Now showing items 1-20 of 1211

    • Human Trafficking and Moral Injury

      Haralson, Debra LaCruz; McAfee School of Theology
      ABSTRACT DEBRA HARALSON MORAL INJURY AND HUMAN TRAFFICKING Under the direction of David Garber, Ph.D. Moral injury is a response to traumatic events that causes people to question the existence of good and evil, both in the world and in themselves. Once applied to military veterans, moral injury is now seen in medical professionals, first responders, and others who move in high stakes situations. When a person violates a deeply held ethical code, as in a soldier taking a human life, moral injury can occur. Even when the action is taken in obedience to authority, for the greater good, or under compulsion, moral injury can cause shame, reduced trust in others, and ethical confusion. At The Program, a faith-based, residential center for women who have survived sex trafficking, behaviors consistent with moral injury prevail. Many of the women at The Program are wrestling with moral injury. Moral repair involves moving from secrecy and isolation into a supportive community where naming traumatic events, and their moral ambiguities, is possible. Research explored the effectiveness of The Program’s spiritual care for women who have incurred moral injury. Five spiritual care initiatives were observed: three Bible studies, an art, and an exercise class. Research instruments included participant questionnaires, observation notes, and class leader interviews. After obtaining informed consent, anonymous surveys were distributed to participants, and class leaders were interviewed. Data was coded and analyzed according to evidence of an atmosphere of expression, a supportive community, and meaningful rituals. Though most participants indicated that they enjoyed the classes, the observations revealed little self-expression. The highest participant ratings were for the art class. Here, participants exhibited self-expression, supportive community, and connection to God. The area that showed great potential for growth was the presence of meaningful rituals. Conclusions present many opportunities. If class leaders are able to move from proclamation to facilitation, participants may be more likely to trust. Possible rituals include a service of lament, a memorial monument, and a prayer garden. Further research opportunities include the value of Program participant feedback, moral injury and spiritual care in other populations, and creative rituals to honor past trauma.
    • Discovering Abundance: Leading Stakeholders of Youth Ministry at First Baptist Church of Augusta in Asset-Based Community

      Hughes, David Jennings; McAfee School of Theology
      The student ministry at First Baptist Church of Augusta is no different than any other church, community organization, or business that suffers from a scarcity mentality. This project and its ABCD tools were to dispel that notion and instead declare that there is abundance in our present that will unlock a future with immeasurably more possibilities than all we can ever ask or imagine. Such a project does not just pursue programmatic viability for the future. It also aligns with a central truth of the gospel – there is a God-sized power within every person who calls upon the name of Jesus. Such power once rose Jesus from the grave, and the world has never been the same since Jesus came. This project proclaims that similar resurrection can happen every time groups of individuals are courageous enough to discover the abundance innate within their spiritual DNA and put it into practice in the world in which they live.
    • Reawakening the Ethical Imagination of the Local Congregation Through the Exploration of the Biblical Metanarrative

      Hall, Jeremy S; McAfee School of Theology
      JEREMY SEAN HALL REAWAKENING THE ETHICAL IMAGINATION OF THE LOCAL CONGREGATION THROUGH THE EXPLORATION OF THE BIBLICAL METANARRATIVE. Under the direction of David P. Gushee In the fall of 2019, Towne View Baptist Church (TVBC), a small Southern Baptist Church in north Georgia, voted to welcome LGBTQ believers into full membership. While the church was proud of its newly adopted membership policy, its people were theologically unsure of their actions. If one had surveyed members on why they had welcomed LGBTQ believers, they would either have offered platitudes about God’s love and the ubiquity of sin or would have attempted to prooftext their way through the question. The concern is that this inclusion decision sat on a weak foundation and could be walked back in the future by poor Biblical interpretation. If leaders could move this group of (formerly) Southern Baptists to look at the Bible in a new and life-giving way to see a better and more inclusive church, then it would be possible to form a more robust church witness in the post-Christian United States. My thesis project sought to train the TVBC membership to approach ethical decisions in the context of the Biblical metanarrative and to awaken the ethical imagination by aligning church decisions with the themes and trajectory of the Bible. If effective, this training would also aid TVBC members in making difficult decisions in the future from a robust Christian ethic grounded in the trajectory of God’s dream for the creation as found in scripture. The exploration of the biblical metanarrative allowed the participants to engage their ethical imagination, moving from choosing affirmation as a negation of their culturally-embedded understanding of the LGBTQ prohibition found in the “anti-homosexual acts passages” to being able to understand their affirming position as a response to the metanarrative of the Bible and the trajectory of God’s redemptive work across the story of the Bible and in the world.
    • Transgender and Gender-Nonconforming Students’ Perceptions of Risk and Protective Factors That Affect Their College Experience

