Project: Aerosols and Particultes Exhaled by Speaking and Singing

Presenter: Eric Pillow

Major: Mechanical Engineering

Classification: Junior

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Jeff Marchetta, Mechanical Engineering

Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic is significantly impacting professional practices such as dentistry, speech pathology, and music education as well as avocational practices such as athletics and other extracurricular activities because they typically involve close, face-to-face contact. A major obstacle these activities face is the transmission of disease due to aerosolized particles emitted from the oral cavity while breathing, speaking, and singing. Modifications to the basic procedures for these activities must be made such that they follow new, safe practices if they are to continue in the future. A lack of data exists concerning the extent of exposure to aerosolized particles in relevant scenarios. This data is necessary to inform the new, safe practices that will enable many activities, from professional to amateur, to resume operation. This research aims to meet this need by investigating the quantity, concentration, and distribution of particles exhaled while speaking, singing, and breathing. To accomplish this, specific vocal exercises and activities will be performed in the laboratory to generate the airborne droplets associated with each activity. Images of these particles will be captured using a 1200fps high-speed optical camera and a ND-YAG laser, then analyzed numerically using computer software. The resulting data sets will be compared in order to draw conclusions about the volume and behavior of aerosolized particles associated with various vocal activities.


Project: Evaluating the Effect of Flavonoids on Neutrophil NETosis

Presenter: Kian Ziai

Major: Biomedical Engineering

Classification: Junior

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Gary Bowlin, Biomedical Engineering

Abstract: I will be investigating the ability of several flavonoids found in honey to reduce the degree of neutrophil NETosis via their scavenging of intracellular ROS. There is evidence that honey has the ability to provide wound cleaning and healing. In honey there is an important component called flavonoids. During wound healing, white blood cells known as neutrophils perform an activity called NETosis which is the action of releasing nets of DNA in order to trap and kill bacteria in the wound. However, too much NETosis results in fibrosis which can prevent tissue growth onto an implant. Data in the Bowlin lab demonstrates that Manuka honey has been found to reduce the degree of NETosis, and I will be finding out whether the honey's flavonoid component is the reason for this reduction.

Project: Evaluation of Raspberry Ketone, A Natural Antioxidant, On Bone Cell Differentiation

Presenter: Matthew Atwill

Major: Biomedical Engineering

Classification: Senior

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Joel Bumgardner, Biomedical Engineering

Abstract: This in-vitro study measured the additive effects of raspberry ketone, a natural antioxidant, on the bone-cell differentiation let by bone-morphogenetic protein 2 in W-20-17 mouse stromal cells. Various cell culture techniques were employed to culture and subculture the cells needed for the study. Analysis of cell differentiation was mainly measured quantitatively through assays. DNA, alkaline phosphatase, osteocalcin, and calcium-phosphate concentrations were measured using the respective assays for each compound. Additionally, Alizarin red staining was used to get a visual, qualitative representation of calcium-phosphate deposition by the cells. 


Project: Low-Cost Pneumatic Tactile System for Mapping Brain Areas using fMRI

Presenter: David Hale

Major: Biomedical Engineering

Classification: Senior

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Amy Curry, Biomedical Engineering

Abstract: In this project, I designed a programable tactile stimulation device to work in an MRI. This device increases the ability of groups to provide precise, replicable stimulus to the body. I was able to study brain chemistry, MRI physics, coding, and the nervous system anatomy. In particular, the Brachial Plexus, a nerve bundle controlling the arm. This plexus is often injured in childbirth, however those injured this way rarely experience long term differences in mobility. However those injured in adult hood certainly do even given similar healing times. Further noted are differences in brain physiology. Those recovered from BPBI experience brain activation with both sides of the brain as opposed to the opposite side like most individuals. The overall goal of the project is to study the brain of these individuals by simulating the skin of these individuals.