White Bar

Spring 2006 BYU-Idaho Undergraduate Research Conference

Conference Poster



Fri. Mar 10
6pm         Reception (Tay 170)
7pm         Welcome, Keynote address (Tay chapel)
9pm         planetarium show (planetarium)

Sat. Mar 11
8-10am                    Poster session (Tay 170)
10am-12pm            Concurrent paper sessions by discipline (Tay 120, 130)
                Ag/Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Geology Tay 120
                Social Sci./Education, Humanities Tay 130
12 noon                 Judging/Lunch Break
1pm                     Awards Tay 120

Poster sessions will have presenters available at their display for the hour to answer questions and explain their presentation.

Talks in the paper sessions will be 15 minutes - 12 minutes for the talk and 3 minutes for questions.

Recruiters and grad schools will have booths set up in the poster hall.

Awards to top three papers in each session.

Direct questions to: Dr. Brian Pyper, BYU-I Dept. of Physics, ROM 116, Rexburg, Idaho 83460-0520 (208)496-1925 pyperb@byui.edu


Abstracts, room assignments, and times:

Program as pdf


UGRC06 Program

Room StartTime


10:00 AM

Shem Thompson Physics

Comparing Constituent Fluxes of Students into and out of Physics Majors

More students leave physics for non-physics majors than visa versa. We surveyed a number of students to pin point their

initial reasons to major in physics and their reasons for then leaving physics as a major. Our survey was patterned after

Elaine Seymour's research in her book "Talking about Leaving" which addresses the issue of attrition in Science,

Mathematics, and Engineering majors. We have found some interesting results by comparing the answers of those

students who left physics as a major, those who left a different major for physics, and those who have stayed in physics.

10:15 AM

Amanda Brighton, Steven Gardner Physics

Do You Know if You Know?

Two typical introductory Physical Science classes were asked to give answers to five questions about motion. An

additional question was associated with each of these five questions to ascertain how confident each student was in their

answer. The student's metacognitive ability to determine correctly what they know or do not know was evaluated. The

student's inability to self-assess understanding was as common as the converse. When the data was analyzed by gender,

attempting to identify differences between males and females in terms of this metacognitive skill, no statistically

significant difference was found. Additionally, we identified widespread alternate conceptions when large numbers of

students were very confident in the same incorrect answer. These findings confirm previous studies regarding

misconceptions in this area.1

1 A. Arons, Teaching Introductory Physics, Wiley (1997) p.37

10:30 AM

Carson Fenimore Computer Science

NSNSDSDS: A Software Implementation for Receiving Position Tracking Signals

The Automatic Position Reporting System (APRS) allows citizens to broadcast GPS coordinates that

may be tracked by anyone. These coordinates are received using an array of hardware, typically

consisting of a radio scanner, Terminal Node Controller, and computer. This paper presents software

Digital Signal Processing techniques that replace the functionality of a Terminal Node Controller,

thereby reducing the cost of constructing an APRS monitoring station. It describes the process of

correlation using the Discrete Fourier Transform, windowing techniques, differential decoding, and

symbol synchronization. This paper also describes how this software was applied to NASA RISE

meteorological balloon launches at BYU-Idaho; it concludes by detailing how the software interfaces

with the APRS visualization software developed by Jacob Christinsen for these launches.

10:45 AM

Jacob Christensen Computer Science/Engineering

Near Space Balloon Tracking

This paper addresses the problems associated with developing a wireless tracking device, such as selecting a wireless

medium, finding a computer capable of running the hardware (i.e. GPS unit, sensors, radio), and perhaps the most

challenging of all, finding a practical way to view the data from the balloon.

The solution I developed to visualizing the data is called Thor Trak. Thor Trak consists of three modules. The first

module pulls data from the radio hardware. The second module breaks up the data into longitude, latitude and altitude. The

third module then writes these coordinates into an XML file that is read by Google Earth© and graphed in three

dimensions. This paper constitutes a working knowledge of the basics of wireless tracking with a focus on Thor Trak, the software

used in the NASA RISE near space balloon launch last semester.11:00 AM

Christopher Vanderbeek Biology

Scientific Evidence of the Genetic Factor of Migraines

The main question this research paper covers is what does scientific research show about the factor that genes play in

migraine expression? Scientists use three main types of studies to assess the genetic factor of migraines: family studies,

twin studies, and genetic linkage studies. Family studies have been important in showing the pattern of migraine

expression in families. Twin studies have been important in distinguishing between the environmental and genetic factor

of migraines. And genetic linkage studies have located parts of genes that are linked to migraine expression. Each study

has provided researchers with significant evidence of the genetic influence in migraine expression. Many sourced

conclude that half of migraine expression is due to genetic influence. Although many important discoveries have been

made through each of these studies, researchers are still working to know the specific genetics of migraine and how it is