      Pollard , Richard D.; Tift College of Education
      The stigma and daily distress routinely experienced by transgender and nonbinary (TGNB) individuals negatively disturb their safety, mental stability, physical health, school success, employment opportunities, and societal inclusion, resulting in systematic marginalization and isolation in a variety of settings, including families, schools, and employment (Azeem et al., 2019; Budge & Katz-Wise, 2019; Lerner, 2019; Murchison et al., 2019; Sevlever & Meyer-Bahlburg, 2019). This phenomenological study aimed to explore the higher education experiences of TGNB students to gain insight into self-identified factors associated with their academic success and college completion. Using snowball and chain sampling techniques for recruitment, the researcher recruited 8 participants. All participants self-identified as TGNB, were over the age of 18, and had either graduated or dropped out of higher education within the previous five years. The researcher employed semi-structured interviews, and data collection was completed via HIPAA-compliant Zoom videotelephony. The researcher used an audit trail, a reflexivity journal, member checking, and detailed, thick descriptions to ensure trustworthiness. Following the steps outlined by Smith, et al. (2009), the researcher discovered six subordinate themes: (1) "Exploration and self-education for gender identity determination," (2) "Anticipated Resistance: The struggles of daily college life for TGNB students," (3) "Intolerance and injustice just to be me, (4) Internal and external factors of loss and growth," (5) "Human pillars on the campus to create belonging for TGNB students," and (6) "Transferring the responsibility of survival to one's self." These six emergent themes provided insight into how the participants navigated their gender identity during their higher education experiences. Each participant was persistent in doing what was necessary individually to move forward, which was evident in this study. The one participant that did not graduate indicated their desire to return to higher education. Future research recommendations include: 1) A need for better understanding includes more comprehension of the connectedness of TGNB students on campuses to buffer isolation and promote wellness among the TGNB student population, 2) A case study for a college that works well with TGNB students, and 3) additional research should study TGNB assigned males to understand better the differences in their experiences in the higher education environment.
    • The COVID-19 Pandemic And The Impact Of Social And Cultural Courses on Ethnocultural Empathy: Cultivating Comfortability, A Program Evaluation

      Paige, Lynn; College of Professional Advancement
      The current study’s findings explored and defined graduate students’ perceptions of the COVID-19 pandemic and the need for multicultural awareness, ethnocultural empathy, (a component of multicultural competency), and comfortability in the learning environment. The program evaluation’s aim is to report the impact of the learning outcomes of pre-designed social and cultural courses that are required in CACERP counseling programs and COAMFTE family therapy programs. As a program evaluation, the study research design was an embedded mixed- methodology that allowed for an analysis of both qualitative and quantitative inquiry. Therefore, a thematic analysis reported themes of multicultural awareness and empathic expressions among graduate students currently enrolled in a counseling program. The overall statistical analysis revealed a significant negative relationship between the number of credits for graduate students currently enrolled in a counseling program, and the level of ethnocultural empathy r= -.533*, p<05. There was a significant positive correlation between the level of comfortability in learning and the level of ethnocultural empathy r =. 05, p<01. A discussion on the areas of success, the study limitations, and implications for future research is included to provide insight of the presented program evaluation. Keywords: multicultural competency, ethnocultural empathy, comfortability, program evaluation, COVID-19 pandemic
    • Mental Health, Life Satisfaction, and Wellness Among Mexican American Immigrants

      Garcia, Stephanie; College of Professional Advancement
      This study examines the unique challenges that Mexican immigrants face and how these impact their overall health and life satisfaction. More specifically, this study is based on a quantitative research design that seeks to determine whether anxiety, depression, and wellness are predictive of life satisfaction. To date, these factors have not been studied collectively amongst the Mexican immigrant population. To test the hypotheses, a multilinear regression was conducted. The results indicated that anxiety, depression, and wellness can account for 62% of the variance in life satisfaction (R2=.63, Table 7). Depression and wellness were retained as the most significant predictors of life satisfaction. These findings have important implications for the provision of culturally competent care, for counselor educators, and for professional counselors.
    • Influence of the Medical Model on Counseling Identity: Counselor Educators’ Experience

