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Sciences and Mathematics Undergraduate Research Symposium June 10, 2021 9am - 3pm


Welcome to the Sciences and Mathematics Undergraduate Research Symposium!

The University of Washington Tacoma Environmental Sciences, Biomedical Sciences, Environmental Sustainability, and Mathematics majors host an Environmental Research Symposium, Sciences and Mathematics Undergraduate Research Symposium (SAMURS). This event showcases the capstone research projects of our undergraduate students. The presentations by our undergraduate students, cover a broad range of questions and projects related to the environment, mathematics, sustainability and much more. Projects are conducted in the lab, in the trees, in the mud, in the classroom, at an aquarium, on the water, underwater and on land. Some are original research with a faculty mentor, pushing the boundaries of what is known in their fields. Others participate in internships, where they help community partners further their missions through service. What all these diverse students have in common is the determination and dedication to complete an independent study as part of their undergraduate education. We hope you are inspired and educated by what they have accomplished.

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Time        Lab/Presenters Title Abstract
10:00 AM - 10:20 AM

Becker Lab Talks                                                                  

  • Benson, Ashley (UWT Alum)
  • Flynt, Lindsay
  • Johnson, Annika
  • Matheson-Margullis, Hozoji
  • Marvin, Francesca (Highline MaST, UWT Alum)
  • Nelson, Chloe
  • Pandey, Prasis
  • Taijito, Raquel (TCC MESA)
  • Johnson, Olivia
  • Zakopal, Lindsey (TCC MESA)


Monitoring Dungeness crab larvae in the Salish Sea: the Pacific Northwest Crab Research Group                                                                       Dungeness Crab (Metacarcinus magister) play an essential role in commercial, recreational, and tribal fisheries in Washington State. Unfortunately, the crab population in the south Puget Sound has been highly variable over the past few decades, leading to recent fishery closures. Previous research in Oregon has demonstrated a strong correlation between crab larval abundance and future crab catches, and monitoring data has been used to predict commercial yields. Building off of the work of the Swinomish Tribe’s shellfish group, the Pacific Northwest Crab Research Group (PCRG) was formed in 2018 to establish a monitoring network for crab larvae in Puget Sound. Our group joined the PCRG in 2021 and have added a site at the Highline MaST Center, in collaboration with MaST, the Tacoma Public School’s Science and Math Institute, and the Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) Program at Tacoma Community College. Summer 2021 is our first monitoring season, and our data will help determine the drivers of low crab abundance in the South Puget Sound.
10:20 AM - 11:00 AM 410 Talks See Below Table for More Information  
11:00 AM - 11:15 AM

Kim Lab 499 Talks

  • Fisher, Matthew
  • Hobby, Grant
Synthesis of Disubstituted Quinazolinones for the Study of Chagas Disease Chagas disease is a neglected tropical disease endemic to Latin America but affecting millions worldwide with limited treatment options available.  Recent studies have shown that quinazolin-4(3H)-one compounds bearing 2-amino and N3-alkylamido substituents exhibit promising bioactivity against the T. cruzi parasite that causes Chagas disease.  To facilitate exploration of the structure–activity relationship, we synthesized quinazolinones substituted with amines and alkylamide groups of varying steric and electronic profiles using a modular approach from 2,4-dichloroquinazoline.  These compounds will be assessed for antiparasitic activity by collaborators through the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative with the ultimate goal of developing a new therapeutic for Chagas disease.
11:15 am - 12:00 PM

Masura Lab 495 Talks

  • Alammar, Abdullah
  • Hoang, Ethan Minhtri
  • Livingston, Gary Allen Jr.
  • Manuel, Zoe
  • McKnight, Sade
2021 Sediment Analyses of Elliot Bay, Seattle Washington The 2021 Summer Environmental Science Research Experience students explored a variety of sediment properties from the sea bed of Elliot Bay, Seattle, Washington.  Analyses included percent total organic carbon, particle-size analysis, Alexandrium cyst abundance, and microplastics presence.  Each of these properties were used to determine environmental conditions of the surface sediments sampled.  Results from this course will be shared with Washington State’s Department of Ecology’s Sediment Monitoring Group for the Puget Sound Ecosystem Monitoring Program.
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM 410 Talks See Below Table for More Information  
1:00 PM - 2:00 PM

