Phenol Content and Antioxidant Activities of Different Commercial Tea Samples

Tea is the most consumed beverage in the world next to water. The total amount of tea produced and consumed in the world can be broken into 78% black, 20% green and < 2% is oolong tea. Black tea is consumed primarily in Western countries and in some Asian countries, whereas green tea is consumed primarily in China, Japan, India, and a few countries in North Africa and the Middle East. Oolong tea production and consumption are confined to southeastern China and Taiwan. There are three major classes of plant chemicals: terpenoids, phenolic metabolites, and alkaloids. Among these three groups, phenolic compounds are the most important for dietary applications and the most extensively researched.

Phenolic compounds include phenolic acids (hydroxybenzoic and hydroxycinnamic acids), polyphenols (hydrolyzable and condensed tannins), and flavonoids. These compounds protect plants, fruits, vegetables, and the humans that consume them from oxidative damage. Phenols are one of the main secondary metabolites present in plants. They are found in both edible and non – edible plants and have been reported to have many biological effects. Phenolic compounds are an extensively studied group of compounds that come from natural sources. Flavonoids are a type of phytochemical that possess a number of biological activities. They are the most common group of polyphenolic compounds that are found everywhere in plants. Flavonoids and other plant phenolics are common in leaves, flowering tissue and woody parts such as stem and bark (Gupta et al. 2012).

Antioxidants protect us from dangerous substances called free radicals that can lead to many chronic diseases. Antioxidants include secondary metabolites, enzymes and high/low molecular weight proteins that act against these free radicals. Phenolics from plants act as a source of natural antioxidants and have many functions including being reducing agents, metal chelators and quenchers of oxygen singlets (Shalini et al. 2010).

The purpose of this research project is to determine the phenol content and antioxidant properties of the water extracts of 12 commercially available teas. The results will then be evaluated and compared with one another. The total phenolic content will be determined by the Folin-Ciocalteu method with gallic acid used as the standard. The antioxidant properties will be evaluated using the 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) assay system. This project aims to determine which tea samples have the highest phenol content and antioxidant activity as well as further our understanding of these two properties of tea. To determine both phenolic content and antioxidant activity, UV – Vis spectroscopy will be used and the results will be tabulated in an Excel spreadsheet to observe any similarities or differences between the samples. This project is important to explore because tea is consumed by almost everyone worldwide. This research will be able to provide the public with more insight into how beneficial tea is to the human body.

How Recollections of Positive and Negative Support Provision Experiences Influence Goal Motivation

Recently, positive psychology has caught much attention and is a thriving field. The specific area of positive event support is a major topic being studied. Most of these studies, however focus on the benefits of receiving support rather than how providing support can motivate oneself. The title of the project is “How Recollections of Positive and Negative Support Provision Experiences Influence Goal Motivation”. The purpose of this study is to determine whether providing positive support or even recalling a time when one provided positive support for someone’s positive event has an effect on the supporter in their own life and goal motivations.

I expect to learn that recalling a time of providing support for someone’s positive event will motivate the supporter to work harder and more enthusiastically to reach their own goals. In addition to hoping to learn the expected outcomes, I hope to learn and gain more experience about running a psychology study by coding data and conducting analyses on this work. Overall, there are numerous opportunities to expand my psychology studies through this project and I plan to take full advantage of them all.
The methods that will be employed in this study include participants coming to the lab for a two part study. During the first part, participants will be asked to describe personal and health goals they are planning to work on throughout the semester. The study participants will be asked to return to the lab weeks later to complete the second part of the study. This consists of writing and reflecting on a time when they provided positive support to someone in response to either a positive event (e.g. receiving a good grade) or a negative event (e.g. failing a test). In addition to that some will be asked to write about a neutral topic (e.g. describing a dorm room). After this the participants will respond to questions regarding their goals from the first part of the study. This will allow us to see how recalling past events affects how motivated one is to achieve their own goals.
It is exciting to be working in a field that is growing at a fast rate. Positive event support is important in many areas and can be used in practical ways. This research has the power to help students and employees enhance motivation and assist them to reach their full potential by knowing that providing positive support boosts their motivation to reaching their goals.

