2020 Full Abstracts
The Making of Emotional Cut Out Animation
Stephany Barrera, Tim Orne, & Chris Carpenter
Is it possible to create a cut out animation that does not offer the same amount of articulation in facial and body structures as other animation styles, and execute an emotional narrative? Using this creative/research opportunity to know if animation can represent complicated narratives and maintain emotional qualities that are easily executed in live action films. If I succeed in connecting emotion with the cut-out animation, then I will have created a pathway to a new style of storytelling in animation. During my summer research, I will work with my mentors to build a computer that is equipped with the power to run computer programs necessary for the animation. I will develop 2D characters from a screenplay I wrote over the semester of spring 2020. The development of all elements in the animation will be done in Adobe Photoshop, where I will layer all structures of character bodies and categorize them by folders. The characters can then be brought into Adobe After Effects, where I create a mechanical linkage and articulate them to move with a process called rigging. Towards the end of summer, I will have an animated sequence. The final cut of animation will serve as results of our project. We will have a short animation exhibiting characters that can express a kind of rapport that is not typically seen in a cut out style. My results will help me understand the process of what it takes to make an animated short and perhaps lead me to pursue future research in animation.
Caregivers' Effect on the Amount of Time Children Spent at Gender-Typed Exhibits in a Children's Museum
Natassia Aleman-Teweles, Brandon Garcia, Dr. Jennifer Dyer-Seymour
It is known that gender-typed play differences develop early, but is still unclear exactly how they form. Recent studies have found gender differences in parent and child interactions within children’s discovery museums. This study observed 71 families at a free, pop-up children’s museum over a two-month period. Researchers used time sampling in three-minute snapshots for a total of 15 minutes of observation. Snapshot data included which exhibit each family member was in and who they were interacting with. Exhibits were categorized post hoc by their gender-type play activities: Feminine, Masculine or Neutral. A Chi-squared test found that exhibit popularity had significant differences depending on the child’s gender. Overall, girls favored feminine exhibits and boys favored masculine exhibits (X2(2)=30.32, p<.05), however in individual snapshots, differences diminished over time. Adults showed no significant exhibit choice differences for the first four snapshots, but in the fifth women preferred feminine exhibits and men preferred masculine exhibits (X2(2)=8.266, p<.05). Additional Chi-squared tests were performed for caregiver and child interactions. Boys interacting with a female caregiver were more likely to spend time in feminine exhibits than masculine or neutral exhibits (X2(2)=10.16, p<.05). No difference was found for boys interacting with male caregivers or girls interacting with either gender caregiver. These findings support the evidence that children gravitated toward different activities depending on their gender, but also shows possible changes due to parental influence. Further study is needed to understand the relationship between child and caregiver exhibit choice patterns and the implications associated with it.
Motivating Responsible Behaviors During COVID-19 through Effective Messaging: Perspective from CLT
Gagandeep Choongh, Dr. Jenny Lin, Erika Hernandez, Karla Lunes
During the COVID-19 crisis, we are seeing essential workers taking precautions and certain steps to make sure they can help fight COVID-19. The goal of this project is to examine preventive behaviors in individuals as they transition between the roles of employee and consumer in the age of COVID-19. We examined if employees continue to take these precautions even when not required for work. We further explore ways to motivate precaution behaviors that transcend into individuals daily behaviors. A study is designed to examine individual response to different forms of message framing, driven by construal level theory and regulatory focus theory, via public service announcement ads. The study was designed by framing ads to have either a high or low construal level and then measured look at prevention, promotion, and the licensing effect. This study provides implications for better understanding employee behavior, their well-being, the role of moral licensing or moral cleansing effect, and keep employees motivated.
Association Between MMPI-2-RF Somatic/Cognitive Scales and Pain-Related Medical Diagnoses among Forensic Psychiatric Inpatients
Lea Carrasco, Zaida Lopez, Ethan Mach, Sebastian C. Lopez, Lauren E. Lopez, Dr. Danielle Burchett, & Dr. David M. Glassmire
We evaluated associations between the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2 Restructured Form (MMPI-2-RF) Somatic/Cognitive Scales and medical diagnoses in order to study the scales’ validity in a forensic inpatient setting. Specifically, 907 forensic inpatients with valid MMPI-2-RF profiles were categorized by a general practice physician on whether they had general pain, gastrointestinal, head pain, neurological, or cognitive symptoms. We compared Somatic/Cognitive Scales scores for patients who had each type of diagnosis versus those who did not. Those with head pain and neurological complaint-related diagnoses had statistically significantly higher scores on Head Pain Complaints (HPC) and Neurological Complaints (NUC) than those without these respective diagnoses, respectively, with medium effects. Comparing patients with relevant versus no medical diagnoses, Gastrointestinal Complaints (GIC) was also statistically significant with a small effect. Those with pain-related diagnoses scored significantly higher on GIC, NUC, and Cognitive Complaints (COG) as compared to those without pain-related diagnoses and compared to those with no medical diagnoses at all; effects were negligible too small. In sum, HPC, NUC, and GIC were associated with conceptually relevant medical conditions in a forensic inpatient setting; COG was less useful. All five scales, including Malaise (MLS), had negligible associations with pain-related diagnoses
LGBTQ+ Casual Sex: Foundational Investigations for Improving Health and Well-being of Vulnerable Populations
Danielle Flores, Bryana Azevedo, Eva Bernal Campus, Maria Miranda Ramirez, Jessica Uhlenhop, & Dr. Shannon Snapp
Casual sex interactions, making out, and intercourse without the expectation of committment are all deemed as hooking up (Snapp, Ryu, & Kerr, 2015). Research surrounding these topics are startling heteronormative, leading to underrepresentation of the LGBTQ+ experience (Watson, Snapp, & Wang, 2017). With the progression of societal awareness and acceptance of these populations, we are seeking to understand the hook up experience of LGBTQ+ members, and buffer the disparities in order to provide accurate and relevant information to doctors, teachers, and families. In order to better understand the experiences of coming out, motivation change, and identify development among LGBTQ+ members with relevance to hooking up; our lab conducted interviews asking individuals about their hook up experiences. Our study includes 16 participants, with a sample size of varying members identifying in the LGBTQ+ community. Our research focuses on sexual and gender identity, academic experiences, health and sexual experiences, and level of support from others. There are also notable differences of the motives participants had for hooking up that varied from meeting people to affirming their sexuality. These patterns allow us to see the circumstances in which hooking up can help facilitate coming out, motivation change, and identify development.
Learning Outcomes Help Students Understand What They Learned
Cameron Battersby & Dr. Jennifer Dyer-Seymour
When students transition from college to post-college an array of new challenges present themselves. One of those challenges is translating what one learned in college to one’s life post-college, whether it is the workplace, graduate school, or one’s life as a member of one’s community. University faculty can collaborate with students to help them translate their learning into future endeavors. The current student examined the effect of framing students’ learning in college in two different ways: as a list of courses taken or as a set of learning outcomes achieved. 212 college students were randomly assigned to view a video that showed a recent graduate preparing for job interviews and describing her learning as a list of courses or a set of learning outcomes. Participants were then asked eight Likert-type questions about their perception of the student’s learning and preparedness for life after college, and two open-ended questions about their thoughts on the most important tasks in college for post-college success and what they thought employers were looking for in a new hire. Results revealed that when participants heard the interviewee’s learning presented as a set of learning outcomes, they perceived the recent graduate as having a better understanding of what she learned in her undergraduate education. Open-ended questions revealed that participants thought professionalism and preparing for the workforce were the most important areas on which to focus during college. Results of participant’s responses regarding what they believed employers were looking for in the job candidate have yet to be analyzed. Preliminary results suggest participant’s believed employers mainly look for professionalism, hands-on experience, knowledge of psychology, and ability to apply aforesaid knowledge. The extent to which faculty can explain to students how their learning fits in a broader learning outcome and help students identify the skills they are refining could enhance students’ ability to translate their college work into post-college success.
