• The Republican in Plato's Republic: Condoleezza Rice as the Philosopher King

      Trice, Ethan (2014-01-27)
      Plato's Republic is a fundamental piece of political philosophy which discusses an ideal city run by Philosopher Kings. Though an old treatise, The Republic still has value today for giving advice to potential leaders. Plato's framework needs modernizing, but the idea of a true Philosopher King in power today should appeal to most people. A selfless and wise leader who can remain calm but can protect his constituents. What would a philosophic president look like? Many politicians like to claim a link to some respected old writer, often choosing a founding father or John Locke. A link with Plato would not be in terms of policy decisions, but rather how the politician comes to make those decisions and how the politicians rises to power. Dr. Condoleezza Rice is the best example of a modern version of Plato's Philosopher King. The PhD itself points to philosophy, though her degree is in political science with a focus on military relations. She excelled in her liberal education and became top of her field in academia, indicating she had the proper nature to excel. Her early background featured rigorous academics, resembling the education of Plato's Philosopher Kings. Many of her career choices strongly parallel the career path and decisions Plato prescribes for his Philosopher Kings. These individual aspects combined indicate that Dr. Rice embodies the modern equivalent to the Platonic ideal of the Philosopher King.
    • Program, BEAR Day 2011

      Mercer University (2014-01-27)
    • Program, BEAR Day 2012

      Mercer University (2014-01-27)
    • Program, BEAR Day 2013

      Mercer University (2014-01-27)
    • Program, BEAR Day 2014

      Mercer University (2014-04-11)
    • Program, BEAR Day 2015

      Mercer University (2015-04-14)
    • Program, BEAR Day 2016

      Mercer University (2016-04)
    • Program, BEAR Day 2017

      Mercer University (2017-04)
    • Program, BEAR Day 2018

      Mercer University (Mercer University, 2018-04-05)
    • The Effect Of Patch Compartment Neuronal Inhibition upon C-Fos Expression In Methamphetamine Addiction

      Christy, David; Horner, Kristen; Muchandi, Bhuvaneshwari (2021)
      By assessing the nature of cFos neuronal expression in stereotypic habits associated with drug use, treatment models for methamphetamine addiction can be developed to address behavioral issues. The study focuses on the function of the striatum, which is involved in processing environmental information from the cortex to signal the appropriate behavior. Specifically, the patch compartment of the striatum is heavily implicated in addictive patterns through its high levels of mu opioid receptors and possesses an imbalance in cFos neuronal expression compared to its matrix counterpart. Addictive patterns develop through stimulus-response associations to create habit formation with inflexible behaviors, which occur automatically without cognitive processing. The study predicts that selective inhibition of the patch compartment will result in diminished habit formation and stereotypic behaviors associated with methamphetamine abuse. First, the iDREADD vector was inserted through the adeno-associated virus vector into the prelimbic cortex (PLC) and tagged with mCherry to observe the reduction in patch compartment neuronal activity. Then the animals underwent self administration with methamphetamine under a continuous and variable reinforcement schedule to promote habit formation. Aversion training took place in conditioned-place preference chambers to evaluate the inflexible nature of habit formation. Lastly, the rats were sacrificed and immunohistochemistry staining was subsequently performed to analyze cFos neuronal expression. The results indicated a decreased rate of stereotypic behavior within iDREADD infused rats when exposed to noxious stimuli, illustrating the decreased rate of habit formation. Through diminished habit formation, animals can adopt more flexible behavioral patterns to diminish the addictive potential of methamphetamine administration, which can be applied to human models in future research. Future experimentation should be conducted to evaluate the efficacy of inhibiting PLC in equalizing the patch-matrix compartment imbalance.
    • Mechanisms of transport and toxicity of methylmercury in placental syncytiotrophoblasts