11:15 AM

Steven Wyler Biology

Soluble DNA as a Target for PCR Detection and Identification of Aquatic Organisms

All cells release DNA when they die, but detection of rare DNA targets (e.g. < one molecule per ml) requires concentration

before amplification.. Soluble DNA (sDNA) can be recovered and concentrated from water through anion exchange and

used as a template for detection and identification of any biological target. Extraction and concentration of sDNA (0.2 μm

filtered water) from three separate water sources was attempted: two mesothermic springs and a fish run. The two warm

springs failed to yield any detectable DNA or amplifiable bacterial target. The fish run, which contained fry from several

species including Oncorhynchus mykiss (rainbow trout) yielded DNA at 94 ng/l. The major histocompatibility complex of

rainbow trout was amplified from the DNA concentrate. The utility of this approach for bio-monitoring is applicable to

all DNA sources, is scalable to extremely rare targets, and should be quantifiable within narrow limitations. Research was

funded by NIH P20RR16454.

11:30 AM

Tamara L. Duncan Chemistry

Efforts Towards the Total Synthesis of Gambieric Acid-A

The synthesis of the J-sidearm and A-ring portions of gambieric acid-A and the proposed synthesis of D-allal for the study

of diastereoselective oxidation of cyclic enol ethers.

11:45 AM

Christina Velton Chemistry

Hypothesis driven synthesis of isoxazoles

This experiment involved the synthetic derivation of isoxazoles. In doing so, we hope to determine the Structure Activity

Relationship (SAR) of metabotropic Glutamate Receptors (mGluR) and the system xC Transporter.


Room StartTime130

10:00 AM

Brian Conary Spanish

The Modern Day Tower of Babel: Diacronic Adaptation from Latin to Spanish

Many studies of the progression of Latin to Romance to Arcaic Spanish to Modern Spanish have been performed. (1) In

my Spanish 490 R class, I am presently investigating the phonological changes that occured from Latin to Modern

Spanish. Some areas of interest include; letters can represent more than one sound; the same letter does not always

represent the same sound/sounds throughout time (even in the same language); temporal, societal, social, and geographical

factors change languages. I will show this by comparing Luke Ch. 3 in Latin to its equivalent in the Spanish Bible through

various time periods.

(1) Penny, Ralph. A History of the Spanish Language. Cambridge University Press. New York. 2004.

10:15 AM

Matt Hull Spanish

Spanish came from what?: The development of a Romantic language

Contemporary Spanish is know by many to be part of a group of languages know as the Romance languages. But what

does that mean? How can any language be romantic? In discussing linguistic changes throughout time we discover changes

in pronunciation, orthography, and syntax. This past semester we have discussed the history of the Spanish language, in

these areas, as it has derived from Latin. Thus exploring its Romantic roots - that is, from Rome.

10:30 AM

Peter Mifflin Spanish

Vulgar Latin and Modern Spanish

What role did linguistic variation in the transition from Vulgar Latin to Old Spanish to Modern Spanish? Since there are

no known audio recordings of Vulgar Latin as it was spoken when it arrived on the Iberian Peninsula; it is necessary that

certain trends in variation be inferred. The main thrust of the research will come from a comparative analysis of the

Vulgate text of the New Testament compared against the Old and Modern Spanish versions of the Bible.

10:45 AM

Adam Clark English

Faulty Theories and Skewed Observations:

The Origins of the Debate between Creation and Evolution

A heated and ongoing debate exists between creationists (who believe that a divine being crafted the universe) and

evolutionists (who believe that everything came into existence through natural processes). Because creationists adhere to

theology and evolutionists adhere to science, no definitive test can be conceived that will conclusively falsify one side or

the other, and thus end the conflict. However, a compilation of old and new commentary on the subject shows that the

conflict between the two theories only exists as the product of assumptions on both sides.

Both creationists and evolutionists have their own theories as to the process of the earth's formation, each theory based on

certain observations. These theories and observations are based upon certain assumptions from both sides, some of which

are logically cohesive, and some of which are internally unsound. When this assumptions are addressed, the faulty ones

can be laid aside, and the respective observations of science and religion, which now appear to contradict each other, fall

into harmony, and one theory can be explored which fits all observations.

