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Christina Ramelow, McNair Scholar

Mentor: Dr. Javier Ochoa-Repáraz, Dept. Biology at Eastern Washington University


Intestinal dysbiosis is being evaluated as an influencing factor in human diseases. Our laboratory works on the general hypothesis that the association is bidirectional and that disease induction affects the composition of the microbiota. Non-obese diabetic (NOD) mice develop spontaneous diabetes unless active experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), a murine model of multiple sclerosis, is induced. It was proposed that the complete Freund's adjuvant used for active induction of EAE protect against diabetes. Interestingly, although oral antibiotics treatment reduces EAE severity in SJL and C57BL/6 mice, others showed that the same treatment exacerbates diabetes in adult NOD mice. We questioned whether two different diseases affecting one animal strain, the NOD mice, affected the microbiota composition differently. We hypothesized that the gut microbiota differs between the acute inflammatory and chronic progressive stages that characterize the NOD EAE model. Further, we proposed differences in the microbiota/disease axis in EAE and diabetes. We observed significant changes in the microbiota of NOD mice that developed a severe secondary form of EAE when compared with healthy control mice. The genera Coprococcus, Ruminococcus, and Akkermansia were found elevated in EAE mice while undetermined members of the families Lactobacillaceae and Christensenellaceae were significantly reduced. Furthermore, we compared the EAE and diabetes microbiome and evaluated the effects of transplantation stool samples obtained from EAE, diabetes and control mice on diabetes progression. Our findings support the hypothesis that there are reciprocal effects between disease induction and the modification of the microbiome.

Trevor O Kirby, Abby Keever, Elizabeth Seagrave, Abdulgader Turkistani, Susana Lopez, Daniel Garcia, Cory Johnson, Paige McClendon, Christina Ramelow, Christopher Harding, Arman Tigranyan, Jacqueline Rogers, Marlene Gonzales, Krisztian Magori and Javier Ochoa-Repáraz: Exploring the differences in intestinal dysbiosis induced by CNS inflammatory demyelination and diabetes in non-obese diabetic mice

Leah Ruiz, McNair Scholar

Mentor: Dr. Jane Simone, Dept. Psychology at University of Washington


Accurately identifying death and its causes is integral to the compilation of mortality data and ultimately to the operation of the criminal justice and public health systems. A clear understanding of who is in charge of such processes is paramount to establishing the quality, or lack thereof, of the information provided in death certificates. Our study provides a comprehensive overview of all state statutes identifying death investigators charged with classifying and certifying death in the United States. We found that state statutes designate a broad range of individuals as responsible for the classification and certification of death. Those vary by state and set of circumstances and can include medical examiners, coroners, pathologists, other physicians, registered nurses, and more. Our findings highlight the important need for a unified standard of qualifications in the medico-legal system, as well as, regulatory reform at the state level regarding who can complete and sign death certificates.

Leah Ruiz M.A. Brianne M. Posey M.A. Melanie‐Angela Neuilly Ph.D. Mary K. Stohr Ph.D. Craig Hemmens Ph.D.: Certifying Death in the United State

Amy J. Núñez, McNair Scholar

Mentor: Dr. Martín Meráz García, Dept. Chicana and Chicano Studies at Eastern Washington University


This study uses empirical data from a version of the Clark doll experiment and Latina/o Critical Race Theory (LatCrit) to determine the factors that shape the perceptions of college among 35 randomly selected Latina/o children in Grades 2nd to 5th. The findings of this study lead to two conclusions: (a) that Latina/o children hold their race/ethnicity in lower regard when compared to Whites, exhibit an ambivalence regarding identity that negatively affects their self-esteem and their perceptions of college as an attainable goal; and (b) that Latinas perceived themselves more favorably than Latinos in all categories, which positively affects their perceptions of a college education.