      Bridges, Christy; McKallip, Robert; Uchakina, Olga; Marroquin, Andres; Ganapathy, Vidya; Vaghela, Simran (2021)
      Methylmercury (MeHg) is a prevalent environmental toxicant that is present in biological systems as a conjugate of thiol-containing molecules, such as cysteine (Cys). MeHg-Cys is a transportable form of methylmercury that can cross the placenta and cause developmental delays and defects in the fetus. However, the mechanisms by which MeHg crosses the placenta are not well characterized. The purpose of the current project was to characterize the mechanisms by which methylmercury is taken up into placental syncytiotrophoblasts and evaluate the toxicity of MeHg on these cells. BeWo cells, a placental syncytiotrophoblast line, were exposed to MeHg-Cys under various conditions and the transport of MeHg-Cys was characterized. Moreover, the toxicity of MeHg-Cys was assessed using the following biochemical assays: TBARS to measure lipid peroxidation, flow cytometry to measure mitochondrial membrane potential and cell viability, Ellman�s assay to measure thiol content within the cell, and autophagy to measure the amount of autophagosomes present. Our findings from the transport studies also show that there are sodium-independent and sodium-dependent transporters involved in the uptake of methylmercury-cysteine into BeWo cells. Potential transport proteins are System L and System B0,+, which are both sodium- independent mechanisms. Exposure to MeHg-Cys was found to be toxic to placental syncytiotrophoblasts. We found that lipid peroxidation and expression of superoxide dismutase increased, and mitochondrial membrane potential decreased, indicating a decrease in viability. The results of this study provide important insight into the mechanisms of MeHg-Cys transport and toxicity in placental syncytiotrophoblasts.
    • Evaluation of the Efficacy of Fabric Face Masks on the Number of Wash During the Outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19)

      Hyun, Sinjae; Nguyen, Minh; Donalson, Garrett; Bradley, Nicholas; Templeton, Trevor; Verma, Maansi; Aldridge, Austin; Spalding, Sarah (2021)
      Evaluation of the Efficacy of Fabric Face Masks on the Number of Wash During the Outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19) Minh Nguyen, Garrett Donalson, Nicholas Bradley, Trevor Templeton, Maansi Verma, Austin Aldridge, Sarah Spalding, and Dr. Sinjae Hyun School of Engineering, Mercer University, Macon, GA USA Category: Healthcare Materials BACKGROUND: The main objective of this study was to test the efficacy of common face masks worn by on-campus Mercer students after washing: nylon neck-gaiter, white cloth, and black Mercer-made mask. In March 2020, the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic from Wuhan, China that has been spreading throughout most countries in the world has cost many innocent lives regardless of advanced medical technology. Wearing a mask has been proven to lower the chance of spreading the virus from the patient to be 1.5% (Lawrie). By providing the general population, especially the Mercer community, individuals will be able to make wise decisions to choose which face mask to wear along with social distancing practice to protect themselves during the coronavirus pandemic. METHODS: The efficacy of face masks is described by (1) filtration efficiency - percentage of particles blocked by the face mask and (2) pressure drop - amount of air flow that determines how hard it is to breathe. The face masks were clamped by a circular-shaped filter holder. Air runs through the mask to measure the pressure drop in cmH2O by using a dual-port manometer (Fieldpiece SDMN5). The filtration efficiencies were tested using the laboratory set-up machine consisting of a Constant Output Atomizer (COA, TSI Aerosol Generator 3076), diffusion dryer, 85Kr neutralizer, facemask sample holder, Wide-range Particle Spectrometer (WPS - 1000XP), flowmeter, and vacuum pump. This setup allowed the facemask sample material to work as a �filter� as it provides the barrier to the transport of aerosol particles made up of sodium. Concentrations of sodium particles in the air after passing through the face masks (filtered) and before the face masks (unfiltered) were measured using the WPS, which measures the concentration of particles in the range of total, nano, submicron, micron, and airborne sizes. The efficacy of three types of face masks was evaluated based on the pressure drop and the filtration efficiency (FE = ((filtered-unfiltered)/unfiltered)*100). After each measurement, face masks were washed during the weekends seven times. The filtration efficiency of the face mask after washing was also evaluated. RESULTS: The white cloth mask has the overall highest pressure drop, and the nylon neck-gaiter has the overall lowest pressure drop. The pressure drop for each of the three types of face masks has an increasing trend after each wash. This is explained by the deterioration of the threads on the face masks that become hairy and fill the space gaps after each wash. In the FE evaluation, the white cloth mask has the overall highest FE in all total, nano, submicron, micron, and airborne sizes, whereas the nylon neck-gaiter has the overall lowest FE in all sizes, respectively. Since this study focuses on how face masks perform during the outbreak of coronavirus, the analysis mainly focuses on the FE in total and airborne sizes. The white cloth mask, again, has the highest FE (FETotal and FEAirborne around 30%), then the black Mercer-made face mask (FETotal and FEAirborne around 20%), and the nylon neck-gaiter has the lowest FE (FETotal and FEAirborne around 0%). All of these masks have the filtration efficiency of less than 50%, so the results suggest using a more multi-layered face mask. The durability of all three face masks after seven times of washing does not have an exact positive or negative slope relationship, and this could be affected by how the particles moved during washing. This suggests saving by washing and reusing the face masks for a one-week duration. CONCLUSIONS: The current study results in a good indication of the efficacy and durability of the face mask materials. The findings will become extremely important for society, especially the Mercer community. Faculty, staff, and students are recommended wearing and rewashing appropriate face masks (about 30% filtration efficiency) and practicing social distancing to enhance the prevention of community spreading of the coronavirus. REFERENCE Lawrie, E. (2020, May 19). Coronavirus: Ryanair boss's face mask claim fact-checked. Retrieved from https://www.bbc.com/news/52707461
    • Mercury Exposure in Diabetic Rats

