Tuesday, March 14th

Michigan League, Vandenberg Room

Medical School Office of Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies Sponsored Session

10:30 - 11:30 AM

Maria Carmen Varela

Doctoral Candidate, Neuroscience 


Title: Using Human Stem Cells to Understand Genetic Epilepsy

Myoclonic atonic epilepsy (MAE) is a severe developmental and epileptic encephalopathy (DEE) that has been linked to mutations in the SLC6A1 gene. SLC6A1 encodes for the most abundant brain GABA transporter, GAT-1, which regulates the reuptake of GABA at the synapse and is expressed primarily in interneurons. While loss of function (LOF) of GAT-1 leads to epilepsy and cognitive delays, how GAT-1 knockout and haploinsufficiency affects early neuronal development remains elusive. Here, we use a human induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-derived neuronal model to test the hypothesis that GAT-1 LOF alters interneuron development. We reprogrammed human foreskin fibroblasts into iPSCs with concurrent CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing to generate out-of-frame insertions/deletions in the SLC6A1 gene. Compound heterozygous (KO), heterozygous (Het), and isogenic control (WT) iPSC lines were generated and differentiated into induced GABAergic neurons (iGNs) using inducible expression of ASCL1 and DLX2. We performed immunolabeling and RT-qPCR on iGNs from 1-4 weeks to investigate interneuron development and specification. GAT-1 mRNA expression was decreased 80-95% in KO and 10-70% in HET iGNs compared to WT (n=3 lines each). WT iGNs displayed the expected GABAergic and mature neuronal marker expression and morphology while KO iGNs displayed accelerated maturation with earlier increases in potassium-chloride cotransporter 2 (KCC2) and somatostatin expression compared to WT. Our findings suggest that LOF mutations in the SLC6A1 gene that are predicted to increase ambient GABA levels in early brain development would have deleterious effects on interneuron maturation. Further investigation into this phenotype could provide treatment targets for SLC6A1-related DEEs. 

Therapaws Therapy Dog

12:00 - 1:00 PM

Join us in the Concourse for some snuggles with a Therapaws Therapy Dog! Take a break from studying and bring your friends for some quality time with a pooch to calm your nerves, reset your day or even if you just need pick-me-up!

Department of Psychology Sponsored Session

12:00 - 1:00 PM

Ana Patricia esqueda

Doctoral Candidate, Psychology


Title: COVID-19: Its effects on Latinos and the protective factors they may employ to cope 

COVID-19 has laid bare the structural inequities that low-income communities of color face. Yet, public health recommendations for preventing the spread—staying at home and social distancing—only add another layer to the health disparities, socioeconomic disadvantages, and policy barriers experienced by communities of color. Guided by a resilience-based approach, this project employs a mixed methods design to gauge the effects of COVID-19 on Latinos whilst exploring the cultural and social influences that serve as protective factors in the face of psychological and structural barriers. As a first step, quantitative data was gathered through an online survey of 1595 Latinos from the United States and Puerto Rico. Initial analyses of the sample—which showcased vaccine hesitancy, collectivist ideals, and a general fear of the virus—were used to design a semi-structured interview protocol. The resulting qualitative data comes from one-on-one interviews with 60 Latinos from the United States. Integrated results regarding the effects of COVID, steps taken to combat COVID, concerns, cultural values, and hopes for the future illustrate the why/how often missing from quantitative samples and show that despite the many difficulties brought about by COVID-19 there is strength in the values and customs of Latino culture. 

