essays regarding the events of the cholera outbreak in 1854. For the remainder of my pre-production research, I visited and planned to film at multiple museums and spoke to experts in the field. The result of these findings took the form of a short documentary film, London Under My Microscope. The film worked to capture and expand upon this moment in history before the medium of cinema existed. The film created visual meaning for this historic scientific event while investigating the remaining impact that it still has today. By bringing together methods of documentary filmmaking, storytelling, and editing, I was able to engage in dialogue with audiences outside of the scientific community, thereby spreading these important ideas of epidemiological innovation to others. In the end, I added a deeper layer of meaning to my study abroad experience through the research and creation of this film.

Mrudul Nagapurkar - Poster Board 21

Unraveling the Metabolic Specificities of Supratentorial Ependymomas

Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Antony Michealraj

This project shows a study of the role of glutamine in the proliferation of supratentorial ependymomas (ST-EPN) through the UPMC Department of Neurosurgery. We set up and performed a drug-dose response curve of various concentrations of glutamine and other tricarboxylic acid cycle (TCA) intermediates, hypothesizing optimal growth in the presence of glutamine compared to other compounds. For the experiment, human-derived ST-EPN cells were grown in petri plates using neurobasal media with supplemental glutamine and other TCA metabolites, such as oxoglutarate, succinate, and palmitic acid. The concentrations of glutamine and the intermediates varied with each trial through conditioned media. ST-EPN cells were grown in glutamine-containing media to begin metabolism, and the efficiency of each conditioned media in recovering cells after glutamine was withdrawn was assessed with each experiment. We evaluated the conditions for effectiveness with the addition of Alamar Blue, a cell viability marker. Results were compared to a parallel experiment with a control cell line, another type of pediatric ependymoma.  A quantitative analysis of the data between each cell type was performed, and the results are consistent with prior evidence of tumor cell dependency on glutamine. The data concluded from this experiment can contribute to further developing targeted therapeutic agents for patients with this tumor.

Noah French - Poster Board 22

Flowstat: A Low-Cost Electrochemical Workstation for Redox Flow Battery Research 

Swanson School of Engineering

Faculty Mentor: Dr. James McKone

Redox flow batteries have the potential to be significantly cheaper for grid-scale energy storage compared to popular Li-Ion batteries, and this makes them especially important and attractive to the renewable energy market. Despite decades of active flow battery research, discovering better electrolytic materials remains a key bottleneck in commercial flow battery development in part because current testing equipment is expensive and ineffective. To fill this gap, I am developing a specialized electrochemical workstation called Flowstat that is intended specifically for redox flow batteries. 

While Flowstat does not have the extra features and functions of a commercial product, this device can be built for a fraction of the cost. A newly formed startup company called FlowCellutions has plans to integrate multiple Flowstats into a testing apparatus that will be capable of running dozens of experiments on separate flow batteries at once. This will present a monumental improvement in experimental efficiency at a dramatically reduced cost, which will accelerate the rate at which research into flow batteries is being conducted and help bring commercial flow batteries into reality.

A more specific focus of this project is to build a tool for flow battery experiments using off-the-shelf electronic components. Flowstat can run galvanostatic charge/discharge experiments on flow batteries, and initial experiments run on a “dummy cell” show results that are comparable to commercial devices. As FlowStat is based around an Arduino Uno, the finished device is simple to use, inexpensive, and easy to modify. Current work on the project is focused on improving the performance and functionality of FlowStat to increase its usefulness as a scientific tool.

Priya Gupta - Poster Board 23

Assessing Bias in Mobile Crisis Intervention: An Experimental Pilot Study

School of Social Work

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Leah Jacobs

A large body of research has documented the suboptimal responses of police officers to behavioral health crises (Watson et al., 2008), which often include counterproductive and coercive interventions (i.e., involuntary hospitalization, arrest, and physical restraints).  Additionally, some research suggests disparities based on race and history of criminal legal system involvement in officers’  deployment of coercive methods (e.g., Edwards, Esposito, & Lee, 2018; McLeod et al., 2020; Rotenburg, Tuck, Ptashny, & Mckenzie, 2017). To reduce the use of coercive and harmful interventions in mental health crises, law enforcement and mental health systems are turning to mobile crisis team interventions in lieu of, or in addition to, law enforcement responses.  