Vincent Lab 495 Talks

  • Cruz, Kobey
  • Delacruz, Marjie
  • Free, Katie
  • Heath, Alexis
  • Renshaw, Christina
  • Saefong, Nikki
  • Walker, Gianni
  • Weaver, Dionne
The GEP PATHWAYS project- Using gene annotation to understand the evolution of genes in the insulin signaling pathway Gene annotation is a fundamental skill in genomics. It involves the use of available experimental data, previously mapped model organism genomes, and contextual sequence clues to define the exact positions of genes within unexplored DNA sequences. The Genomics Education Partnership (GEP) is a network of faculty that train undergraduates in gene annotation. These students analyze non-annotated sequences to determine the locations of genes as a part of a larger efforts to understand various aspects of genome evolution in the model organism Drosophila melanogaster and closely related fruit fly species. Student-generated annotations directly contribute to this authentic research. This summer, our team has focused on annotations related to the GEP PATHWAYS project. Signal transduction pathways involve robust interaction of many distinct proteins: from those that receive extra cellular signals to those that carry out the cellular response to those signals. PATHWAYS focuses on understanding the evolution of the genes that code for proteins in the insulin signaling pathway. Our projects involve annotating a subset of these genes in Drosophila species and using those annotations to do direct sequence comparisons between these species. We are testing various hypotheses related to evolutionary conservation and will share our insight on the evolvability of genes in this pathway.
2:00 PM - 2:20 PM 410 Talks See Below Table for More Information  
2:20 PM - 4:00 PM

Finke Lab 495 Talks

  • Abando, Ariyana
  • Alhaj, Dana
  • Dempsey, Julianna
  • Huang, Chloe
  • Kapoor, Ishika
  • Khawand, Michael
  • Nokeo, Kayla
  • Parks, Ashton
  • Suwanchote, Amy
  • Togerson, Penelope
  • Yefimchuk, Venessa
Molecular Dynamics as a tool for protein modeling, protein engineering, and novel drug design TBIOMD 495 students performed a series of training tasks to build their molecular dynamics skills followed by a short experiment investigating in silico mutations on a metabolic protein with a “knotted fold” from Thermatoga Maritima (bacteria living near undersea thermal vents). Protein knots are a possible evolutionary mechanism that extremophilic organisms use to design hyperstable proteins without introducing disulfides, excess hydrophobic residues, or other non-standard chemical linkages. Students initially installed the Ubuntu Linux platform on PCs using Virtual Box, followed by installation of the Gromacs molecular dynamics program. An initial “all atom” simulation tutorial of lysozyme with roughly 11,000 water molecules as an initial dry run. Next, students learned how to design a minimalist “skeleton” model of a small protein chymotrypsin inhibitor 2 (2CI2), with one atom representing each residue. This model was used to simulate the entire conformational space of 2CI2 folding, perform thermodynamic and structural analyses of the transition state, and introduce in silico mutations. With these skills, students simulated mutations of knotted protein 1O6D, which folds the knot in its host organism but fails to form the knot in computer simulations. By identifying how mutations induce the 1O6D knot form in simulations, we may be able to better introduce functional knots into commercial proteins that increase their stability.

Abstracts & Posters - 410 Summer Biomed Senior Seminar Students

Student Name(s)

Faculty Mentor


(Click on Title to View Poster)


(Click on Pic to View Abstract)

Alhaj, Dana John Finke Potential Research Simulation for Cancer Mirna Ali
Bulloch, Kiana Sarah Alaei Porphyromonas gingivalis LPS modification Mirna Ali
Chand, Cynthia Alison Gardell The Effects of Arsenate on the Hemoglobin Production and Mortality Rates of Daphnia Magna Mirna Ali
Chau, Cindy Alison Gardell Interactive Effects of Percholorate and Temperature on Daphnia magna Growth Rate and Feeding Rate Mirna Ali
Dao, Luan Alison Gardell The Effects of Perchlorate on D. magna Swimming Behavior Throughout Development Mirna Ali
Echeverria, Elena Alison Gardell Effects of Perchlorate and Temperature on Daphnia magna Growth Rate and Feeding Rate Mirna Ali
Ginez, Ereign Sarah Alaei Impact of a double knockout of relA and rshB on the on the biofilm and outer membrane vesicle composition in Porphyromonas gingivalis Mirna Ali
TBD Alison Gardell Effects of Perchlorate on Lipid Accumulation in Daphnia Magna Mirna Ali
Hodac, Vivienne Sarah Alaei Impact of a double knockout of relA and rshB on the on the biofilm and outer membrane vesicle composition in Porphyromonas gingivalis Mirna Ali
Kapoor, Ishika John Finke The Success of Folding From Knotted Proteins Mirna Ali
Khawand, Michael John Finke Protein Scaffolding Mirna Ali
Kneer, Courtney Peter Selkin Measuring Surface Roughness of Green Spaces in Tacoma, Washington Mirna Ali
Maina, Verastacy Karen Cowgill CFHI: Global Hospital Health Experiential Learning in Tarija, Bolivia Mirna Ali
Ramirez, Rachel Anna Groat-Carmona Identification, Mutagenesis & Future Analysis of DENV+Serogroups Conserved Structures Mirna Ali
Reynolds, Alison John Finke Modeling Protein Folding Mirna Ali
Saefong, Nikki Jack Vincent Using gene annotation to support an evolutionary study of the insulin-signaling pathway gene chico in the Drosophila genus Mirna Ali
Suwanchote, Amy John Finke The Effects of Folding From Knotted Proteins Mirna Ali
Torgerson, Penelope John Finke Extensive understandings on protein folding through simulations Mirna Ali


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