Posters at the Capitol

On Tuesday, February 26, 2019, sixty-three undergraduates from the nine Tennessee state universities will present their research posters to legislators and guests at the Tennessee State Capitol. The students are selected to represent the best of the undergraduate research at their own institutions.  For 13 years, undergraduates have been presenting our state legislators with their outstanding research results in a wide variety of academic disciplines. The presentations will take place at the Cordell Hull Building, 425 5th Avenue North, Nashville, TN 37243, on the 8th floor in rooms C & D. 

For more information on Posters at the Capitol including participating universities, a tentative schedule, directions/parking information, and poster information, please visit:

Posters at the Capitol 2019

MTSU News covered this year's event.  The article can be accessed here


MTSU's 2019 Selected Participants

Seven students have been selected to represent Middle Tennessee State University at the 2019 Posters at the Capitol event on February 26, 2019, in Nashville, TN.

Tessa Antonelli, MTSU Posters at the Capitol presenter 2019Student: Tessa Antonelli

Faculty Mentor: Molly Taylor-Polesky

Project Title: Violence of American Serial Killers in the 1970s Using the Criminological Psychology of John Wayne Gacy as the Model

Abstract: This paper examines the upbringing and crimes of John Wayne Gacy, and how his experiences in childhood and beyond shaped his sociopathic behavior, leading him to be exposed as one of America’s most prolific serial killers. Additionally, my objective in my research is to explore why in the 1970s, America was plagued by violence caused by a rise in serial killers. Throughout the paper, varying factors in childhood abuse and trauma among serial killers of the late-1960s through early-1980s are highlighted. In addition to the violent nature of the crimes, the research also argues that the sexual nature of these serial killers’ murders are rooted in the severely disturbing upbringings they share. Ultimately, through newspaper articles, first-person accounts, and courtroom testimonies along with historiographic research and psychology journals the landscape of American violence in the 1970s is proved to be entrenched in the home, and the societal lack for protection of children.

Caldwell Charlet, MTSU Posters at the Capitol presenter 2019Student: Caldwell Charlet

Faculty Mentor: Seockmo Ku

Project Title: Whole Cell Biocatalysis of Major Ginsenosides in Ginseng Beer Wort Using Saccharomyces Cerevisiae

Abstract: Korean (Panax ginseng) and American (Panax quinquefolius) ginseng are greatly valued plant medicines in the nutraceutical market. Ginseng contains phytochemicals such as triterpenoid saponins (a.k.a. ginsenosides), acidic polysaccharides, polyynes and volatile oils. Among them, ginsenosides are regarded as the key bioactive substances responsible for functional activities (e.g., anticancer, antitumor, antistress, anti-microbial, anti-fungal and antioxidant effects). As major ginsenosides, Korean ginseng contains Rb1, Rc, Re, Rg1 and Rb2; American ginseng contains Rb1, Re and Rc. Despite the diverse functional properties of major ginsenosides in ginseng, the physiological applicability of ginsenosides is limited due to their high molecular weight and poor lipid bilayer permeability. Therefore, this paper details a process developed to biotransform major ginsenosides to more bioavailable deglycosylated ginsenosides via yeast biocatalysis accompanied by wort fermentation (beer production.) To the best of our knowledge, this is the first work describing bioconversion of major ginsenosides via wort fermentation. 

Abigail Choisser, MTSU Posters at the Capitol presenter 2019Student: Abigail Choisser

Faculty Mentor: J. Warner Cribb

Project Title: Insight into Interrelationships among Density, Viscosity, Crystallinity and Chemical Composition within Hypocrystalline Intermediate Lavas, Mt. Hood Volcano, Oregon