Rachel Platko

Blog #1: Research, College, Service, and Lots of Reading

Dear Undergraduate Researchers, Students, Faculty, and Staff,

Hello, my name is Rachel Skopp-Cardillo. I am a second-year college student that goes to Pace University in Pleasantville, New York. So far, my semester is going really well, but my favorite thing to do is to go to the Mortola Library and read literacy research for my research project. My research project is on how Pace undergraduate students, from the city (urban campus) and Pleasantville (suburban campus), engage in civic engagement and public service. Tyler Kalahar, Heath Novak, and I hope to get this information from literacy research and by conducting a 10 question survey.

Our goal is to collect over 600 surveys from Pace undergraduate students from the urban and suburban campuses. Basically, my hope is that the 10 question long survey and the literacy research will answer my research question: “what is the difference between urban and suburban campuses when it comes to civic engagement and public service?”

Overall, all I want to achieve from this project is to learn the research process. That way I can replicate it on my own when I go to graduate school. I am just very grateful that I get to conduct this research project and have this opportunity as an undergraduate student.

Best Wishes,

Rachel Skopp-Cardillo!

 

The Effect of Cholesterol on Mycobacterium bovis-BCG Resistance to Glutathione

When Mycobacterium tuberculosis infects its host, the human immune response produces the thiol based detoxification molecule, glutathione (GSH). The glutathione attempts to kill the invading cell by forcing it into a reduced environment. In our previously work, using Mycobacterium bovis-BCG as a model organism, we have shown that active culture attempts to control this glutathione induced reductive stress killing by over producing the oxidizing agents NAD+ and NADH,H+. The active culture cannot overcome the reductive environment and succumbs to its death. Mycobacterium also use persistence as a protective mechanism. In response to an oxygen depleted environment, BCG is able to enter non replicative persistence (NRP), a state where the cell has an active metabolism, but does not actively divide. When observing NRP BCG inoculated with GSH, it is found that the reducing agent is not bactericidal. The NAD+ and NADH, H+ levels also remain low and constant, compared to that of active BCG, indicating that there is another pathway that NRP BCG is using to resist glutathione induced reductive stress killing.

Our previous research suggests that the catabolism of cholesterol can act as an electron sink for reducing agent. It is also know that the catabolism of cholesterol causes regeneration of NAD+ when the virulence factor PDIM is synthesized. This idea leads to my project, The Impact of Cholesterol on Mycobacterium bovis-BCG Resistance to Glutathione. In my project, I hypothesize that if cholesterol causes BCG to undergo a metabolic shift similar to that of NRP BCG, and BCG is grown in a cholesterol rich environment and NAD+ and NADH,H+ levels are observed, BCG grown in a cholesterol rich environment will be able to resist glutathione induced reductive stress killing. In order to understand how cholesterol affects the active culture, I will be creating a media called 7H12T media. Once a proper media is established and the organism is able to tolerate a cholesterol rich and nutrient deprived environment, I will be conducting a NAD/NADH Glo Assay. With this data, I will be able to understand if the presence of cholesterol is pushing the cell towards an oxidative environment that will protect the BCG from reductive stress killing.

Currently, the effect of glutathione on BCG is not well understood. Without a thorough understanding of the intracellular response when exposed to glutathione, we cannot understand how to treat the tuberculosis infection. Because the scientific community is lacking this information, there has not been a new pharmaceutical created for Tuberculosis in over 10 years. I hope that with a proper understanding of the metabolic pathways being used in NRP BCG to resist the human immune response, there will be a breakthrough in targeted drug therapies for Tuberculosis.

BLOG #1-Synthesis of unique lubricants made of exotic butters infused with indigenous oils to promote inhibition of bacteria and protection against UV radiation.

