Blog Post #2

Professor Zaslow and I have begun working on our literature review, which has produced some absolutely fantastic previous research within the realm of experiences of coming out, whether from the adolescent’s perspective as well as the parent and close family’s perspective. We have already reached out to the communities we had hoped to gain access to, but have not been successful in attaining the necessary permissions to bring our research onto the next step. Though a disappointing setback, we have not lost faith in our project and we will be meeting within the week to discuss our options and how we should continue on from here.

Personally, aside from the previously mentioned setbacks, I’m excited for this project to get going. This research is important for many reasons and I know the work that both Dr. Zaslow and I are putting into it will produce a great project by year’s end.

Blog #2: Esther Carpenter Pierce: Daughter, Wife and Confidante of Freedom’s Friends

Hello all.


Just to quickly recap…  My name is Shawna Wright.  I am a senior at Pace’s New York City campus, and I am currently participating in this year’s Student-Faculty Research Program with Dr. von Huene Greenberg, a faculty member at Pace’s Pleasantville campus.  The title of our research project is “Esther Carpenter Pierce: Daughter, Wife and Confidante of Freedom’s Friends.”  Esther was the daughter of Joseph Carpenter and the wife of Moses Pierce, all were devout Quaker abolitionists.


My current job in the research project is to read all three of Frederick Douglass’ autobiographies and to identify, and make note of, any mention of the Underground Railroad, Quakers, abolitionists, or New York, that could reveal a direct connection between Douglass and Esther Carpenter Pierce.  Thus far, I have read the first two of Douglass’ autobiographies: “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass” and “My Bondage and My Freedom,” and I have found several links between Douglass and the aforementioned subjects.


Douglass escaped from Baltimore, Maryland in September of 1838, and fled to New York City where a fugitive ex-slave introduced him to David Ruggles and the Underground Railroad.  Ruggles took Douglas in “to his boarding-house at the corner of Church and Lespenard Streets” (Douglass 87).  Less than two weeks later, Douglass and his wife, Anna Murray, with whom he was reunited in New York City, left for New Bedford, Massachusetts.  Once there, they were taken in by Mr. and Mrs. Nathan Johnson who provided them with kindness, food, and shelter, and most importantly, security.  At each stage of Douglass’ northern exodus, he changed his surname to evade capture.  It is worth noting that Douglass gave Mr. Johnson the privilege of choosing what was to be his final surname—Douglass.


Douglass does not specifically mention the Underground Railroad until two-thirds into his text, “My Bondage and My Freedom.”  And, Douglass actually refers to it as the “Upper-ground Railroad” (Douglass 210).  This is not a mistake, but done to make a point.  He recognized that while those who declared their active involvement in the Underground network spoke bravely, they did so at the expense of their stated purpose—making something public that should have been kept a secret, ultimately put the fugitives in greater danger of being caught and sold back into slavery.


It was in New Bedford that Douglass was introduced to the Quaker community.  On his first afternoon in New Bedford, Douglass states that, “the sight of the broad brim and the plain, Quaker dress, which met [me] at every turn, greatly increased [my] sense of freedom and security.  ‘I am among the Quakers,’ [Douglass] thought, ‘and am safe” (Douglass 223).  Douglass soon came to understand that the Quaker community was a fugitive’s friend—that the Quakers were “friends of freedom.”


The anti-slavery convention held in Nantucket in the summer of 1841 was a major turning point for Douglass.  It was there that he met the prominent abolitionist, William Lloyd Garrison, with whom he would become great friends.  Garrison is best known as the editor of the abolitionist newspaper the, “Liberator,” and for being the founder of the “American Anti-Slavery Society.”  It was Garrison who encouraged Douglass to give his first speech at the anti-slavery convention.  And, it was following the convention that Douglass became a member of the “American Anti-Slavery Society” (he would eventually became a key leader of the society), and when Douglass also became a Garrisonian.  Thereafter, he pushed for the immediate abolition of slavery and for racial equality at every opportunity.


