Arkansas INBRE 2013 Conference

Congratulations to the 2013 Undergraduate Student Award Winners!

Biological Sciences

Prize Student name (s) Institution Abstract #
1st oral Carrie Yang Hendrix College B3
2nd oral Laura Gentles UA – Fayetteville B22
Prize Student name (s) Institution Abstract #
1st poster Lizzie Goodwin-Horn Hendrix College B48
2nd poster Stephen Cates Northeastern State Univ B44
Hon. Mention Kyle Crosser John Brown Univ B67
Tyler Files Ouachita Baptist Univ B20
Julianna Grillot UA – Fayetteville B6

Chemistry and Biochemistry

Prize Student name (s) Institution Abstract #
1st oral Julie Davis Univ Central Arkansas C32
2nd oral Pete Brunson Ouachita Baptist Univ C4
Hon. Mention Hunter Wayland Henderson State Univ C9
Prize Student name (s) Institution Abstract #
1st poster Saad Azam UA – Little Rock C15
2nd poster Jessie Meyer Ouachita Baptist Univ C8
Hon. Mention Timothy Horton Ouachita Baptist Univ C3
Jean de Dieu Nubundiho Philander Smith College C38
Ryan Rogers Univ Central Arkansas C26
Jordana Thibado UA – Fayetteville C1


Prize Student name (s) Institution Abstract #
1st oral Mathias Bellaiche UA – Fayetteville P7
2nd oral Austin Shearin Missouri State Univ P16
Hon. Mention Mark Sellers Rhodes College P11
Prize Student name (s) Institution Abstract #
1st poster Barbara Rutter Southern Arkansas Univ P24
2nd poster Lafatette DeRamus UA – Little Rock P9
Hon. Mention Greg Sheffer Univ Central Arkansas P14
Luke Spinolo Rhodes College P15
Josh Thompson UA – Fayetteville P5

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 Sciences, Physics, and Chemistry and Biochemistry Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences, University of Arkansas.

Conference Planning Committee

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

Friday, October 18, 2013, on the Fayetteville Square
11:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Registration (Continuing Education, adjacent to the Chancellor Hotel)
1:30 – 3:00 p.m. Invited faculty presentations (Continuing Education, 204)
3:00 p.m. Official hotel check-in (Chancellor Hotel)
3:15 – 5:00 p.m. Invited undergraduate oral presentations (Continuing Education, assigned rooms)
5:00 – 6:30 p.m. Student and Faculty discussion groups (Chancellor Hotel, assigned rooms)
6:30 p.m. Banquet (Fayetteville Town Center)
7:15 p.m. Keynote Speaker Michael Summers (Fayetteville Town Center)
Saturday, October 19, 2013, on the campus of University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
7:30 a.m. Poster set-up (Arkansas Union Ballroom)
7:30 – 9:30 a.m. Breakfast (Arkansas Union Ballroom)
7:45 a.m. Judges meeting (Arkansas Union)
8:00 – 10:00 a.m. Poster session (Arkansas Union Ballroom)
10:00 – 11:15 a.m. Workshops – (various locations on campus, to be provided)
11:30 a.m. Awards (Chemistry Building Room 132)

Friday parking options:

  • Levels 1 and 3 in the Municipal Parking Deck at the Chancellor Hotel are accessible by use of room keys for free parking for registered hotel guests. Otherwise, pay (as you enter) as marked on the other levels.
  • Town Center Parking Deck is $3/day, possibly free from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
  • Short-term metered parking; pay as marked.
  • Long-term metered parking for up to 10 hours; pay as marked.

Saturday parking:

  • Free parking is available Saturday in the Harmon Avenue Parking Facility and the Intermodal Transit and Parking Facility (adjacent to Arkansas Union, with access from Stadium Drive).


The keynote address will be given at 7:15 p.m. Friday, October 18, at the Fayetteville Town Center.

Invited faculty talks will be given from 1:30-3:00 p.m. Friday, October 18, in Continuing Education, Room 204, on the Fayetteville Square (see abstracts below).

