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 1677
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    Dead Men Do Tell Tales : a Literature Review of the Methods Used to Determine Time Since Death
    (Kalamazoo College, 2023-09-01) Metro-Roland, Eva S.; Harris, Jane; Girdler, Erin Binney, 1969-
    Taphonomy, or the study of changes that occur in our bodies after we die, is used frequently in police investigations as a forensic tool to determine factors in murders such as victim identity or time since death, often described as postmortem interval (PMI). PMI estimations are the most common identification made in forensic taphonomy and can be performed using a variety of methods. These methods include total body scoring, necrobiome analysis, forensic entomology, botany, and osteology. The importance of this in forensic cases varies but often PMI estimations are used in determining victim identity and timeline of a crime. These methods should be used in conjugation with each other to determine PMI and vary in accuracy, difficulty level and expense.
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    Toxic Bloom : An Exploration of Cyanobaicterial Blooms, Microcystins and their Implications on Human and Aquatic Life
    (Kalamazoo College, 2023-09-01) Nwoko, Nmesomachi; Wong, Laurel; Girdler, Erin Binney, 1969-
    Cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae, have a profound evolutionary significance and are vital contributors to Earth's current oxygen levels. These prevalent microorganisms are capable of enduring extreme climate conditions, offer ecological benefits like nitrogen fixation and have potential biotechnological applications, including biofuel production. However, their overproduction leads to harmful blooms that release toxic compounds like microcystins, with severe implications for both human and aquatic life. These toxins, especially during large-scale blooms, can damage the liver in humans, disrupt aquatic ecosystems, deplete oxygen, and cause significant pH fluctuations in water bodies. While natural solutions like barley straw show potential in countering cyanobacterial blooms, their efficacy varies across different aquatic environments. Despite the extensive study of cyanobacteria over the years, several holes in research remain, including understanding toxin production mechanisms, genomic exploration, interaction with other microbes, and the broader implications of global climate change on cyanobacterial distribution and behavior. This paper aims to explore the cyanobacteria, cyanotoxins and their effects on life while highlighting the necessity of continuous research in the field.
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    The Characterization of Spinosad’s Mode of Action
    (Kalamazoo College, 2023-09-01) Kondoff, Melody K.; Tourtois, Joseph; Girdler, Erin Binney, 1969-
    Insecticide development has been forced to evolve as a field due to the development of insecticidal resistance found in pests. This includes the development of characterization methods for the binding site of newly developed insecticides, to ensure that the chemical is not binding to a site that has already developed a resistance mutation. A good amount of the most common insecticides, like neonicotinoids, bind to a ligand gated ion channel called the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor, or the nAchR, and cause neurological symptoms in insects. Spinosyns are a newer insecticide that was found to be a specific agonist on the nAchR, however, characterizing its mode of action proved to be difficult. The hope was that spinosyns like Spinosad could be used as a more specific and environmentally safe pesticide that would help combat the resistance developing to popular neonics, however, the race to characterize Spinosad’s mode of action required the development of several new testing methods, most importantly a viable method for in vivo testing in the alpha 6 subunit of the nAchR which also proved to be the most difficult. This meant that the mode of action was confirmed well after pest populations had already developed resistance. Despite this, the new methods that were developed will be able to characterize newly developed insecticides before resistance development.
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    Residual Biomarkers in Medical Device Cleaning Validation : A Review of Current Methods and Biological Justification
    (Kalamazoo College, 2023-09-01) Kloosterman, Steven M.; Jeng, David; Girdler, Erin Binney, 1969-
    Modern reusable medical devices require extensive biochemical analysis to ensure devices are not only compliant with regulatory bodies and industry standards, but also that devices pose minimal risk to patients— especially when reusable medical devices come into contact with sterile tissues. Current industry standards identify five residual analytes to be tested when medical devices undergo simulated use cleaning tests. The specific residual analytes that can be measured are protein, hemoglobin, carbohydrates, total organic carbon, and adenosine triphosphate. The residual presence of any of these analytes is often indicative of microorganismal contamination or ineffective cleaning procedures on medical devices and can indicate the presence of bioactive molecules, such as pyrogens, and endotoxins. For each analyte being tested, it is necessary to examine the reason for its testing, the various ways in which the analytes can be quantitively analyzed in vitro, and whether evidence exists to justify the industry standard’s allowable tolerances of the various analytes. To the best of our knowledge, substantial research into the cytotoxic and immune-reactivity characteristics of each residual analyte in the future is necessary to ensure patient and provider safety, and ultimately reducing the incidence of iatrogenic infections as a result of contaminated medical devices.
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    Lasers in Dentistry
    (Kalamazoo College, 2023-09-01) Kiesling, Hunter R.; Choi, Hyden; Girdler, Erin Binney, 1969-
    Dental offices all around the world deal with unique cases ranging from restorative work to esthetic procedures, which are solely to enhance the patient’s confidence. Standard conventional methods in dentistry have lots of pushback from patients because they cause sensory issues and anxiety. As a result, there is an avoidance of dental care. Laser technology has emerged as a great tool to help reduce fear and sensory issues that are typically caused by conventional methods. Lasers have proven advantageous during crown lengthening procedures. Lasers are less invasive, have more predictable results, and have their own blood vessel-sealing abilities. Lasers have also been proven to be a great alternative during caries removal. Unlike mechanical handpieces, lasers do not produce a smear layer. Lasers can also etch the surface of teeth, which now allows researchers to question whether the need for acid etching is necessary. Lasers also have a bactericidal effect, which is caused by the evaporation of cellular water, which leads to a collapse in bacteria's cellular walls. This antibacterial effect makes the use of lasers a viable option for caries removal, particularly in high-risk dental caries patients. Patients often have great fear of the dentist due to pain perception. This pain can be caused by a variety of procedures and injections of local anesthetics. The use of lasers creates less vibration compared to handpieces and possibly damages nerve fibers and terminals, which decreases perceived pain for patients. This overall leads to greater comfort for the patients. Microleakage during dental restorations can create problems regarding secondary caries and the failure of tooth restoration. Controversial results have been found regarding whether laser irradiation of teeth results in less microleakage compared to traditional acid etching techniques, and this should be studied further. Lasers provide significant impacts in the dental field and are a great tool being utilized to maximize patient comfort and clinical results.
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