      Teem, Mary Elizabeth; College of Professional Advancement
      This study looked closely at the experience of the influence of the medical model on counselor educators’ counseling identity. It is a phenomenological study that explored the experience of counselor educators as it related to the use of evidence-based practices in the counseling profession. This study considers the upswing in managed care for mental health, the sheer volume of diversified sub-specialties in counseling, and the impact both have on current counselor educators counseling identity (Eysenck, 1972; Carkhuff, 2019; Gladding, 2018; Calley & Hawley, 2008). The emphasis on the universal use of evidence-based practices driven by managed care and insurance companies, moves the counseling profession toward the medical model (Thompson, 2010). While some in the profession see this as a good move to legitimize the profession with the use of evidence-based measurements to show results (Miller, 2010), others feel the therapeutic alliance approach, unique to the counseling profession, will be lost (Remley & Herlihy, 2010). Although the therapeutic alliance approach is empirically based it has less hard data ways of measuring progress than the medical model. With counselor educators being the largest influence on the development of counseling identities of counselors-in-training, they are on the frontline of what future counselors will consider important in the field. This study, therefore, explores the current experience of counselor educators but also draws wider assumptions about the future of the counseling profession (Jensen, 2006). Themes emerged during the study as to how the use of the medical model in counseling impacts counselor educators counseling identity and how it impacts how the counselor educators teach their students. This study further explores how the use of the medical model in general impacts the counseling profession. Key Words: medical model, counseling identity, counselor educator, managed care, counselors-in-training
    • Education of Supply and Demand: An Exploratory Study of the Impact Performance-Based Pay Has on Teachers in Title I Schools

      Lee, Shawn T.; Tift College of Education
      In the last two decades, district leaders have prioritized financial incentives for educators to solve teacher mobility and quality disparities in low-income schools. In addition, the Wing Institute has projected that in 2025, U.S. schools will not have enough teachers for the increasing number of students. State and local school districts have experienced difficulty attracting and retaining quality teachers and have begun implementing policies intended to reform compensation plans. This study’s purpose was to examine the impact performance-based pay (PBP) had on the motivation of teachers in a Title I school. Research reveals multiple contributing factors influencing the intrinsic and extrinsic motivation of teachers, yet the research on the effectiveness of performance-based pay remains inconclusive. This multi-method case study included 54% of eligible teachers from a Title I school in a large suburban school district. The quantitative phase included participant surveys based on an adapted version of the Wells (2011) instrument with open-ended response questions. The qualitative phase consisted of interviews with three survey participants who were veteran teachers at the school. The findings of this study illustrated that the impact of financial incentives such as PBP is inconclusive. Statistical analysis of quantitative data revealed that the participants had overall neutral beliefs regarding the impact of PBP, yet teacher actions exposed pay as a motivator. In addition, while respondents perceived PBP negatively to the school’s climate, the quantitative results identified that teachers believed that there were positive behavioral changes in their peers’ interaction with students because of the external reward of PBP. In addition, the qualitative interviews among veteran teachers illustrated a strong dislike for PBP. The study’s results demonstrated variable teacher feelings toward the influence of PBP on teacher motivation. As a result, the researcher urges future research to include a broader range of participants/sites from multiple districts, to further uncover the impact PBP has on teacher motivation in Title I schools.
    • Supporting Career Skills Development: Exploring Stakeholders’ Perceptions of College Students’ Participation in an Enterprise Internship Massive Open Online Course (MOOC)