Carlos Vivaldo

Doctoral Candidate, Biopsychology


Title: Joint Coding of Sound and Speed by Auditory Cortical Neuronal Ensembles 

The ability to process and act upon incoming sounds during locomotion is critical for survival. Intriguingly, sound responses of auditory cortical neurons are on average weaker during locomotion as compared to immobility and these results have been suggested to reflect a computational resource allocation shift from auditory to visual processing. However, the evolutionary benefit of this hypothesis remains unclear. In particular, whether weaker sound-evoked responses during locomotion indeed reflect a reduced involvement of the auditory cortex, or whether they result from an alternative neural computation in this state remains unresolved. To address this question, we first used neural inactivation in behaving mice and found that the auditory cortex plays a critical role in sound-guided behavior during locomotion. To investigate the nature of this processing, we used two-photon calcium imaging of local excitatory auditory cortical neural populations in awake mice. We found that underlying a net inhibitory effect of locomotion on sound-evoked response magnitude, spatially intermingled neuronal subpopulations were differentially influenced by locomotion. Further, the net inhibitory effect of locomotion on sound-evoked responses was strongly shaped by elevated ongoing activity. Importantly, rather than reflecting enhanced “noise”, this ongoing activity reliably encoded the animal’s locomotion speed. Prediction analyses revealed that sound, locomotive state and their integration are strongly encoded by auditory cortical ensemble activity. Finally, we found consistent patterns of locomotion-sound integration in electrophysiologically recorded activity in freely moving rats. Together, our data suggest that auditory cortical ensembles are not simply suppressed by locomotion but rather encode it alongside sound information to support sound perception during locomotion.

Taubman College of Architecture & Urban Planning Sponsored Session

1:30 - 2:30 PM

Olaia Chivite Amigo

Lecturer 1, Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning


Title: Informal + Sustainable 

The production of urban land through occupations of environmentally protected areas at the peripheries of mega cities is a major problem in the Global South. As impoverished families cannot afford housing in central locations, they occupy available land in the city periphery that is not suitable for habitation due to its geomorphological features or its ecological value. The intensity of this urban dynamic puts pressure on the environment and compromises residents’ access to infrastructure and urban services. It also reveals the challenges of reconciling two fundamental rights secured by the 1988 Brazilian Federal Constitution: the right to adequate housing and the right to a clean and ecologically cohesive environment (Martins, 2011; Compans, 2011).

Younger land occupations, lack the resources required to cope with the incessant threat of displacement. In the early stages of occupation, legal cases often use the narrative of environmental degradation and unsustainable practices to force eviction or deny services. Despite these challenges, young occupations continue to grow rapidly in the periphery of São Paulo, on public and private property, without consideration of environmental risks, and often near environmentally protected areas. By the time that municipalities become aware of their existence or assess that it is legally sound to upgrade them, it is often too late to guide their settlement patterns towards healthy and ecologically sensitive development. The first years of land occupation remain critical to obtaining legal rights to the land, and land occupiers can become publicly recognized protagonists in creating better, alternative futures for themselves.

This project introduces the collaborative process developed with the Gaivotas Occupation, a young land occupation in the Grajaú District. The settlement is part of the Cocaia Peninsula, surrounded by the Billings Reservoir and with very limited connections to important city services. The settlement is home to some 150 families and undergoing a rapid transformation. Our project focuses on the case of a land occupation to examine the mechanisms, trajectories and decision-making processes that frame lower income residents’ struggle for the right to the city in São Paulo.

College of Engineering Sponsored Session

3:00 - 4:30 PM

Ariana Bueno

Doctoral Candidate, Applied Physics / Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering 

aribueno@umich.edu | LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/ariana-bueno 

Title: Plume Surface Interactions on the Moon 

Plume-surface interaction (PSI) research focuses on the understanding of how the landing environment and spacecraft are affected by the interaction of rocket exhaust plumes with lunar regolith particles during landing or ascent from the surface. PSI can lift large amounts of particles from the surface and eject particles at high velocities. Particles ejected from the surface at high velocities can damage the spacecraft, its instruments, and any surrounding hardware. Long term effects from this interaction could also affect lunar surface investigations. There is evidence that PSI has had detrimental effects on past missions and therefore it is critical to conduct further research in order to reduce the risks to future missions. According to NASA Entry, Descent, and Landing Capability Team Leads, PSI is still a major unresolved risk for propulsive landing and in the past 60 years, PSI-dedicated instruments have not existed. Thus, developing a PSI dedicated instrument to measure and quantify  PSI effects is paramount to the safety of future lunar exploration missions in which landers play a vital role.

