FAU Broward Student Research Symposium

10th Annual Broward Student Research Symposium

The 2020 Broward Student Research Symposium again highlighted the outstanding work our FAU students are doing under the mentorship of the exceptional FAU faculty. The diversity of projects presented reflects some of the cutting-edge work being done at FAU.

Doctoral Category

Interleukin-1 receptor-like kinase 3 (IRAK3) is an inflammatory suppressor with therapeutic potential in prostate cancer

Saheed Oluwasina Oseni, doctoral student
Biological Sciences - Charles E. Schmidt College of Science
Mentors: Dr. James Kumi-Diaka, Dr. James Hartmann

Chronic inflammation is a well-known driver of tumorigenesis and trigger of chemoresistance in cancer patients. During pro-tumor inflammation, several molecules are either activated or suppressed. In this study, our goal was to identify deregulated inflammatory suppressor genes and investigate their role as predictors of prostate aggressiveness. Using an array of computational tools to analyze clinical datasets, we identified several inflammatory suppressor genes that are significantly downregulated in many prostate cancer (PCa) patients.

These genes were correlated with clinical traits such as age, progression, survival rate, as well as metastatic status using weighted gene co-expression network analysis, which identified IRAK3 as one of the top genes to explore. Further mechanistic studies using genome-wide CRISPR techniques show that the downregulation of IRAK3 in PCa patients was deliberate and contributes to the aggressiveness of the disease. Therapeutic upregulation of IRAK3 signaling shrunk PCa growth and induced apoptotic cell death while inhibiting metastasis.

Masters Category

Establishment of culture conditions to assess preexisting immunity to childhood immunizations

Czdari Lee, Imtisal Imran, masters student
Biological Sciences - Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, Integrated Medical Science
Mentors: Dr. Mahyar Nouri-Shirazi

One of the objectives of vaccine program agencies is to put a halt to infectious diseases by developing new and improved vaccines that are safe and effective in all targeted populations. Smokers, who represent 1.1 billion people worldwide, are identified as a subpopulation with less optimal immune responses to natural infections and booster vaccines. The increase in vaccine failure rates in this significant population is a public health issue because it adversely influences the herd immunity during pandemic and epidemic outbreaks. In this study, using flow cytometry and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA), we tested culture conditions that will enable us to identify the changes in preexisting humoral and cellular immune memory cells to childhood and booster vaccines in smokers.

Our results show that culture condition 1 (CpG type B, IL-15, and IL-6) supported the sequential transition of B cells within peripheral blood towards plasmablasts while culture condition 2 (R848 and IL-2) supported their sequential transition towards terminally differentiated plasma cells which produced significantly higher amounts of immunoglobulins. When blood samples were cultured under culture condition 3 (anti-CD3/anti-CD28), we observed more effective transition of T cells towards the final stage of IFN-γ producing effector T cells after 48 hours. Our data introduces culture conditions that could be utilized to monitor the changes in immune status of smokers and their responses to new and improved vaccines.

Undergraduate Category

The Music Experience and its Influence on Cognitive Function Measured with EEG

Ronit Golan, undergraduate student
Department of Psychology - Charles E. Schmidt College of Science<
Mentors: Dr. Monica Rosselli, Merike Lang

Musicians and non-musicians were evaluated during pilot testing of the Visual Oddball and Go/No-Go as measured with P3 event-related potentials. Amidst COVID-19, we are collecting online questionnaire data with a sample of 34 participants, which will be tested in-person once safety protocols are established. Factors from the Brief Music Experience Questionnaire were correlated to variables from a Basic Information Questionnaire.

For the Oddball and Go/No-Go testing, lower reaction times were observed for two musicians as well as higher accuracy on the Oddball task. Musicians demonstrated higher amplitudes and later peak latencies for the Go/No-Go, but lower amplitudes and later peak latencies for the Oddball. Preliminary correlations were found between years playing an instrument, and proficiency playing an instrument with innovative musical aptitude and reactive musical behavior components.

Upon collecting more data, differences are expected in cognition between musicians and non-musicians during tasks of stimulus evaluation and inhibition.

Developing an Image Recognition Program

Victor Hugo Batistela, Eduardo Ramirez, Jose Sanchez, Estefano Reyes, Brian Delgado, undergraduate student
Department of Mathematics, Computer Science - Miami Dade College<
Mentors: Dr. Manuel Carames

This project has a didactic objective. It is an attempt to learn how to create an interface for image and pattern recognition by emphasizing the use of mathematical algorithms and notions. The project results show the importance of image recognition and its applications in different fields. For instance, the recognition of patterns in each figure's pixels in the project's scenarios could be later utilized and modified posteriorly to analyze images containing graphs, 3D objects, and other situations. Furthermore, by building skills and techniques, it would be possible to solve more complex problems. For instance, a similar idea and model can be modified to find and calculate the area occupied by objects, which could consequently allow for the application of recognition with environmental perspective: determining the area of burned forests by comparing two images, one before the fire and one after; how desertification progresses in an area; controlling robots, etc.