      Young Rivers, Stacey; Tift College of Education
      The Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in March 2020 resulted in hundreds of companies canceling internships for college students who had accepted offers for the summer. While colleges and companies were determining how to move forward, a team of recruiters and learning professionals at a global telecommunications company engaged thousands of students in a massive open online course (MOOC) that may have fulfilled internships for some students. This novel approach to learning provided students with access to an employer-developed curriculum utilizing an enterprise internship MOOC model. This study centered on understanding career services professionals’ perspectives of an enterprise internship MOOC for supporting college students’ career skills development. Employing constructivist grounded theory (CGT) and the product market fit pyramid, this qualitative research explored the enterprise internship MOOC’s viability. Data collection and analysis consisted of semi-structured interviews with 11 career services professionals from higher education institutions (HEIs) in the United States. Five out of 11 participants had experience with the enterprise internship MOOC while the remaining participants learned about it during the study. The artifacts collected from the web included the enterprise internship MOOC’s curricula, students’ comments on LinkedIn about their experiences in the program, skills information from the digital badge, and the company’s marketing materials for the program. To better understand career services professionals’ experiences with MOOCs, participants answered questions through the lens of a conceptual framework that deconstructed the MOOC’s dimensions, aligning academic MOOCs and the enterprise internship MOOC. Data analysis utilizing the CGT methodology yielded a grounded theory called the triad of stakeholder involvement. This grounded theory supports a focused approach to understand the HEI’s career emphasis, employer skills needs, and student destination for career skills development leveraging an enterprise internship MOOC. Data analysis also led to the conclusion that the enterprise internship MOOC is a viable model, given the appropriate pedagogical and technological structure.
    • TPACK Self-Efficacy and Multimodal Writing Instruction in High School Inclusion Classes

      Rhicard, Andrew; Tift College of Education
      Abstract High school students with specific learning disabilities continually struggle with the demands of a standardized writing curriculum. As students age, they are expected to master more complex styles of writing, utilizing differentiated, multimodal supports throughout each phase of the writing process, from pre-writing to publishing. With more high school special education students receiving English Language Arts services in inclusion classrooms, teachers must consider how to modify instruction - through the application of student-centered, web-based tools - in order to address specialized writing needs and support remediation. In diverse instructional contexts, ELA teachers rely on their technical, pedagogical, and content knowledge (TPACK) to differentiate writing instruction; in the secondary ELA classroom, the tools educators choose to integrate and the amount of effort they expend reinforcing multimodal instruction reflect their digital self-efficacy. The purpose of this study was to identify psychological and environmental factors shaping educators’ self-efficacy for differentiated, multimodal writing pedagogy. This qualitative study was conducted at a suburban high school in Northeast Georgia in the fall of 2021. Four ELA educators (n=4) participated in semi-structured interviews while sharing planning documents from their respective writing units. Qualitative data was collected and analyzed using interpretive phenomenological analysis (IPA), in order to identify factors supporting ELA educators’ willingness to integrate specific writing technologies in inclusion settings. Empirical findings from the study reveal seven factors supporting multimodal applications, including educators’ digital agency, flexibility when adopting and reinforcing technologies, tool simplicity, student familiarity with specific resources, opportunities to collaborate with other writing teachers on multimodal strategies, consistent use of specific technologies, and student-teacher proximity. Results are consistent with current research, regarding the need for more agentic, student-centered orientations for advanced, multimodal writing in high school inclusion classrooms.
    • Jethro’s Advice: Empowering Lay Leadership for Pastoral Conversations at Congregation Beth Adoni, a Messianic Jewish Community

      Huff, Kenneth DeWayne; McAfee School of Theology
      ABSTRACT KENNETH DEWAYNE HUFF JETHRO’S ADVICE: EMPOWERING LAY LEADERSHIP FOR PASTORAL CONVERSATIONS AT CONGREGATION BETH ADONAI, A MESSIANIC JEWISH COMMUNITY Under the direction of DENISE M. MASSEY, PH.D. Congregation Beth Adonai has created a spiritual leadership team that leads Care Groups for congregation members. The leaders of the Care Groups will embrace a better and more meaningful way to provide care for their group members using pastoral conversations. The goal is to teach leaders of the care teams a methodology for conducting effective pastoral conversations so that their lay ministries will be stronger. The study utilized Denise Massey’s methodology for leading pastoral conversations found in her book CARINGTM: Six-Steps for Effective Pastoral Conversations. Lay leaders learned to help members of their care groups develop a clear and loving action plan that will help persons seeking help solve their problems or move toward their goals through pastoral conversations. This study aims to encourage and strengthen the CBA’s spiritual leadership team to practice quality care consistently. To test the hypothesis, four participants from CBA’s leadership team completed a study consisting of six-week PowerPoint training sessions for 45 minutes via Zoom, followed by a one-week PowerPoint Review of Zoom’s training on CARINGTM: Six-Steps for Effective Pastoral Conversations. The participants received a Pre-Survey, Post Survey, and Post-Project Group Interview Questionnaire using qualitative and quantitative data to yield the results. The result suggests pastoral conversations are needed, and learning was obtained.
    • Formulation and Enhancement Strategies for Decontamination and Drug Delivery Into Healthy and Diseased Skin

