Interdisciplinary – Page 2 – UROP Spring Symposium 2021

Interdisciplinary

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.

Main Street Transformation Project

Vanguard Community Development services the North End of in three major areas: economic development, housing development, and community engagement and planning. To assist in economic development within the North End community, Vanguard applied for a Main Designation. Vanguard successfully received the designation from Michigan Economic Development Corporation in March 2020. This designation provides technical support to businesses within the North End community. Along with the technical support, there is also a strategic transformation plan which will be implemented over the next five years. The outreach to the community regarding this strategic planning process began in January 2021. We began contacting community and municipal stakeholders to seek input to create the vision for the plan. These stakeholders attended meetings hosted by Michigan and National Main , in which Vanguard is the host organization for the program. Through constant communication and engagement, we formed relationships with the community members and municipal entities in to engage their involvement in the planning process.

Main Street Transformation Project

Vanguard Community Development services the North End of Detroit in three major areas: economic development, housing development, and community engagement and planning. To assist in economic development within the North End community, Vanguard applied for a Main Street Designation. Vanguard successfully received the designation from Michigan Economic Development Corporation in March 2020. This designation provides technical support to businesses within the North End community. Along with the technical support, there is also a strategic transformation plan which will be implemented over the next five years. The outreach to the community regarding this strategic planning process began in January 2021. We began contacting community and municipal stakeholders to seek input to create the vision for the plan. These stakeholders attended meetings hosted by Michigan and National Main Street, in which Vanguard is the host organization for the program. Through constant communication and engagement, we formed relationships with the community members and municipal entities in order to engage their involvement in the planning process.

Revitalizing Northeast Detroit through data base research

Northeastern Detroit has long been a historical focal point in Michigan. It has a rich history that stretches back over a century, however, for much of its history it’s been utilized in an industrial manner. While this industry has brought its benefits to the area, these were not without consequences. These consequences are more apparent now than ever with the struggles of truck traffic, environmental concerns, and industrial encroachment. The goal of our research was to tackle some of these concerns and promote the true needs of the diverse community. Whether through land use hearings or research on the property and zoning use of an area, our community engaged research covered all arrays of public policy advocacy.

Revitalizing Northeast Detroit through data base research

Northeastern Detroit has long been a historical focal point in Michigan. It has a rich history that stretches back over a century, however, for much of its history it’s been utilized in an industrial manner. While this industry has brought its benefits to the area, these were not without consequences. These consequences are more apparent now than ever with the struggles of truck traffic, environmental concerns, and industrial encroachment. The goal of our research was to tackle some of these concerns and promote the true needs of the diverse community. Whether through land use hearings or research on the property and zoning use of an area, our community engaged research covered all arrays of public policy advocacy.

Global Workers’ Rights

The Global Compact for Migration (GCM) Certificate Programme, a course jointly organized by the Global Research Forum on Diaspora and Transnationalism and other civil society organizations, is one of several virtual legal training programs aimed at building global capacity to implement the recently-enacted UN Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration. In order to study how understandings of the GCM’s new international norms on migration management are being produced interactively through these training programs, we conducted a digital ethnography which approached this online training program as our point of entry. Team-based ethnographic research included participant observation in weekly webinars, in online assignments, and in other learning activities administered through the Certificate Programme’s Google Classroom platform. As part of this research, we also examined the course organization and structure, the profiles of participants and speakers, and the substantive curricular content of the course, including theories and techniques for understanding, supporting, and protecting migrant diasporas. Themes and concepts that have emerged from our research are the variety and motivations of participants and lecturers (people in high positions of authority in governments and in international organizations, as well as community organizers); the comparison and evaluation of best practices and of stumbling blocks in existing policies and in places without policies; the importance of international engagement and cooperation; the roles and relationships of the migrant diaspora, the home country, and the destination country; and the challenges of virtual learning.

Global Workers’ Rights

The Global Compact for Migration (GCM) Certificate Programme, a course jointly organized by the Global Research Forum on Diaspora and Transnationalism and other civil society organizations, is one of several virtual legal training programs aimed at building global capacity to implement the recently-enacted UN Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration. In order to study how understandings of the GCM’s new international norms on migration management are being produced interactively through these training programs, we conducted a digital ethnography which approached this online training program as our point of entry. Team-based ethnographic research included participant observation in weekly webinars, in online assignments, and in other learning activities administered through the Certificate Programme’s Google Classroom platform. As part of this research, we also examined the course organization and structure, the profiles of participants and speakers, and the substantive curricular content of the course, including theories and techniques for understanding, supporting, and protecting migrant diasporas. Themes and concepts that have emerged from our research are the variety and motivations of participants and lecturers (people in high positions of authority in governments and in international organizations, as well as community organizers); the comparison and evaluation of best practices and of stumbling blocks in existing policies and in places without policies; the importance of international engagement and cooperation; the roles and relationships of the migrant diaspora, the home country, and the destination country; and the challenges of virtual learning.