Amy J. Núñez, Martín Meráz García: Perceptions of College Among Latina/o Elementary Students

Andrew Pereira, McNair Scholar

Mentor: Dr. Jane Simone, Dept. Psychology at University of Washington


Over the past two decades, men who have sex with men (MSM) have engaged in increasing consumption of MSM-specific sexually explicit online media (i.e., online pornography). Furthermore, the amount of MSM-specific sexually explicit online media portraying unprotected anal intercourse (UAI) has increased, raising concerns about HIV transmission among the actors and the potential encouragement of risky sex among consumers. The influence of sexually explicit online media on sexual risk-taking, at present largely understudied, could lead to new avenues for innovative HIV-prevention strategies targeting at-risk MSM. In this preliminary assessment, in-depth qualitative interviews were conducted with 16 MSM in the Seattle area to elucidate MSM’s perceptions about the influence of sexually explicit online media on their own and other MSM’s sexual behaviors. Participants reported that sexually explicit online media: (1) plays an educational role, (2) increases comfort with sexuality, and (3) sets expectations about sexual behaviors. While participants overwhelmingly reported not feeling personally influenced by viewing UAI in sexually explicit online media, they believed viewing UAI increased sexual risk-taking among other MSM. Specifically, participants reported that the high prevalence of UAI in sexually explicit online media sends the message, at least to other MSM, that (1) engaging in UAI is common, (2) UAI is acceptable and “ok” to engage in, and (3) future partners will desire or expect UAI. Overall, this preliminary assessment indicates that sexually explicit online media exposure may have both positive (e.g., helping MSM become more comfortable with their sexuality) and negative (e.g., normalizing UAI) impacts on the sexual health of MSM and may be useful in the development of novel HIV-prevention interventions.

Nelson, K.M., Leickly, E., Yang, J.P., Pereira, A,, & Simoni, J. M. (2014). The influence of sexually explicit online media on sex: do men who have sex with men believe they “do what they see”? In AIDS Care: Psychological and Socio-medical Aspects of AIDS/HIV.

Grace Cooper, McNair Scholar

Mentor: Dr. Julia Smith, Dept. Anthropology Eastern Washington University  


This study discusses the perceptions and understandings of code-switching of bilingual English-Spanish speakers from the Inland Northwest. Earlier studies reported that speakers generally hold a negative view of code-switching; however, results of this study questions whether these conclusions remain true. Results from ten, hour-long semi-structured interviews including four musical selections as examples of code-switching demonstrate a shift away from traditional views towards code-switching. Rendering, older studies problematic this study calls for the continuation of code-switching research as well as new and inventive approaches for researching code-switching in the future.

Grace Cooper. “An Exploration of Intentions and Perceptions of Code-switching Among Bilingual Spanish-English Speakers in The Inland Northwest.” In Journal of Northwest Anthropology, 47(2):119-129. 2013.

Michelle Keller, McNair Scholar

Mentor: Dr. Joanna Joyner Matos, Dept. Biology, Eastern Washington University  


We explored the relationship between relaxed selection, oxidative stress, and spontaneous mutation in a set of mutation-accumulation (MA) lines of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans and in their common ancestor. We measured steady-state levels of free radicals and oxidatively damaged guanosine nucleosides in the somatic tissues of five MA lines for which nuclear genome base substitution and GC-TA transversion frequencies are known. The two markers of oxidative stress are highly correlated and are elevated in the MA lines relative to the ancestor; point estimates of the per-generation rate of mutational decay (ΔM) of these measures of oxidative stress are similar to those reported for fitness-related traits. Conversely, there is no significant relationship between either marker of oxidative stress and the per-generation frequencies of base substitution or GC-TA transversion. Although these results provide no direct evidence for a causative relationship between oxidative damage and base substitution mutations, to the extent that oxidative damage may be weakly mutagenic in the germline, the case for condition-dependent mutation is advanced.

Joyner-Matos, J., Hicks, K. A., Cousins, D., Keller, M., Denver, D. R., Baer, C. F., and S. Estes. 2013. Evolution of a Higher Intracellular Oxidizing Environment in Caenorhabditis elegans Under Relaxed Selection. PLOS ONE

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