11:00 AM

Candice Humpherys Physics

Threatened Because of Gender?

A good deal of research has been done on the issue of stereotype threat.1, 2 This research proposes that if a person

identifies with a group of people that is negatively stereotyped for performance, then they will not perform as well as

someone from the same group of people who is not made aware of the negative stereotype. The research we conducted

investigates the legitimacy of stereotype threat based on gender in the area of science in the BYU-Idaho student

population. Our results have significance in the current national debate about the lack of women pursuing careers in

scientific disciplines.

1 Quinn, Diane M.; Spencer, Steven J.. (2001). The Interference of Stereotype Threat With Women's Generation of

Mathematical Problem-Solving Strategies. Journal of Social Issues. 57(1):55-71.

2 Schmader, Tony, & Johns, Michael. (2003). Converging Evidence That Stereotype Threat Reduces Working Memory

Capacity. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 85(3):440-452.

11:15 AM

Emily Keister Child Development

Examining the Relationships Among, and the Effects of, Feminism, Attitudes towards Abortion,

and Dual-Earner Households on Marital Happiness

Little is known concerning how feministic attitudes and one's marital happiness are correlated. However, the feminism

movement has affected the family by attacking traditional gender roles of parents. This study hypothesized that

individuals who held more feministic views (e.g. a preschool child is not likely to suffer if his mother works) would be less

happy in marriage. This study utilized multiple regression to study the relationship among several variables, including

marital happiness and feminism. Although none of the hypotheses were supported, this study found that age is an

important variable when considering levels of marital happiness. This study also found that women's attitudes towards

abortion and working outside the home are not high indicators of marital happiness. Future studies could operationalize

"feminism" and "happiness" differently.



8:00 AM

Carson Fenimore, Jacob Christinsen,

Brandon Brodhead, et al.


Reaching the Space Shore: BYU-Idaho's Entry into

the NASA RISE Program

Numerous challenges are presented when constructing a high-altitude balloon capsule capable of

reaching over twenty miles in the air. These capsules gather sensor data, transmit their location using

long-range digital wireless networks, and provide aerial photos and video of the earth. Typically, such

capsules are fairly expensive and are therefore expected to return safely to earth to be reused. BYUIdaho

has just begun constructing a high-altitude program, which is now NASA funded. This poster

presents our program's approach to constructing inexpensive and innovative high-altitude platforms. It

shows data and pictures gathered from the last two flights, as well as the custom software and hardware

solutions used. It also depicts the design of the currently planned launch.

William Hokanson Geology

Understanding the Movement of Nitrates in Ground Water of the Eastern Idaho Snake River Plain

Using Maps Derived from Driller's Logs

Water samples collected near Ashton, Idaho contain concentrations of nitrates that exceed EPA MCL guidelines. The

distribution of wells yielding samples with high concentrations of nitrate initially appears to be random. To understand the

stratigraphy of the subsurface, driller's logs, obtained via the Internet from the Idaho Department of Water Resources were

examined. A table was created from the elevation of the lithologic breaks using sea level as the datum. Elevation

boundaries were defined on the basis of rock type, color, and fracture characteristics provided in the driller's logs.

Generalized subsurface maps were created for the different rock units. Major rock units identified were unconsolidated

alluvium, basalt flows, and felsic volcanics. The maps will aid in understanding migration pathways of nitrates in the

subsurface and help explain the apparent pattern of nitrate contamination in wells.

Amanda Boyd Biology



Red-tailed tropicbirds (Phaethon rubricauda) are pantropical pelagic birds which nest on Midway Atoll (National Wildlife

Refuge). Red-tailed tropicbirds nest in both the native Naupaka (Scaevola sericea) shrublands and the introduced Ironwood

(Casuarina equisetifolia) forests. Nest site characteristics were compared between the two different habitats types. Nest

density was also determined for each habitat type. Nest density varied between the Naupaka shrublands and the Casuarina

forests (51/Ha vs. 18/Ha). Other nest characteristics which include aspect, temperature, and nest proximity to edge of

plant, also varied in the 77 nests sampled. We suggest that in the future a survivability study be conducted to further

understand the differences of nesting Red-tailed tropicbirds in the two different habitat types.

Holly Morgan Biology



Golden Crownbeard (Verbesina encelioides Family: Asteraceae) is a highly invasive annual plant species on Midway Atoll

(USFWS National Wildlife Refuge). Golden Crownbeard occupies approximately 70% of the 1600 acres of the refuge.