Interaction of Physical Fitness, Inflammation and Cognitive Performance in Healthy Young Adults
Angel Diaz & Dr. Zurine de Miguel
Physical exercise is commonly known to improve whole body health, including the brain. While previous studies have positively associated the beneficial effects of exercise on cognitive function, most of them have focused on the effects of exercise on older adults with neurodegenerative diseases and less studies have been done to understand the effects of exercise in younger, healthier adult populations. We propose to investigate whether physical fitness and exercise are linked to cognitive performance in younger adults by examining via online questionnaires the relational links between physical activity, stress, and anxiety through assessing them through academic performance in a group of California State University, Monterey Bay students. According to the American College Health Association-National College Health Assessment II (ACHA-NCHA II), only 46% of college students meet the physical activity guidelines that are established by the Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee.Given that most of the physical activity patterns are established by the senior year of college, they are consequently interspersed throughout one’s lifetime. Our findings, which will be done by assessing measures of stress, anxiety, and physical activity, will expand our understanding of how exercise will affect the cognitive outcomes of academic performance with potential implications for campus wide interventions for each educational institution. We hypothesize that physical exercise is positively associated with cognitive performance, in particular executive function, positively academic performance and health outcomes.
Becoming Homeless: Using Virtual Reality to Generate Empathy in College Students
Trevor Stevens, Dr. Jennifer Lovell, & Dr. Christine Valdez
The American Psychological Association provides guidelines for major learning goals to be achieved in an accredited undergraduate psychology degree program. One major learning goal emphasizes developing skills and values that equip students to engage with people from a broad range of backgrounds. Empathy, the ability to understand the emotional states of others, is a crucial capacity needed for prosocial interpersonal relationships. To this end, pedagogical tools for teaching empathy are needed. Immersive VR systems allow users to inhabit a subjective first-person perspective of an experience that is not their own, a promising characteristic for generating empathy. In the current study, researchers examined the affective and cognitive empathetic response of psychology undergraduates to a brief virtual reality (VR) simulation of becoming homeless, measuring changes in affect and attitudes towards homelessness. Students (N =81) filled out pre-experience self-report questionnaires, engaged in the VR experience, and filled out the post-experience questionnaires at a 30-minute appointment with a trained RA. Researchers hypothesized that post-experience attitudes towards the homeless would improve, negative effects would increase, and positive affect would decrease relative to baseline. All results were significant in the expected directions.
The Relationship Between Student Attitudes and their Conceptual Understanding of Statistics
Matthew Dunham & Dr. Alana Unfried
With statistical skills, terminology and applications becoming more abundant and necessary in everyday life, it is vital that future generations be statistically literate. Unfortunately, students’ current understanding of statistics falters in many areas, such as in analyzing data and interpreting results. Research suggests that student attitudes can have an impact on their achievement and desire to pursue various knowledge. To gain a better understanding of potential factors associated with students’ conceptual understanding of statistics, we collected data from two surveys - the Survey of Attitudes Toward Statistics (SATS) and the Levels of Conceptual Understanding in Statistics (LOCUS) assessment. The SATS is used to measure students’ attitudes toward statistics through various factors, while the LOCUS is used to measure their conceptual understanding. Using linear modeling, we model students’ conceptual understanding of statistics and determine the various factors of attitudes that are associated with this conceptual understanding. Along with this, students’ demographic data is included as confounding variables to determine potential differences in conceptual understanding across various demographics. Knowledge of both demographic differences and the significance of attitudes may allow educators to make necessary adjustments to curriculum to improve attitudes and create more inclusive learning experiences.
Cannabis Perceptions of Risks, Benefits, Spirituality, and Impact of COVID-19 Among College Students and Veterans
Selina Espinoza, Dr. Jennifer Lovell, & Claudia Rocha
More than half of the United States has legal medicinal and/or recreational access to adult-use cannabis. Two major groups who are affected by this current change, are college students and military veterans over the age of 21. We used a concurrent mixed-methods survey design which was used to gather quantitative and qualitative responses from these groups living in California. The project was approved by the University Institutional Review Board. Participants include 101 college students, 13 veterans, and 12 both veterans/college students. For this particular project, we focus on the open-ended questions exploring: 1) the risks and benefits on cannabis use on health, 2) how cannabis affects spirituality, 3) the impact of legal market cannabis, and 4) ways COVID-19 pandemic impacted use of cannabis. Thematic qualitative analysis is being used to analyze the data. Emergent themes for benefits of cannabis include stress reduction, improved social connections, and improved sleep. Emergent themes for ways in which participants found cannabis therapeutic include anxiety reduction, increased relaxation, and the ability to be present in the moment. Emergent themes for how cannabis has negatively impacted participants' life and health include impaired cognition, expensive costs of cannabis, and increased grogginess/laziness. Regarding the spiritual impact of cannabis, prominent themes include connection to self, increased religious and spiritual practices, and greater awareness. For the impact of legal market cannabis, emergent themes include easier access to cannabis, decreased social stigma, and decreased fear/paranoia in purchasing cannabis. Lastly, in regards to how COVID-19 has impacted their cannabis use includes an increased usage, issues with dispensary deliveries, and inability to consume cannabis with friends. Results will be discussed in the context of how cannabis might be used therapeutically, and how this could impact policy.
Does Fatalism Moderate the Relation Between a Culturally Adapted Cognitive-Behavioral Stress Management Intervention & Aspects of Benefit Finding among Spanish-Speaking Latina Breast Cancer Survivors?
Maria Reyes, Dr. Christine Valdez, & Anna María Nápoles
Fatalism and benefit finding are understudied among Latina breast cancer survivors. This study examined changes in fatalism and benefit finding in a randomized controlled trial of a culturally adapted cognitive behavioral stress management intervention for Latina breast cancer survivors. 151 Spanish-speaking Latinas with non-metastatic breast cancer were randomly assigned to an intervention (n=65) or waitlist condition (n=70). Participants completed a demographic questionnaire, the Adapted Powe Fatalism Inventory, and the Benefit Finding Scale (modified) at baseline (T1) and at 6 months (T2). Fatalism significantly decreased from T1 to T2, t(136) = 3.07, p = .003. The decrease in fatalism remained significant for both waitlist (t = 2.06, p = .043) and intervention (t = 2.27, p = .026) conditions. Acceptance increased by a mean of 0.22 (SD = 1.07) and 0.15 (SD = 1.40) in the waitlist and intervention conditions, respectively. T2 fatalism moderated the relation between the treatment condition and increased acceptance from T1 to T2. Simple slopes analyses revealed a positive relation between T2 fatalism and increased acceptance among the intervention condition only (β = .37, p = .002). Interventions that include mechanisms to reduce fatalism may increase acceptance benefit finding among Latina breast cancer survivors.
Higher Education is not immune to Messaging Mishaps: A Qualitative Rhetorical Analysis of COVID-19 Messaging on U.S. Campuses
Amelia Parker, Jesus Sanchez Orozco, Dr. Sam Robinson, Dr. Shantel Martinez, & Dr. Kelly Medina-Lopez
Universities across the nation faced an unprecedented challenge of transitioning to remote instruction due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, campus administrators had to communicate quickly with an array of audiences and manage the daily changes and decisions being made, while also needing to be as informative, concise, and widespread as possible. Thus, communication became essential to the implementation of protocol and handling of the crisis. Our research explores the rhetoric used by universities while communicating the changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We have collected COVID-19 related messaging from universities across the U.S., including from two of the largest public university systems in the world: the CSU and UC. Using a qualitative rhetorical analysis of approximately 300 messages, this study provides insights into the effectiveness of crisis communication. By developing criteria for assessing these messages through rhetorical analysis we can examine factors such as accessibility, quality, the inclusion of resources, reading level, diction, and appropriateness for the target audience. Initial findings indicate differences in messaging based on school finances, a clear distinction between community colleges and four-year institutions, and between the gender of the administrator. We have also noted that despite having a high number of Spanish-speaking constituents in California, universities only messaged in English. Analyzing and comparing demographic information for the campuses and communities helps us to determine if the communication style matches the audience’s needs. By studying factors in how different campuses handled their emergency communication, we can better understand the resources that are essential for a university, regardless of the emergency, to be more accessible, diverse, equitable, and inclusive.
Climate Change in National and State Parks of the Monterey Bay Region: How Small, Everyday Acts Can Make a Big Difference
Angela Steele & Dr. Patrick Belanger
United States national and state parks are suffering from the effects of climate change. Scientists predict an increase in extreme weather events, with detrimental ecological results. This paper proceeds in two steps. First, by studying the official websites of the National Park Service and California State Parks, it offers a qualitative overview of climate-related changes such as fire activity, tree die-offs, and shifting ecosystems, in several parks in the Monterey Bay region: Pinnacles National Park, Point Lobos Natural Reserve, Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, and the Forest of Nisene Marks State Park. Second, the paper argues that nature lovers and American citizens alike should make small changes to our everyday routines to help protect the parks, as well as support policies and legislation designed to protect these national and state parks, and that no act is too small to make a difference.
