Biology Senior Integrated Projects

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This collection includes Senior Integrated Projects (SIP's, formerly known as Senior Individualized Projects) completed in the Biology Department. Abstracts are generally available to the public, but PDF files are available only to current Kalamazoo College students, faculty, and staff. If you are not a current K College student, faculty, or staff member, email us at to request access to this material.


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Now showing 1 - 5 of 1650
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    Implementation of Psycholytic Therapy (Psychedelic-Assisted Psychotherapy) for Treatment of Climate Activist Burnout
    (Kalamazoo College, 2021) Bersot, Owen C.P.; Girdler, Erin Binney, 1969- [
    The past decades have made it abundantly clear that the current nature and behavior of human society has disrupted the sustainable existence of life on Earth. The arrival of new technologies and the enactment of pro-environmental public policy may be promising, but these external changes will be insufficient unless internal transformations in consciousness in the form of human cultural attitudes, personal worldviews, values, and empathic concern are achieved in parallel. Many are drawn to activism out of just such an empathic concern, but the intense burdens of this work have led to high rates of burnout among climate activists. This text proposes the implementation of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy and a psychedelic therapy integration paradigm as a means of treating burnout among climate activists. In doing so, the text performs the dual role of creating a novel treatment paradigm for climate activist burnout, as well as integrating transformations in consciousness into the conversation of climate change remediation as a whole, with the aim of addressing the epistemological crisis beneath the climate crisis. Integral Metatheory and Integral Ecology are utilized to provide a framework capable of organizing the information needed in fulfilling these proposals. Ultimately, the implementation of a psychedelic paradigm for burnout treatment and the broader instantiation of an Integral climate activism is a significant step in achieving ecosystem-level climate remediation.
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    Orthodontist Shadowing Experience
    (Kalamazoo College, 2022-11-01) Nuthalapati, Rohan; Fraser, Ann M., 1963-; Boppana, Sri Sudha
    The author reviews an internship with a local orthodontist, including patient relations, office practice, software, and instruments in use.
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    Mice lacking the a-Dystrobrevin or Dystrophin proteins of the DGC exhibit dystrophic characteristics in skeletal muscle
    (Kalamazoo College, 2022-11-01) Fulton, William A.; Fraser, Ann M., 1963-; Martinez-Pena y Valenzuela, Isabel
    Muscular dystrophies are a group of genetic disorders that primarily affect skeletal muscle and are characterized by progressive muscle wasting and a shortened life span. Within skeletal muscle, the dystrophin-glycoprotein complex (DGC) links the extracellular matrix and the muscle cell cytoskeleton. Major forms of muscular dystrophy have been linked to abnormalities of the DGC proteins. Due to this, mice with mutations affecting the DGC are significant models for studying muscular dystrophy and its pathology. In this study we examined MDX mice, which do not express the Dystrophin protein, a-Dystrobrevin knockout mice (a-dbn- /-), which do not express the a-Dystrobrevin scaffolding protein, a-Syntrophin knockout mice (a-syn-/-), which do not express the a-Syntrophin signaling protein, and double knockout (DKO) (a-dbn-/- , a-syn-/-) mice. We performed histological analyses of their skeletal muscle in search of dystrophic characteristics and inspected the morphology of their neuromuscular junctions (NMJs) to look for denervation. We found that the expression of the Dystrophin and a- Dystrobrevin proteins of the DGC are both significant determinants of skeletal muscle integrity and innervation. The expression of a-Syntrophin proved to be insignificant in determining the health of skeletal muscle. This study expanded our understanding of the DGC in both healthy and diseased muscle as well as how mutations of the DGC proteins influence the health of muscle fibers and contribute to characteristics of muscular dystrophy.
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    Evaluating habitat preferences of three declining grassland sparrow species
    (Kalamazoo College, 2022-11-01) Keller, Will P.; Fraser, Ann M., 1963-; Cole-Wick, Ashley
    Grassland, prairie, and savannah ecosystems have been destroyed and degraded across North America as a direct result of colonization and subsequent urbanization and agricultural expansion. Consequently, the wildlife that once inhabited these ecosystems commonly are now among the most threatened in the planet. Grasshopper sparrow, Dickcissel and Henslow’s sparrow are three species of sparrow that have undergone dramatic population decreases within the last century and are considered species of greatest conservation need in Michigan. There is disagreement among land managers as to the best management practice for these species across the remnant and restored grasslands of Michigan’s lower peninsula because management for each species respectively can be detrimental to the others. In this study I conducted bird point counts to gather data on where these three species were occurring across 13 potentially suitable grassland sites in southern Michigan. Data on several vegetation characteristics was also gathered at each point. I found that Grasshopper sparrows occur more frequently in areas with more open habitat characteristics in terms of vegetation height and volume. Dickcissels occurred in areas with comparatively high levels of bare ground. Results were inconclusive on associations between Henslow’s sparrow presence and vegetation characteristics. I propose mid-summer haying on a 1-3 year cycle, haying up to 80 acre parcels of the managed area at a time along with occasional burning as a sufficient management technique for maximizing the habitat for (and promoting the coexistence of) all three of these bird species.
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    The effects of nutrients and physical land decimation on plant-herbivore interactions and food web dynamics in grasslands
    (Kalamazoo College, 2022-11-01) Johnson, Ryan; Fraser, Ann M., 1963-; Hersch-Green, Erika
    Plant damage through plant-herbivore interactions and the presence of phytopathogenic fungi is responsible for shaping community dynamics across numerous ecosystems. Interactions between plants, herbivores, and fungi encompass a fundamental relationship in generating animal biomass from light energy. Modern agricultural practices and the prevalence of fertilizer usage can modify these relationships through plant trait tradeoffs, where there has been an increase in growth-oriented traits at the expense of defense-oriented traits. To further complicate these interactions, avian predators, such as birds, can also modify these relationships through the regulation of insect herbivory. In this study, there are two experiments to examine these relationships. In the first, plant damage from herbivores and phytopathogenic fungi was recorded to observe if nutrient treatments had an impact on damage in two focal species, Rumex acetosella L. (Red sorrel) and Asclepias syriaca L. (Common milkweed). Treatments influenced damage from herbivory in both focal species but showed little evidence of their influence on fungi. In the second experiment, artificial caterpillars were employed to observe if avian predation was influenced by physical land disturbance and different types of artificial larvae. Both disturbance and the type of larvae influenced levels of predation. This study suggests an important linkage within the tripartite relationships between nutrients, plant-herbivore interactions, and predation. The importance of these interactions highlights the necessity of incorporating multi-factor approaches to make more effective predictions about the future.
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