2015 Conference Summary

  •   The 2015 Conference Program and photos are available at the links below.




2015 INBRE program

2015 Conference Photos



Keynote speaker:
Alex Badyaev, University of Arizona


Congratulations to the 2015 Student Award Winners!

Biological Sciences

Prize Student name (s) Institution Abstract #
1st oral Morgan Tripod Arkansas State University  4:05 B
2nd oral Quinton Anderson Harding University  4:20 B
Hon. Mention Sara Whitlock John Brown University  4:35 B
1st poster Jami Schmidt Lyon College  25 A
2nd poster John Givler Ouachita Baptist University  22 B
Hon. Mention Susie Brown Henderson State University  4 B
Haley Brown University of Arkansas – Fayetteville  28 B
Osvaldo Cossio University of Arkansas – Little Rock  35 A
Shilpa Mohite Missouri State University  10 A
Alan Umfress Hendrix College  5 A

Chemistry and Biochemistry

Prize Student name (s) Institution Abstract #
1st oral Katherine Demaree University of Central Arkansas  4:05 C
2nd oral C. Skyler Cochrane Rhodes College  4:20 C
1st poster (tie) Logan Bond Ouachita Baptist University  109 A
1st poster (tie) Jordana Thibado University of Arkansas – Fayetteville  117 B
2nd poster Gene Lamanilao Rhodes College  114 A
Hon. Mention Carolyn Dishuck Rhodes College  112 B
Sydney Heslep Ouachita Baptist University  109 B
Jackson Petty Harding University  122 A


Prize Student name (s) Institution Abstract #
1st oral Gabrielle Abraham University of Arkansas – Fayetteville  3:50 P
2nd oral Darryl Webb Southern Arkansas University  3:30 P
1st poster Ricardo Romo Southern Arkansas University  207 A
2nd poster Lawrence Benzmiller University of Central Arkansas  208 B
Hon. Mention Christian Hale Harding University  201 B
Maurisa Orona Harding University  203 A
Kahilil Wade Southern Arkansas University  207 B

Student Oral Presentations, Friday afternoon,
November 6, 2015

Invited undergraduate students gave 12-minute oral presentations during the afternoon of Friday, Nov 6, 2015.  The student speakers were chosen based on abstracts and willingness to present an oral platform talk.  See also the complete abstracts in the Conference Program.

Biology Oral Presentations 2015

Jace Bradshaw        Ouachita Baptist University
(3:20 p.m.) Biological Characterization of Mycobacteriophage Promoter and Terminator Identified Through Bioinformatics

Cullen Shaffer        Southern Arkansas University
(3:35 p.m.) Radiation and Microgravity Induced Genomic Instability, Optimization of Cell Recovery

Olamide Olawoyin    Philander Smith College
(3:50 p.m.) Legos, Layouts and Lesions: Site-Specific DNA Lesion Analysis Method for Mammalian Cells

Morgan Tripod        Arkansas State University
(4:05 p.m.) RNA-Binding Protein Regulates the Cytokine Production in T Helper Cells

Quinton L. Anderson    Harding University
(4:20 p.m.) Mycobacterium tuberculosis cell wall fractions induce inflammatory cytokines in primary mouse macrophages and fibroblasts

Sara Whitlock        John Brown University
(4:35 p.m.) Impact of MARCKS inhibition on Coxiella burnetii infections of host cells

Chemistry and Biochemistry Oral Presentations 2015

Abby Ritter    Rhodes College
(3:20 p.m.) DFT Study of the Selectivity of DOPA-decarboxyalse

Duy Ha    Henderson State University
(3:35 p.m.) Design of Tautomerically Ambiguous Cytosine-Based Nucleosides as Potential Anti-HIV Agents

Nick Niggemann    Missouri Southern State University
(3:50 p.m.) Towards the synthesis of 1-arylethyl-4-arylmethanesulfonyl-piperazines as potential serotonin 2A/2C receptor antagonists.