Successful Online Transitions: How Instructors Supported Students during COVID-19
Lily Amador, Viviana Vigil, Krysta Malech, Dr. Heather Haeger, & Dr. Quentin Sedlacek
Times of national crisis like the current COVID-19 pandemic have a dramatic impact both on student experiences and faculty teaching practices (Hosek & Austin, 2016; Linsenmeyer & Lucas, 2017) . Despite extensive research on distance learning (King-Sears, 2009), we have yet to see research that addresses how to effectively support students in transitioning to distance learning during a time of crisis. Our study will explore how CSUMB faculty were able to support students in the crisis transition to distance learning during COVID-19. Our data consisted of four-hundred and twenty two student responses from the Course-based Undergraduate Research Experiences Survey administered in March-May, 2020. Survey questions asked about what actions faculty took to help them in the transition to online learning (open-ended) combined with ratings on how helpful those actions were (Likert scale). Results from thematic coding suggest that consistent and timely feedback/responses from instructors, flexibility in course deadlines and assignments, and increased instructor availability were associated with a successful transition.
Pornography and Capitalist Ideology: The Commodification of Sex
Sebastian Mireles & Dr. Stephanie Spoto
Mainstream conversations about the obscenity and legitimacy of pornography are traditionally driven by one’s ethical adherence to the two primary ethical theories: Utilitarianism and Deontology. However, a great majority of individuals fail to recognize that even the most conventional ethical guides to navigating their views on pornography are driven by ideology. Feminist philosophers like Catherine MacKinnon move beyond conventional opinions and critiques the ideology embedded in pornography by asserting that it involves a form of sex discrimination. Using MacKinnon as a point of departure and using the Marxist and Althusserian theories of ideology, I argue in this paper that there is no such thing as good porn so long as the Capitalist and patriarchal ideology within pornography makes individuals see sex as a commodity and transactional. It is not that sex work or pornography that is inherently degrading or morally wrong, it is the social conditions under which they are created which are wrong. Ultimately, the purpose of this essay is trifold: to demonstrate how ideologies are embedded everywhere, how cultural products like pornography perpetuate said ideologies, and to further critique the system of Capitalism and patriarchy.
Hurricane Preparedness Planning for Low-Income/Homeless Citizens During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Melyssa Spandri, Dr. Robin Ersing, Dr. Beverly Ward, & Dr. Jennifer Collins
Hillsborough County, Florida is a known tornado, hurricane, and storm surge coastal zone. The area also documents 15% of the population as low-income which increases the likelihood of vulnerability to a hurricane. The added threat of COVID-19 further raises the risk for those needing evacuation shelters. In this study we produced a Community Impact Assessment (CIA) of the Tampa Bay area to document social and physical vulnerabilities that might hinder hurricane evacuation and increase disaster risk for low-income/ homeless communities. Health data relevant to COVID-19 was integrated with U.S. Census tract data to more fully assess those communities most at risk. The project engaged six local disaster service stakeholders through telephone interviews to understand approaches being used to adjust emergency management policies that accommodate CDC guidelines and understand the role of social networks in preparedness planning. Data from these interviews indicated discrepancies in available space for social distancing, along with the need for better communication on all levels of disaster management before a storm makes landfall. Additionally, keeping an open mind, being flexible, and having COVID-19 supplies prepared in advance may help disaster organizations deliver the execution of these plans more quickly. Furthermore, many of these new management policies were premised off of keeping people safe and separated. Updated planning recommendations for natural disaster preparedness will be disseminated to communities most vulnerable to natural disasters exacerbated by an ongoing pandemic.
Comparison of Afro Indigenous to African American and Native American Student research models in Higher Education
Darchelle Burnett & Brian Coperning
Students with multicultural identities, specifically within the Afro Indigenous communities, charter different experiences that are often underexplored in research models. This project focuses on the development of an educational research model that addresses the academic needs of Afro Indigenous students through a comparison with the separate African American and Native American student academic support models. The summer portion of this project is dedicated towards a literature review focusing on understanding the historical evolution of American Higher Education. With a focus on the future this research project will analyse different research models that can and will be utilized to understand the educational and social experiences of students in higher education who identify themselves as more than one race/ethnicity.
H2A Guest Workers in the Salinas Valley and Central Coast Valley during the COVID-19 Pandemic
Xenia Enriquez, Dr. Angie Tran, & Dr. Lorenzo Covarrubias
The purpose of this project is to investigate the working and living conditions of agricultural guest workers in the Salinas Valley and Central Coast during the Covid-19 Pandemic. The research is especially interested in the promises made by the growers to the guest workers through the H-2A program and if those promises still withstand during the Covid-19 Pandemic. The project will use data conducted from interviews, observations, press coverage, and archival research. The research question is the extent to which the living and working conditions of H2A guest workers have worsened during the pandemic. Research is still ongoing, but as anticipated, our current information already shows that H2A workers are in fact facing more challenges during the pandemic and are particularly vulnerable. Studies show that many workers who speak out, strike, or attempt to unionize for better living and working conditions are not rehired for the following year. Due to the potential backlash and consequences, H2A workers fear speaking out. In conclusion, this research is important to give a voice to the H2A guest workers who are underrepresented and under-resourced.
The Effects of Green Consumption on Sustainable Actions
Saray Garcia, Dr. Angelina Nariswari, & Dr. Jenny Lin
Research has shown that culture and personal experiences shape who we are and reflect identity. Hence, messaging can be designed to align with one’s identity to increase effectiveness. In this paper, we examine the factors and processes of how identity-congruent messages impact green consumption behavior. In a series of behavioral experiments, we explore the interaction between message framing (self vs. other) and cultural identity (independent vs. interdependent) on consumers’ sustainable food decisions and behavior. Building on identity-based motivation theory, we expect congruent messages to prompt more sustainable food choices.
Qualitative Study of Cancer Screening Utilization Among Latinos in a Remote Agricultural Community
Tzu-Ling Tseng, Josephine C. Sanchez, Francisca Fried Rios, Dr. Meng-Han Tsai, & Dr. Daramola N. Cabral
Cancer is the leading cause of death among Latinos. Compared to non-Hispanic Whites, Latinos are more likely to be diagnosed with advanced stages of disease and to experience poorer outcomes and quality of life after a cancer diagnosis. The utilization of cancer screening among Latinos is likely influenced by a combination of factors, including social, cultural, behavioral and biological factors. However, much of the cancer prevention and control research focuses on non-Hispanic Whites. Limitations in the research significantly contributes to our lack of understanding of the potential web of factors that likely influences cancer-related outcomes among Latinos. This study aimed to identify and describe potential modifiable factors in the participants that would explain the lack of cancer screening utilization. The lack of timely cancer screening negates the benefits otherwise afforded by early detection of cancer. In this pilot study, we conducted 14 focus groups (N=20) to identify the stages of change, health behaviors, health beliefs, perceptions of cancer risk, and self-efficacy to complete recommended cancer screening. Focus groups were tape-recorded and transcripts were translated from Spanish to English. The focus group transcripts were analyzed to identify the predisposing, enabling, mediating, and reinforcing factors. Predisposing factors were: the lack of income to see a doctor, lack of insurance, lack of knowledge about cancer prevention/risk, lack of cancer screening knowledge, and limitations in access to primary care. Enabling factors were: healthy foodways, positive outlook on life, and attending Women, Infant, and Children (WIC) classes. Reinforcing factors were: the use of home remedies and having family support. We expect that improving early detection rates will result in improvements in cancer survival among Latinos.
Exercise is Medicine On Campus: Employee Circuit Training Course Increases Physical Activity
Maximilian Gastelum-Morales, Dr. Lisa J. Leininger, Dr. Joana L. Morrissey, Dr. Kent J. Adams, Nickolas Rahawi, & Aaron Espitia-Gonzales
Exercise Is Medicine On Campus (EIM-OC) was implemented at California State University, Monterey Bay in Fall 2019, with offerings for employees. Employee programming included a four week circuit training course. This pilot study evaluated physical activity participation among employees participating in the EIM-OC circuit training course. Research design was pre-post and tracked participants in the EIM-OC circuit training course. Twelve female employees participated. The Godin Leisure Time Physical Activity Questionnaire was administered online before and after the course. Paired sample t-tests were performed on Godin Scale Score, and number of strenuous, moderate, and light intensity activity days per week. Significance was set a=0.05. There was a significant increase (t=1.787, df=11, p=.05) in Godin Scale Score following the course (M=38.50±16.9; M=49.17±23.95), and in moderate physical activity days per week (t=2.419, df=11, p=.02) following the course (M=2.5±1.17; M=3.33±1.30). There were increases in strenuous physical activity days and light physical days per week, although they were not statistically significant. The inaugural EIM-OC circuit training class was effective in increasing physical activity among female employees.