Abstract: Studying relationships between rheological properties, mineralogy, and chemical composition of magmas is important to understanding numerous processes, such as magma buoyancy, magma mixing, and rate of magma emplacement. This study examines the relationships between density, viscosity, chemical composition, mineralogical content, and percent crystallinity in intermediate magmas at Mt. Hood volcano in the Cascade Range. Most are two-pyroxene andesites (SiO2= 58 – 61 wt %) and basaltic andesites (SiO2 = 52 – 58 wt %). Temperature-dependent viscosities were calculated using the Giordano et al. (2008) method. Melt densities were calculated using partial molar volumes of oxide components using the Bottinga and Weill (1970) method. Both density and viscosity were calculated at temperatures ranging 700oC to 1200oC. Densities span 2.41 g/cm3 at 1200oC to 2.54 g/cm3 at 700oC. Viscosities span log η = 2.23 PaS at 1200oC to log η = 12.62 PaS at 700oC. Percent crystallinity of XRD sample spectra vary from 63% crystalline at log η = 2.23 PaS (SiO2 = 52.49 wt %) to 55% at log η = 3.58 PaS (SiO2 = 61.34 wt %). Density and viscosities when graphically correlated to crystallinity and chemical composition, provide insight into interrelationships among these physical properties within the volcano’s pre-eruptive magmatic system.

Joseph Gulizia, MTSU Posters at the Capitol presenter 2019Student: Joseph Gulizia

Faculty Mentor: Kevin Downs

Project Title: The Influence of Kudzu (Pueraria montana var. lobata) Age on In Situ Rumen Degradation

Abstract: Early and late season kudzu (Pueraria montana var. lobata) leaves were collected to analyze dry matter (DM), crude protein (CP), acid detergent fiber (ADF), and neutral detergent fiber (NDF) in situ rumen disappearance to assess kudzu quality. Four studies were conducted during different growing seasons [2 repeated early season (ES); 2 repeated late season (LS)] to determine age variability effects. Kudzu collected from 7 middle Tennessee counties were incubated in the rumen for designated lengths of time (0.25, 1, 12, 24, 36, 48, and 72 h) to determine total rumen degradation (%) and rate of disappearance (% / h). Data were analyzed as a randomized complete block design (RCBD) with repeated measures. Regression analysis was used to determine degradation rate. Overall season effects (across incubation times) for dry matter disappearance (DMD) were significantly different (P < 0.0001). Significant season by incubation time interactions were exhibited for total DMD at 12 (P < 0.0001), 24 (P = 0.0004), 36 (P = 0.0055), 48 (P = 0.0209), and 72 h (P = 0.0384) incubation, with an average rumen degradability of ES kudzu being 9.75% higher than LS between 12 and 72 h. Slope regression between 1 and 24 h determined a rumen degradation rate of 2.41% / h across both seasons, with no significant seasonal difference (P = 0.3396). These results are indicative that ES kudzu is more highly rumen degradable than LS, as evidenced by the significant season by incubation time interactions between 12 and 72 h of incubation. Although there are significant seasonal effects on kudzu DMD during certain incubation times, DMD overall for ES and LS is still indicative of high rumen degradability with an average of 81.45% at 72 h across both seasons. Season effects were minimal for NDF, ADF, and CP rumen disappearance.

Hannah Hall, MTSU Posters at the Capitol presenter 2019Student: Hannah Hall

Faculty Mentor: John Dubois

Project Title: Inducing Somatic Embryogenesis of Grape (Vitis aestivalis “Norton/Cynthiana”) Callus

Abstract: Vitis aestivalis ‘Norton/Cynthiana’ is a hybrid commercial wine grape that is not reliably propagated by vegetative propagation. Tissue culture provides an alternative method for plant propagation. Due to a fungal endophyte that exists within the plant V. aestivalis obtaining unorganized callus cultures is a major challenge. With the Wilson et al. (2016) protocol fungus-free callus cultures can be obtained from explant tissue. The next step towards plantlet regeneration is inducing somatic embryogenesis from callus cultures. In our most recent study, callus cultures of two-plus years-old, 7-8 months-old, and four-months-old were plated onto new media types containing different combinations of plant growth regulators. Experimental media types contained varying levels of auxin (2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid or naphthoxyacetic acid) and cytokinin (benzylaminopurine), in the attempt to induce somatic embryogenesis. Phenylalanine was also added to increase rates of embryogenesis. Results showed no embryogenic responses. Media containing Murashige & Skoog salts showed higher rates of stress and death. Media with Lloyd & McCown salts produced compact callus with elongated growth. Younger callus showed a faster response to treatment, producing elongated and compact structures soon after receiving growth regulator treatment. 