José Carlos Díaz

Doctoral Candidate, Chemical Engineering


Title: Diffusion selectivity in ion exchange membranes: hydration and specific ion effects

Ion exchange membranes (IEMs) are used in water desalination, energy conversion/storage technologies, and resource recovery as selective ion conductors. In redox flow batteries and Li enrichment and recovery, IEMs with exceptional counterion transport and selectivity are needed to increase the efficiency of these proposed emergent technologies. Counterion selectivity in IEMs is determined by the counterion partitioning and diffusion in the membranes. However, the molecular properties of IEMs that influence counterion partitioning and diffusion are not entirely understood. The water content and charge density in the membranes is known to significantly impact their transport properties but fundamental studies investigating the influence of equilibrium water content and ion hydration as an isolated variable on membrane performance have been notably scarce in the literature. In this study, cross-linked homogenous IEMs with varying water content and constant charge density were synthesized to systematically investigate how membrane water content and the sates of water (i.e., free vs. confined) in IEMs impact ion diffusion. Counterion diffusion coefficients and activation energies of ion diffusion were measured via electrochemical impedance spectroscopy. The states of water in the IEMs were probed via differential scanning calorimetry and pulse-field gradient NMR. Our results suggest that at high water content, the activation energies of ion diffusion in the IEMs were similar to those in solution, thus exempting the membrane from affecting counterion diffusion. Below a critical water content value, and under confinement effects with reduced free water content, counterion diffusion deviates significantly from solution behavior. This study demonstrates that electrostatic interactions significantly impact ion diffusion in the confined environments of low water content membranes. These effects are ion specific, affecting higher valent counterion diffusion more drastically than monovalent counterions. These fundamental discoveries can help guide the design of novel membranes with increased counterion transport selectivity for emerging membrane-based processes.

Valentina Guevara 

Doctoral Candidate, Chemical Engineering

guevaram@umich.edu | Twitter: @m_valentina_gc 

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/valentina-guevara 

Title: Engineering particle-based therapies to modulate neutrophil migration in acute inflammation

Acute inflammation is necessary for initiating an immune response against invading pathogens or injuries. Neutrophils are the first white blood cells to be recruited to such sites of infection or trauma to promptly onset an inflammation resolution phase. Neutrophils' migration from blood to inflamed areas is critical for host defense. However, uncontrolled and excessive recruitment of neutrophils to inflamed sites is a leading factor in the progression and severity of acute inflammatory diseases such as sepsis and acute lung injury. Therefore, regulation of neutrophil function is an attractive therapeutic approach for neutrophil-driven acute inflammation. Particle-based treatments for inflammatory diseases have gained increasing interest due to carriers' tunability of size, shape, deformability, and surface chemistry. Thus, this work investigates particle-based therapies' ability to modulate the excessive neutrophil response in acute inflammatory conditions. Particularly, this work will elucidate a novel approach to halt neutrophil migration to sites of inflammation using vascular-targeted particles as therapeutics. 

Adrian Porras Laura

Doctoral Candidate, Biomedical Engineering

aporras@umich.edu | LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/adrianporras99/ 

Title: Patient-specific computational models to characterize physiological effects of spinal cord stimulation for chronic pain

Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) is an electric stimulation therapy to help manage intractable chronic pain. However, it is difficult to provide optimal pain relief due to lack of understanding of the mechanisms of action of SCS. Furthermore, the therapy parameters that are effective for one patient may prove ineffective for another patient. Therefore, the goal of this work was to use a patient-specific computational modeling approach to investigate the variability of neural activation across patients. To create these models, we developed finite element method (FEM) models of the participant's unique spinal column and electrode locations using preoperative magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and postoperative X-ray computed tomography (CT) scans. Next, we distributed multi-compartment axon models throughout each participant’s segmented spinal cord. We then applied the extracellular potentials calculated from the FEM model to the axon models to calculate their activation thresholds. Finally, for each participant, we compared model-predicted neural activation profiles to clinical data (e.g., sensory thresholds, paresthesia coverage). Patient-specific anatomical characteristics, such as the thickness of the cerebrospinal fluid layer between the electrode array and spinal cord, affected the pulse amplitudes required to activate dorsal column axons. Across participants, the stimulation amplitudes necessary to activate a single large-diameter dorsal column axon were similar to the clinically measured perception thresholds. Increasing the stimulus pulse width increased the model-predicted activation of dorsal column axons and decreased clinically measured perception thresholds. Going forward, we will extend this work to include additional participants and compare each participant’s clinical outcomes with their model-predicted neural activation patterns while also using machine learning methods to optimize the patient's therapy parameters.