SARS-CoV-2 and Larus occidentalis: How the CoronaVirus Pandemic Has Affected Western Gull Behavior and Foraging in Monterey Bay
Sarah Munro-Kennedy & Dr. Gerick Bergma
Western gulls (Larus occidentalis) are known for being opportunistic feeders are often considered a nuisance species as they are frequently found scavenging in trash and begging humans for food. Despite being prevalent in Monterey Bay, little is known about their natural foraging behaviors. Studies have shown that Ring-billed gulls (Larus delawarensis), a species often found with Western gulls, can get much of their food from people at parking lots, and increased consumption of human food and decreased consumption of fish by a population of Glaucous-winged gulls (Larus glaucescens) has resulted in long term decreases in egg volume and clutch sizes. Dependence on human food can, therefore, be important to gull populations in urbanized areas, with changes in human behavior potentially affecting gull ecology. With the current SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, human access to beaches has varied. We are investigating how these changes in human behavior affect the behavior of Western gulls and their food sources along the Monterey Peninsula. Using binoculars and an ethogram, focal samples have been conducted at 16 sites along the Monterey Peninsula since the 10th of November 2019, and include data from before the COVID outbreak and after the Monterey County Shelter in Place Order was issued. We found a significant difference in the behavior of Western gulls as well as their source of food among those time periods. While humans were ordered to shelter in place, Western gulls foraged proportionally more on natural food sources than they did prior to the shelter in place order. This notable change in behavior and diet may impact their fecundity. Further studies are needed to determine how human food affects Western gull physiology and reproduction.
The Role of Epiphytic Lichens in Facilitating Arthropod and Avian Communities Within Oak Woodland Habitat Cascades
Ekaterina Patrice & Dr. Gerick Bergsma
Habitat cascades are a form of successive facilitative interactions in which a dependent foundation species grows on or within a primary foundation species to create biogenic structure that has positive indirect effects on focal species. Oak woodland habitat cascades are formed by direct interaction between oak trees and epiphytic lichens. We surveyed both insect and avian communities in Fort Ord Natural Reserve in Marina, California to further understand the role of epiphytes in facilitating interactions between these communities. We conducted foraging surveys to determine how and where birds utilize lichen for foraging, and area searches to observe bird populations in areas of high and low lichen. Birds were separated into guilds to further understand how different species interact with epiphytes. Our research will contribute to growing literature that highlights the complex ways biogenic structures influence indirect species interactions, which affect animal communities.
Analysis of Small-scale, Spatial Variability within High-Density Arrays of Passive Fog Collectors to Determine the Optimal Location for Fog Collection
Conor Rickard, Wendy Feng, Alan Sevin, & Dr. Dan Fernandez
Wind-driven fog can be collected passively and inexpensively, but small-scale variability of fog deposition has not yet been researched. In Monterey, CA, considerable variability of water collection has been observed within high-density arrays of standard fog collectors (SFC). SFCs consist of a square meter of mesh mounted 2 to 3 meters above ground. A trough beneath the mesh routes fog water to a measurement device. Spring 2018, an array of ten SFCs was installed at California State University, Monterey Bay on level ground, nearly vacant of vegetation within 4,500 m2. Less than 4 km north, an array of eight collectors was installed in 2019 at the Fort Ord Natural Reserve, amidst sloping chaparral within 130,000 m2. Both sites are about 2.5 km from the coast. Interannual fog collection data and site-specific weather data are studied in conjunction with topographic detail, vegetation characterization, and regional meteorological history to analyze small-scale variability due to elevation and vegetation differences. This will help determine the optimal placement for a fog collector within a given site to maximize fog collection. This research has implications for fog collector installations worldwide and will interest the general public, cloud physicists, and environmental scientists.
Effects of Anaerobic Soil Disinfection on Volatile Organic Compound Production in Strawberry Fields
Armando Flores, Kali Prescott, & Dr. Arlene Haffa
As current pest control strategies are increasingly regulated, the future of the $2.1 billion strawberry industry relies on the success of safer yet effective management strategies against plant diseases. One of these possible strategies is anaerobic soil disinfestation (ASD); however, the specific microbial mechanisms that occur during the treatment are poorly understood. Gas sampling was conducted in ASD experimental and control plots to measure the concentrations of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) using a portable FTIR. After data collection and processing, we analyzed the VOC data with ANOVA tests and parametric testing to find VOCs relevant to ASD. Afterward, we graphed the significant VOCs for comparison between the ASD plots and control plots across a time series to illustrate the differences. We found that a handful of VOCs seems to be only present or more common in the ASD than in the control plots. These included ammonia, carbon monoxide, x2,3-hexanedione, propylene oxide, x1-pentene. These data will help us to understand how the significant VOCs are related to microbial mechanisms.
Algebraically Predicting Percent Compositions of Eutectic Solutions: Can the Perfect Solution be Predicted Before We Make it?
Rebecca Munster & Dr. John Goeltz
Eutectic solutions have become a popular research topic in the last two decades as new formulations with organic molecules have increased the number of available compositions. Although the exact definition of a deep eutectic solvent remains a subject of debate, they are known for being easier and cheaper to produce than their cousins, ionic liquids (ILs), while still exhibiting many desirable properties. Eutectics have been employed in chrome plating, energy storage and food safety. Each deep eutectic solvent exhibits its eutectic point at a particular temperature and percent composition. This project identifies, tests and produces a range of accuracy for a linear equation that, given the eutectic temperature, can calculate the eutectic percent composition. The three known eutectic solutions were used to test the accuracy of the equation are urea-choline chloride (2:1 molar ratio), chromium chloride-choline chloride (2:1 molar ratio), and ethylene glycol-choline chloride (2:1 molar ratio). Following work will include using the equation “backwards” compared with previous researchers’ work so that given the eutectic temperature, the eutectic composition can be calculated. In this direction, the equations can be used to predict previously unknown materials and accelerate discovery of those with desired properties.
Make it Rain: Nutrient Dynamics of Riparian and Stream Ecosystems During Simulated Rainfall Events
Gretchen Wichman, Dr. Walter K. Dodds, James P. Guinnip, and Dr. Jessica R. Corman, & Brittany A. Kirsch
Riparian vegetation, plant communities that grow along a stream bank, link terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Runoff from the uplands or terrestrial environments pass through riparian vegetation before entering the stream. Riparian vegetation acts as a filter to runoff and improves stream water quality. Rain simulation has been used on many terrestrial environments for investigating processes like plant growth or soil erosion. This study is unique because it involves simulating rain over the riparian zone. The purpose of this investigation is to gain a better understanding of nutrient and sediment movements through different types of riparian vegetation. The objective is to simulate rainfall over the riparian zone to examine the influence of precipitation on nutrient movements into streams with either forested or grassy riparian vegetation on the Konza Prairie Biological Station. In order to understand nutrient dynamics during a rainfall event we will add tracers and nutrient additions (i.e. 15NO3- and NaBr) to the “rain” water to track the transport of rainwater from the riparian zone into the stream. As grasslands tend to have less bare soil than forests and may more effectively impede material transport, we hypothesize that riparian zones composed of tallgrass vegetation will have greater nutrient retention than those composed of forest vegetation. Anthropogenic actions are contributing to the expansion of forests near grassland streams. The type of riparian vegetation could be changing the fundamental nature of streams.
Climate Adaptation Planning in an Agricultural Community: Results from Pajaro Valley Outreach
Ahtziri Carranza Medrano, Christopher Shatto, Dr. Victoria Derr, & Nancy Faulstich
Climate change is having devastating effects on agriculture. It is estimated to continue doing more damage in the coming years. It is important for governments to start creating climate adaptation planning to better prepare for the effects, especially for those who are vulnerable. That is why Regeneracion, a local non-profit in the Pajaro Valley, began conducting surveys in the community to better capture how farmers, farmworkers, and community members have been affected by climate change and what they would like to see changed. We synthesized the results from surveys done in 2017 and 2019 in order to describe community concerns and to create policy recommendations that align with these concerns to better prepare local governments in how they respond. In a community like Pajaro Valley, that heavily relies on agriculture, it is important to develop local adaptation plans to reduce the impact on the economy, health of community members, and to generate climate adaptive solutions that respond to local interests.