Katherine Demaree    University of Central Arkansas
(4:05 p.m.) Iron Heteroscorpionate Complexes

C. Skyler Cochrane    Rhodes College
(4:20 p.m.) Synthesis of Various Dopaminergic Compounds for Analysis in SULT1A3

Raynin Phomakay    University of Central Arkansas
(4:35 p.m.) The Effect of Retinoid Receptor Agonists on K562 Cellular Adhesion, Proliferation, and α5β1 Integrin Cell Surface Expression

Physics Oral Presentations 2015

Darryl Webb    Southern Arkansas University
(3:20 p.m.) Techniques to enhance endothelial cells attachment to microcarrier beads, achieving microgravity treatment

James Thomas    Missouri State University
(3:35 p.m.) Molecular Dynamics Simulations of the Mechanical and Hydrothermal Properties of Mesoporous Silica and Aluminosilica

Gabrielle Abraham    University of Arkansas
(3:50 p.m.) Optical Characterization of CdSe Collodial Quantum Dots

Zach Leuty    Missouri State University
(4:05 p.m.) Aluminide Diffusion Coatings

Elizabeth Apala    East Central University
(4:20 p.m.) Gamma Ray Burst 150518a

Dan Jones    Missouri State University
(4:35 p.m.) Graphene-Biointerface for Biosensor Applications

INBRE 2015 Workshops:
Saturday November 7, 10:30-11:45

  1. Preparing for Graduate School (Denise Greathouse)
    Questions and breakouts – CHEM 132

This workshop is targeted toward undergraduate students who are considering graduate school as part of a career path.  Topics to be discussed will include graduate school expectations and how to prepare for and select a graduate school and program.  A panel of faculty and graduate students will be available to share their tips, strategies, insights, and practical advice.  We conclude with a “Question and Answer” session, with the possibility of breaking into smaller groups based on specific interests.

  • Colin Heyes, Associate Professor, Chemistry, UAF, Chair Graduate Studies Committee
  • Woodrow Shew, Assistant Professor, Physics, UAF
  • David McNabb, Associate Professor, Biology, UAF, Chair Graduate Studies Committee
  • Doug Rhoads, University Professor, Biology, UAF, Director Cellular and Molecular Biology Program
  • Malathi Srivatsan, Professor, Neurobiology, and Director of Molecular Biosciences, AR State, Director PhD Program
  • Ashley Martfeld Henderson, Senior Graduate Student, UAF
  • Cameron Crane, Senior Graduate Student, UAF
  • Parker Cole, First Year Graduate Student, UAF
  1. Introduction to Mass Spectrometry: Fundamental Principles and Applications (Jennifer Giddon) (UAF) CHEM 105

John Fenn, the 2002 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, wrote: “Mass spectrometry is the art of measuring atoms and molecules to determine their molecular weight. Such mass or weight information is sometimes sufficient, frequently necessary, and always useful in determining the identity of a species.” While its roots are in particle physics, developments over the past decades have enabled mass spectrometry to become a vital tool in identifying/monitoring compounds that are important in biological sciences, environmental analyses, food science, forensics, medicine, and so many other areas.  This talk will present an introduction to the basic elements of mass spectrometry – including the primary instrumental components of a mass spectrometer, interpretation of mass spectral data, and examples of questions answered using mass spectrometry resources available at the Arkansas Statewide Mass Spectrometry Facility.

  1. Proteomic Data Acquisition and Analysis, (Stephanie Byrum, PhD, UAMS, Instructor of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology and Alan Tackett, PhD, UAMS, Professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology and Pathology, Director UAMS Proteomics Facility, UAMS) CHEM 144

In this workshop, we will outline the proteomic and bioinformatic applications available through the UAMS Proteomics Facility. Dr. Tackett will provide an overview of instrumentation and data collection capabilities. This will include data collected from a recently acquired Thermo Fusion Orbitrap mass spectrometer. Dr. Tackett will additionally provide details and recommendations for experimental design for quantitative proteomic applications including proteome analysis, protein-protein interactions and posttranslational modification mapping. Dr. Byrum will provide an overview of database searching, data analysis and associated bioinformatics. She will detail commonly used programs in the field and best practices for analyzing data. Quantitative strategies including label-free and isotope-based approaches will be presented.

  1. Molecular Modeling (Peter Pulay) (UAF); CHEM 308. Limited to 12 participants or groups.

If feasible, bring a computer, although this is optional.

Methods of molecular modeling on a personal computer will be addressed, with software available for distribution to up to 12 individuals or cluster teams.

  1. Cellular mechanisms of salt and water transport in fish (Christian Tipsmark) (UAF). Limited to 16 participants (Ferritor Building Room 317).

The goal of physiological research is to understand the function of living systems from the level of the whole organisms and its organs to that of the single cells and bio-molecules. This workshop highlights mechanisms and regulation of salt and water transport in fish and demonstrates some of the methods used in physiology. It will cover experimentations with whole animals and isolated tissues. Techniques demonstrated will include enzyme assays, specific mRNA and protein quantification and cellular localization of specific proteins with immunofluorescence.