Douglass’ escape took him to New York City, but in the course of his life as a “Freeman,” Douglass traveled throughout the state—Albany, Rochester, and New York City—to deliver countless lectures, orations, and speeches on the topic of slavery.  About a decade after his initial escape, Douglass settled in Rochester, New York to begin the circulation of his own abolitionist newspaper.  Douglass edited and published this newspaper on his own, and funded it with the proceeds of his many lectures.


As I think about the information I have gathered thus far, two key relationships, which I have not fully reflected on, strike me as interesting and important.  First, is the relationship between Douglass and David Ruggles.  And the second is the possible connection between Douglass and Lydia Marie Child—the renowned abolitionist, women’s activist, and author.  They are intriguing in that each suggests the possibility of a connection between Douglass and Esther Carpenter Pierce—the focus of my and Dr. von Huene Greenberg’s research—as Esther was connected to both Ruggles and Child.


Douglass, Ruggles, and Child were all well-known abolitionists.  And, Dr. von Huene Greenberg has already established a link between Ruggles, Child, and Esther.  While researching Moses Pierce for an article published in The Westchester Historian in the winter of 2012, Dr. von Huene Greenberg concluded that both Ruggles and Child stayed at the home of the Carpenter’s (Esther’s parents) on separate occasions: Ruggles after he became blind, and Child “to escape abolitionist violence in New York [that] lasted nearly six months, from September 1835 to March 1836” (Greenberg 14).  In fact, Esther and Child became correspondents, and Esther even named her second daughter after Child.


In the course of my research, I have observed that Douglas and Child may have had cause to interact as well.  Douglass was a key leader of the “American Anti-Slavery Society” of which Child was also a member.  Child and her husband, David, established the “Anti-Slavery Standard,” which was the official weekly newspaper of the “American Anti-Slavery Society,” and for which Douglass helped secure subscribers, as stated in “My Bondage and My Freedom.”


So, if Douglass and Ruggles were good friends, and if Ruggles and Esther’s father, Joseph Carpenter, were good friends, then could those connections have caused the paths of Douglass and Esther to cross at some point?  Likewise, if Esther and Child were good friends, and if Douglass and Child shared affiliations, then could those connections have also caused the paths of Douglass and Esther to cross at some point?  I am hoping that in the continued progress of my research, some light will be shed on these questions.

Analysis of Solar Energy Generation, Demand and Consumption: A College Solar Classroom study in Pace University Campus-Blog #2

My name is Ariana Abramson, and I am currently working with Dr. Winkler on the 2012-2013 Pace University research initiative. The title of the project is “Analysis of Solar Energy Generation, Demand and Consumption: A College Solar Classroom study in Pace University Campus”. We will be using the newly installed solar classroom located on the Pleasantville Campus to analyze energy consumption and solar energy generation. There are four solar panels currently located on the roof of the classroom were provided by Con Edison and currently generates 1.5kW of energy.

Thus far we have been able to receive batch files of data from the White Plains data center to analyze the solar energy usage. The data we have been receiving has been organized into excel documents and from there we hope to examine it more closely. We are also still in the process of making the data real-time, so we can have more data points to work with when examining the information. We would like to measure how much electricity is generated and consumed, especially in terms of seasonal, academic, and daily changes. These findings will give us a better understanding of the demand for energy and how that demand can be met with an alternative energy source.

From the various data points we have received, we are able to pin point the exact temperature, high and low, outside of the cottage at various times throughout a specific day. We are also able to create an estimate from the temperatures given, the amount of solar energy being used to supplement for the existing weather conditions. If we continue to observe the weather patterns and the differences in energy consumption, we will be able to create advanced projections of energy consumption in a classroom. For example, referring to the month of August, we can look at the data points and see a slight increase in the amount of energy usage as the month was coming to an end. Due to the amount of people using the room and the change in temperature, it is reasonable to assume that as more people began to come back to campus, more energy was needed to supplement for the increased demand.

From the data we have been collecting, we would like to see the differences in energy consumption when faced with weather abnormalities, such as the recently passed Sandy super storm. We also like to know if in a given day, the demand for energy can change regardless of the weather and more specifically on other extraneous variables. Because measuring consumption can be tricky due to the differences in the people using the classroom or the time of day, we hope to create a model that can be used regardless of different variables that may be in place.

