45th Annual West Virginia

Junior Science and Humanities Symposium

March 19-20, 2010

West Virginia Wesleyan College; Buckhannon, WV

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National JSHS

2004-2005 Regional & National Awards

Kelydra Welcker (left; first place regional award) and Jennifer Worley (right; second place regional award) presented their research at the National JSHS in San Diego, where Jennifer won a second place in engineering and Kelydra, a third place in environmental science.   Congratulations to both young women!  They are shown here with WV-JSHS regional director Dr. Jeanne Sullivan. Delegates to the National JSHS included (left to right):  Sarah Harshman, Kelydra Welcker, Colleen Beatty, third place regional award winner Kellen Calinger, and Jennifer Worley.

Abstracts for the five West Virginia delegates to the National JSHS: 

Exploiting Mosquito Biology to Detect Bio-terrorism

Kelydra Welcker

Parkersburg South High School, Parkersburg, WV

Teacher:  Susan Smith, Parkersburg South High School, Parkersburg WV

        Human hormones are biologically active at extremely low concentrations. Our legal system has termed the aggressive use of hormones, and other naturally occurring biological substances, as a weapon of mass destruction and named them "weaponized endogenous biological regulators."

       Species-specific and gender determined characteristics of Culicinae mosquitoes vary in the presence of human hormones and some endocrine disruptive chemicals. Increasing concentrations of estrone, estradiol, testosterone, androstenedione, and dehydroepiandrosterone showed statistically significant changes in gender ratios and wingbeat frequency variations in mosquitoes at levels known capable of causing human effects. Wingbeat frequency variations induced by exposure to human hormones were similar to those  induced by styrene and degraded Triton® but easily differentiated by comparing gender responses.

     Increasing concentrations of styrene and Triton® generated gender-specific nonmonotonic dose response curves analogous in shape to those of estrone. Nonmonotonic dose response  curves illustrating a response to estrogens have previously only been reported in vertebrates.

Meeting Maslow's Basic Needs: Developing an Integrated Auxiliary Designed Platform, and Utilizing It to Provide an Acceptable Working Environment for Astronauts:  A Four Year Study

Jennifer Worley

Keyser High School, Keyser WV

Sponsor:  Charles Worley II

      The purpose of my research is to develop a dependable and stable mobile work platform that can accommodate modules / systems that will supply Astronauts four of their basic needs: Air, Fuel, Water and Shelter.  To accomplish this, a stable and dependable propulsion system must be developed and incorporated in the work platform. My research focused on incorporating the backup propulsion system into the primary. Once the platform was created, mission supporting modules, capable of being mounted on the platform, were developed. The units will satisfy the stated four basic needs of an Astronaut.

     The first unit focused on the production of oxygen, hydrogen, and water.  The second was centered on the development of an Autonomous Robotic Arm with Network Capabilities.  This proved to be a dependable crane and mobile construction system.

      If an Astronaut discovers life on Mars and runs out of air at the same time, their immediate concern will be air and not focused on their findings.  To ensure the mission is their main concern, the Astronauts’ basic needs must be supplied.

Carbon Exchange Dynamics IV: Effects of Elevated CO2 on the Production of Ribulose-1,5-Bisphosphate Carboxylase/Oxygenase and Chlorophyll Compounds in Leaves of C3 and C4 Plants

Kellen Calinger

Mount de Chantal Visitation Academy, Wheeling WV

Sponsor:  Manetta Calinger, NASA Challenger Center, Wheeling WV


     This year’s research is a field and in-lab study of the effects of elevated atmospheric [CO2] and soil nitrogen on [PCO2], soil CO2 emissions, specific leaf area, and chlorophyll a, chlorophyll b, xanthophyll, Beta-carotene, and [Rubisco] and their effects on carbon sequestration.  In the field component, the increased CO2/nitrogen environment experienced the highest [carbonate] followed by the elevated CO2, the increased nitrogen and ambient environments.  The PCO2 and soil gas emissions followed similar patterns; seasonal patterns existed.  The highest readings occurred in the summer, decreasing throughout the fall and winter.    The elevated CO2/nitrogen environment experienced the highest SLA, and the singly increased CO2 environment also exhibited higher levels.  The heightened nitrogen environment experienced slight SLA increases.

     Because of similar results between field and laboratory carbonate testing, an in-lab phase that modeled effects of varying [CO2] was designed.  The two elevated CO2 microcosms experienced higher [carbonate]; decreased CO2 environments experienced the lowest [carbonate].

     The in-lab [carbonate] and [leaf nitrates] were similar to the field phase.  The [xanthophylls], [Beta-carotene], and [chlorophyll a] followed similar patterns.  The decreased CO2 environments displayed lessened levels.  The ambient and decreased CO2 environment had similar [chlorophyll b]; the increased CO2 environment had decreased concentrations.

The Tree-of-Heaven??  Ailanthus:  An Unwanted Invader

Colleen Beatty and Stephanie Morford

Pendleton County High School, Franklin WV

Teacher:  Mrs. Paula Waggy, Pendleton County High School, Franklin, WV

     This investigation was designed to determine the rate of invasion of Ailanthus altissima, a non-native tree, and the effect of different habitat types on this   rate.  It was hypothesized that the rate of invasion would be higher at Site 1, a woodland area located on a rocky slope, than at Site 2, a shaley, herbaceous floodplain bordering the South Branch of the Potomac River.  This hypothesis was  based upon the flood intolerance of Ailanthus.

     Both sites were sampled along transects radiating from the oldest Ailanthus at the site in each of eight cardinal directions.  DBH was recorded for each Ailanthus  within five meters of the transect.  Core samples of 146 trees were taken.

     The hypothesis was incorrect.  The rates of invasion ranged from .6 to 2.4  meters/year at Site 1 and from .3 to 1.7 meters/year at Site 2, over a shorter distance.  The greater rates were at the sites' outside edges.  Shade from  established trees  appeared to be a significant factor in slowing the spread.

     Ailanthus altissima is invading our native environments at an alarming rate.

Effects of Goldenseal on Plasmid-Induced, Ampicillin-Resistant, Escherichia coli HB101

Sarah Harshman

Mount de Chantal Visitation Academy, Wheeling WV

Mentor:  Dr. H.A. Cook, West Liberty State College, West Liberty WV

Antibiotic-resistant forms of bacteria are a growing problem of global proportions. Scientists must look to other options for treating these resistant bacteria. Phytomedicines may be an option, and have been used as folk remedies for thousands of years. The feasibility of utilizing phytomedicines as an alternative or complement to traditional antibiotic therapies was investigated.  The effects of the phytomedicine Goldenseal (Hydrastis canedenis), popularly touted as effective in inhibiting growth of a variety of bacteria, upon Escherichia coli HB101 were determined.  E. coli HB101 was transformed with the engineered plasmid pGLO™ using a calcium chloride heat shock procedure.  Resultant transformants were resistant to ampicillin and expressed green fluorescent protein when exposed to arabinose.  Transformants were cultured with varying concentrations of Goldenseal in the presence of arabinose with or without ampicillin.  Effect of Goldenseal was determined by standard colony count technique.  Results indicated efficacy of Goldenseal against antibiotic resistant E. coli HB101.  Additionally, results were suggestive of a Goldenseal-mediated reduction in the level of ampicillin resistance.

Questions or Comments:   wvjshs@wvwc.edu