      Vora, Deepal Hemant; College of Pharmacy
      Despite the significant benefits of the oral and intravenous route of drug administration, there are many problems, such as first-pass metabolism and invasiveness, ultimately leading to poor patient adherence. In the past few decades, it has been established that transdermal drug delivery provides many advantages compared to other drug administration routes. The transdermal route allows drug substances to reach the systemic circulation directly across the skin barrier, thereby increasing bioavailability and patient compliance. Developing transdermal delivery systems that fit into the routine and lifestyle of end-users is critical to the success of a biomedical intervention. Topical and transdermal drug delivery has been studied extensively, mainly on intact/healthy skin. But it is equally relevant to evaluate the enhancement or retardation of these molecules into and across damaged skin. In vitro investigation of healthy and diseased human skin would provide a better understanding of the effect of diseases on drug permeation or retention. Hence, our research focused on studying the extent of absorption and retention of methotrexate into and across healthy as well as diseased human skin. We also screened physical enhancement techniques such as microneedle and iontophoresis to enhance methotrexate delivery into and across the skin. Other aims of our research focused on screening chemical enhancement techniques to evaluate the enhancement in the delivery of olanzapine and raloxifene across the skin. We used chemical enhancers such as oleic acid, oleyl alcohol, and isopropyl myristate that can disrupt the lipid packing of skin and increase the drug partitioning into and delivery across the skin. Based on these findings, we formulated different transdermal delivery systems for the sustained delivery of olanzapine and raloxifene according to their different physicochemical properties, dosage regimen, and as feasible for their indications. Our last aim focused on chemical warfare agents that are toxic blister-causing agents developed a century ago that continues to be a potential threat to public health. Our strategy was to develop a foam-based formulation loaded with antidotes that can rapidly and effectively decontaminate the chemical warfare agent from skin. This can be a promising strategy to attenuate cutaneous damage and thereby treat lewisite toxicity.
    • HIS 307 - Late Antiquity Textbook

      Dowling, Abigail P.; Smith, Caroline; Varner, Davis; Johnson, Evelyn; Jackson, Miranda "Randi"; Lambert, Lake IV; Bonner, John; Brown, Kylie; Green, Forrest; Brandenburg, Matthew; et al. (2020-12)
      Collection of essays on Late Antiquity composed as a collaborative textbook by students in HIS307 in Fall 2020.
    • Effect of Calcitriol on the Immunomodulatory Properties and Hyaluronic Acid Metabolic Pathways of Human Mesenchymal Stem Cells

      Braley, Katherine; School of Medicine
      Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are non-hematopoietic stem cells which have remarkable immunomodulatory and tissue reparative properties, sparking clinical interest in their use in regenerative medicine. MSC-mediated immunomodulation occurs primarily via production of soluble factors like indolamine-2,3-dioxygenase (IDO), programmed death ligand-1 (PDL-1), prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), among others which function to inhibit effector immune cell function while promoting regulatory subtypes. Our lab focuses on the role of hyaluronic acid (HA) metabolism and signaling through HA receptor, CD44, in MSC’s ability to modulate the immune system and promote tissue repair. Data from our lab has demonstrated alterations in HA metabolism, production, and signaling in MSCs that have been primed with an inflammatory signal. Emerging research has suggested that calcitriol, the biologically active form of Vitamin D, may modulate soluble factor production by MSCs in response to inflammation. Taken together, we then hypothesized that calcitriol may also augment HA metabolic pathways. We utilized secretomes from Staphylococcal enterotoxin B (SEB)-activated peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) to simulate the inflammatory microenvironment. In PBMC supernatant-activated MSCs we saw a consistent upregulation in gene expression of CD44, HA synthase isoform HAS-3, IDO-1, and PDL-1. Preliminary data suggests possible alterations in the molecular weight of hyaluronic acid secreted by activated MSCs when treated with calcitriol and PBMC supernatant when visualized by gel electrophoresis, though further replicates are needed. xi On its own, calcitriol was not able to modulate the alterations seen in HA metabolism in activated MSCs, as there was no statistically significant change in HAS3 gene expression between calcitriol and vehicle at 24-hour time-points. Though, calcitriol was shown to decrease total HA production in activated MSCs, as well as partially restore high molecular weight HA in PBMC supernatant- activated MSCs. Calcitriol was not demonstrated to meaningfully alter gene expression of IDO-1 or PDL-1 compared to PBMC supernatant-treated cells, suggesting that calcitriol does not affect MSC activation by inflammatory stimuli. However, optimization of the calcitriol delivery process and exposure time is necessary. Preliminary results following optimization of calcitriol dose and timing demonstrate a significant alteration in expression of HAS3, though further replicates are needed to confirm this effect. Additional studies investigating the effects of secretomes from MSCs treated with calcitriol on immune cell activity, and co-culturing experiments between MSCs and immune cells in the presence of calcitriol may provide more insight into the role of calcitriol and its effect on the immunomodulatory properties of MSCs.
    • Nursing Student Perceptions of Presence in a Virtual Learning Environment: A Qualitative Description Study

