Interdisciplinary – UROP Spring Symposium 2021


Civic resilience and neighborhood resilience projects and hubs.

Anthropogenic climate change is one of the most threatening challenges facing the world today. As global temperatures continue to rise over the course of the next century, a host of issues including dramatic sea level rise, dangerous storm systems, widespread drought and wildfires will impact every facet of American life. Cutting carbon emissions is the most effective short term solution to curb adverse effects, but we must also develop resiliency in our governments, in our communities and in our neighborhoods if we are to successfully mitigate climate change. This research project attempts to build resiliency through understanding and awareness in localized communities to prepare for both short and long term consequences of climate-related issues. A comprehensive compilation of behavior patterns, relating to neighborhood-scaled physical and structural adaptations, are included in this document to help neighborhoods prepare for these climate events. It is meant to be self-directed, so that individuals, neighborhoods, and civic organizations can decide which tools are necessary for local adaptation. A neighborhood, for example, in reasonable proximity to a floodplain will have a very different set of useful patterns compared to one exposed to seasonal wildfires. Neighborhoods that adhere to climate resilient programs will be less vulnerable to the threat of climate events, and will be more likely to sustain themselves in the future.

Political and Financial Power as Determinants of International Adaptation Assistance: An Analysis of Households in Madagascar

Climate change is one of the great threats that humanity faces today. It is imperative that policymakers and governments provide their citizens with the tools necessary to handle potential natural disasters and slow-onset crises. The United Nations (UN) Paris Agreement of 2016 attempted to address the issue of climate insecurity by allocating funds to countries in need. Among the countries particularly vulnerable to climate change and in need of funds for adaptation is Madagascar. Madagascar, along with my other countries, is vulnerable due to its low capacity to adapt with weak government management and infrastructure. This study analyzes how effectively the UN and Malagasy government have implemented a climate adaptation program in rural Madagascar, where many households are vulnerable to climate crises both financially and physically. The study analyzes 600 household surveys collected in three intervention sites of a UN adaptation project, including both participants and non-participants in the program. Relevant survey data consists of banking access, land ownership, religion, food security, total household assets, political connectivity, and quantity of benefits a household received from the program. Qualitative data were given numerical values and imported into R statistical software to uncover any trends regarding correlations between financial security, political connectivity, and a household’s benefits. Multivariable and single variable regressions were conducted to find correlations between household characteristics and project benefits. The study hypothesizes that the allocation of funds favored households that have political connections and are already more financially secure. The implications of this study are very important for the international community and policymakers. If the hypothesis is correct, that the world’s most vulnerable are not getting the funds they need to adapt, it is a critique of international policy and a representation of the larger problem of corruption within leadership bodies.

Assessing Climate Adaptability in Madagascar Through U.N’s AFRice Program

Adaptation to climate change has become an important topic in recent years as climate impacts have become increasingly severe. Discussion of adaptation is particularly important in low-income countries, which are more susceptible to changes in climate. One of the recipients of the UN’s adaptation funds, Madagascar, provides an example of how conflict of interest among governmental institutions prevent their citizens from being able to adapt. One of UN’s funding programs, AFRice, attempts to prepare rice farmers within the Alaotra-Mangoro region through a series of training seminars and workshops, rewarding participants with agricultural tools and seeds. In order to understand how efficient the AFRice program was in its goals, a survey was conducted on 600 households (among both beneficiary and non-beneficiary households) to understand the living conditions that could attest to the success of the AFRice program. The collected survey data was analyzed for descriptive statistics in the statistical program R. Three variables were used to determine differences in the adaptive capacity of beneficiary versus non-beneficiary households: Adaptive Capacity, Long-Term Coping Strategies, and Food Security. During the analysis, the averages were determined for each variable, and an ANOVA test conducted in order to understand significant differences between the two groups. It is hypothesized that households that participated in the project will have higher adaptive capacity, rely on fewer coping strategies, and will be more food secure than households that did not participate. These findings would indicate the effectiveness of the UN AFRice project and contribute to better practices of future UN projects that can aid other vulnerable countries as they face climate impacts.

Structural prediction of Ypq1

The cell responds to changes in its environment by changing the protein composition on the plasma membrane (PM). Many proteins are regulated based on their substrate concentration, including the lysine importer on the vacuole membrane (VM) of yeast, Ypq1. While it is well known that E3 ubiquitin ligases selectively ubiquitinated proteins in response to environmental cues, the mechanisms of this selectivity are poorly understood, particularly in the transmembrane region. Ssh4 is the yeast E3 ligase adapter that recruits Ssh4, the ubiquitin ligase, to the membrane. Ssh4 selectively recognizes Ypq1 in a lysine depleted environment. However, the structures of Ypq1 and Ssh4 are not solved. We used homology modeling and docking prediction programs to generate predicted structures of Ypq1 and Ssh4. Predicted models are useful for providing estimates of locations of critical regions of each protein, such as the active site of Ypq1, ubiquitination sites, and the interaction sites between Ssh4 and Ypq1.