  1. Machine Learning for Bioinformatics (Philip Hudson Williams) (UALR) Ozark 101 computer lab. Limited to 30 participants.

Some bioinformatics solutions involve predictors and classifiers. Machine Learning is a method to train accurate predictors and classifiers. This workshop demonstrates C5.0, a decision tree method for training a predictive model. Different data types are used as examples in training. Validation methods are introduced. Using a trained model for prediction of unknown cases is demonstrated.

  1. Physics of Cells (Pradeep Kumar, Assistant Professor of physics, UAF) (PHYS 132 and PHYS 126)

Participants will have the opportunity to learn how concepts from physics can be used to gain a quantitative understanding of biological systems. The workshop will cover several topics including emergent properties of cellular systems, physics of motility, phenotypic changes in cells under stress, thermodynamics and random walk of molecular motors. Students will also be able to experiment with some of these cellular phenomena in the lab.

  1. Kool matters (Jacques Chakhlian, Professor of Physics, UAF) (PHYS 133)

Hands on show and tell workshop to reveal unusual properties of material one can routinely find in everyday life.

  1. Nano Building Tour Professor Greg Salamo and graduate student, Tim Morgan, (Nano Building Room 105)

Students will have the opportunity to visit Nano Building facilities, learn about nanoscience and get hands-on experience on how to image a sample with nanoscale resolution using a scanning electron microscope (SEM).

  1. Physics Lab Tours

Quantum Device Laboratory   Hugh Churchill (PHYS 129)

We fabricate nanoscale electronic and optical devices with properties that are enabled or enhanced by quantum mechanical effects.  Currently we are making devices out of three-atom thick semiconductors to study how they behave at ultra-low temperatures, in strong electric and magnetic fields, and how they interact with light.  Visiting students can learn about how these devices are made, find out what they may be good for, and look at atomically thin materials in a microscope.

Nano-Optics Lab    Joseph Herzog, (PHYS 245)

In the Nano-optics lab, students measure the optical properties of nanostructures both with computer simulations and an advanced, custom optical microscope and spectroscopic setup. In the computer models, students work on designing nanostructures with optimal optical properties. The experimental optical setup characterizes the optical properties of the nanostructures with dark-field spectroscopy, photo-luminescence, bright-field imaging, and Raman spectroscopy. Most of the nanostructures that are investigated are plasmonic structures. These structures can enhance and focus light at the nanoscale, below the diffraction limit of light. Other studies in the lab investigate the light interactions in biological structures and photonic crystals. Photonic crystals are nanoscale structures which can reflect, guide, and bend light very efficiently. Additionally, students in the Nano-Optics lab use other labs around campus to fabricate the optical nanostructures.

Nanofabrication, Nanoscale Materials Science, and Single DNA and Protein Detection

Jiali Li, (PHYS 124)

  1. How to make Molecular Size Solid State Nanopores in silicon nitride membranes.
  2. How a nanopore based single molecule detectors can detect single DNA and protein molecules.

Laser Physics/Quantum Optics Lab    Surendra Singh, (PHYS 128/130)

Investigations of polarization and phase properties of optical beams, optical vortices, statistical and dynamical properties of light generated in lasers and nonlinear optical systems, and light scattering studies of bio-molecules are being carried out.

Quantum/nonlinear Optics with Multi-level Systems    Min Xiao, (PHYS 111)

In our Quantum and Nonlinear Optics Laboratory, we experimentally investigate third-order Kerr nonlinearity in multi-level atomic systems. We study interactions between coherent atoms and an optical cavity, and have observed many interesting phenomena, including optical bistability, multi-stability, instability, chaos and stochastic resonance. Spatial-temporal interference between third-order and 5fth-order nonlinear wave-mixing processes has also been studied.


Keynote Speaker 2015
Friday Evening – Fayetteville Town Center – 7:15 pm

   Badyaev_AlexanderAlex Badyaev, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
University of Arizona

TITLE:  Islands in the sea of possibilities:  Making sense of biological diversity in the era of genomics

ABSTRACT:   The age of most genes exceeds the longevity of their current genomic and functional associations by many orders of magnitude.  How do past associations among ancient genes bias contemporary biological diversity?  For example, metabolic network of carotenoids has evolved during the earliest 5% of the life existence on Earth and was fully in place a billion years prior to the origin of birds that now use carotenoids for plumage coloration.  Did the structure of this ancient network direct color diversification in birds? If so, what fraction of this pre-existing network has already been explored in avian evolution?  What fraction of this space and what colors are inaccessible to birds?  And what would the world look like if such constraints did not exist?