Disputes about the affects of antibiotics have recently been on the rise as more research shows they are found to cause damage in the immune system as well as inhibit brain cell growth. Unfortunately, 30% of all prescribed antibiotics are not necessary and stem from doctors prescribing the medications before they receive patients test results. With the overuse of these antibiotics comes the consequence of building resistance towards them, so when needed, our bodies will resist the drug instead of helping our immune system. This topic has sparked many controversial arguments and is implanted in the 2020 action plan of the White House. By year 2020, our government hopes to push developments of new tests to decrease the amount of antibiotics prescribed. In order to achieve this goal, there would need to be 15%, or 23 million, fewer prescriptions by 2020. Our research focusses on aiding the governments plans to do so. It is important to understand that antibiotics are not the saving grace of all bacterial infections, but instead natural approaches can be more beneficial in regards to specific infections.

Our skin, hair and nails are crucial in keeping antagonists out of our bodies internal systems. Fungi like, Trichophyton rubrum, and bacteria like, Staphylococcus aureus, are the most prevalent causes of skin affairs. If not treated, infections of the skin like, Streptococcus pyogenes, are able to penetrate into internal organs and turn into fatalities. Our research not only focuses on bacteria affecting our internal makeup, but also how the mutagen, UV radiation, can alter the expression of our cells and lead to lethal health issues like cancer. In order to test against bacteria and UV radiation, Illipe butter, Mowrah butter, Tacuma butter, and Hemp butter are infused with a variety of exotic oils at different concentrations. These oils include argan, grapeseed, wintergreen, rosemary, guava seed, jajoba, lemongrass, cottonseed, black sesame, vetiver, black walnut and black cumin. In order to make these surfaces, we first need to melt the butters, since they are solids at room temperature. Once they are melted, specific portions of oils are pipetted into the butter. These mixtures are then placed into petri dishes and sent out to be tested against bacteria. If the growth of bacteria on our plates is less than the control (without the mixture) this means we see positive results. To test against UV radiation, UV light changing beads are placed into ziplock bags. On the outside of the bags our mixtures are spread out evenly, and a UV light is shined on top. Again, we will compare our color changing beads with our mixture to the beads in the ziplock bag without our compound. If the beads are less vibrant than the control, this means we see positive results.

We hope that our novel blends show positive results in working against bacteria and decreasing UV light exposure to the skin. If results are not positive, new exotic oils will be derived from all parts of the world, to find the best outcome for our population.

UGR Fall Blog # 1.- Andrea Quevedo-Prince

Title: “Predictive modeling of the US Non-profit Sector: from a macro to a micro perspective”.

Our project has been running since June 2017. The student acts as research assistant, sifting through numerous academic journals and data bases to generate the inputs needed by Professor Quevedo. Our aim is to generate valuable insights to fundraisers, and to gain experience in scientific research.

Research Goals:

  1. To define a predictive model for the non-profit sector at a macro level, that is, determine the variables that dictate or moderate total revenue from donations.
  2. To define a predictive model for the non-profit sector at a segmented level, that is, determine the variables that dictate or moderate revenues from donations to specific social causes like the education, health, amateur or Olympic sports, the arts and the environment, in particular.
  3. To define a predictive model for the non-profit sector at the micro level, that is, determine the variables that dictate or moderate individual donor motivations toward a specific social cause.

Research Methodology: For the macro phase of our research (goals # 1 and 2 above), our approach combines extensive literature review and statistical methods, particularly Factor and Regression Analysis, to extract the appropriate factors that best fit the models. Indeed, we have dug into hundreds of publications, to study the matter in depth. Then we searched for data series to run the analyses. For the micro phase (goal # 3 above), we will apply this context to sample a representative group of individual donors to interview, and to determine their motivations toward a specific cause.

Review of the Literature: The nonprofit sector represents 5.4% of total GDP in the US. In 2015, the largest source of charitable giving came from individuals at $268.28 billion, or 71% of total giving; followed by foundations ($57.19 billion or 16%), bequests ($28.72 billion or 9%), and corporations ($18.46 billion or 5%). It must be noted that “giving” is just part of total nonprofit revenue. Tuition payments, in education, ticket sales, in sports, and hospital patient revenues, in the health segment, are the sector’s main sources of total income; private charitable giving represents almost 14% of that (total non-profit revenue), growing at a rate of 18.2% adjusted for inflation; government grants add another 8% and corporate donations 5%.

