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ADVANCE Resource Center

001 Carlotti Hall

75 Lower College Road

Kingston, RI  02881


Phone:  (401) 874-9422

Fax: (401) 874 - 5780


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Enhancing the academic careers of women in science, technology, engineering, & mathematics

2007 ADVANCE Incentive Award Winners

Spring 2007

Council for Research

The Council for Research funded the following ADVANCE-principled proposals.
Congratulations to the following 7 award recipients:

Kristen Bovy

The Tse-whit-zen Zooarchaeology Project

Abstract: The Tse-whit-zen Zooarchaeology Project is a collaborative research project to analyze the animal remains from a large well-preserved Native American village site (called Tse-whit-zen), which was recently excavated in Washington State. We are interested in identifying the kinds of animals that were hunted and used by people at the site, and how these may have changed over the 3,000-year occupation. The research would answer questions of both archaeological and environmental interest. I will be using the award to coordinate with my collaborators and other agencies (including the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe) to develop a National Science Foundation proposal.

Bethany D. Jenkins

Molecular Basis of Changes in Nitrogen Transformations in Narragansett Bay

Abstract: to be provided

Katherine Petersson

Measurement of Intracellular Cytokines and Phenotypic T-Cell Markers in Sheep

Abstract: Flow cytometry is a powerful tool that is currently being utilized to characterize lymphocyte subpopulations in growing animals and also to test the responsiveness of T-cell populations and intracellular cytokine production to disease specific antigens. Vitamin E's ability to enhance immune responses has been documented using a variety of methods in humans as well as many species of animals. Few studies, however, utilize flow cytometry to investigate the mechanism of action of vitamin E on the immune system. The objective of this proposal is to obtain funding supporting the establishment of this procedure in the investigators laboratory to facilitate the measurement of intracellular cytokine production and phenotypic T-cell markers in sheep of varying developmental ages. Dorset sheep from the University of Rhode Island's Peckham Farm will be utilized for this study. Blood samples will be taken from six adult ewes (>2 years of age) and six ewe lambs (~4 months old). The adult ewes will be sampled twice to ascertain reproducibility and ewe lambs will be sampled twice 5 months apart to examine the effect of age upon intracellular cytokine production and phenotypic T-cell markers in normal sheep. Briefly, blood will be activated by the mitogens Phorbol-12 myristate acetate and ionomycin, then surfaced stained with the lymphocyte marker CD3+. The lymphocytes will be stained with a mixture of detection monoclonal antibodies for phenotypic T-cell surface markers g/d+, WC1+or IL-2R or intracellular cytokines IL2, IL-4 and IFN-y all labeled with differing fluorescent compounds. Median fluorescence intensity or the percentage of CD3+ expressing the surface markers g/d+, WC1+or IL-2R or intracellular cytokines IL2, IL-4 and IFN-y will be determined by acquiring samples onto a FACScalibur flow cytometer (Beckton Dickenson). Once established, this method can be applied to future studies examining the impact of vitamin E supplementation on the regulatory cells of the immune system. Gaining expertise in this area will significantly impact the investigators ability to attract extramural funding.

Yana Reshetnyak
Department of Physics

Novel Delivery System for Cancer Gene Therapy

Abstract: Gene therapy is considered as a major direction of development of medical sciences. The main idea of cancer gene therapy is to translocate peaces of DNA or RNA to prevent the synthesis of some proteins, which are associated with diseased state, for example, cancer. To work, DNA and RNA should be translocated through the membrane in cell. However, since even peaces of DNA and RNA, and their non polar mimics PNA (peptide nucleic acids), can not cross the cell membrane, the problem of delivery is the major obstacle on the way of successful application of gene therapy on animals or in clininics. The main goal of the proposed research is to test the ability of the pHLIP (pH Low Insertion Peptide) peptide to translocate PNA through the lipid bilayer of membrane in cell. We already demonstrated that pHLIP can selectively translocate molecules into cancer cells and target acidic diseased tissue in vivo. This pilot project, if successful, would provide novel tools for delivery of agents that would regulate gene transcription and open the door for the effective gene therapy.

Rebecca Robinson
Graduate School of Oceanography

NovReconstructing the Composition of Deep Ocean Nitrate During the Last Ice Age

Abstract: to be provided

Tatiana Rynearson
Graduate School of Oceanography

The Role of Plankton-Rich Layers in Regulating Diatom Diversity

Abstract: to be provided

Carol Thornber, Assistant Professor
Department of Biological Sciences

Interactions Between Bloom-Forming Macroalgae and Herbivores

Abstract: Macroalgae are a critical component of coastal marine communities. They are the base of the food chain and can also provide habitat for a wide variety of marine species, including several that are commercially important. Blooms of macroalgae (uncontrolled growth resulting in a high abundance of biomass) are frequent phenomena in shallow coastal systems worldwide, including in Narragansett Bay, RI. While much research has focused on the physical, factors responsible for growth of these blooms (i.e. light levels, nutrient levels, etc), much less research has focused on the biological factors that may influence macroalgal bloom abundance. In this proposal, I describe a combination of laboratory experiments and field surveys to investigate the interactions between bloom-forming macroalgae (the sea lettuce Ulva lactuca) and a common, co-occurring animal (the common mud whelk Ilyanassa obsoleta). My previous studies have found that the macroalgae forms dense blooms of over 1kg/0.25m2 during peak summer months, and the whelk can occur in densities of over 100/0.25m2 along sandy shorelines in Greenwich Bay, which is very high. My preliminary experiments have confirmed that I. obsoleta does eat U. lactuca but that it, surprisingly, may also increase the growth rate of U. lactuca. These conflicting findings of the whelk simultaneously negatively and positively impacting the macroalgae are of important ecological interest, and I have designed a series of laboratory experiments to investigate the strength of the positive and negative impacts of the whelk. This research will be paired with field surveys to determine the level of grazer damage that macroalgae experience in their natural habitats, as grazer damage can be quantified as bites or tears in the blade-like macroalgae. Through this combined approach, I will be able to determine how biological factors may impact the growth of macroalgae blooms.