Everardo Olide

Doctoral Candidate, Applied Physics

eolide@umich.edu | YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRZhEAoZKPC3aRpjkv4B5-g 

Title: Battery Modeling and Testing for the UM Solar Car Team

The UM Solar Car Team(UMSCT) is a multidisciplinary team that involves students from different majors in the college of Engineering for the technical challenge of designing, building, and assembling the vehicle to business majors in the Ross School to help us acquire sponsors to fund this whole operation. The UMSCT divides itself into multiple divisions to focus on their respective technical tasks but ultimately work together to achieve its goal of winning the World Solar Challenge. 

I want to focus on the specific challenges that come into play when selecting a battery cell, modeling the battery cell, making a cell estimator and designing a battery pack for the Solar Car team that will give us the best possible advantage for winning the World Solar Challenge. I will outline the importance and challenges of making a robust state of charge (SOC) estimator and what we are planning on implementing to make sure we squeeze each and every bit of energy from the battery pack to finish first across the finish line. 

Ellen Yeats

Doctoral Candidate, Biomedical Engineering


Title: Aberration Correction for Transabdominal Histotripsy

Histotripsy is being investigated clinically for liver tumor ablation. However, the efficacy of histotripsy treatment may be limited by soft tissue phase aberration. My work has two primary objectives: (1) to quantitatively investigate the effects of phase aberration on focusing through the human abdomen, and (2) to develop a method for aberration correction based on sensing the acoustic emissions from histotripsy cavitation bubbles. Towards (1), acoustic transmission from a histotripsy transducer was computationally simulated using segmented CT scans to model the human abdomen. The simulation results indicate that phase aberration correction could substantially expand the feasible treatment volume in the liver by increasing the focal pressure amplitude at deep and/or highly obstructed target locations. For (2), experiments with ex vivo porcine tissue show that aberration correction based on cavitation emission signals obtained 96 ± 3% (n = 7 tissues) of the focal pressure amplitude obtained by hydrophone-based correction (compared to 71 ± 5% without any correction). In recent in vivo experiments, we observed that the cavitation emission-based correction approach reduced the transducer power required to generate cavitation in the pig liver by 35 - 45% (n = 6: 2 pigs, 3 liver locations each). 

Puentes Poster Session A

4:30 - 5:30 PM | Ballroom

Christopher ayala

Doctoral Candidate, Applied Physics

ayalac@umich.edu | LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/christopherayalaumich/ 

Title: High Harmonic Generation in Wide-Gap Semiconductors

Harmonic generation is a nonlinear optical process where an intense laser pulse impinges a target medium and produces a pulse whose frequency is n times the frequency (wavelength divided by n), where n is the number of photons interacting with the target medium. Laying the foundation of attosecond science, the tabletop generation of soft X-ray pulses, and allowing the probing of driven ultrafast dynamics, are only a few examples of what high harmonic generation has to offer. Since the first observation of harmonics in solids, many different mediums were tested and produced harmonics. Instead of using an insulator as a target medium for generating high harmonics, we aim to use a wide-gap semiconductor. Using wide-bandgap materials allows for increased voltages, increased frequency, as well as increased temperatures. All these factors effectively make wide-gap semiconductors a more efficient, smaller, and an overall more cost effective material that has high value to research into bringing forward next generation technology. We aim to try and find harmonics with this material using a higher repetition rate as well as a lower peak power.