Invited student talks will be given from 3:00-5:00 p.m. Friday, October 18, in Continuing Education, assigned rooms, on the Fayetteville Square (see “Posters and Oral Presentations“).

Keynote Speaker

Michael F. Summers
Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
University of Maryland, Baltimore County
1000 Hilltop Circle
Baltimore, MD 21250

TITLE: Insights into the Mechanism of HIV-1 Assembly and Genome PackagingABSTRACT:
Retroviruses are responsible for a variety of animal diseases, including leukemia, cancer, and Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS). The human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1), the causative agent for AIDS, is a particularly lethal retrovirus that has caused nearly 25 million deaths over the past 30 years. An additional ~33 million people are currently living with HIV-1 infection, including 15.7 million women and 2.1 million children. In 2010 alone, an estimated 2.6 million people became infected with HIV and 1.8 million people died from AIDS-related illnesses. In Washington D.C., one out of twenty adults is HIV positive. The successful development of therapeutics for the treatment of AIDS resulted largely from structure-based drug discovery efforts. Combination therapies that target multiple viral proteins can keep the virus at bay for extended periods. However, it appears unlikely that the current repertoires will lead to a cure, as the virus can be maintained in reservoirs that are not susceptible to the current drugs. Current therapeutic regimes are expensive and compliance can sometimes be difficult, and strains that are resistant to combination drug therapies have emerged. Recent network modeling of the evolution of drug resistant HIV strains in San Francisco suggests the potential emergence of a new self-sustaining epidemic. Thus, there is a need for new antiviral agents that target different viral components. In my presentation, I will describe efforts from my laboratory that have focused on understanding what some of the HIV-1 proteins look like, how they function, and how they might be inhibited. Our recent efforts have focused on understanding how the main structural protein of HIV-1, called Gag, targets the viral RNA genome to specific sites inside infected cells and assembles into new viruses. After the newly assembled viruses are released from the cell, they undergo structural changes that are required in order to infect other cells of the immune system. This information has helped us develop a new class of antiviral inhibitors that block viral maturation in vitro and could lead to new clinical approaches for the treatment of AIDS.

Faculty Speakers:

Patrick Desrochers, Professor
Department of Chemistry
University of Central Arkansas
Conway, AR 72035

TITLE: Grabbing Scorpionates by the Tail Making it easier to Control Metallic PreyABSTRACT:
Scorpionate chelates have enjoyed a 50+ year history of evolution and application, including metalloprotein biomimetics, novel magnetic materials, and organometallic catalysts. Despite the vitality of this ligand class, the development of heterogeneous, supported scorpionates is still in its infancy, with our own work (Inorg. Chem.2011) representing one of a handful of examples. The promise is great: couple the benefits of a mature ligand class with the proven utility of heterogeneous systems. Immobilized metal affinity chromatography and high-throughput combinatorial methods are two such areas that could benefit from the inclusion of versatile metal-scorpionate systems. The challenge is also great: supported scorpionates are generally difficult to make. Two fruitful developments in our lab have made significant progress in generalizing and easing the preparation of supported scorpionates. Results will demonstrate the development of a rapid one-pot synthesis of a functional scorpionate using microwave-assisted methods. Importantly, these supported chelates exhibit active coordination of Cr(III), Cu(II), Co(II),Ni(II), and Rh(I) (all metals tested to date). These supported metal-systems demonstrate favorable activity in their respective reactivity classes. This research area has great potential to significantly benefit the inorganic discipline and by association, the biochemical, material, and industrial applications it serves.

Andrea Duina, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Biology
Hendrix College
1600 Washington Avenue
Conway, AR 72032
duina@hendrix.eduTITLE: Identification of a Nucleosomal Region Important for Ensuring Proper Interactions between the Transcription Elongation Factor Spt 16 and Transcribed Genes in Budding Yeast