Mobile crisis teams are a community-based model of responding to calls involving a behavioral health crisis. These teams can take several forms, but are typically comprised of mental health clinicians, trained paraprofessionals, or peers (i.e., people with lived experience of mental illness trained to support others with mental illness). Regardless of the composition and structure of mobile crisis teams, advocacy for their expanded use is based on the assumption that mobile crisis workers will reduce the need for law enforcement involvement in crises, reduce the use of coercive and harmful interventions, and reduce arrest rates, especially among those who have been disproportionately affected by law enforcement responses (i.e., Black, Indigenous and other People of Color, people with mental illnesses with repeated involvement in criminal legal systems). In other words, proponents argue that mobile crisis team interventions are less biased, more likely to connect people in crisis to beneficial community-based services (in lieu of incarceration), and less inclined to use coercive and harmful interventions than law enforcement.  This study is a first step toward empirically testing these assumptions. 

In this study we piloted a survey among Master of Social Work Students (MSWs), with the intent of using the survey in a larger study of mobile crisis team members. The study uses an experimental factorial vignette survey design to assess (a) the causal influence of race on mobile crisis worker decisions to deploy coercive interventions and (b) the causal influence of known prior criminal legal system involvement on mobile crisis worker decisions to deploy coercive interventions. Based upon existing literature (e.g., Rosenfield, 1984; Cooper, Mclearan, & Zapf, 2004; Marson, McGovern, & Pomp, 1988; McGarvey et al., 2013; Pager, 2003), our hypotheses for the full study are that: the race of the person in crisis will impact decision-making, with study participants endorsing coercive interventions at a higher frequency for Black callers; that the caller’s history of criminal legal system involvement will impact decision-making, with study participants endorsing coercive interventions at a higher frequency for callers with a history of criminal legal system involvement; and that the caller’s race and history of known criminal legal system involvement would interact and show diminished racial disparities in decision-making for people with known history of criminal legal system involvement. For the purposes of the pilot study, we sought to assess feasibility of our design and psychometric properties of our instrument.    

Rayna Schoenberger - Poster Board 24

Collective Behaviors Drive the Formation of Fetal Liver Organoid Vascular Networks

Swanson School of Engineering

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Mo Ebrahimkhani

Miniature organ replicas, known as organoids, have the potential to revolutionize regenerative medicine and developmental biology by recreating human tissue to study or restore damaged organs. A critical component of realistic and functional organoids is a network of blood vessels enabling oxygen, nutrient, and waste transport. Understanding how these blood vessel networks arise and self-organize within organoids provides insight into how to create these networks for an array of clinical, industrial, and scientific applications. In this study, stem cells are coaxed to become fetal liver by expressing the transcription factor GATA6 or vascular endothelial (blood vessel) cells by expressing the transcription factor ETV2. We observed that, as the ETV2-expressing cells began to form the vessel network, they followed a specific sequence of collective behaviors, which is when the coordinated actions of many cells produce a large-scale result not possible for any individual cell alone. The ETV2-expressing cells will migrate toward each other to form clusters which compress and shrink in size before the cells inside re-disperse throughout the organoid. After this dispersal, the cells interconnect to form a final blood vessel network. This reveals the key role of collective behaviors in the formation of self-organized vessel networks in organoids, potentially opening new avenues for the optimization of organoid vascularization in scientific and clinical settings.