Figure 1

Matsunaga and Yamauchi (2004) state that the nonprofit sector has become widely recognized by researchers as having a critical and distinctive role in contemporary society; in the past, they say, it had been treated as a residual of other economic sectors, but has recently with increasing consistency, been thought of as an independent sector in its own right. The authors add that the dominant theory explaining the size variations of the non-profit sector by locality is the government failure theory.

According to List (2011), the market revolves around three major players: (1) the donors, who provide the resources to charities. These can be individuals, corporations, public institutions, and non-government organizations (NGOs). (2) Charitable organizations, which develop strategies to attract resources and allocate those resources; and (3) the government, which decides on the tax treatment of individual contributions, the level of government grants to various charities, and what public goods to provide directly by itself.

Berman, Brooks and Murphy (2006) found that percentage changes in funding from year to year are relatively stable, and are thus capable of being modeled using standard techniques. They suggest that non-profit revenues will depend on a cause’s or an organization’s public profile, networking, especially with religious organizations, and the sum of independent funding sources, including government support, that help diversify and stabilize fundraising in economic downturns.

Curry, Rodin and Carlson (2012) hypothesized that organizations that operated on transformational approaches to fundraising have fared significantly better than those which operate on a more transactional basis. They also suggested that the greater physical proximity of the donor base of an organization would positively impact fundraising. Lastly, they posited that regional economic stress patterns would impact fundraising effectiveness, with greater economic stress leading to decreases in fundraising effectiveness. This would be the only macro variable the authors explore.

As Nissan, Castaño and Carrasco (2012) suggest, some theoretical work, however, has emerged to explain the macro perspective, that is, the differences in scale, presence, composition or financing of non-profits across countries; most of them inspired by the classical argument of Government Failure, others centered in the supply side of non-profits. The authors go on to suggest a model that includes public funding, as the first variable, adding social capital (the opposite of government failure), per capita income, and entrepreneurial activity to the equation.

In trying to develop a theoretical model, McKeever (2013) states that the Situational Theory of Publics has direct application in fundraising. According to it, three independent variables—problem recognition, constraint recognition, and involvement—predict two dependent variables—information seeking and information processing. Problem recognition is similar to (public) awareness, which is a major factor in our hypotheses. “Problem recognition” is that moment when people realize that something should be done about an issue or situation and stop to think about what to do. Constraint recognition refers to people’s perceptions of obstacles in the way of acting related to the issue or situation, and involvement is defined as the extent to which people personally connect with the issue or situation. Information seeking and processing can include passive or active forms of communication.

McKeever also stated that it is not surprising that past participation would predict future support for and or participation in fundraising. All of this is unquestionably valuable for nonprofit organizations. Trying to increase awareness, participation, support, and advocacy efforts is crucial to their particular mission or cause.

Hypotheses: On a macro level, we would posit that (H1) total non-profit revenues respond for the most part to the economy and the level of public awareness regarding social issues. The null hypothesis, H0, would be stated as “non-profit revenues do not respond to the economy or to the level of public awareness regarding social issues.”

H2: cause-specific revenues respond for the most part to the DPI, and to the level of public awareness regarding those issues.

H3: individual donations will respond to the individual’s commitment to the cause, where public awareness, the economy, and personal economic considerations would act as moderators.

Our model would look as follows:

Figure 2

Data Series: Thus far, we have found the following time series most applicable to our research objectives:

  1. Total non-profit revenues in the US
  2. Non-profit revenues by subsector (social cause).
  3. Media coverage, as a measure of public awareness regarding specific social causes.
  4. Macroeconomic US data on GDP (gross national product).
  5. Macroeconomic US data on DPI (disposable personal income). 

We are have begun running the available data.

Initial Findings: Factor Analysis shows an obvious correlation between GDP and DPI. The model combining all variables, namely “Non-Profit Revenue = a + bGDP + cDPI + dPUBLICAWARENESS + Ɛ”, showed a significance level of .000. Regression Analysis showed a more significant relationship between disposable personal income, TV coverage of environmental issues, and non-profit revenues for that specific cause, thus fitting the model “Non-Profit Revenue for Environmental Causes = a + bDPI +cPUBLICAWARENESS + Ɛ”, with a R² of .874, and significance levels from .000 to  .012 (see SPSS output below).