Kaylee Lindgren, MTSU Posters at the Capitol presenter 2019Student: Kaylee Lindgren

Faculty Mentor: Nikki Jones

Project Title: Service Dogs in the Classroom for Children with Autism

Abstract: In the United States, approximately 1 in 59 children born are diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) (Baio et al., 2018). Children that are diagnosed with ASD experience cognitive, emotional, and social deficits, resulting in antisocial interactions, negative behavior, and repetitive tendencies. Additionally, medical complications can be present in a child diagnosed with ASD. Multiple studies have shown service dogs to be beneficial to the cognitive, social, emotional, and physical development of a child with ASD. These benefits are present not only at home, but in an educational setting as well. Current federal policy permits the use of service dogs in public locations, but due to inconsistencies, lack of support, and enforcement in the legislation, parents are still having difficulties accessing aid of service dogs inside of the classroom. Furthermore, Tennessee policy regarding service dogs is outdated, magnifying the barriers in which parents have to go through to access the use of ASD service dogs inside of the classroom. Until federal and state policies can be amended to ensure service dogs will be permitted in the classroom, children with ASD and other disabilities will be at an educational disadvantage. 

Sabrina Spicer, MTSU Posters at the Capitol presenter 2019Student: Sabrina Spicer

Faculty Mentor: Kevin Bicker & Erin McClelland

Project Title: Towards a Clinical Antifungal Peptoid; Investigations into the Therapeutic Potential of AEC5

Abstract: Cryptococcus neoformans is a fungal pathogen that causes cryptococcal meningitis in immunocompromised individuals. Current therapeutic options for cryptococcal infections are limited. Existing antifungal treatment plans have high mammalian toxicity and increased drug resistance, demonstrating the dire need for new, non-toxic therapeutics. Antimicrobial peptoids are one alternative to combat this issue. Structurally similar to antimicrobial peptides, AMPs capitalize on the efficacy of the innate immune response inherent of antimicrobial peptides while decreasing toxicity and drastically improving in-vivo stability.  Our lab has successfully identified a tripeptoid, AEC5, with promising therapeutic potential against Cryptococcus neoformans. Studies into the mechanism of action, in-vivo half-life, and sub-chronic toxicity have further characterized AEC5 as a viable antimicrobial. Most notably, these studies determined an in-vivo half-life of 25 hours, as well as no in-vivo toxicity. This research represents an important step in the characterization of AEC5 as a practical treatment option against Cryptococcus neoformans, and also the development of new antifungal therapeutics as a whole. 

2018 Posters at the Capitol MTSU Participants

Student Class Mentor Dept College Title Year
Maia Council Senior Molly Poleskey History CLA Recover Nashville's Past 2018
Brooke Fitzwater Senior Dennis Mullen Biology CBAS Habitat Selection by 2 Chilean Subtidal Blennies under Predation Pressure in a Chilean Costal Ecosystem 2018
Natalie Foulks Senior Kathryn Blankenship HHP CBHS Narrative Discourse Performance in Older Adults 2018
Lauren Hennessee Junior David Carleton Global Studies and Human Geography CLA Why Do Some States in the Middle East Have a Higher Level of Democratization than Others? 2018
Janie Kullmar Senior Kathryn Blankenship HHP CBHS Word Learning in Authentic Versus Explicit Conditions 2018
Salman Rahmani Senior Nate Callender Aerospace CBAS Flow Control of 3-Dimensional Bodies Utilizing CFD 2018
Benjamin Yost Soph David Carleton Global Studies and Human Geography CLA Understaning the Modern Stage of International Adoption 2018