Richa Desai - Poster Board 25

Data Science in the Tropics: Infectious Disease Control in Colonial India

Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Joseph Alter

Using the bubonic plague outbreak in 1896 as a point of controversy to explore latent assumptions about power and bodies, I ask the question: how did British patterns of understanding epidemiological data about this plague reflect colonial modes of knowledge production? My research involves a literature review of the history of medicine in India, colonial lab science, and subaltern studies and close reading and analysis of epidemiological and government reports generated as a result of this controversy. My argument is that epidemiology at the time is not the objective science that it claims to be. Epidemiological data collection and analysis reflected colonial conceptions of power and perceptions of the tropics during the 1896 bubonic plague outbreak, reinforcing how they thought of Indian bodies and the Indian climate. The tropics were a powerful metaphor for understanding the Indian climate, and this influenced the kinds of data colonial authorities paid attention to and collected. British colonial authorities conducted data analysis that was consistent with this paradigm for the tropics, further entrenching disease and Indian bodies into presuppositions they had about Indian climate and culture. The outcome of this research is a humanities research paper that I intend to publish in an outlet that focuses on the history of science.

Rosslyn Scott - Poster Board 26

Identifying most common concerns of ovarian cancer caregivers reported in online health communities (OHCs).

School of Nursing

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Young Ji Lee and Daria Humbert 

Background: Online health communities (OHCs) have been a channel for both cancer patients and caregivers to share information and provide emotional support. Leveraging this resource would help researchers and clinicians to identify concerns of patients and caregivers which may guide future education materials; however, caregiver aspects have been understudied. Thus, the purpose of this study is to identify concerns among caregivers of cancer patients written in OHCs. As the first step, we focused on caregivers of ovarian cancer (OvCa), the deadliest gynecologic cancer.
Methods: We crawled data from the OHC managed by the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition (NOCC), and de-identified data by replacing with random numbers. We manually classified whether a post was written by OvCa patient or caregiver and only selected postings from caregivers. Then, the first coder (RS), a nursing undergraduate student, performed inductive content analysis through identifying keywords and phrases that had similar concepts. The second coder (CC) went through the same process and confirmed the themes. Any discrepancies between two coders resolved through meetings with a faculty-level researcher (YL).
 Results: In total, 909 postings were crawled, and only 10 postings were written by caregivers. Eight postings specified their relationships to the patient (1 sister-in-law, 5 daughters, and 2 husbands) . The remaining 2 postings did not specify their relationship to patients. We identified three themes: 1) emotional distress of the caregiver, 2) need of medical information for the caregiver, and 3) need of providing emotional support for patients.
Discussions: We found that few caregivers used the OHCs regardless of the significance. Further studies may examine the barriers among caregivers in utilizing OHCs. Also, different types of caregivers may have different needs, thus, this relationship needs to be studied further. Our results can support healthcare providers to develop educational resources supporting OvCa caregivers.

Ruvi Ranatunga - Poster Board 27

MiR324 Regulates Dendritic Spine Density During Development in Mice

Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences

Faculty Mentor: Poornima Krishnamurthy

MicroRNAs are small, non-coding RNAs that play an important role in post-transcriptional gene expression and synaptic regulation. MiR-324-5p, a specific type of microRNA, is known to regulate neuronal excitability in relation to seizures. Previous research in our lab has demonstrated that inhibition of miR-324-5p delays seizure onset in mice through an increase in Kv4.2 potassium channel expression and function in the hippocampal CA1 region. Additionally, recent research demonstrates that knockout (KO) of Mir324, the genetic precursor to miR-324-5p, reduces dendritic spine density in this region in adult mice. Dendritic spines are small protrusions along neuronal dendrites and the main sites for excitatory synapses. Dendritic spine density changes across development, but it is not known whether or how miR-324-5p regulates dendritic spines in development. To further study this, mouse brains from wild-type (WT, miR-324-5p containing) and KO (miR-324-5p excluding) mice at different ages were collected. Hippocampal tissue was sectioned from these brains and stained using the Nissl and Golgi staining methods. The Nissl method allowed quantification of the hippocampal tissue morphology, while the Golgi method produced images of spines later analyzed by ImageJ software. Analysis showed reduced dendritic spine density in KO mice on postnatal days 14 and 28. These results suggest that miR-324-5p expression regulates dendritic spine density in development as well as in the fully developed brain and have important implications regarding miR-324-5p’s role in the synaptic regulation of the mechanisms behind reoccurring seizures. The figure is the graphical abstract. It shows that miR-324-5p modulates seizure in a kainic acid mouse model via Kv4.2, an a-type potassium channel. Later, the lab showed that Kv4.2 regulates spine density, making an additional connection between miR324/seizures/dendritic spines.