Blog #2 : “The Effects of Heat Stress on Stigmatic Receptivity in Arabidopsis thaliana”

Thus far, In our research we have done a substantial amount of preliminary work to understand the various elements of stigma receptivity, including the enzymes that are present and that dictate the window of receptivity in Arabidopsis thaliana.  We have found that there are anticipated levels of esterase, peroxidase, and alcohol dehydrogenase present during this period of time.  We will be testing how this window is altered due to heat stress by testing these three enzymatic markers associated with receptivity.  The expected results will be an altered window and alterations in the presence and concentrations of these enzymes.

We have been working to target specific protocols for targeting esterase, peroxidase, and alcohol dehydrogenase both qualitative and quantitatively.  For esterase, we will be using an alpha-naphthyl acetate test.  Four separate tests will be performed for determining peroxidase activity; benzidine solution, Peroxtermo Ko Test, concanavalin A-peroxidase method, and H2O2.  Alcohol dehydrogenase presence will be determined using the Baker’s test.  Each of these tests will be done over certain periods of time, based on the non-heat stressed “normal” receptivity window, to determine the changes due to heat stress.

Since Hurricane Sandy shut down the Pace Lab for almost 2 weeks, much of the research has been at a hault, slowly getting back on track.  However, I am confident that utilizing the winter break to grow large volumes of Arabidopsis will give us plenty of data for accurate analysis of each enzyme.  We have the enzymes that need to be tested, the next step is determing the alterations of their presence and what that means for the future of these plants with an increasing threat of global warming.


Blog Post #2

Dr. Dai and I have made some significant progress in our work throughout this semester. We have been in the process of obtaining the chiral fluorescent ligands that will act as reporters to identify chiral drugs. In this process, we must separate the ligand from other compounds that were side-products, products produced through an alternate, undesired chemical route, when the ligand was synthesized. Components of this mixture of ligand and other compounds have been separated through column chromatography and identified through thin-layer chromatography and gas chromatography-mass spectroscopy. These methods employ the use of solvents to separate the components of mixtures on the basis of each compound’s polarity.

One of the continuing issues in our research is that our data shows that the separated samples are contaminated with other components; our mixture separation is not efficient. We found that slightly modifying our methods have shown tremendous improvements. Using a smaller sample size and smaller column during chromatographic separation has led to faster component separation, completed in one day, and significantly reduced contamination. We have found that the chiral fluorescent ligands that we are working with are highly sensitive to light and can oxidize if left in a solvent for a long time. In our previous method, the sample was separated over a matter of days which led to inefficient separation of the ligand.

Autism and Siblings

At this time in our research, we have completed our primary questionnaires for both college-aged people with Autism, as well as people who are siblings of people with Autism in college. We are currently waiting for the IRB to approve our questions, so we can then proceed with distributing these questionnaires and compiling data.

As we do not have any solid data yet, I can only speculate on what sort of things we will find. I hope that our participants are candid and honest, as that will help us best in our research. This may be a very sensitive subject matter, and talking about personal experiences may pose a challenge to many participants, I think it can be very cathartic to talk about difficult things. Sometimes people with Autism do not have any one to talk to about their personal experiences, and their day-to-day life is very regimented and there is no time to reflect on their emotions or daily experiences. Our research will give people will Autism a chance to talk about and explore a topic they may not have a chance to discuss otherwise. What do their siblings mean to them? Have they ever recognized their siblings as life-long teachers? How do they think they would have been different without their sibling(s)?

I also think this process will let the siblings of people with Autism discover how truly instrumental they are, and will continue to be in their Autistic sibling’s life. It will allow them the opportunity to reflect on all they do for their sibling. I hope that they feel like they can open up. If both parties are honest in their answers, we can gather a lot of important data from their answers. I look forward to the IRB’s approval of our questionnaire so we can begin!

Blog #2: Synthesis of Novel Therapeutic Drugs to Combat Neuromuscular Disorders

Now that we are well in to the semester, Dr. Rizzo and I have been making a lot of progress with our synthesis. As mentioned in the prior post, our objective is to synthesize a variety of novel quaternary ammonium compounds that utlize a,w-diols, dihalides, polyethers, and naturally derived glycols covalently bound to 1,4-diazabicyclo[2.2.2]octane, otherwise known as DABCO.