CSUMB Botanical Garden Project: A Framework for Learning Laboratories on Campus
Trinity Gomez & Dr. Victoria Derr
California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB) was built on the grounds of the decommissioned Fort Ord Army base and opened in 1995. Since then the campus has changed significantly but despite these improvements, many students and faculty still describe the campus as lacking in green spaces. Faculty in the Applied Environmental Science (AES) department and Psychology department, have been exploring the potential to develop spaces on campus as ecological learning laboratories. One idea that emerged was to create a botanical garden on campus that could be used for education, student wellness and fulfill the need for green spaces on campus. The goal of this research is to discover the limitations and necessary components that may come with creating this garden at CSUMB, along with highlighting the importance of stakeholder perspectives when planning community based projects. Qualitative research methods such as document analysis, semi-structured, and key informant interviews were used to analyze the university as a whole and gather the viewpoints of students and faculty in the science departments. Results from interviews depict common themes of interest for garden benefits, educational opportunities and use, along with other garden aspects to be considered.
The Breeding Phenology of Wildlife on The Santa Lucia Preserve
Alicia Khoun & Dr. Christy Wyckoff
Phenology is the investigation of a species’ life cycle and how it interacts with seasonal and weather shifts. A species lifecycle is important to understand because animals are sensitive to changes in their environment. Understanding that environmental conditions can affect the breeding seasons of some wildlife species serves as an indicator of larger patterns especially on the landscape of The Preserve. These types of understandings can help us better evaluate and conserve wildlife species and their habitats. Within this study, our data will look at questions such as any shifts made from observations in the wildlife phenology and any relations with climatic changes that shift from year to year. Beginning last fall, we approximately observed and documented breeding trends of over a thousand various wildlife species such as bobcats, coyotes, deer and turkey and at least 1,285 observations with species of young using a remote project called Where the Wildlife Wander that consists of roughly 30 cameras that have been deployed in the same location across The Preserve over the last 5 years. A timeline of breeding was plotted by species for each year to evaluate the onset and duration of baby and juvenile wildlife. Early evaluation of the data shows some species reproducing at contrasting times within a breeding season indicating environmental changes of a landscape. As a result, these representations of the biological cycles will be useful in the Conservancy’s outreach efforts and aid in understanding the trend of wildlife responses to climate patterns.
Variables that Affect the Success of First Generation College Students in a Geoscience STEM REU Program
Eric DeSoto, Juliana Cornett, & Dr. Laura Good
First generation college students are typically defined as students whose parent(s)/guardian(s) have little to no postsecondary education(see Peralta and Klownowski, 2017). These students can have limited experiences learning in higher education settings, which create barriers to academic success and interest in STEM careers. The Monterey Bay Ocean Sciences Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program provides undergraduates with firsthand experience of STEM research in geosciences disciplines. The program aims to increase the number/diversity of students pursuing Ocean Sciences careers by engaging students from groups typically underrepresented in STEM or with limited access to STEM research opportunities. Participant “success” in the program is deemed where students increase a) their knowledge of how STEM research is conducted, b) perceived self efficacy of their skills as an emerging geoscientist, and c) awareness of ocean science research and career opportunities available. A mixed methods approach will be taken to analyze evaluation data from pre and post REU participant and mentor surveys collected from 2014-2019, and new program alumni surveys, to answer the question “Does being a first generation college student affect a student’s’ success in the REU Program?” Answering this question may provide recommendations on how to better support first generation students in the REU program for the future.
Investigating the Roles of LIP1 and LAC1 in the Early G1 Phase of Saccharomyces Cerevisiae
Carlos X. Rosa, Dr. Doug R. Kellog, & Dr. Aparna Sreenivasan
When developing treatments for chronic diseases, such as cancer, it is important to understand the development that these diseases undergo. This is one of the major barriers to developing effective treatments, as it is incredibly difficult to track the events that occur in the human body as a disease develops or spreads. However, researchers have found that by observing model organisms such as Saccharomyces cerevisiae (budding yeast), they can begin to gain a better understanding of the cell cycle. The Sreenivasan lab, as well as this research project, focuses on studying entry into the cell cycle in S. cerevisiae. More specifically, we investigate the role of the Lip1 protein and the catalytic subunit of ceramide synthase, Lac1, in the regulatory process of ceramide synthesis (Vallee et. al 2005). In order to observe these abnormalities, we make temperature sensitive mutants through a series of bacterial and yeast transformations in order to render the Lac1 and Lip1 genes nonfunctional at lower temperatures. These nonfunctional genes will result in abnormalities in ceramide synthesis and cell growth. Ceramide synthesis is a highly conserved process responsible for cell growth, and contains close homologs of ceramide synthase (CerS), the enzyme which produces ceramide, in both yeast and mammalian cells. Ceramide is the precursor to sphingolipids, which play an important role in cell signaling and extracellular trafficking, and along with Casein Kinase 2 (CK2), may help us understand the mechanisms that are present in the early G1 phase (Fresques et. al 2014). Using various tests, such as western blotting, we can find insight to what abnormalities lead to the development of diseases such as cancer.
Species-Specific Vital Rates in Hawaiian Corals Pocillopora ligulata and Porites lichen
Kaiku Kaholoaa, Caroline Rodriguez, & Dr. Cheryl A. Logan
Coral reefs are valuable marine ecosystems that are rapidly declining under climate change. Despite years of declining coral cover data in Hawaii, we still do not fully understand the mechanisms underlying these patters. To better understand the drivers of such declines, we measured coral vital rates (i.e. growth rate, recruitment, and mortality) across space and time. Vital rates for Pocillopora ligulata and Porites lichen were evaluated at three sties in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands using Structure From Motion photogrammetry and 3D reconstruction tools. We used 2D representations of the 3D models to outline live patches of both species and calculate the area of individual coral in 2013, 2016, an 2019. We hypothesized that P. ligulata would a higher growth, recruitment, and mortality rate during bleaching events than P. lichen because P. ligulata is known to be relatively more competitive and faster growing, but less heat resistant. After analyzing each species' vital rates, we will be able to evaluate which species has a higher growth, recruitment, and mortality rate at a given site. Using this information we can determine which populations are more resilient during heat stress events and therefore should be a focus of conservation efforts
Assessment of Student Work in a Chemistry Course Series
Vicki Meraz, Mackenzie Price, Dr. Dennis Kombe, & Dr. Corin Slown
In college, Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) majors complete the chemistry series as a prerequisite for their upper division courses. Poor performance in general chemistry may lead changes in students’ ambitions and result in attrition in subsequent courses, and even students changing majors. The learning outcomes of the college level chemistry series build upon one another and success in each course relies upon this crucial knowledge transfer. Traditionally, cumulative assessments lack multiple perspectives on student learning outcomes, creating a barrier for evaluating the transfer of knowledge to subsequent courses. This research investigates the correlation between course, program, and the transfer of institutional learning outcomes by assessment of de-identified student work using a modified ALA rubric. With a team of diverse educational backgrounds and experience, we are able to connect how courses develop knowledge and skills to succeed in a STEM major. This research will improve learning by reducing achievement gaps, as well as providing insight on the transfer of knowledge to the subsequent course. This will lead to better pedagogies for learning in STEM, specifically chemistry, therefore increasing student success and minimizing the students who drop their STEM major.
Effects of S. Purpuratus on Kelp Forest Recovery
Casey Juliussen, Dr. Alison Haupt, & Keith Rootsaert
Many forests of giant kelp, Macrocystis pyrifera, around central California have recently experienced a widespread shift from dense forests to sea urchin ‘barrens’. This state change is most likely due to overgrazing of kelp and other macroalgae by the purple sea urchin (Strongylocentrotus purpuratus). Urchin barrens are often characterized by encrusting red and corraline algae, reduced species diversity, and higher urchin density compared to intact kelp forests. To determine the potential mechanisms contributing to the creation and maintenance of barrens and forests, we investigated whether sea urchin density or size structure is associated with kelp forest recovery. Over the course of our two-year experiment, run by California Reef Check, twenty patch reefs were studied in Monterey Bay, California. Urchin densities were manipulated weekly on each reef, there were a total of two control sites, and nine different target urchin densities that were applied to two patch reefs each. Data were collected with PISCO style swath surveys counting all fish, kelp, and invertebrates along the transect array as well as RCCA style UPC transects. Preliminary data analysis has shown no clear forest recovery on any of the patch reefs. The 2019 field data found no M. pyrifera recruitment on any of the patch reefs, the same trend is making itself seen in the 2020 field season. We believe this is due to the June start date from both years, as most kelp recruitment occurs in early spring. Although this start date is not ideal, it was an artifact of site selection the first season, and COVID-19 shut downs in the second season. Although no kelp recovery occurred, we expect the data from the two years combined to show an increased diversity in sites with lower urchin densities.
