The primary purpose of this study is to determine how viewing videos of idealized bodies and familiarity with the videos’ subject may influence body image. Additionally, to address limitations of previous body image and social media research, this study will evaluate these effects with both female and male participants. Furthermore, research is limited on how previous experiences with body image issues or eating disorders have further influenced body image dissatisfaction, and conversely, how a perceived positive relationship with nutrition and fitness has fostered positive relationships with body image, despite comparisons via social media. Therefore, in order to see how body image dissatisfaction may be mediated by these components, these two factors will be considered through the completion of survey questionnaires after the study’s manipulation. 

We are working to make plastics that can perform a task and then, once that task is completed, fall apart. Chemists call molecules by their structures, not their properties, so to be more technical, we are carefully constructing polymers that, under the right conditions, degrade to small, harmless molecules in a matter of minutes or days. This work stems from a serendipitous discovery by a former student. We have spent the last several years perfecting techniques to synthesize very pure starting materials (monomers). This summer we expect to finish this process and, hopefully, begin to make custom-degradable polymers. The highest-value application for these materials is targeted drug delivery.

Students who join the Getzler lab this summer can expect to learn the fundamentals of organic chemistry research. These include aqueous work-ups, analytical thin-layer chromatography, preparative flash-column chromatography, high-field 1H and 13C NMR spectroscopy (preparation, acquisition, processing, and analysis), and maintenance of high-quality laboratory notebooks.

Students who join the Getzler lab this summer will be mentored by an experienced former Cascade scholar and Professor Getzler. They will join a collaborative community in the Department of Chemistry that meets weekly to present and discuss research updates. Alumni of the Getzler lab most commonly pursue medicine, followed by doctorates in chemistry or other science.

Atmospheric deposition, which includes precipitation and the settling of dust particles, can deliver nutrients and pollutants to ecosystems. Emissions from agriculture, industry, and urban activity ultimately return to Earth’s surface, where the nutrients and metals can reduce biodiversity and water quality. Although the chemistry of atmospheric deposition in rural areas is very well known, urban areas are not as well studied, especially in the Midwestern US. To address this research gap, we have established a rural-urban gradient of precipitation collectors from Kenyon into Columbus. Results from this project will help to identify the source of pollutants in atmospheric deposition, and contribute to our understanding of urban air quality. Working on this project involves weekly fieldwork to sample precipitation at each of the sites, followed by work in the lab to analyze the dust content and precipitation chemistry. Joining this project would also allow for interaction with other projects taking place in the environmental biogeochemistry lab, which are focused on soil mycorrhizae, wetland restoration, and carbon sequestration.

Many organisms synchronize their sexual maturity and/or reproduction with favorable climatic conditions, which increases the odds of producing successful progeny. Plants, in particular, make use of environmental cues, such as day-length and temperature, to gauge the optimal time of year to initiate the formation of the reproductive structures that produce gametes – a process termed reproductive development. We use molecular biology, genetics, and bioinformatics to study the evolutionary origins of seasonal regulation of reproduction in plants, focusing primarily on the moss Physcomitrium patens in comparison to flowering plants such as Arabidopsis thaliana. For example, we have identified moss genes whose expression is regulated by temperature or daylength, narrowed in on several that are similar to Arabidopsis flowering time genes, and are using CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing to knock out gene function in order to assess their role in reproduction. In a complementary approach, we are expressing moss genes in mutant Arabidopsis plants, to ask if the moss genes are able to function in place of the mutant gene. A Cascade Scholar will contribute to one or more of these projects, and in doing so will gain experience with CRISPR-Cas9 targeted gene mutagenesis and plant transformation, along with techniques in statistics, phylogenetics, evaluation of gene expression, and plant development, all in a collaborative laboratory environment.

Research in Iris Levin’s lab focuses on social behavior in wild populations of barn swallows. To quantify social behavior in this colonial species, Iris puts proximity tags on the birds which log interactions between individuals. These data are used to construct social networks to answer a variety of questions related to what structures social networks (e.g., how does variation in plumage color relate to social network position?) and the consequences of variation in social interactivity (e.g., do more socially connected birds respond more strongly to stress?). Summer research in the Levin lab will involve field work near Kenyon. Students will net, band, and monitor swallows during the breeding season and contribute to a variety of research projects, including a deployment of proximity loggers. Students working with Iris will be investigating breeding site settlement patterns relative to plumage color, an important signaling trait in barn swallows, and asking whether the birds mate assortatively (‘like with like’) by a variety of phenotypic characteristics. A Cascade student will participate in all aspects of the research, and they will lead a study of breeding synchrony. They will use information on the timing of breeding for all birds to calculate breeding synchrony within and between 10-15 breeding colonies. Because females are only fertile for a short period of time, and because these birds mate outside of the pair bond, the degree of breeding synchrony is critical to our understanding of sexual selection in this system. The hours of work will be variable, including some early mornings. Fieldwork involves climbing ladders, working around a variety of farm animals, and long hours of patiently observing birds with binoculars. It is essential that students are self-motivated to work outside in sometimes frustrating conditions (animals rarely cooperate!) with a schedule that revolves around the birds rather than a 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. workday.

The metamorphosis of an aquatic tadpole to a terrestrial frog is a dramatic developmental transition that involves remodeling of multiple tissues. The thyroid hormone system is the master regulator of metamorphosis. The cellular response to thyroid hormone is modulated by the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR), a transcription factor that also mediates the toxicity of several industrial contaminant chemicals, including chlorinated dioxins and biphenyls. Disruption of the thyroid hormone system by these pollutants could have deleterious effects on metamorphosis. My lab seeks to determine the molecular mechanisms by which thyroid signaling is altered by contaminants that act through the AHR and the morphological deformities that result during metamorphosis. The Cascade project will involve a suite of  molecular and morphological assays in both cultured frog cells and living tadpoles. 

My lab is interested in understanding how maternal stress during pregnancy alters fetal development, leaving offspring at greater risk for adverse health outcomes later in life. To study this, we use a mouse of maternal prenatal stress during late pregnancy. Many studies have implicated the placenta as a mediator of maternal stress. In fact, stress induced changes in placental gene expression is sufficient to cause adverse health outcomes. Thus, we are exploring changes in placental gene expression in our mouse model (and in a placental cell line) in response to maternal stress.