Sofia Gurgel - Poster Board 28

A rare complication after extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy: a case report of a large subcapsular renal hematoma

Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Rodrigo Bastos Grunewald

This case report discusses the clinical case of a patient who underwent Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy (ESWL) for the treatment of a kidney stone, which evolved into a rare complication, a giant renal subcapsular hematoma with an approximate volume of 700 ml. Following the complication diagnosis, the patient was treated with antibiotics, intravenous analgesics, hydration, and rest for seven days. The outpatient follow-up showed resolution of the hematoma after 45 days of ESWL. The experience discussed in this case suggests that any patient who after ESWL develops acute pain in the lumbar region and is unresponsive to analgesics should consider the possibility of developing a renal subcapsular hematoma and conservative treatment should be the first choice.

Sophia Pollex - Poster Board 29

Using the PAUSE Acronym to Deliver Unbiased Care to Patients

School of Nursing

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Karen Coyne

For twenty-one years in a row, the most trusted, honest, and ethical profession has been nursing (Gaines, 2023). Therefore, why is it that substance use disorder (SUD) patients have trouble connecting with their nurses (Thorne, 2018)? Perhaps this is due to the stigma surrounding SUD. Nurses, like everyone else, have personal beliefs and implicit biases that can affect their quality of care (Boyatzis, 2018).

Karen Coyne, who has devoted her time to researching SUD and pregnancy, has developed an acronym for healthcare workers to address their own biases and beliefs toward patients with SUD (Coyne, 2020). The acronym PAUSE stands for: P = Pause before the encounter, A = assess and acknowledge your own values, beliefs, and biases, U = understand the medical condition, S = See the patient as an individual, and E = Encounter with Empathy. This acronym will allow medical professionals to reflect on their values, beliefs, and biases to deliver respectful and non-discriminatory care to patients with health disparities.

The authors propose a quantitative study to prove the positive impact that PAUSE could have on a healthcare provider’s emotional intelligence and medical condition regard. To initiate this study, a convenience sample of undergraduate nursing students will undergo a pre-survey followed by an educational intervention, and post-survey. The survey will contain demographic information regarding class year, race and ethnicity, gender, living environment, and questions regarding addiction. Also included will be the Medical Condition Regard Scale (MCRS (Gilchrist et al., 2011), and the Brief Emotional Intelligence Scale (BEIS-10) (Davies et. al, 2010).

The authors have identified a required diversity, equity, and inclusion class within the four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing curriculum to present the PAUSE educational intervention. First, the survey will be presented as an optional activity for the students to complete at the end of one class. Those who consent to take the survey will create a unique password to ensure anonymity. Before the next class, all students will be required to view an online video that explains PAUSE and how to use it in nursing practice. During that next class, the students will have a chance to discuss what they learned about PAUSE in order to cement their understanding of the acronym and how it can be used. The students’ emotional intelligence and medical condition regard will be followed up annually with the post-test which will be identical to the pre-test survey. The authors predict that the study’s outcome will show improvement in undergraduate nursing students’ emotional intelligence and medical condition regard. Therefore improving their connectedness and care toward vulnerable patients.

William Zhang - Poster Board 30

Beds & Wounds: Best Practices in Support Surfaces for Pressure Injuries

School of Nursing

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Yurun Cai

Hospital-Acquired Pressure Injuries (HAPI) cost hospitals between $500 to $70,000 per case, are uncompensated, and result in US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) payment penalties. In many hospitals, the standard-of-care for patients at risk for or experiencing pressure injuries includes an alternating-pressure air mattress (APAM) and 2-hour repositioning intervals.

This evidence-based project explored HAPI incidence and comfort among support surfaces, comparing APAM with static air, high-specification foam, reactive gel, and basic foam beds, in adult patients at acute and long-term care settings to evaluate the suitability of hospital pressure injury algorithms.