In order to fit within the small confines of a cell nucleus, eukaryotic DNA is highly compacted through association with a variety of proteins to form a structure known as chromatin. The nucleosome is the fundamental unit of chromatin and consists of 147 base pairs of DNA wrapped around the histone octamer, itself composed of pairs of the four core histone proteins – histones H2A, H2B, H3 and H4. During the gene transcription process, nucleosomes need to be disassembled in order for RNA polymerase II (Pol II) to have full access to the underlying DNA and reassembled in the wake of Pol II passage to prevent spurious intragenic transcription initiation. Nucleosome disassembly and reassembly require the action of specific transcription elongation factors, with the highly conserved FACT complex being among the better characterized ones. Whereas the role of FACT in transcription elongation is well established, the mechanisms that control its recruitment to and disengagement from genes remain to be fully elucidated. In this talk, I will describe results from my laboratory that point to a specific region on the side of the nucleosome as being important for ensuring proper interactions between the yeast FACT (yFACT) subunit Spt16 and transcribed genes in vivo. Given the high degree of evolutionary conservation between yeast and human cells, our findings offer novel insights into biological processes relevant to all eukaryotic organisms.

Dr. Pradeep Kumar
Assistant Professor of Physics
University of Arkansas
Fayetteville, AR 72701

TITLE: Effect of Pressure and Temperature on Bacteria: Morphological Cell Fates and their Reversibility

A vast majority of bacteria and archaea can grow in diverse environmental conditions. The range of those conditions includes high pressures, high temperature, low temperature, low pH, and high pH etc. Since these conditions are not hospitable for other life forms hence these organisms are named extremophiles. Extremophiles have evolved to adapt to their growth habitat and pose challenging questions as to their adaptive mechanisms. To understand the adaptation of extremophiles, it is important to understand the effects of extreme conditions on organisms that grow at normal conditions. Moreover, some of these physicochemical conditions impose stresses on cells that they may never have encountered and hence this also provides us with opportunities to understand the response of a cell to unforeseen stresses.

In the first part of this talk, I will describe experimental studies of high pressure induced changes in growth and morphological fates of Escherichia coli, a bacterium that thrive at normal pressure. These studies suggest that cell-division machinery is more prone to fail at higher pressures and hence constitutes a bottleneck of adaption at high pressures. The failure of cell-division at high pressure leads to elongation of cells. I will further show that simple physical model based on stochasticity of underlying cellular processes can account for progressive increase of heterogeneities in the cell length distribution with pressure. I will further describe the reversibility/irreversibility of the elongated cells upon depressurization. In the second part, I will describe statistical features of proteomes of organisms growing in a wide range of physicochemical conditions and how they may shed light on some of the adaptive mechanisms of extremophiles.

Undergraduate Oral Presentations

3:00-5:00 pm, Friday, October 18 – on the Fayetteville Square.
Undergraduate Oral Presentations have been invited from among the submitted abstracts.

Poster Session

7:45-10:00 am, Saturday, October 19 – Arkansas Union Ballroom.
Posters of up to 56″ (wide) by 42″ (tall) can be accommodated.

Biology Oral Presentations (Room 204) Friday, October 18, 2013

Megan Scarbrough, Ouachita Baptist University
(3:15 p.m.) – B2-U. Photodynamic Therapy of Triple Negative Breast Cancer Cells

Carrie Yang, Hendrix College
(3:30 p.m.) – B3-U. Ibrutinib is a Potential Treatment for Chronic Graft versus Host Disease, Inhibiting T-helper 17 Cell Activation and Reducing Release of IL-17A

Miki Lindsey, University of Central Arkansas
(3:45 p.m.) – B4-U. Calpain Activation in Tributyltin Neurotoxicity

Lauren Gentles, University of Arkansas
(4:00 p.m.) – B22-U. TLR4-Mediated Immuno-Virologic Parameters during CHIKV Infection In Vivo

Brynn Alford, Ouachita Baptist University
(4:15 p.m.) – B54-U. Comparison of Insectinduced Responses in Multiple Accessions of the Barrel Medic, Medicago truncatula

Megan R. House, Arkansas Tech University
(4:30 p.m.) – B68-U. Invertebrate Community Recovery Post-Spate in a Recently Planted Wetland

Chemistry and Biochemistry Oral Presentations (Room 107) Friday, October 18, 2013

Pete Brunson, Ouachita Baptist University
(3:15 p.m.) – C4-U. Fluorescence of Bis-phenol A in Thermal Receipt Paper