Paloma Contreras

Doctoral Candidate, Anthropology 

palomacz@umich.edu | Twitter: @pcontreras92

Title: Water insecurity and perceptions of stress among women from Mexico City

Water insecurity is a rapidly growing problem that is estimated to impact half the world by 2050. Water insecurity is defined as the lack of adequate, reliable, and affordable water for a healthy life. Therefore, it represents a major psychosocial stressor negatively impacting mental well-being. In Mexico City, water distribution varies widely because of water pollution, problems in water infrastructure, an increasing demand for clean water sources, and the overall reduction of water sources due to climate change. This study addresses the connections between water insecurity, “water-worry”, and psychosocial stress among women from Mexico City. Using surveys applied through interviews to 250 women from water-secure (WS) and water-insecure (WI) neighborhoods, we studied the subjective experiences and emotional responses of women that are responsible of securing water access for all household members. We tested whether the perceived stress scores differ significantly between WS and WI groups. Stress, fear, and resignation were salient in women’s account of their experiences and expectations regarding their water situation. Studying individuals’ perception of resource insecurity and its potential impact on health accounting for cultural variation is necessary to generate culturally sensitive public policies addressing environmental issues. This study provides a better understanding of the extent to which the experience of water insecurity impacts mental health. 

Priscilla Diaz-Gonzalez

Staff, Psychology


Title: Hidden challenges of first-generation Latinx college students: How social support influences sense of belonging, university fit, and cultural congruity

The purpose of this research is to understand how American universities can support first-generation Latinx college students (FGLCS) throughout their college journey. Over the past decades, universities have increasingly been admitting first-generation college students, but it’s been seen that first-generation college students experience various challenges (e.g., experience a cultural mismatch, lower sense of belonging, lower retention rates) when transitioning to college. Social support plays an important role in FGLCS' transition to college, their persistence throughout higher education, and their overall psychological well-being. This study examines how social support from friends, family, and the university influences FGLCS’ sense of belonging, cultural congruence, and university belonging in higher education. A total of 228 FGLCS completed an online survey that assessed their perceived support from their family members, friends, and university. As well as, their cultural fit, perceptions of the university, and sense of belonging. We hypothesized that FGLCS with greater perceived social support from their family, friends, and campus will experience a higher sense of belonging, have more positive views of the university environment, and report higher cultural congruence. A series of multiple linear regressions reveal that social support from campus and friends was positively associated with FGLCS’ view of the university environment. Additionally, FGLCS with higher perceived social support from family and friends reported a higher sense of belonging. Lastly, null effects were found for cultural congruence. In conclusion, our study revealed that social support from friends, family, and university is important as FGLCS’ navigate higher education. 


Staff, University Library


Title: Mixed Race Students in the Academy: Experiences of Invisibility and Inclusion

Mixed race populations are growing in our nation, and on college campuses. Between the 2010 and 2020 United States censuses, mixed race populations increased 276 percent overall (Jones et al., 2021). “Between 2010 and 2020, the number of Latinx people reporting more than one race increased 567% from 3 million (6.0%) to 20.3 million (32.7%)” (U.S. Census, 2021). From 2010 to 2016, enrollment of students who identify as two or more races increased from 125,500 to 301,000--a 230 percent increase (Zook, 2019). These snapshots are informative, but they do not fully reflect the coming wave of students who identify as mixed race (Pew, 2015). These individuals constitute our future student and faculty pipelines.

Despite these demographic trends, campuses do not adequately address and include the experiences and issues related to mixed race people in our curricula, research, and student life services (Barrett, 2022; Zook, 2019). These statistics should serve as a wakeup call for many postsecondary institutions; their demographics will be shifting in profound ways, and together, curriculum planners, student life workers, academic libraries, and others must be positioned to meet the needs of mixed race people.

The authors will present findings from a survey sent to mixed race students in 2022, along with bibliometric analysis and literature review of mixed race literature. The authors will share the work they have accomplished to date in raising the visibility of mixed race issues on campus, nationally and internationally, and share plans for collaborations moving forward.  