Figure 3

Thusly, our first model would look as follows

NPR Environment = -4401.542 + 528.327(DPI) +23.121(TVCoverage) + Ɛ

 Indeed, TV continues to be the major source of information, according Bialik and Matza (2017), who cite recent Pew Research polls.

Figure 4

Initial Conclusion: Our most firm conclusion, thus far, relates to H2: non-profit revenues for environmental causes respond for the most part to the DPI, and to the level of public awareness regarding environmental issues, as reflected on TV coverage, in particular.

Still Pending: Having macroeconomic data, and non-profit revenues for different sectors, we must now secure reliable and matching data series for TV coverage of health issues, education, and the arts, if we are to test the reliability of the model in different non-profit segments.

Evaluating the function of genes implicated Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) formation using C. elegans

The title of my project is “Evaluating the function of genes implicated Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) formation using C. elegans.Caenorhabditis elegans (C.elegans) is an ideal organism for studying genes and proteins in humans on a genetic and molecular level. Humans have many genes in common with C.elegans, some of which may be associated with the development of cancer in humans. C. elegans is a valuble model system that we can study to get insights into how cell division is controlled and to understand how misregulation of cell division can ultimately lead to cancer. The goal of this study is to identify which genes present in C.elegans play a role in cancer development. In particular we are interested in genes that are known to play a role in the development of Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), which is an aggressive form of brain cancer with very low rates of survival.

There are current and past studies that demonstrate there is a link between genetic variance and tumorigenesis (cancer development) in humans. These studies involved real-life and model cases where gene mutation resulted in the cancer. Furthermore, many studies implicate that the mutation of one specific gene is capable of disrupting other genes in the genome that have linked molecular/cellular interactions with that mutated gene. The changes in the genes may be so small, involving even a few proteins. This project will help elucidate and affirm how changes in genes could affect cell function that, in turn, could ultimately cause cancer.

First, I will identify which genes implicated in GBM development are also present in C. elegans.  Then I will conduct RNA inference (RNAi) experiments in C. elegans, which will allow me to disrupt gene function and determine the function of those genes. After the RNAi experiments I will assess if cell division is disrupted by looking at embryo development. During embryo development, the cell must maintain the proper regulation of the cell cycle if not the embryo will not develop properly, which is similar to the errors that are seen in many cancers. These experiments will allow us to determine mechanistically what parts of the cell cycle are being affected and pinpoint the essential proteins that are linked to these abnormalities.

Blog Post 1

Professor Daly and I will be researching and analyzing China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative. OBOR aims to connect the Eurasian landmass and Africa with a vast logistics and transport network –employing roads, ports, rail, and pipelines, and transnational electric grids to spur modernization. In total, the OBOR nations account for one-third of global GDP and 60% of the world’s population.

We hope our research will lead to a paper for publication; perhaps a book.  The OBOR initiative will become more of a topic of popular consumption as it reshapes Eurasia and Africa. Professor Daly plans to build a series of infographic databases via Tableau to help bring the research to the public.

I plan to achieve a better understanding of the economic impact OBOR will have on the emerging African and Eurasian markets in the future. I am gathering more information from primary source articles to learn as much as possible about one of the most important economic initiatives of the early 21st century.

We plan on learning how the initiative will shape eastern emerging countries; from cataloging important milestones and tracking 90 Billion dollars in loans currently extended to OBOR countries. By looking at China’s four biggest state owned banks we can look at what the loans will fund and analyze future projections for the project.

Navarro/Coppola Blog 1

The purpose of this research project for the 2017-2018 academic year is to study, analyze, and, explore how technology and older adults (ages 60+) interact. As of now, the focus is primarily relating to how technology can be utilized by older adults in regards to their overall health and well being. This includes using digital monitoring devices to obtain information such as oxygen levels, blood pressure, and heart rate. Once these vitals are taken, they can be digitally sent and stored in an online portal that can be accessed by the patient, or primary care physician, at a later time. An understanding of these vitals is important in providing proactive treatment of serious issues that can arise including strokes and heart attacks. Previous research has shown that older adults are willing and eager to utilize technology, and this project will further explore the benefits of interconnecting this population with today’s technological advancements. The working title for this project is “Digital Health Education for Seniors.”

