UMC Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) Presentations and Papers

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    Are they different? Investigating the gut microbiome of Mountain Gorilla (Gorilla Beringei) Beringei
    (2022-12-22) Ward, Zoe; Gomez, Andres; Mthewtha, Nonsikelelo
    The gastrointestinal microbiomes of different primate species can always be distinguished from one another, a pattern mainly driven by each species' unique diet and environment. A potential adaption in response to this unique environment that has been poorly explored in mountain gorillas is their gut microbiome – the community of bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and viruses residing in their gastrointestinal tract, which play important roles in health and nutrition. Mountain gorillas have evolved specific adaptations to fit an energetically restricted diet, mainly composed of leaves, pith, herbs bark, and unripe fruit. Mammals do not have specialized digestive enzymes to break down fibrous plants, their gut microbiome provides the only way to recover otherwise unavailable metabolic energy in these compounds through their breaking down, fermentation, and production of short-chain fatty acids. Objective: Investigated if the gut microbiome of mountain gorillas reflects adaptations to specialized diets in extreme environments and living in social groups by characterizing their fecal bacterial communities.
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    Self-Disclosure to a Conversational Agent: The What and the How?
    (2021-12-27) Qu, Hannah
    Smart home assistants, or digital conversational agents (CA), can improve people’s lives by helping with reminders and schedules, as well as serving a social function. This study aims to assist with developing a CA for older people to support their cognitive and social needs by examining the user interaction. We evaluated the aspect of self-disclosure from the users from data collected in an earlier phase of the study with young college students at the University of Minnesota, where they participated in a series of interactions with a prototype CA. Results show that more varied content of individual's responses to the CA (i.e., variety in the specific type of information conveyed such as “work/study” or “leisure”) and greater variety in the form of individual's responses (i.e., variation in the way given content information is expressed, for example, “habit” and “judgments”, etc.) were associated with more user self-disclosure. These findings have implications for understanding and researching human computer interactions.
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    Inhibition of the Kinases by extracts of Macaranga genus
    (2021-04) Abazari, Aryan
    There have been findings regarding the presence of the Kinase enzyme in cell transformation, tumor initiation, survival, and proliferation of cancer. Several scientists worldwide were able to discover the plants or medicine that inhibited the action of different enzymes in the body. The FDA has approved 37 kinase inhibitors since 1980 (Wu, Nielsen, and Clausen, 2015; Bhullar et al., 2018). The role of the Kinase enzyme has been essential in the metastasis of cancerous cells. A typical cell in the human body requires glucose consumption to gain enough energy to function, while the cancerous cells can function without the use of energy from glucose. The cancerous cell has a unique characteristic that makes them resistant to glucose starvation, and thus it gives them the ability to divide and spread without energy. Studies suggest that the resistance to glucose starvation is due to activation of the pathway involving PKA, and there is a critical need to identify inhibitors of this activation (Palorini et al., 2016). This research aims to explore the ability of M. occidentalis, M. monanadra, and M. schweinfurthii to inhibit protein kinases B and C.