Nathan Fleer, University of Arkansas at Fort Smith
(3:30 p.m.) – C6-U. Role of the Thioesterase, AxiG, in the Formation of the Naphthoate Moiety in Azinomyzins

Hunter Wayland, Henderson State University
(3:45 p.m.) – C9-U. Drug Discovery through Simple Analog Synthesis and Toxicity Determination in the Undergraduate Laboratory Experience

Cynthia Holland, Henderson State University
(4:00 p.m.) – C10-U. Determination of Bioactivity in Ilex decidua

Julie B. Davis, University of Central Arkansas
(4:15 p.m.) – C32-U. Evaluating the Effectiveness of Supported Nickel Scorpionates to Select for Specific Amino Acids

Omkar Bhave, University of Arkansas
(4:30 p.m.) – C34-U. Aggregation Studies using Peptoids

Physics Oral Presentations (Room 410) Friday, October 18, 2013

Mathias Bellaiche, University of Arkansas
(3:15 p.m.) – P7-U. Photoactivity of Lysenin

Christopher Church, University of Central Arkansas
(3:30 p.m.) – P8-U. Measurements on a Chaotic Circuit

Mark E. Selers, Rhodes College
(3:45 p.m.) – P11-U. Determining the Effect of Intervening Tissue on Ultrasonic Backscatter Measurements of Bone

Daniel Soden, Missouri State University
(4:00 p.m.) – P12-U. Synthesis of High Quality Graphene through Sonication

Austin Z. Lewis, Missouri State University
(4:15 p.m.) – P20-U. Fabrication and Characterization of MoS2 2D-Materials using Pulsed Laser Deposition

Austin M. Shearin, Missouri State University
(4:30 p.m.) – P21-U. Synthesis and Characterization of Hydrothermally Grown ZnO Nanomaterials for Biomedical Applications


  1. Biology workshop: Douglas Rhoads and Ravi Barabote – “Using Galaxy Server Software for Analysis of Next Gen Sequence Data” (WCOB Room 247)The workshop will cover analysis of DNA/RNA sequence data emerging from whole genome and transcriptome sequencing experiments, using the Galaxy Server Software. It will explore the various features of the software and will provide hands-on experience using the software.
  2. Biology workshop: Christian Tipsmark – “Physiological Mechanisms of Salt and Water Transport in Fish” – Limited to 12 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, isolated tissues and cells. Techniques demonstrated will include electrical measurements across ion-transporting epithelia, enzyme assays, specific mRNA and protein quantification and cellular localization of specific proteins with immunofluorescence.
  3. Physics workshop: Bill Harter – “Relawavity:” Geometry simplifies and unifies relativity and quantum theory. (Physics Building, Room 241)Plain old plane geometry can provide powerful teaching and research tools especially when combined with modern computers and display devices. Insightful constructions by ruler, compass, and other drafting aids are surprisingly easy to construct as a way to help derive and visualize difficult concepts of mathematical physics. One of the most surprising of these is a derivation of the fundamental ideas of relativity and quantum theory in a way that shows how they work together and really belong to the same subject.
  4. Introduction to Mass Spectrometry (Chemistry Building, ground floor)
  5. Career Workshop: Denise Greathouse (Chemistry Building, Room 144)The workshop is designed to assist undergraduate students to choose and plan career paths and to prepare effectively for job interviews. The workshop aims are 1) to introduce key aspects of the career decision and preparation process, and 2) to craft a ’30-60-second’ personal introduction statement for use during interviews and while networking.
  6. Scholarly metrics: Luti Salisbury – Assessing scholarly research and output. (Mullins Library Room 102)
  7. Proteins in Virtual Reality: James Hinton (Chemistry/Biochemistry Research Building Room G02)
  8. Physics workshop: Greg Salamo – Imaging Using a Scanning Electron Microscope (Nano Building Room 105)Students will have the opportunity to learn how to image a sample with nanoscale resolution using a scanning electron microscope (SEM). The workshop includes how an SEM works, how to interpret images, and “hands on experience in taking an image”.
  9. Chemistry workshop: Ingrid Fritsch – Miniature Pipe-less Plumbing and Chemical Analysis through Electrons, Ions, and Magnets (limited to 8 participants, Chemistry/Biochemistry Research Building Room 103)The workshop will focus on the use of electrochemistry in miniaturized approaches for chemical analysis and fluid manipulation. Participants will learn ways to make electrodes smaller than the thickness of a hair, to detect chemicals in tiny spaces, and to manipulate nanoliter to microliter volumes of fluids on a chip without touching them and without “pipes” to guide them. These capabilities are important for developing methods for in vivo monitoring of biologically-important chemicals, as well as lab-on-a-chip devices for point-of-care clinical diagnostics and environmental chemical analysis.
  10. Physics Lab Tours (Physics Building).a. Multiscale Phenomena in Artificial Complex Oxide Nanostructures, Jacques Chakhalian (PHYS 101)
    Pulsed-laser deposition (PLD) is one of the most promising techniques for the formation of complex-oxide hetero structures with well-controlled interfaces, otherwise not attainable by common chemical fabrication methods. In fact, the deterministic synthesis of such completely artificial crystalline structures allows us to go beyond equilibrium materials in exploring new properties, developing new functionalities, and analyzing fundamental physical processes. Thus, atomic scale engineering of novel complex oxide nano-materials is the primary goal of our group.b. Nanofabrication, Nanoscale Materials Science, and Single DNA and Protein Detection, Jiali Li (PHYS 124)
    I. How to make Molecular Size Solid State Nanopores in silicon nitride membranes.
    II. How a nanopore based single molecule detectors can detect single DNA and protein molecules.