      Thrift, Jason R; Georgia Baptist College of Nursing
      Multifaceted approaches to learning are used for educating student nurses. One common teaching modality in nursing education, simulation, provides hands-on experiences in a safe environment to prepare student nurses for professional roles. High quality simulation standards recommend an engaging immersive experience, with physical, emotional, and conceptual fidelity to clinical practice. Presence is the perception of being there in a simulation as if it were real. Studies have reported improved learning outcomes with increased sense of presence. A simulation modality seldom used in nursing education is virtual reality simulation (VR-Sim) a three dimensional, immersive experience. VR-Sim with head mounted visual and haptic enhancements has the potential to increase presence and improve learning. Student perceptions of presence in VR-Sim is unknown. The purpose of this study was to explore student nurses’ perceptions of presence during simulation. A qualitative description design included a VR-Sim of a patient needing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Each participant (N=11) performed two repetitions in the VR-Sim followed by debriefing and a guided interview. The conceptual framework for the study was informed by extant literature including theoretical frameworks. Two research questions guided the study to 1) explore student perceptions of presence in VR-Sim and 2) align findings with current theories of simulation and presence. Braun and Clarke’s (2006) steps for theme development and Saldaña’s (2016) coding informed the data analysis. For Research Question 1, three themes and eight subthemes described participants perceptions of being there in the VR-Sim environment. Findings showed all participants reported experiencing presence during the simulation (Theme: What Brought Me In, What Brought Me Out), but glitches, feel of compressions, and sensing the real physical environment outside the simulation interrupted the experience of presence (Theme: Issues in VR-Sim). Additionally, participants described the experience of learning CPR with the VR-Sim (Theme: Higher Level of Learning). For Research Question 2, the main constructs from the extant theories aligned with the perceptions of participants including ideas about presence, fidelity, individual factors, learning outcomes, and collaboration. The study conceptual model provided a sound framework for continued research of the efficacy of VR-Sim in nursing education.
    • Predictive Analysis of the Immunosuppressive Functionality of Human Bone Marrow Derived Mesenchymal Stem Cells as Cellular Therapeutics

      lipat, ariel joy mann; School of Medicine
      Human Mesenchymal Stem/Stromal Cells (MSCs) of bone marrow carry immunomodulatory and regenerative properties and are being tested as a cellular therapy for inflammatory and degenerative disorders. They are involved with the paracrine secretion of anti-inflammatory cytokines and chemokines and the promotion of anti-inflammation in tissue microenvironments by dampening inflammatory T-cells. However, the mechanism of action of MSCs on T-cells has yet to be understood. Here we aim to identify the pattern of chemokine secretion in human bone marrow MSCs and their regulation and functions on T-cell responses and immune suppression. MSCs were derived from healthy human bone marrow aspirates. MSC secretome was collected systematically under defined cell densities and subjected to multiplex secretome analysis with or without exogenous stimulation to identify inherently secreted MSC chemokines. MSC derived chemokines’ immunosuppressive role on T-cells was further determined with a PBMC and MSC coculture and siRNA chemokine transfection strategies. MSC secretome was further tested on human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) derived from blood and early phosphorylation of signaling molecules in T-cells were specifically analyzed utilizing PhosflowTM technology in flow cytometry. Of thirty tested chemokines nine (CXCL16, CCL2, CXCL6, CCL7, CXCL1, CCL13, CCL5 CXCL2 and CCL1) are secreted inherently by MSCs suggesting that MSC potency and immunosuppressive potential can be determined by the presence of these chemokines. In addition, MSC mediated blocking of T cell proliferation predominantly inversely correlates with chemokines. Knockdown of chemokines have demonstrated that MSC sourced inherent chemokines do not actively play a role in T cell suppression and thus are the bystander predictors of T cell suppression. The present analysis of MSC’s matrix chemokine responses can be deployed in the advanced potency determination of MSCs. As well, little difference was seen between chemokine levels from intestinal organoid secretome samples from IBD and non-IBD cultures. Seven signaling molecules [PLCγ1, PLCγ2, PKCα, JNK, P38 MAPK, Erk ½, pAkt (pS473)] were analyzed for phosphorylation events in T-cells when stimulated with MSC secretome. Our results provided evidence that MSC derived chemokines and secretome predicts T-cell suppression. These mechanistic understandings will help us to improve MSC based cellular therapy.
    • A Comparison of SUMOylation in HK1 and BL41 Cell Lines