      Joshee, Lucy; Bridges, Christy; Farrell, Elisa; Aljic, Sumeja; Pittman, Elizabeth; Matta, Kayla (2021)
      Diabetes is a significant health problem and comorbidity throughout the world that can lead to renal injury and insufficiency. Exposure to environmental toxicants such as mercury (Hg) may also lead to renal injury and insufficiency. Indeed, exposure to Hg has been shown to exacerbate chronic kidney disease (CKD). However, the impact of Hg exposure on renal function in diabetic patients is unclear. The goal of the present study is to test the hypothesis that exposing diabetic animals to Hg will enhance renal injury. To test this hypothesis, we used diabetic and control Wistar rats. Diabetic rats (n = 10) were fed a high-fat diet for 10 days followed by an injection with streptozotocin (65 mg/kg). Control rats (n = 10) were fed a normal diet for 10 days followed by an injection of buffer. Rats with blood glucose levels above 150 mg/dL were considered diabetic. Five rats from each group were administered Hg (5 mg/kg) intravenously and the remaining five rats were administered saline. Rats were sacrificed 24 h after injection, and we measured biomarkers of renal function. Diabetic rats had decreased renal function, evidenced by increased serum creatinine levels and KIM-1 expression. Additionally, the expression of Klotho, SIRT1, and ATG13 was decreased, suggesting impairment in some cellular homeostatic processes. Histological analyses revealed pathological changes in diabetic rat kidneys. The current study provides data related to the mechanisms of renal injury in diabetic patients and shows that, under the current exposure conditions, exposure to Hg does not enhance renal injury in diabetic patients.
    • Study of Glycine and Alanine Coupled with Carboxylic Acids as Biofilm Inhibitors in Common Bacteria Strains

      Goode, David; Hensel, Linda; Severiano, Sara; Tondreau, Jacob; Kight, Parker (2021)
      ?Biofilm is a substance secreted by bacteria cells that offers protection to the bacteria colony, typically from host immune cells. Scientists have found biofilm to cause complications and infections in medical devices such as pacemakers and catheters. Biofilm production is stimulated when enough bacteria communicate through a process known as quorum sensing. This study aimed to identify possible amide coupled carboxylic acids and amino acids that resemble quorum-sensing signaling molecules as biofilm inhibitors in Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus mutans, Escherichia coli, and Bacillus subtilis. Crystal violet assays were used to test for biofilm inhibition; disk diffusion, congo red, and use-dilution assay; and planktonic assays were conducted to test for traditional antibiotic properties of bactericidal or bacteriostatic activity. Gly-4 and Gly-32 were found to be biofilm inhibitors in S. mutans, with 53% and 47% biofilm inhibition respectively; neither drug showed signs of traditional antibacterial properties. Future experiments are required to corroborate this study�s findings, and to explore the efficacy of other drugs with similar functional groups to develop more sophisticated biofilm inhibitors.
    • Examination of Protein Phosphorylation in Gram-Positive Bacteria Biofilm