Densities varies from <1 ind/M2 to 282.4 ind/M2. Various techniques have been used to reduce densities with hand

pulling being the most common. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the effect of hand pulling on density of re-growth

and the seed bank of Golden Crownbeard in selected plots. Germination tests were also performed on fresh and seed bank

material to evaluate the productivity of the seed bank. Hand pulling has showed to have no significant difference in regrowth

density from one year to the next when compared to untreated sites. Density of the seeds bank showed a

significant reduction (α = .15) between treated and untreated sites. This might be indicative of depletion in the seed bank

over time.

Jordan Nielson Biology



A quantitative assessment of trout populations from fifteen headwater creeks of the Teton River was performed during the

summer of 2005. Using backpack electrofishing units, 100m of each stream was sampled every 2 km starting from a

random point within 1 km of the Caribou/Targhee National Forest boundary. At one out of every three sample sites, a

multiple pass survey was done to extract capture efficiencies in order to determine population numbers at all sites. Species

abundance and size of individuals was also noted. Using the population numbers extracted, comparisons were made with

the population numbers from 1998/1999 IDFG surveys. Four streams have only Yellowstone Cuttroat Trout (YCT)

(Oncorhynchus clarki bouvieri). Eastern Brook Trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) comprised 75% of the trout populations in

nine of the streams. Where Cutthroat Trout and Brook Trout co-exist, Brook Trout is the dominate trout species. YCT

populations showed dramatic declines since 1998/1999 surveys in 5 streams and show stable populations in 3 of the

streams studied.

Makayla Montero Biology

Identification of Cytosol Proteins as Targets in Anthracycline Cardiotoxicity

Cardiotoxicity of daunorubicin limits its therapeutic use in treating cancer patients. Proteins that may mediate

daunorubicin cardiac toxicity were identified in cytosol from left ventricle of four different groups of rats. Rats were

treated either with saline, daunorubicin, ICRF-187 (a daunorubicin cardioprotectant), or daunorubicin plus ICRF-187 .

Two dimensional gel electrophoresis was performed on cytosols from each group at pH 5-8. Proteins that were downregulated

in the daunorubicin treated gel but returned to control density in the daun+ICRF treated gel were extracted using

in-gel tryptic digestion methods and proteins identified by trandum mass spectroscopy. Proteins identified using

LC/ESI/MS/M were albumen and dehydrogenase B; this work funded in part by NIH P20RR16454 and MSTMRI.

Kwang ho Ha Biology

Elucidating the role of calpain I cleavage of α-synuclein in Parkinson's disease and dementia with

Lewy bodies

Parkinson's disease (PD) and dementia with lewy bodies (DLB) are both neurodegenerative diseases characterized by

motor dysfunction and dementia with loss of cognitive skills, respectively. While distinct in their clinical presentation,

both PD and DLB share a common pathological feature: the presence of neuronal inclusions termed lewy bodies (LBs)

consisting of a 140-amino acid protein, α-synuclein (α-syn). A key step in the development of LBs is the fibrillization of α-

syn following its abnormal turnover by, as yet unidentified, proteases. The present study is aimed to determine whether

calpain I, a ubiquitously expressed protease, is able to cleave α-syn in vitro and in vivo. Using Western blot analysis and

immunohistochemistry, it was demonstrated that calpain I is able to cleave α-syn. Based on our preliminary results, we

provide evidence that calpain I may be a candidate protease involved in modifying α-syn, leading to the formation of LBs

in vivo. This work was funded by NIH-P20RR016454.

Patrice McNulty Biology

Innate Immunity of the nematode C. elegans

All organisms face constant exposure to pathogens which they must defend themselves against. As a result, an innate

immune system evolved very early and is conserved throughout phyla. The innate immune system can be very complex

and difficult to study in large organisms, therefore an invertebrate model was chosen. C. elegans was chosen as the model

because it is easy to grow and maintain, has a short generation time, reproduces hermaphroditically, and is transparent for

easy microscopy. The worms were infected with a newly isolated species, Pseudomonas filiscindens strain ISU3, over a

16 hour period and were stained with Evans Blue to detect damaged cells. It was found that increased concentrations of

lipoic acid, an antioxidant, increased necrosis of cells in the worm. This indicates that reactive oxygen species may play

an important part in the innate immunity of C. elegans. This gives us more insight into the defenses of C. elegans, and may

lead to more insight on the innate immunity of more complex organisms.