The method of synthesis for these compounds include an activation of compounds bearing free hydroxyls sites followed by a covalent attachment of a free amine. Activation of the compound is done by a well-known procedure. What we have done is convert alcohols to an alkyl tosylates. The reason we do this is to generate a good leaving group. Once our compound has been activated, we follow up with covalent bond formation. The tosylated alcohol is then treated with a good nucleophile, like DABCO, which will readily undergo an SN2 reaction.  An SN2 reaction is a bimolecular nucleophilic substitution. In this type of reaction, the lone pair of electrons from the nucleophile (DABCO), attacks an electrophilic center (our activated compound), and bonds to it, expelling the leaving group (the tosyl group). In other words, we are replacing our tosyl group with DABCO. The reason we want to substitute these groups is because we seek to synthesize a variety of novel quaternary ammonium compounds. Quaternary ammonium compounds have been found to yield the best results when tested against potassium ion channels. To date, I have modified about 20 compounds. A few of the compounds I have modified include, dulcitol, galactose, poly vinyl alcohol, and glycerol. Each of these structures bear free hydroxyl sites.

Thus far, I have been continuing synthesizing different compounds. Recently, I have been focusing on modifying amines. Amines are organic compounds that contain a basic nitrogen atom with a lone pair of electrons. The two specific amines I’ve been working with are N, N, N’, N’- Tetramethyl-1,3 Propane Diamine and N, N, N’, N’- Tetramethyl-1,6 Hexane Diamine. The synthesis of these compounds are a little different as they don’t know bear free hydroxyl sites. Therefore, instead, we treat the amines with a tosylated dabco compound. Upon reflux of the modified amine compounds, I observed color changes. The compounds went from a transparent solution to deep yellow/ brown. I allowed the compounds to continue reflux. Upon endpoint of reflux, I put the solutions on a rotavap to remove the solvent used. Unfortunately, the results yielded two, sticky, brown, syrup like solutions. Compounds of this consistency cannot be used for testing. So, I am currently redoing this synthesis. The second time around, I am synthesizing new tosylated dabco strings to treat with the amines. I am starting with 4-chloro-1-butanol and 3-chloro-1-propanol. These two structures have an alcohol group and a halide group. Upon dissolving in ethyl acetate, I am going to treat these compounds with dabco, which will substitute the halide group on the compounds. The new compounds now have an alcohol group and a dabco group. When these are treated with the amines, the alcohol group should react with the nitrogen on the amine, displacing the OH group, creating a quaternary ammonium ion. As of now, I have yet to treat the amines with my newly synthesized dabco compounds. I am hoping to yield better results the second time around. If not, I will reconsider the starting materials and method of synthesis. Perhaps I will try to synthesize a compound that isn’t as bulky.

More questions to consider are, what compounds will work the best?  With a little background research and analysis of my data, hopefully we can gain a clearer understanding of the most beneficial compounds to synthesize. I am looking forward to continuing with my synthesis and am eager to see my results!

The Predictive Relationship Between Obesity Criteria and Neuropsychological Deficits Update

In order to clarify the relationship between cognitive deficits and three definitions of obesity: BMI, Height-to-Waist ratio, and Hip-to-Waist ratio, Dr. Adams and myself decided to continue our individual studies in to the past research done based on BMI, Height-to-Waist ratio, and Hip-to-Waist ratio. So far we have no data just yet. However, I am currently scheduled with several doctors at Columbia University Medical Center, Wyckoff Hospital, and St. Luke’s Hospital within the upcoming weeks. I will hopefully be able to obtain more neurological and psychological insights of obesity from these professionals.

We are currently preparing to submit our proposal to the IRB and after their approval we will begin to collect participants that fit the current profiles for obesity (e.g. a Male at age 16, Height 5’3 and Weighs 169.01lbs would be considered obese). I am going to collect these participants through the NYC Pace Campus student body and then we will administered three neurological exams on each. The exams will look in to IQ estimate, verbal memory, and executive functioning. After that we will begin to analyze the results discovered.