Environmental DNA as a Tool for Wildlife Conservation
Emma Teall & Dr. John Olson
Environmental DNA (eDNA) is DNA shed into the environment. By analysing environmental samples for identifiable eDNA we can detect and monitor wildlife in a non-invasive way that is more accurate than traditional spotting methods. This has grSat potential for wildlife conservation, but it is a new technology and its spatial and temporal accuracy is uncertain. Through a review of eDNA papers, we compared various claims of the limits of eDNA technology to illustrate the current understanding of eDNA limits. We quantify the range of time eDNA can survive in an environment before degrading, and how far eDNA can travel from its source. By defining the limits of eDNA, we can understand the steps we need to take in order to confidently apply eDNA to conservation efforts such as policy making, citizen science, and endangered or invasive species monitoring.
The Genetic Variation Underlying the Salt Stress Response in Oryza glaberrima Plant Evolutionary Genomics
Jada Carter & Dr. Nathaniel Jue
The now orphaned African rice, Oryza glaberrima, was a staple in sub-Saharan Africa until the debut of fast-growing, high-yielding Asian rice (O. sativa). However, as climate change rapidly alters the agricultural landscape, rising sea levels present a growing threat to coastal paddies. Here, we aimed to assess glaberrima’s resistance to changes in salinity as well as examine the genetic component of its stress response. A rice panel of 171 O. glaberrima varieties was grown in a diurnal, tropical, hydroponic system with a control group and salinity treatment groups. We monitored chlorophyll content, the 'greenness' of the plant, as a proxy for energy production. We also counted the number of leaves on each plant over time and calculated leaf initiation rates to measure this energy decrease giving us insight into the repercussions of salt stress at later developmental stages. Results show that within the salt treatment group there were several varieties displaying a yellow leaf phenotype consistent with a decrease in the number of chloroplasts per unit area. The subsequent decrease in chlorophyll content resulted in a decrease in the photosynthetic products thereby decreasing the overall energy produced by the plant, causing them to yellow and eventually die. From there, we generated a genome-wide polymorphism data set for our rice panel to perform a Genome-wide Association Study (GWAS), searching for the regions of the genome responsible for genetic variation associated with salinity tolerance. Our results will highlight the genetic variation underlying abiotic stress tolerance for breeders and plant scientists.
An Investigation of The Intronic Regions of NOTCH2NL a Human Specific Neocortical Gene
Nicholas Heyer, Colleen Bosworth, Gary Mantalas, Taylor Real, Gifti Gemeda, Dr. David Haussler, & Dr. Sofie Salama
An investigation of the 1q21 region of the human genome revealed human-specific segmental duplications of NOTCH2, known as NOTCH2NLA, NOTCH2NLB, NOTCH2NLC, and a pseudogene NOTCH2NLR. Subsequent characterization of the NOTCH2NL gene family showed these proteins had the effect of increasing the total number of neural progenitors in the prefrontal cortex. As a result of this functional analyses, the genomic region’s association with neurodevelopmental disorders, and the genes’ human-specific nature we developed a working hypothesis of the effects of NOTCH2NL. We hypothesized NOTCH2NL is causative in the expansion of the forebrain. In the past two years we characterized the non-synonymous coding variants. In this work, we look more closely at the non-coding regions of our NOTCH2NL assemblies in order to characterise the gene family beyond the coding regions, in hopes that it will allow us to make a more accurate reference. First we must determine representative haplotypes, to do this we used phylogenetic analysis, using hierarchical clustering of VCF data from our assemblies to generate a phylogenetic tree. Then “cutting” the phylogenetic tree into clades, groups that share a common ancestor in the tree. We used a cutting method and threshold to give us clades with only one of the paralogues, that is clades that are monophyletic. In order to generate monophyletic clades that represent the major haplotypes, we found joining assemblies into clades if they share 91% of all variable sites yielded the largest monophyletic clades, obtaining 11 groupings. Interestingly, it appears that only NOTCH2NLC can form a monophyletic superclade, a clade of clades, with all of its assemblies. One of the three monophyletic clade of assemblies that represent the duplicated portion of the parent gene NOTCH2 was placed in the NOTCH2NLR superclade. The fact that some of the NOTCH2 assemblies are more similar to NOTCH2NLR and NOTCH2, or that NOTCH2NLR has not had a sufficient amount of time for it to diverge from the parent gene. We identified four NOTCH2NLAB clades, indicating four “AB” genotypes, suggesting relatively frequent gene conversions between the loci. Overall these clades represent a more holistic way to represent this gene family, as a group of 11 references, and give us insight into the relative incidence of gene conversion events between members of the NOTCH2NL gene family.
Correlation Between California Bat Activity and Hexapod Activity at a Site along the Salinas River
Hannah Carrell, Janette Perez-Jimenez, & Dr. Jennifer Duggan
Optimization of Transparent Synthetic Soil Protocols for in Situ Visualization of Plant Infection with Soilborne Pathogens
Karla Jasso & Dr. Jose Pablo Dundore-Arias
Soilborne plant pathogens (SPP) cause devastating diseases of crops worldwide. Thus, developing strategies for investigating and visualizing SPP in situ is essential to advance our understanding of the conditions that promote their establishment and development in agricultural fields. The use of transparent synthetic soil (TSS) represents a novel approach to study plant-microbe interactions in the soil. However, most of the literature on TSS focuses on characterizing root systems of non-crop model plants under sterile conditions. A thorough examination of published scientific literature and relevant research methods was conducted to identify essential characteristics of TSS necessary for growing crop plants and characterizing root development. Properties of transparent growing mediums were compared to those of soil to determine the most suitable synthetic growing medium for lettuce (Lactuca sativa) cultivation in the presence and absence of the SPP. Data gathered from the literature indicated the benefit of incorporating synthetic polymers in the TSS to support plant growth. In particular, the fluoropolymer (Nafion) was shown to provide analogous properties to soil, including similar cation exchange and particle size composition, as well as aeration and structure. This project will inform the development of a customized TSS protocol suitable for investigating the establishment and symptom development of Pythium spp. on lettuce plants.
Wildlife Impacts from Recreational Activity in Response to COVID-19
Saul Garcia & Dr. Christy Wyckoff
When recreational activity prevails among wildlife, the impacts that human frequency may have on wildlife movement must be considered in order to conserve ecological interactions. Implications of the recent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has resulted in three times more residents spending time on the Santa Lucia Preserve, an 18k-acre conservation community managed by the Santa Lucia Conservancy in Carmel, CA. A primary activity during the shelter-in-place was recreational hiking, which at these higher levels may affect observed wildlife activities and moments across The Preserve. Our long-term camera trapping study, “Where the Wildlife Wander”, provides a unique opportunity to assess how an expected increase in recreational activity this spring, in response to the Monterey County Shelter-in-Place order, has influenced the spatial and temporal distributions of wildlife over the past 3 years. Wildlife observations, passively captured by camera traps, allow us to evaluate the frequency of both wildlife and human use of recreational trails on The Preserve. With data from April 2018 and April 2019 (control) compared to April 2020 (treatment), we can obtain a stronger perception of pre-COVID-19 patterns to then evaluate the relationship between the anticipated increased use of recreational trails and the spatial and temporal frequencies of wildlife on The Preserve. Assuming our hypothesis is correct, we expect an increase in recreational activity on trails will result in reduced wildlife observations compared to prior years when recreational activity was less. Despite a reduction in human activity contributing to other ecological conflicts as people stay at home (e.g. less roadkill), disrupted human patterns may be having other unintended impacts on wildlife as people turn to socially-distanced, outdoor recreation as a pastime. By understanding these changing interactions, land trusts like the Santa Lucia Conservancy can more readily implement management protocols for the conservation of natural lands enjoyed by the public for recreational use.