Kenia Meija Escobar

Doctoral Candidate, Chemical Biology


Title: Characterization of (S)-6-Hydroxy-Nicotine Oxidase, a homolog of NicA2

Previous studies have shown that NicA2, a nicotine degrading enzyme, has promising catalytic efficiency for application as it is able to oxidize nicotine into N-methylmyosmine which is then hydrolyzed into pseudooxynicotine, a non-addictive and non-psychoactive metabolite. However, in previous attempts to use wildtype NicA2 for the nicotine degradation in vivo resulted in low activity in the presence of oxygen. Therefore, we are using a NicA2 homolog, 6-hydroxy-nicotine oxidase (6HLNO), from Shinella that has potential in converting (S)-nicotine making it a potential enzyme of interest in usage for medical purposes. The purpose of this project is to apply directed evolution to 6HLNO to alter its substrate specificity so that it can degrade nicotine itself, in the bloodstream making it a better therapeutic. We are generating a random mutagenized library of 6HLNO and then performing a directed evolution selection demanding growth on nicotine containing plates. We will then assay for the best variant that is able to oxidize nicotine using enzymatic assays. Once we have found the best catalytic mutant, we will crystalize the protein to understand the structural changes that result in the altered substrate specificity. These variant proteins will then be injected into rats to see if they have improved abilities to cure nicotine addiction. 

Rodrigo Tinoco Figueroa

Doctoral Candidate, Earth and Environmental Sciences

rtfiguer@umich.edu | Twitter: @Rodrigoichthys

Title: A ray-finned fish fossil brain impacts our understanding of vertebrate brain evolution

Soft tissues are rarely preserved in the vertebrate fossil record. Thus, rare information provided by exceptional preservation is a unique source of direct (rather than inferential) information regarding patterns of evolution of soft tissues through geologic time. However, internal soft tissue anatomy of extant species is sometimes overlooked, as studies tend to favor more widely available skeletal or superficial information for comparative and evolutionary studies. Combining these two biases, we end up with a large gap in our understanding of vertebrate evolution. By combining data from exceptionally preserved fossils with novel high-resolution datasets of internal cranial anatomy of extant taxa I explore the morphological evolution of the brain and cranial nerves of ray-finned fishes through geological time, with especial emphasis on an exceptionally preserved 319-million-year-old ray-finned fish fossil brain from the United Kingdom. This fossil points out that important neuroanatomical innovations found in living ray-finned fishes must have emerged much later that previously though. This remarkable fossil also indicates that data on living species alone, as well as indirect evidence of brain anatomy extrapolated from skeletal features, are insufficient for understanding the early evolution of the vertebrate brain.

Jonah Francese

Doctoral Candidate, Ethnomusicology


Title: Hñähñu Language Revitalization through Indigenous Mexican Hip Hop: Building Towards an Indigenous Hip Hop Futurism

My work investigates how Indigenous language Mexican hip hop Indigenizes public pedagogy, continues to build Indigenous/Black solidarity, and lays the groundwork for Indigenous futures. Centering my abuelita's language of Hñähñu, I place my own journey of reclamation in this context. As an endangered Indigenous Mexican language with just over 200,000 speakers left, Hñähñu language revitalization is critical. Being displaced geographically, my only means for learning was through online spaces, and specifically hip hop videos in Hñähñu. Using Indigenous scholar Jennifer Wemigwans’ framework of ‘digital bundles,’ I argue that despite unsuccessful past Mexican government funded language projects, Indigenous YouTube spaces serve as a space free from the physical colonization of land and resources that allow for community members' agency in these pedagogies. Then, I turn to Indigenous/Black solidarity by arguing that the early protest and message hip hop of the 80s and 90s only strengthens hip hop as an alternative mode of Indigenous storytelling and the passing of knowledge. Finally, I move towards a theorization around an Indigenous hip hop futurism.

Ivette Gonzalez

Doctoral Candidate, Psychology


Title: The effects of social housing on social behavior and stimulated DA release after methamphetamine exposure