Explaining the variability in C. elegans wild-type longevity

Aging is a dynamic and complicated process, and although it affects every organism, the topic remains poorly understood. The topic is also very hard to study on humans because of the time requirements. To circumvent this limitation, scientists utilize model organisms and study cellular physiology to determine the molecular pathology of aging. A common model organism for aging experiments is the Caenorhabditis elegans (the roundworm) because it is small, inexpensive, has a short lifespan, and its developmental anatomy has been very well characterized–making it a perfect model organism for studying aging. The N2 strain is used as a control and is standard for laboratory experiments. However, it has become apparent after experience in published literature that there exists an inherently variability in the N2 C. elegans lifespans. In order to address this issue, approximately 1,000 experiments extracted from primary published literature were analyzed from around the and data was extracted from the N2 wild type C. elegans. We then performed a metanalysis of our primary data based on a set of conditions explicitly extracted from these experiments. While data collection is ongoing, we aim to identify seemingly “soft” conditions to create standard models of lifespans of C. elegans under specific conditions to aid other researchers with their aging experiments with C. elegans.

Pedagogy in a Pandemic: Undergraduate Student Perceptions of Online Instruction

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, students have experienced a shift in learning from the traditional classroom to pursuing education through virtual and remote learning. This study aims to understand what the relationship is between students’ perception of online classes and their perception around the pandemic as it relates to their lives. There is also an interest in examining what the major changes were for students during their experience of transitioning from the traditional educational setting to taking online classes. The study compares the previously mentioned perceptions for students in the U.S. and China and relies on data collected from a survey distributed to undergraduate students from a Midwestern University and a University in China. The respondents include 252 U.S. students and 162 Chinese undergraduate students. The data is currently being examined in detail, however, a basic analysis displayed similarities in the perspective of the students in the different countries. Textual comments from students illustrate that students seem to view the opportunity to spend more time with family and focus on health and exercise while spending more time outdoors as a positive implication of the pandemic. There are also similarities in what is perceived with a more negative outlook as students in both countries expressed experiencing difficulty of study and accessing educational resources along with less social interaction and loss of freedom. Understanding the student response to alterations in education during unprecedented times can present beneficial insight that may be applied to future instructional and institutional learning methods. Obtaining an understanding of these perspectives will enable educators to make pedagogical recommendations and prepare for possible future disruptions in learning. The research could also have implications for how colleges identity and factor student needs into planning student safety measures and learning experiences in the current pandemic and any similar future event.

How Can Social Support Impact Life Perspectives in the COVID-19 Pandemic?

This study aims to examine life perspectives during the COVID-19 pandemic by surveying university students. Relevant studies that were used to help with this study include “Stress and the environment” (Baum et al., 1981) and “The psychological impact of quarantine and how to reduce it: Rapid review of the evidence” (Brooks et al., 2020). One question that is examined within this topic is: does social support encourage optimistic perspectives on life during adverse events? For methods, 238 university students were recruited from two psychology courses at a large public university in the midwest of the United States. Ages ranged from 18 to 27 years, and there was a variety in race and the level of education attained by the parents of the respondents. In regards to the survey itself, there were four measures”””How Life Is Changing,” “Social Interaction,” “Retrospective Advice for the Self One Year Ago,” and “Time Perspectives.” Both quantitative and qualitative data were collected. Although results are preliminary, they provide some evidence in how promoting greater social interaction during global health crises””such as the COVID-19 pandemic””can help to potentially protect or foster optimistic views about one’s future. Further surveying and research will be able to reveal more. With this data, measures to take during global health crises to help mental health can be more educated and better informed.

Continuous evaluation of instruction

How teachers respond to the multiple events going on as they teach was studied using first-person mobile eye-tracking recordings. By learning more about this topic learning can be improved for young children, especially when classes are moved online. During this project, 30 videos of classroom lessons including a mobile eye tracking record from the teacher were coded Teachers often overlook a wide range of “distractions.” Separate coding of distractions shows that children engaged in a range of misbehavior, and were distracted by classmates’ activity. Complicating the situation for teachers is the fact that their responses to distractions often cause further class interruption. Understanding the complex cognition teachers engage in (while also teaching) will help us to understand the nature of expertise in classroom management and teaching..

Whole Health Educational Resource Development and Evaluation for Veterans and VA Staff

The Veterans Affairs Healthcare System, the largest healthcare system in the United States, has introduced a holistic model of care termed the Whole Health system of care, with a key tool in this system being the Circle of Whole Health model. Veterans at the Veteran’s Affairs (VA) Clinic in Ann Arbor, MI have been very well informed on the Circle of Whole Health, and it has been used to empower Veterans in showing them areas of strength in their lives, as well as areas that need more attention. These areas include social relationships, physical activity, nutrition, and spirituality. With the Circle of Whole Health as a guide, this study, conducted by physicians and researchers at the VA Clinic of Ann Arbor, aims to gather research regarding which/whether holistic care modalities should be implemented in the daily care routines of Veterans including yoga, acupuncture, meditation, light therapy, and diet changes.

Whole Health Educational Resource Development and Evaluation for Veterans and VA Staff

The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs works towards improving the lives of veterans nationwide. Part of their efforts include the implementation of a new system of health care called Whole Health. Whole Health is a system of care that focuses on complementary and integrative health, while placing veterans and VA employees at the center of their care. There are eight areas surrounding the person at the center of care, including: Moving the Body, Surroundings, Personal Development, Food and Drink, Recharge, Family, Friends and Coworkers, Spirit and Soul, and Power of the Mind. This study aims to identify the perceptions and utilization of care modalities in the eight areas surrounding the patient. A survey, asking qualitative and quantitative questions, was distributed to veterans and VA staff. The results of this survey will help the Ann Arbor VA and VAs across the country improve veteran care. At the time of publication of this abstract, the data has been collected and preliminary analysis is in process. The specific, detailed, and final results will be available at the time of the Symposium presentation.

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