      Suarez, Persia; School of Medicine
      Nearly 96% of the population is infected with Epstein Barr virus (EBV), a gammaherpesvirus that results in a life-long infection. EBV lytically infects B lymphocytes and epithelial cells, and it establishes latency in B lymphocytes. Latent EBV infection often evades the host’s immune system; however, the presence of the EBV genome in certain cancers suggests that the virus is associated with approximately 200,000 new cases of cancer, specifically Burkitt’s lymphoma, Hodgkin’s lymphoma (HL), and nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC), each year. One cellular process commonly dysregulated in cancers, including EBV-positive lymphomas, is the post-translational modification of lysine residues by the Small Ubiquitin-like Modifier (SUMO), and SUMOylation inhibitors have been proposed to have potential anti-cancer properties. Our recent work focused on the small molecule inhibitor ML-792, which decreases global levels of SUMOylated proteins in EBV-positive and EBV-negative B lymphocytes. Similar experiments repeated with paired EBV-negative and EBV-positive nasopharyngeal cell line HK1 revealed that ML-792 only inhibited SUMOylation processes in the EBV-positive epithelial cells and not in their EBV-negative counterparts. We hypothesized that EBV may differentially modulate SUMOylation processes in epithelial cells when compared with B lymphocytes. This study aims to elaborate on the role of EBV on SUMOylation in epithelial cells. Paired primary B lymphocytes and epithelial cells were examined to determine the expression of the SUMO machinery. Results showed that EBV infection coincided with increased levels of SUMO-modified proteins and the SUMO-activating enzyme (SAE1 and SAE2), but not the SUMO-conjugating enzyme (Ubc9). Global levels of SUMOylated proteins increased in EBV-positive HK1 cells when compared with their EBV-negative counterparts. However, RNA and protein levels of the SUMO machinery varied greatly, which led us to ask if the confluence of the epithelial cells affected EBV-mediated changes in cells. Results demonstrated that RNA levels of the SUMO machinery significantly increased in sub-confluent EBV-positive HK1 cells, but these changes were not as apparent at the protein level. EBV-medicated changes in the SUMO machinery were more apparent at the protein level in confluent cells. To mimic a more physiological environment, EBV-negative and EBV-positive HK1 cells were also grown using a modified air-liquid interface method to model the human airway. Results showed that the presence of EBV corresponded with increased levels of the SUMO-activating enzyme and the SUMO-conjugating enzyme. Furthermore, the pattern of SUMOylated proteins changed in EBV-positive cells when compared with their EBV-negative counterparts. Taken together, our findings demonstrate that EBV does manipulate the SUMO machinery in epithelial cells, but not to the same extent as it does in lymphocytes. Therefore, additional studies are needed to better understand the effect of EBV on global levels of SUMOylated proteins in epithelial cells, which could identify if SUMOylation inhibitors have a therapeutic potential in the treatment of EBV-positive epithelial cancers.
    • Persistence as Resistance: A Phenomenological Narrative Analysis of the Africultural Coping and Motivational Strategies of African American College Students