Faculty Speakers:

PHYSICS (1:35 pm Friday):

Churchill physics 2015   Hugh Churchill, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Department of Physics
University of Arkansas, Fayetteville

TITLE:  Building electronic devices with atomically thin materials

ABSTRACT:  Two-dimensional crystals are materials only one to a few atoms thick.  These materials are driving exciting developments in basic physics and technological applications of condensed matter physics.  Graphene, a one-atom thick membrane of carbon, was the first atomically thin material isolated when it was peeled from graphite over 10 years ago.  The techniques used to isolate graphene have now been generalized to other materials so that the complete toolbox of properties—metals, insulators, and semiconductors—required for many electronic and optical devices is now available all with atomically thin materials.  These materials can be picked up and stacked together to make a wide variety of devices composed entirely of atomically thin, transparent, and flexible materials.  In this talk I will present an overview of these developments and describe some of our contributions, including the demonstration of a photovoltaic device and light-emitting diode made from a three-atom thick sheet of WSe2.  I will also give an outlook of future plans for the new Churchill Lab in this rapidly developing research area. 

BIOLOGY (2:05 pm Friday):

Schurko 680 size   Andrew M. Schurko, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Department of Biology
Hendrix College

TITLE:  Piecing together the puzzle of DNA repair in bdelloid rotifers

ABSTRACT:  Eukaryotic cells are under constant assault by exogenous stresses and endogenous sources that cause DNA damage. Inefficient DNA repair is associated with many disorders, including cancer, neurodegenerative diseases and immunodeficiency. Bdelloid rotifers are a remarkable group of aquatic microinvertebrates that possess an exceptional DNA repair system. In bdelloids, double-strand breaks (DSBs) induced by high doses of ionizing radiation are rapidly and efficiently repaired. This talk will describe our research characterizing DNA repair proteins in bdelloids. Gene expression studies are being used to distinguish genes that are differentially expressed following irradiation. We are also undertaking proteomic studies to identify protein interactions and investigate the role of epigenetics during bdelloid DNA repair. Overall, this work will improve our understanding of DNA repair in bdelloids, which will have implications for understanding DSB repair in human cells.

CHEMISTRY (2:35 pm Friday):

Koeppe chemistry 2015Roger E. Koeppe II, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
University of Arkansas, Fayetteville

TITLE:  More Fun than Anything

ABSTRACT:  Toward the goal of understanding the ionization behavior of protein amino acid side chains when exposed directly to lipids, we have designed and developed a molecular framework to serve as a host for guest ionizable functional groups in lipid bilayer membranes.  This talk will address the essential properties of the host molecular framework, the basis for detecting the outcomes of proton transfer reactions, and results from specific titration experiments conducted for arginine, lysine, histidine, aspartic acid or glutamic acid side chains held at defined locations within the lipid-bilayer membrane environment.  Initial results have been published in PNAS 110, 1692-95. 

Arkansas IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence

110715_MG_17060242110715_MG_17220258   110715_MG_16960232110715_MG_16970233 110715_MG_16920228 110715_MG_16860223

We thank you your participation at the Conference on November 6-7, 2015.  Congratulations to all who presented their research.




The Arkansas INBRE Research Conference involves participation from colleges and universities in Arkansas and surrounding states in biological sciences, physics and chemistry and biochemistry.

This conference is sponsored by the Arkansas INBRE. It is hosted by the departments of Biological SciencesPhysics, and Chemistry and Biochemistry – Fulbright College of Arts and SciencesUniversity of Arkansas.

2015 Conference Planning Committee

  • Denise Greathouse, chemistry and biochemistry
  • Ravi Barabote, biological sciences
  • Bill Durham, chemistry and biochemistry
  • Leslie Johnson, chemistry and biochemistry
  • Roger Koeppe, chemistry and biochemistry
  • Reeta Vyas, physics

Arkansas INBRE

The Arkansas IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (Arkansas INBRE) is funded by a grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), under the Institutional Development Award (IDeA) Program of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The IDeA program was established for the purpose of broadening the geographic distribution of NIH funding for biomedical and behavioral research.

The Arkansas INBRE builds on the successful Arkansas Biomedical Research Infrastructure Network (BRIN) program that was established in 2001 under a grant from the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR). The Arkansas BRIN established a statewide network that links Arkansas institutions of higher education to establish a statewide infrastructure in support of a growing effort to build a biomedical research capacity in Arkansas.