Creating Educational Animated Videos and Comic Strips for Use in Introductory Oceanography Classes
Paulina Cadena, Dr. Cheryl Greengrove, & Dr. Mikelle Nuwer
Non-oceanography majors often struggle with the specialized language and complex graphics used to describe many oceanographic key concepts in introductory oceanography courses. The goal of this project is to create more understandable visualizations in the form of animations and comic strips that will make some of these concepts more accessible to all students. Primary production is one of these hard to understand topics. Primary production is based on photosynthesis, the process of using energy from sunlight to turn inorganic nutrients into organic substances used by organisms in the ocean. There are many different physical and chemical factors, such as sunlight, nutrient availability, stratification, and mixing/upwelling, that may affect how much productivity is happening in different parts of the ocean. This primary productivity helps determine the abundance of phytoplankton which forms the base of the oceans’ food web. Since zooplankton eats phytoplankton, their abundance depends on phytoplankton availability and so on up the food web. All of these components are interrelated and vary together over time at different locations in the ocean. These variations are often shown as a series of complex graphs that are representative of all these factors and processes. The goal here is to develop animations and comic strips using Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Animate to create visualizations that will make the communication of primary production and the factors that affect it clearer to students. These visualizations will be utilized as an educational tool for the Ocean Observation Initiative Data Labs, but will also be accessible through Youtube and can be employed as stand-alone tools within an introductory oceanography classroom. Documentation for how to create these visualizations will also be developed and made available for future users.
A Generating Function For f(m) given only the (math symbol) and gcd (n, m) of a SYT
Gabriel Chavez & Dr. Lipika Deka
Is there a generating function for the f λ(m) of a SYT? This is the question posed by MIT professor Richard P. Stanley in a list of open combinatorial bijective proof problems. Stanley claims that the only information we need to generate fλ(m) is λ and the gcd(m,n). We use combinatorial methods to verify this claim, relying on properties of Tableau such as the hook length and the major index. This paper shows that there exists a generating function for I, L, and O-blocks as well as other similar shapes. However we do not know if there is a general function that generates f λ(m) for any Tableau.
Bioinformatics and Pathway Analysis on the Aging Brain
Emily Beasley & Dr. Zurine De Miguel
Just like every human grows old with age, every essential cell in the human body does the same. As cells change, tissues and organs made by those cells also change, overtime they begin to lose function. The hypothalamus is the area that controls and coordinates numerous bodily functions by regulating the hormonal and autonomic system. Hypothalamic aging might play a significant role in the functional changes of peripheral organs dependent on hormonal and autonomic regulation as we age. However, very few studies have investigated the overarching changes that occur in the hypothalamus with aging. Here using Gene Ontology and pathway analysis, we explored data sets of whole hippocampal transcriptome analyzed via RNAsequencing of aged and young mice. In conclusion, we observed substantial differences between young and old hypothalamic transcriptome. In particular, we observed genes of the immune system and central nervous system development using pathway analysis for Gene Ontology expression, suggesting that the immune system and central nervous system development is vital for the hypothalamic aging process.
Using EEG and Convolutional Neural Network for Information Retrieval
Michael Haidar & Dr. Glenn Bruns
Search engines and the internet have given us quick access to a wealth of information in the form of websites, blogs, articles, research papers, and email. A major problem the user faces now is not how to discover relevant information, but how to retrieve it later when it is needed. Current retrieval systems require the user to remember where a document is stored, how it was named, and to navigate and maintain the structure (such as the folder hierarchy in a google drive). We propose a new system that uses an electroencephalogram(EEG) based Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) for information retrieval. BCI has been used to control physical devices such as robotic humanoids (Chae et al. 2011), prosthetic hands, drones (Khang and Hong 2017), and computers (Mcfarland et al. 2004). The BCI system we propose utilizes a convolutional neural network (CNN) to predict a document topic using EEG data that was recorded while a user recollects a previously-read document. In layman's terms, this system allows a human to find an article by thinking about it. Our preliminary results have prediction accuracy only slightly better than guessing. Our research suggests that EEG tracings are not uniform across time. The fundamental problem is that, just as someone’s physical appearance changes over time, recollection of a previously-read document topic changes over time. There is a change of event related potentials (ERP) over time, which makes generalization difficult for CNNs. Further research is needed to understand these ERP changes, how CNNs abstract and generalize the EEG tracings, and how to process the tracings to improve prediction accuracy.
Effects of Combined Acidification and Hypoxia on Fast-start response in Juvenile Rockfish
Maxwell Rudelic, Melissa Palmisciano, Neosha Kashef, Dave Stafford, Kristin Saksa, Dr. Susan Sogard, Dr. Cheryl Logan, & Dr. Scott Hamilton
Climate change is expected to intensify wind-driven coastal upwelling in the California Current Ecosystem, exposing nearshore marine organisms to increasing acidification and hypoxia. Due to their springtime recruitment in the subtidal zone, juvenile rockfishes may be particularly vulnerable to low pH/low DO events. This project seeks to determine the effects of exposure to low pH/low DO on fast-start response behavior in juvenile KGB-C complex rockfishes. Fast-start responses, or sudden accelerations utilized by fish to avoid predators, may determine the outcomes of predator-prey interactions and therefore are important predictors of survival. To determine how future projected upwelling conditions will impact rockfish fast-start performance, we exposed juveniles to one of three pH/DO treatments for a period of 7 days: control (~8.1 pH, ~8.6 mg/L DO), moderate (7.5 pH, 4.0 mg/L DO), or extreme (7.3 pH, 2.0 mg/L DO). We compared differences in startle response effectiveness in relation to CO2 and DO exposure. Using the startle response and latency of response to a stimulus, we will be able to see if there are any effects of the different environments. This study will help elucidate the species-specific physiological resilience of rockfishes to OA and hypoxia at a critical life history stage.
Comparing Changes of Vital Rates for Corals in Maui Over Time
Melissa Vezard, Caroline Rodriguez, & Dr. Cheryl Logan
In a previous study, Structure-From-Motion technology was used to create 3D models of reefs to study the effects the 2014-2015 bleaching event had on the coral’s surface rugosity. For my project, I used a similar methodology to measure the changes in vital rates (growth, mortality, recruitment) for Montipora capitata and Porites lobata from a Maui site from 2014-2018. 3D models and 2D orthoprojections were previously created by stitching thousands of images of the reef taken by scuba divers. After scaling the 2D reconstructions of the reefs in ArcMap, I randomly dropped circle plots onto the photomosaics to subsample the site. In each plot, I delineated the live tissue with the aid of a program to view the reefs in 3D. After delineating 40 live patches (n=40) for each species, I calculated the area, perimeter, and maximum diameter in an attribute table. I repeated this process for each year and linked the patches between all years to measure the changes in vital rates. From the results we will see how the coral’s vital rates change over time before, during, and after bleaching events, allowing us to draw conclusions about the coral’s resilience to bleaching and compare vital rates for different species.
Coral Symbiont Mediation of the Effects of Sedimentation and Water Flow on Corals
Maite Gato-Fuentes & Dr. Gerick Bergsma
Coral reefs are biologically diverse and rely on a variety of symbiotic organisms to function and thrive. Many of these symbionts are mutualistic with corals and affect coral structure and coral reef community dynamics. The mutualistic symbiosis between corals and zooxanthellae, for example, is important for coral skeletal growth and reef primary productivity. Though zooxanthellae are important, corals have mutualistic symbiotic relationships with arthropods, invertebrates, vertebrates, and annelids. These relationships can affect how corals interact and react to their physical environment. Studies show that coral morphology and structure are mediated by physical factors such as sedimentation and water flow. For example, symbiotic amphipods and gammarid worms alter the coral’s physical structure by creating branch-like “fingers” on the coral, and have been shown to facilitate coral growth and survival. These effects may in part arise by decreasing stress from sedimentation. These relationships shed light on the complicated and important ecological mechanisms influencing corals and may be used for further coral reef studies, management, and restoration.
Classification and Mapping of Marine Habitats Using Drone Data
Maria Rocha & Dr. Corey Garza
In this research study, data from drones has been collected from Santa Catalina Island off the coast of Long Beach with the focus of seeing whether or not autonomous drones can be used to map and classify marine habitats. Since climate change is causing a rapid change in ecosystems, new methods have been developed to steer away from using quadrats and instead use drones. Having more and more access to autonomous drones has allowed for more advanced technologies to be available such as thermal sensors and computer vision. With this new technology, we have a more visual line of sight, less cost and risks, and an increase in production. The usage of autonomous drones has allowed data collection without humans having to intervene. The drones in this study captured areas on the island to be able to classify different marine habitats found in these zones. The rocky intertidal habitats which happen in between low and high tides are the targeted area to identify species and general habitat types such as algae zones and mussel beds. Climate change rising is causing a shift in marine habitats found in rocky intertidal, and using autonomous drones may give us an insight of whether or not this method of classification and mapping is useful when it comes to marine habitats.