      Scott, Miraca Joann; Tift College of Education
      Despite decades of institutional efforts to mitigate African American college student first-year attrition, this population continues to have the lowest graduation rates compared to other races and ethnicities (National Center for Education Statistics, 2021). Historically, the collegiate first and fourth years have received more attention from student success researchers due to their direct connection to institutional enrollment and graduation rates (Gahagan & Hunter, 2006); however, more recent research has indicated that the collegiate sophomore year poses the most significant threat to student retention and graduation rates (Perez, 2020). This qualitative study explored how racial-cultural identity salience, culture-specific coping behaviors, and motivation influenced how Afrocentric African American college students avoided college departure to persist to junior year successfully. Framed within an Afrocentric theoretical framework, a phenomenological narrative methodology was employed to assess students’ perceptions of which coping behaviors and motivational factors helped them overcome challenges experienced during their sophomore year at a southern public, four-year predominantly white institution. Six participants were recruited using criterion and snowball sampling techniques. Data analysis revealed 22 subthemes which were consolidated into six emergent themes: 1) Achievement-oriented Motivation, 2) Soundproofing, 3) Centripetal Autonomy, 4) Centripetal Grouping, 5) Self-Care, and 6) Self-Monitoring. Findings suggest an inextricable link between Black sophomores’ need for intraracial connection, the salience of their racial and cultural identity as African American or Black, and their community-centered motivations for persevering during their sophomore year. Implications for practice include establishing wrap-around support for African American sophomore students, championing and amplifying Black sophomore voices, and integrating culturally-aligned theory into higher education policy. For a representative body of literature, researchers are encouraged to abandon using theoretical models that embody Euro-American values when studying Black students. Implications of this study suggest future studies should be positioned using an Afrocentric theoretical framework to illuminate the needs of African American students.
    • No Longer Remaining Silent: Defining, Addressing, and Exploring Silence Experienced Among Black Female Clergy

      Mitchell, Pamela Shantel; McAfee School of Theology
      This research project is designed to explore a “silence and silencing” that appears to happen to Black Female Clergy serving in ministerial leadership in Protestant Black Churches. Silence covers a range of topics: sexism, patriarchy, and misogyny to name a few and little, if anything is ever said to address these behaviors toward them. Each participant has been seminary trained, licensed, and/or ordained in their denomination and currently or has served in leadership in a Protestant Black church. There is not adequate literature available to explain the gap between Black Female Clergy completing seminary and pursuing senior leadership positions in protestant Black churches. This research study questions whether the silence and silent treatment Black Female Clergy receives serving as pastoral leaders is correlated with this gap. This research study conducted uses a peer group interview method and will take place via Zoom and lasts approximately three (3) hours. Participants received pseudonyms to protect their identity and to increase their potential to openly discuss their individual experiences serving in protestant Black churches. This interview was both audio and video recorded, and the results were transcribed for analysis. Six participants anonymously attended the virtual session and shared subjective experiences with serving as Black Female Clergy in their respective congregations. Participants openly shared some situations they had previously remained “silent” about. The participants were allowed the opportunity to reflect on the instances of silence and how it felt to share among other Black Female Clergy with similar experiences. The feedback from this interview has identified opportunities for pastoral care for Black Female Clergy and StrongBlackWomen in Protestant Black Church congregations.
    • Accumulation and Toxicity of Mercury-Cyanide Complexes

      Ford IV, Earl Gilmore; School of Medicine
      Mercury is a heavy metal toxicant found in numerous occupational and environmental settings. A major source of mercury pollution in environmental settings comes from the occupational use of mercury in artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM). ASGM utilizes elemental mercury (Hg0) for extraction of gold from ore, which leads to Hg0-contaminated tailings. These tailings are often reprocessed with cyanide (‾CN) to extract residual gold. Hg0 reacts with ‾CN to form mercury-cyanide (Hg(CN)) complexes, which are released into the environment with discarded tailings. These complexes create numerous environmental and health problems. To assess the disposition of Hg(CN)2 complexes in mammalian systems, wistar rats were injected with 0.5 mol/kg mercury chloride (HgCl2) or Hg(CN)2. Each injection solution contained radioactive mercury ([203Hg2+]) and/or radioactive cyanide ([14C]-NaCN). After 24 h, animals were euthanized and organ samples were collected for determination of Hg(CN)2 content and for histological analyses. To assess the disposition of Hg(CN)2 complexes in an aquatic organism, zebrafish (Danio rerio) were exposed to various concentrations of Hg(CN)2 and accumulation in both whole fish and specific organs was measured. The current data show that the disposition of Hg(CN)2 in zebrafish is similar to that when rats were exposed to HgCl2. Interestingly, when rats were exposed to NaCN alone, the uptake was significantly less than that of rats exposed to Hg(CN)2. Experiments using adult zebrafish showed that Hg(CN)2 accumulates readily in fish. Zebrafish embryos exposed to Hg(CN)2 experienced alterations in developmental processes. The current data provide important information about the handling of Hg(CN)2 complexes in mammalian systems and aquatic organisms.