    c. Scanning Tunneling Microscope Lab, Paul Thibado (PHYS 106)
    A scanning tunneling microscope (STM) is an instrument for imaging surfaces at the atomic level. Its development in 1981 earned its inventors, Gerd Binnig and Heinrich Rohrer (at IBM Zürich), the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1986. For an STM, good resolution is considered to be 0.1 nm lateral resolution and 0.01 nm depth resolution. With this resolution, individual atoms on the surface of materials are routinely imaged and manipulated. The STM can be used not only in ultra-high vacuum but also in air, water, and various other liquid or gas ambients, and at temperatures ranging from near zero kelvin to a few hundred degrees Celsius.

    The STM is based on the concept of quantum tunneling. When a conducting tip is brought very near to the surface to be examined, a bias (voltage difference) applied between the two can allow electrons to tunnel through the vacuum between them. The resulting tunneling current is a function of tip position, applied voltage, and the local density of states (LDOS) of the sample. Information is acquired by monitoring the current as the tip’s position scans across the surface, and is usually displayed in image form. STM can be a challenging technique, as it requires extremely clean and stable surfaces, sharp and stable tips, excellent mechanical vibration control, and sophisticated, low-noise electronics.

    d. 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.

    e. Quantum/nonlinear Optics with Multi-level Systems and Optical Properties of Semiconductor Nanostructures, 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.

    f. Statistical and nonlinear physics of the Brain, Woodrow Shew (PHYS 122)
    Discovering the principles governing how the brain works is among the most exciting and challenging endeavors of modern science. The basic components of the brain are nerve cells, called neurons, which are relatively well understood due to many decades of study by biologists and biophysicists. Less well understood is how the brain’s marvelous abilities – computation, thought, creativity, emotion, and memory – emerge from dynamic interactions among 100 billion neurons. Understanding the collective behavior of large networks of neurons is a challenge ideally suited to statistical physics. Indeed, many ideas from statistical physics have directly analogous counterparts in real living neural networks. For example, a neural network can undergo a phase transition (think of a liquid evaporating to become a gas, or the ferromagnetic to paramagnetic transition in a magnet). Recent experiments show that brain networks seem to regulate themselves such that they operate in a dynamic regime close to a phase transition. And importantly, by operating near the phase transition, the network may optimize its ability to process information. These phenomena and the work done in Dr. Shew’s lab lie at the exciting interface between physics and neuroscience, where new physics and new neuroscience are evolving together.