From this project, a better understanding of exactly how digital health education can be beneficial to this population will be obtained. This research will allow us to learn more about the ever-growing relationship between senior citizens and technology. Are they willing to accept and utilize this technology for a specific purpose? How quickly can they adapt to new software/hardware? In what ways do they learn best? How can an overall understanding of their health lead to a better of quality of life? All of these questions will be addressed and investigated during the course of the project.

A number of different methods will be used in order to accomplish this project. Most notably, partnership with Senior centers (tentatively Carter Burden Network and Brookdale) will be used in order to access the target population. Additionally, the research team with partner with Vital Care Services, an organization that specializes in digital health management and collaboration. A comprehensive test will be given at the beginning and end of the research so that the success rate can be examined. The research will consist of frequent and consistent monitoring of older adults and their relationship with new technology, ideas, and practices. At the end of the project, a better understanding of this population and their needs will be found.

Active Study- First Blog Post

Active Study, the mobile app we are developing as part of our research, will be an immersive experience to help assist children with learning disabilities as well as autism comprehend information they cannot typically digest in a typical classroom setting. With this application, we have the ability to start a new wave of how technology is used in the classroom, as well as change how special needs children are treated in schools.

According to the CDC, “About half of preschoolers with ADHD were taking medication for ADHD, and about 1 in 4 were treated only with medication”.  Additionally, they are often provided with extra one on one assistance in the classroom, and sometimes put in a smaller class. While all of these work, this research will show that there are other methods than prescription drugs to obtaining a child’s attention. It is not is that the child cannot pay attention at all, it is just that the information is not provided in a digestible way to them. Essentially, the child is not interested in the topic, so they lose focus, and do not digest the information. However, by following successful teaching methods for students with ADHD we can use VR to present data in a way that is easier to remember for the subject. This is accomplished by creating a learning environment in a fun, exciting setting.

 

Active Study, the mobile app we are developing as part of our research, will be an immersive experience to help assist children with learning disabilities as well as autism comprehend information they cannot typically digest in a typical classroom setting. With this application, we have the ability to start a new wave of how technology is used in the classroom, as well as change how special needs children are treated in schools.

Some Goals and Objectives we have include:
-Produce a beta application demoing a variety of gameplay concepts with different school subjects taught in today’s schools
-Produce said beta application using affordable hardware, keeping cost down for Schools looking to adopt
-Provide the app to select special needs classes for feedback, which will be used to tweak and optimize the application
-Talk with educators to fine tune the information to select what material they would like to see incorporated into the application.

According to the CDC, “About half of preschoolers with ADHD were taking medication for ADHD, and about 1 in 4 were treated only with medication”.  Additionally, they are often provided with extra one on one assistance in the classroom, and sometimes put in a smaller class. While all of these work, this research will show that there are other methods than prescription drugs to obtaining a child’s attention. It is not is that the child cannot pay attention at all, it is just that the information is not provided in a digestible way to them. Essentially, the child is not interested in the topic, so they lose focus, and do not digest the information. However, by following successful teaching methods for students with ADHD we can use VR to present data in a way that is easier to remember for the subject. This is accomplished by creating a learning environment in a fun, exciting setting.

Some research questions we will answer include:

-How can the new wave of technology be incorporated in the current generation’s education?
-What methods can combine immersion and education to allow information to
stick in a child’s brain more significantly than the typical textbook and classroom lectures?
-How can a tool such as this be optimized to work on accessible, cost-efficient hardware?

We will answer these questions by first exploring how information is processed by the brains of today’s youth, more specifically those with learning disabilities. Once our own research is completed and our beta application is finished, we will build relationships with educators, and not only listen, but act on their feedback in tweaking and modifying the application to be as efficient as possible. By working directly with these educators, we will get instant feedback from live testing, and be able to make sure the application works as efficiently at helping teach the child as possible. During this whole process, we will constantly be monitoring our hardware restrictions, and make sure that we are staying in those boundaries.