Monitoring Microphytobenthos Biodiversity in Intertidal Mudflats of the San Francisco Bay
Emilia Lepe & Dr. Sherry Palacios
Microphytobenthos (MPB) are aggregations of diatoms, bacteria, protozoa, and fungi, referred to as biofilms, and are the primary energy source for consumers, such as water birds, fish, and invertebrates, accounting for 50% of their diet. Monitoring the biodiversity of the MBP is crucial in understanding how restoration efforts affect primary production and energy flow in intertidal mudflat ecosystems. Biofilms secrete a cohesive substance (Extracellular Polymeric Substances: EPS) that not only contributes to the stability of sediments but also biogeochemical cycling. The presence of EPS along with fine sediment size of the mudflats makes traditional sampling methods, such as the use of a handheld spectrophotometer, difficult to execute. In order to reduce difficulty, there has been increased interest in utilizing remote sensing imagery to monitor the microphytobenthos. Our project objectives are to increase understanding of how physical and biological elements drive changes in biofilm biodiversity. Using the MicroPhytoBenthos Optical Model (MPBOM), we aimed to remotely identify phytoplankton taxonomic class within intertidal mudflats of the South San Francisco Bay. Multispectral data of the South Bay from the Sentinel-2 satellite was collected then input in the Geographical Information System (GIS) software QGIS. QGIS was used to run the MPBOM model due to its raster calculator and Python console features. We anticipated our results will show that biofilm biodiversity is lost with increased coastal development, freshwater input, and sea-level rise. These results may provide guidance in restoration efforts and provide us with information to improve current phytoplankton classification models for multispectral remote sensing.
The Range and Arm Flexibility of Octopus vulgaris in the Field
Jennifer Grossman, Kendra Buresch, Chelsea Bennice, & Dr. Roger T. Hanton
Delineating components of octopus arm flexibility is of keen interest to the cephalopod and biomimetics communities. While limited laboratory experiments with octopuses have investigated the diversity of octopus arm deformations (bend, torsion, elongation, and shortening), this type of detailed study of arm deformations has not been done with octopuses under natural conditions. The aim of this study is threefold: 1) to determine if Octopus vulgaris utilizes the full range of arm deformations in situ, 2) to assess whether arm deformations may be used differently to perform distinct arm actions and related behaviors, and 3) to assess if arm deformations observed in the lab are consistent with field results. Seventeen arm actions have been defined and will be used to score field video of Octopus vulgaris from the western Atlantic and Caribbean regions. These arm actions will be related to the four arm deformations as well as the overall behavior of the octopus. This study can be applied to the biomimetics field to aid in establishing soft robotics that have the flexibility and capabilities of an octopus arm.
Testing the Fidelity of Global Biogeochemical Algorithms in the California Current System to Study Carbon Cycling
Ally Morris & Dr. Andrea Fassbender
Ocean acidification (OA) is the result of increasing anthropogenic carbon in the atmosphere thereby triggering a decrease in seawater pH (Doney et al., 2009; Waldbusser et al., 2014). As carbon dioxide gas (CO2) increases in the atmosphere and dissolves into the ocean, near surface ocean pH values decline thus shifting the carbonate equilibria and decreasing the saturation state of carbonate minerals (Cyronak et al., 2015). These shifts in seawater chemistry can disrupt the ability of calcifying organisms to maintain shells made of calcium carbonate. The saturation state of aragonite (Ω) is a parameter used to describe the stability of the aragonite mineral phase of CaCO3 in the environment. Chemically, calcium carbonate dissolution is favored when Ω < 1 while precipitation is favored when Ω≥1; however, marine organisms can work to regulate the production of CaCO3 minerals by modifying internal calcification fluids. Recently, the substrate to inhibitor ratio (SIR), or the ratio of bicarbonate (HCO3-) to hydrogen ions (H+), has been proposed as an alternative metric to estimate the biological calcification potential of marine creatures (Bach et al., 2015; Fassbender et al., 2016). While debate remains about which metric (Ω or SIR) is more meaningful for interpreting impacts on biological calcification, the purpose of this study is to evaluate their spatiotemporal patterns of variability in the coastal zone off California. Glider data from the Central & Northern California Ocean Observing System (CENCOOS) server were analyzed using MATLAB software to evaluate variabiltiy in Ω and SIR relationshipin a region of large carbonate chemistry variability and active shellfish aquaculture. These preliminary results provide insights about the exposure of calcifying organisms, particularly those in the benthos, to ocean acidification now as well as during the preindustrial era.
The Novel Application of Virtual Reality: Quantifying Patterns in the Distribution of Temperate Kelp Forest Fishes through VR and Traditional Underwater Visual Census
Jordan Velasco, Dr. James Lindholm, & Kameron Strickland
Traditional underwater visual census (UVC) techniques, in which a SCUBA diver records data on a waterproof slate while swimming transects, are well established for studying kelp forest fishes. UVC techniques immerse the diver in the environment he/she is studying but constrain the output to what a diver sees during an initial pass through an area. The simultaneous collection of undersea imagery complements the UVC approach by allowing for the careful review of video across multiple viewings. The recent introduction of underwater housings capable of filming in 360 degrees makes the potential coupling of video and UVC even more compelling. To-date I have reviewed VR imagery collected in Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) ranging from Gerstle Cove in Northern Sonoma to La Jolla Cove in San Diego. I have watched 493 minutes of imagery, collected at 7 locations, including variation in topographic relief, water depth, and density of kelp forests, as well as into two submarine canyon heads; Carmel and La Jolla. Using a frontal hemisphere POV to mimic a diver’s perspective, I identified a total of 1,162 individual fish to the lowest taxonomic level possible, also noting the position of each fish and its behavior. This work will soon be expanded to include a direct comparison between VR and UVC and should offer insights not only into the ecology of kelp forest fishes, but also into the use of VR to introduce the undersea world to people who previously did not have the opportunity to experience it.
Caño Island Biological Reserve
Maggie Seida, Carlos Mallo Molina, & Laura Vanopdenbosch
Coral reefs provide essential services and are a foundational part of a healthy ecosystem. Globally, coral populations are in decline. Caño Island, a marine biological reserve off Costa Rica’s south Pacific coast, hosts some of the country’s most diverse coral reefs and, with its approximately 25,000 annual visitors, is a top diving destination in the country. However, despite such recreational interest, little monitoring has been done around the island in regards to coral reef health and its change over time. With the proposed methodologies of photogrammetry and geospatial data collection by aerial drones, boat, and diver surveys, this study will investigate the use of georeferenced 3D models of coral colonies near Caño Island to monitor temporal and seasonal changes in reef health. Moreso, the models will be used in AR (augmented reality) displays by dive shops, parks, and other attractions as an opportunity for education in the tourism industry. While it’s expected that coral bleaching will be a common occurrence seen in the models, given the protected status of the island and its current reef health, there is optimism that coral recovery post bleaching will also be observed, potentially speaking to the efficacy of federally-protected marine reserves.
Size Matters: Variation in Phytoplankton Biovolume Observed in Remote Sensing Imagery Across a Putative Nutrient Gradient Nearshore to Offshore of Southern California
Laney Klunis, Dr. Sherry Palacios, & Dr. Sen Chiao
Prior studies have described a nutrient gradient caused between stronger coastal upwelling and weaker, offshore wind-stress upwelling within the California Current System (CCS). The nature of eastern boundary currents (faster, deeper and narrower compared to western boundary currents) force wind patterns that drive greater magnitudes of upwelled nutrients onshore but greater volumes of nutrients over large regions offshore. This nutrients gradient, in turn, causes a gradient between ecosystem regimes within phytoplankton community structure. Using mooring, shipboard (CalCOFI dataset), and satellite remote sensing observations (Aqua-MODIS) data, our study aims to answer the following questions: how does phytoplankton biodiversity vary perpendicular to shore, across a nutrient gradient, from a coastal upwelling to a wind-stress curl upwelling region? And how well can remotely sensed images portray this phytoplankton size class (PSC) distribution? A number of different PSC algorithms will be used to process Level 1B Aqua-MODIS data to be compared with in situ (CalCOFI) datasets. We anticipate our findings will show matchups between in situ data and remotely sensed data supporting a PSC gradient between onshore and offshore upwelling systems. Given that different size classes support different trophic systems, our results have the potential to hint at shifts within higher trophic levels.