Identifying neuronal components necessary for cool temperature sensing

Temperature sensing is necessary for homeostatic regulation, probing the environment for pleasant or aversive cues, and must be reliable across a broad range of temperatures. Under normal conditions, cool temperatures are not painful. However, patients suffering from chronic pain perceive normally innocuous cool temperatures as an unbearably painful sensation known as cold allodynia. How innocuous cool temperatures are signaled in the spinal cord has not been well studied. This study aims to uncover the basic neuronal components necessary for cool temperature transmission in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord. To accomplish this, an intersectional genetic strategy was implemented to ablate several different cell-type markers in the dorsal horn, then tested for temperature sensing impairments. Interestingly, Calbindin 1 (Calb1) neurons, which are mostly local interneurons, were necessary for the detection of cool but not cold stimuli. Calb1 is a heterogeneous population. Using In Situ Hybridization and immunohistochemistry, the Calb1 population was characterized based on markers for excitatory/inhibitory neurons, laminae layer, and somatosensory neurons for pain and itch. By understanding these different subpopulations, the role Calbindin 1 neurons play in transmitting cool and cold sensations can be further investigated. This study provides insight into the neural basis of cool temperature transmission in the spinal cord, which may lead to treatments for patients suffering from cold allodynia.

Characterization of TRPM8-expressing sensory neurons

The cation channel TRPM8 has been implicated in cold detection, yet no identification of distinct subpopulations of TRPM8-expressing sensory neurons responsible for detecting different levels of cold stimuli (noxious vs. innocuous) has been made. The current study takes advantage of Designer Receptors Exclusively Activated by Designer Drugs (DREADD), light-sensitive channelrhodopsin-2 ion channels (ChR2), thermal behavioral assays, immunostaining, and RNAscope technology to investigate the role of different subpopulations of TRPM8 sensory neurons in dorsal root ganglia of mice. First, we want to study the function of TRPM8 sensory neurons in vivo by expressing an inhibitory Gi DREADD selectively in TRPM8 sensory neurons in the dorsal root ganglia (DRG) of mice. Upon injection of the DREADD agonist clozapine-N-oxide (CNO), the DREADD-expressing TRPM8 sensory neurons could be selectively inhibited to infer neuronal function following cold-plate behavioral assays. Sensory neurons in the DRG can be broadly divided into three groups based on cell body diameter: small, medium and large. From our RNAscope results, “small” TRPM8 neurons expressed significantly higher levels of the trpm8 gene than “medium to large” TRPM8 neurons, potentially providing a basis for differentiation between the two subpopulations. Thermal-related behavioral experiments are still ongoing. We hypothesize that the two subpopulations of TRPM8 sensory neurons serve distinct functions in sensing cold stimuli of different intensities.

Exploring the CRISPR-Cas9 System through Human EMX1 Gene Deletions

Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR) is a technology used to edit genomes at very high precision. It enables precise editing of genomic loci with a RNA-guided Cas9 nuclease that can cleave target DNA that is complementary to a guide RNA (gRNA). Then, the CRISPR-Cas9 system can be used to achieve various goals such as treating inherited diseases (e.g., cystic fibrosis). The objective is to test the specificity and function of the CRISPR-Cas9 system in deleting a targeted sequence in mammalian cells. Mammalian 293AD cells were first transfected with the Cas9-expressing plasmid and human EMX1 ()-specific 3.1+4.1 gRNA sequences. 72 hours after transfection, the DNA was extracted and purified from the cells. The hEMX1 modified region was amplified using a set of primers in the polymerase chain reaction (PCR). The PCR products were run in a 2% agarose gel for gel electrophoresis where the sizes of the DNA fragments were compared to a marker. Results from gel electrophoresis showed that the Cas9 system was successfully able to target the hEMX1 gene when 3.1+4.1 gRNA was present. However, pNTAP posi-tag, a plasmid without the hEMX1 sequence, also showed unexpected cuts which lead to DNA fragments of various sizes. The results show that the CRISPR-Cas9 system was propitious in targeting the hEMX1 DNA sequence. The unexpected cuts made in pNTAP posi-tag will require further experimentation, with one possibility being to extract, purify, and sequence the unanticipated DNA fragments in order to explain the results.

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