      Goode, David; Cagle, Nathan (2021)
      All gram-positive bacteria, such as Staphylococcus aureus, produce biofilms as a method to protect themselves from their surroundings; however, these communities of bacteria can be particularly harmful to the human body. Biofilms are able to form on medical devices inserted into bodies, and bacteria can travel from primary infection sites to produce secondary infections throughout the body. Uncontrolled biofilms can cause sepsis and eventually death. Further, treating infectious biofilms is challenging because they produce a protective coating that allows the bacteria to evade immune system responses and treatments with antibiotics. To stop these infections early in their paths, the mechanisms behind biofilm formation must be fully understood, and target proteins in these pathways must be inhibited. The following study can be used to help identify the proteins involved in the formation of biofilms by studying how the phosphorylation of proteins changes upon biofilm formation. Staphylococcus aureus bacteria cells were lysed to extract protein, and protein concentrations were quantized with a bicinchoninic acid (BCA) assay. Proteins were separated by molecular weight with 1D SDS-PAGE. The fluorescent Pro-Q Diamond Phosphoprotein Gel Stain was used in conjunction with SYPRO Ruby dye to demonstrate protein phosphorylation. This study is currently ongoing, and research methods and techniques are being optimized.
    • Chemogenetic Inhibition of Prelimbic Cortex Reduces Habitual Methamphetamine Self-administration

      Christy, David; Horner, Kristen; Dama, Ashitha; Ramesh, Priya (2021)
      Habitual drug use is the continued use of drugs even if the reward is removed or replaced with aversion. This project hypothesizes that habitual drug use will lead to a decrease in Cannabinoid receptor I (CBI) and an increase in Fatty Acid Amide Hydrolase (FAAH) levels. As Methamphetamine (METH) use increases the endocannabinoid release, this might increase the levels of FAAH and decrease the number of cannabinoid receptors to maintain homeostasis. Special receptors called DREADDS, used to prevent the activation of the patch compartment, are infused into the prelimbic cortex that leads to the patch compartment of the rats. Other rats are given a Vehicle (DMSO) during intracranial infusions. Jugular catheters are then inserted to facilitate self-administration of METH. After the self-administration process, the DREADD and DMSO rats are divided further into groups receiving LiCl (aversive stimulus) or saline solution. Immunohistochemistry examines the neurochemical changes in the perfused brain tissue by labelling CBI receptors and FAAH. Initial immunofluorescent staining of CBI was promising. Currently, co-localized staining of CBI and mu-opioid receptors are being performed to draw conclusions about CBI levels between various groups. Since it is difficult to label enzymes such as FAAH, Oleoyl Trifluoromethyl Ketone, an FAAH inhibitor, will be used to determine if FAAH plays a role in long-term depression in the matrix following habitual METH self-administration. Our results also indicate that habitual METH use decreased over time in the DREADD rats during the pre-aversion period. Regardless of whether or not the DMSO rats received LiCl or saline, they preferred to self-administer METH again.
    • Interest Group Impact on Environmental Policy

      Glasgow, Dereck; Melnick, Alexander (2021)
      This project intends to research the impact of environmental interest group strength on environmental policy. Using metrics from GuideStar and various interest group catalogs our team of researchers are attempting to classify designated environmental interest groups into categories designated by area of focus: local, regional, national, and global. Using these metrics we will then ascertain the economic power each group possesses. In doing so the purpose will be to determine how much of an effect each designation has on policy. The overall benefit has become even more clear as we have seen multiple trends showing that the national groups have much more financial power and in turn, logically, a greater influence on policy. We have also noticed trends showing that the greater in size an interest group is, the more awareness they generate; however this is limited. We will hope to analyze these trends further and discuss our findings as well as the impact they have.
    • Xenophobia in Rome and how it affected the early Christians