Characterization of Spermidine:spermine N1- acetyltransferase from the intestinal parasite Cryptosporidium parvum

Blog #2

November 26, 2012

Emmanuel Bujans


In my first blog post, I described the many issues as well as actions that need to be taken surrounding the organism Cryptosporidium parvum and the disease it causes, Cryptosporidiosis. Since the beginning of the semester, I have been working on cloning and expressing a new purified SSAT protein, however, the last protein I stored was found to be denatured.

Although I was at the final stages of purifying the SSAT protein, because of Hurricane Sandy all my samples were ruined. This occurred due to the power outage, which affected the -4 °C fridge where my temperature-dependent samples were being stored. Since there was no power, the heat in the fridge slowly rose to room temperature thus denaturing my samples. Denaturation of proteins usually occurs because the bonding interactions responsible for the secondary structure (hydrogen bonds to amides) and tertiary structure are disrupted. In tertiary structure there are four types of bonding interactions between “side chains” including: hydrogen bonding, salt bridges, disulfide bonds, and non-polar hydrophobic interactions. Therefore, a variety of reagents and conditions can cause denaturation. The common condition in this case was heat.

Even though horrible disasters may happen, which may impede one’s research, I have learned that I must continue past all those frustrations if I truly want to be successful. Therefore, for the next few weeks, I will restart the long process of cloning and expressing the SSAT protein. This is done by PCRing the desired known DNA sequence, then choosing one of the PCR samples containing the closest molecular weight size marker in a electrophoresis gel, DNA cleanup before ligation, ligation into a suitable vector, and transformation and screening to identify recombinant clones. This process usually takes about a full three weeks to complete.

Overall, as the semester has progressed, working with Dr. Nigel Yarlett has taught me how to apply knowledge learned in the classroom and relate it to microbial research. The next steps will be to perform experimental assays that measure the SSAT activity of the new purified protein in relation to C. parvum oocysts.

Creative Destruction: Post #2

Because our research is anthropological, it involves people. As such, it was important that when planning our research out, our first step was acquiring NIH certification and IRB approval or exemption. As of right now, we are both officially NIH certified, which means we passed a course involving a lot of information on the history, ethics, and implications of researching humans, whether it be their behavior or otherwise. In terms of obtaining approval from the Institutional Review Board (IRB) we are motioning for exempt status.

Due to the administrative obstacle, our research thus far has been limited to observations and secondary research. Fortunately, this does not mean that we haven’t been able to gather any data. However, it does mean that it is limited to what we can see and what preexisting research.

We haven’t gotten very far with preexisting research unfortunately, but my observations have already begun to give me an idea of what to look for. They also tell me that it is unlikely that there will be one simple answer to my questions. I have yet to notice a trend in the demographics, in the locations, in the styles, and in the times. While I have noticed predominantly South East Asians doing the collections, I have also seen several Caucasians. Out of these people, some looked homeless, while others seemed decently dressed. Some are collecting in the morning and others during the day or in the evening.  Some collect on the streets, but I saw one man going around the tables in Grand Central Station collecting what people left on tables. Some pick up in plastic bags and others in shopping carts. I’m still looking for a pattern, or something that will help me break the next step.

Since beginning to pay more attention to my surroundings in terms of bottles and cans, I’ve taken a particular interest in the origin of all the bottles and cans, and why these people that sort them out are necessary in the first place. It came to my attention that many people, myself included prior to this project, take bottles and cans for granted. I’ve witnessed many people just leaving them on trains, street corners or classrooms, putting them in normal garbage bins, and recycling. When at Pace itself, I witnessed the normal trash and the recycling be combined by the staff at the end of the day before being brought out. This left me worried about all the recyclables just sitting in a landfill or going through an incinerator somewhere. It’s when I actually realized the full impact of the service these people provide.

Once all the permissions are in place, the next questions I hope to tackle are who they are, and how they got to where they are. Are they doing it for a little extra on the side, or is it a comprehensive lifestyle and community? I’m interested in the how, but also the history of this mechanism we know nothing about. Since when did it begin? Are there any relations to similar processes in different places?