Following John Hopkins' EBP Model, an extensive literature review of PubMed, including the following terms: pressure, pressure ulcer, mattress, air, gel, foam, and related MeSH terms, discovered 112 records. Articles published between 2017 and 2022 studying human subjects were included.  Articles lacking APAM comparison or involving surgical support surfaces, wound dressings, or bundled interventions were excluded. After screening, inclusion of articles from systematic reviews, and exclusion, 15 studies were deemed relevant to the project. Studies were appraised and synthesized to generate recommendations.

Article appraisal established 3 level I studies, 7 level II studies, 2 level III studies, and 3 level V studies. Several trends emerged: (1) static air mattresses reduced HAPI incidence, improved patient comfort, and were less expensive than APAM; (2) APAM were equivalent to high-specification foam for HAPI prevention; (3) both APAM and reactive gel were superior to basic foam mattresses for HAPI prevention.

Hospital pressure injury algorithms should reflect the improved HAPI incidence, comfort, and cost of static air beds in lieu of APAM. Increasing popularity of new-technology, consumer mattresses, such as Purple®, may result in patients arriving to the hospital with fewer pressure injuries; further research on this area is warranted.

Zachary Frey - Poster Board 31

Characterizing Jamestown Canyon virus infection of primary rat neurons and dependence on Lrp1

Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Amy Hartman

Jamestown Canyon virus (JCV) is a mosquito-transmitted orthobunyavirus endemic to the United States and Canada. It causes approximately 25 cases of neuroinvasive disease a year, with adults being more susceptible to neurologic symptoms than children. Neurologic manifestations of JCV infection can include meningitis and encephalitis. Little is known about JCV neuropathogenesis, and a limited number of in vitro and in vivo models have been developed. In immortalized neural cell lines, others report JCV to have slower growth kinetics and a relatively low peak titer when compared to other orthobunyaviruses. Here, we use primary rat neurons which, to our knowledge, have not been previously used as a model to study JCV. Primary cortical neurons were isolated from E18 embryonic rats, cultured for 4 days, and infected with 61V-2235 strain of JCV. Samples were harvested through 60hpi for measurement of virus by RT-qPCR. We observed quick replication and high titers of viral RNA within just 24 hours of infection. After infection with multiple MOIs, viral RNA levels reached peak titers of approximately 10^7 PFU/mL equivalents around 48hpi.
JCV is in the same order (Bunyavirales) as Rift Valley Fever virus, and the same genus (Orthobunyavirus) as Oropouche orthobunyavirus, both of which have been shown recently to use low density lipoprotein receptor-related protein 1 (Lrp1) as a host entry factor. We found that pre-treatment of primary rat neurons with a murine homologue of a high affinity ligand for Lrp1 (mRAPD3) results in a reduction in JCV infection. In primary neurons treated with mRAPD3 we observed an 80-90% reduction in viral RNA levels and a reduction in viral antigen staining as viewed by immunofluorescent microscopy. Overall, these findings suggest that neurons are highly susceptible to infection by JCV and that Lrp1 may be required for efficient infection in this cell type.

Benjamin Asciutto - PowerPoint 32

'Pitt in Hollywood' Podcast Series

Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Dana Och

The University of Pittsburgh is known for having a robust alumni network across the sciences. Yet, what is less known to Pitt students is the vast network within the humanities: specifically arts & entertainment. During the summer of 2022, with support from the OUR's Summer Undergraduate Research Award, I recorded ten interviews in Los Angeles, California with successful professionals working in the film & entertainment industry. All of these professionals happened to be not from USC, NYU or any other film school, but from our alma mater: Pitt. The focus of the interviews was on their individual job, the qualifications of the position, and the decisions they made along the way, including their education, internships, mentoring opportunities, etc. The beauty of these interviews is to provide a platform for Pitt alumni to share their professional journeys to current college students. It is also an effective method of teaching Pitt student listeners important lessons in professionalism, skill development, as well as providing inside knowledge of the industry. The interview list includes an Oscar-nominated film editor, WarnerMedia Post Production Coordinator, FOX Sports Video Producer, Co-Founder of Lionsgate Studio and many more. Each professional has a personal and oftentimes inspiring story about how they entered the industry and climbed the ladder of success which I believe will continue to resonate with aspiring students at Pitt.