      Dowling, Abigail; Maylock, Nicholas (2021)
      One thing that everyone believes they know about ancient Rome is that the Christians faced persecution during this time. The treatment, or mistreatment, of the early Christians stems from a larger wave of xenophobia occurring in Rome in and around the first century. Remnants of this wave are present in the writings of the time, despite the common conception that once the Romans conquered a people, those people would be effortlessly absorbed by the Empire. This common misconception is spurred on by the Pax Romana, or Roman Peace, a term referring to the time of relative peace under the Roman Empire. The peace was held with military control and taxation of the Roman territories. Despite being at peace, Roman citizens, especially the ones living in the city of Rome, thought of themselves as better than the provincial citizens and outsiders. This Roman Xenophobia encapsulated dislike not just towards foreign groups, but also foreign ideologies. This paper will explore how xenophobia in Rome affected different groups, and where it was present in literary works. In addition, it will take a look at Christianity as seen by the Romans and show how it falls into the category of xenophobia and not religious persecution.
    • ß (1-3)-Glucan Unmasking in C. auris for Recognition by Innate Immune Cells

      Hasim, Sahar; Mohapatra, Parneeta; Mahajan, Sarika (2021)
      Multidrug-resistant Candida auris, a major hospital-acquired pathogen, is a severe health threat and poses a significant challenge to healthcare providers. Although there have been several studies on the anti-fungal resistance of this species, there have been very limited cell wall studies on immune responses to unmasking. C. auris cell walls are made of chitin and ß (1-3)-glucan, masked with a layer of mannosylated glycoproteins. This masking decreases the efficiency of immune detection of the ß (1-3)-glucan by innate immune cells (Dectin-1). Caspofungin belongs to the echinocandin family and has been shown to exhibit anti-fungal tendencies and reduce biofilm formation in Candida species by inhibiting the synthesis of ß (1-3)-glucan. We conducted a comparative unmasking study on nine clinical C. auris strains and one Candida albicans wild type (used as the control strain) with different caspofungin concentrations for the unmasking of ß (1-3)-glucan. Unmasking was detected by staining each cell with ß (1-3)-glucan antibodies and examining them under a fluorescent microscope. Biofilm data was also used to map the effects of caspofungin. Atomic force microscope images were used to relate cell topography to caspofungin results. Overall, our data demonstrated primary evidence suggesting that clinical strains 1099, 1100, and 1101 in Candida auris showed unmasking in the presence of sublethal caspofungin concentrations. Comparing the genotypes and phenotypes of caspofungin-sensitive strains versus resistant strains in this study could reveal new drug targets that can address resistant strains and rapid clearance of the pathogen inside the host.
    • NGOs in Haiti: How Greed Feasts on the Country of Haiti

      Bennett, Stephanie; Bartlett, Emily (2021)
      This paper will examine the effects of foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Haiti. After the earthquake in 2010, there was a spike in the number of NGOs in Haiti, and many of those NGOs remain in Haiti even a decade after the natural disaster. NGOs have a strong influence over the lives of many Haitians, and many NGOs profit a great deal from their presence in Haiti. In order to examine how NGOs created such a strong foothold in Haiti, this paper will analyze Haiti�s history and the racist narrative of Haiti that �more developed� countries use to keep Haiti under their control. Next, this paper will examine specific NGOs such as Fonkoze and Partners In Health in order to understand why they came to Haiti, how they operate, and why they are still in Haiti after so long. By examining the legacy of foreign involvement in Haiti, as well as the influence of NGOs currently in Haiti, this paper seeks to understand the presence of NGOs in Haiti and offer a replacement of NGOs with Haitian-led initiatives.