Methamphetamine (METH) is an addictive stimulant and there has been in increase in usage among people in the United States. Factors like social isolation can contribute to the vulnerability in addiction to METH. Previous studies using cocaine self-administration have shown that housing pairs of rats of the same sex attenuated motivation for cocaine in females but did not affect males’ motivation for cocaine. However, there were individual differences in motivation among socially housed females. To understand these individual differences, as well as the sex differences, in how social behavior attenuates motivation for cocaine and METH the quality of the relationship between socially housed cage mates was examined. Rats have a social hierarchy, so animals were screened for social dominance using two weeks of 10-minute social behavioral recordings where behavior such as social investigation and social play were examined. For social play, the behaviors within play such napping, pinning and supine were recorded and used to determine which animal was dominant. A carbon-fiber multiarray electrode was lowered into the nucleus accumbens (NAc) and a stimulating electrode into the ventral tegmental area (VTA). Stimulating pulses were triggered to release dopamine (DA) in the NAc and the peak DA was measured. Each test session, the animal was given 3 i.p. injections of 0.5mg/kg METH for a total dose of 1.5mg/kg. During the test session, baseline was collected and then a set of 3 stimulations was given (30Hz 15p, 60Hz 30p & 60Hz 60p). After each METH injection, the same procedure of baseline and stimulation were collected. Social behavior of paired rats was analyzed after exposure to METH. Results showed that in some pairs social hierarchy remained the same for males and females, while in other pairs dominance changed or was unstable; social play decreased for both sexes after METH. These results show that the quality of the relationships between males and females could play a potential role in motivation for drugs. Data were also collected investigating DA release in the NAc core and shell of socially housed and individually housed rats using fast scan cyclic voltammetry (FSCV). NAc Core: There was a significant effect of social housing on the effect of electrical stimulation after METH in both males and females. There was also a significant interaction between sex and housing at baseline. NAc Shell: There was a significant effect of social housing on the effect of electrical stimulation in both males and females for all conditions. These data will help to better understand the DA response in the NAc core and shell and how it is affected by METH, social housing conditions and sex differences.

Jennifer Gonzalez-Hernandez

Master's Student, Department of Health Behavior and Health Education/Master of Public Health 

jengonz@umich.edu | LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jennifer-g-471816146/ 

Title: Alianza Washtenaw - A Latinx Health Services Coalition

Latinx residents in Michigan face stark health disparities. For example, in Washtenaw County, Latinx residents have a life expectancy of 16 years lower than their White counterparts and 6 years lower than their African-American counterparts. Statewide, Latinx are almost twice as likely to be uninsured as any other racial/ethnic group. The Alianza Washtenaw project aims to create a Health Resource Coalition to strengthen partnerships between agencies and coordinate county resources for Latinx residents to maximize the use of county services that address the social determinants of health. Alianza Washtenaw is led by the Washtenaw Health Plan in collaboration with the Washtenaw Health Department and the University of Michigan School of Public Health Fleming Research Team. As part of this project, we created an assessment tool to assess how “Latinx-friendly” each community agency/organization is and what areas need improvement. We have started piloting the tool with a few agencies in the county to collect feedback. Alongside the tool, the research team interviewed 13 Latinx community members to try to understand and identify existing gaps for Latinx residents facing crises, and opinions on how organizations and agencies serving Latinx residents could coordinate to better serve the community. Almost all community members state language barriers as an impediment to accessing services as well as a lack of awareness of existing services or resources and a lack of collaboration or communication. 

Helena Helme

Undergraduate Student, LSA


Title: A Racial Perspective on The History of Wet Nursing in Brazil

Many mothers around the world do not have the ability to produce enough milk for their newborns. Historically, there were also some that chose not to, for a variety of reasons. As a result, alternative sources such as infant formulas were used. However, these substitutes cannot replicate the nutritional benefits of human milk, and were inaccessible at times. By researching Brazil’s history with breastfeeding, one can begin to learn how the nation grappled with this broad issue. The first practice: wet nursing. People used to think that this approach, which began under slavery, ended soon after the 1888 abolition, but this research project shows its continuity throughout the twentieth century (albeit in reduced numbers). This academic year has been dedicated to reading through thousands of wet nurse ads from newspapers in Brazil’s (digital) Biblioteca Nacional and inputting the data in Airtable. Some components of the data recorded are a transcription, the date, what particular newspaper is cited, the race of the wet nurse, etc. This information has given context to the social and cultural significance of wet nursing and will help us understand the role that wet nursing played in infant health, while also exhibiting the racialized expectations of female labor. Additionally, the work will be used as a timeline to display how Brazil shifted from wet nurses to human milk banking. These findings have the potential to make an enormous impact on the way human milk banking is carried out in the United States and other countries. By using Brazil’s methods as a model, a surge in community efforts could reduce infant mortality rates. 

Jasmin Lee

Undergraduate Student, U-M Library and American Culture


Title: Mixed Race Literature Database

“I have a strange question for you.” A mother asked coming up to the librarians at the reference desk in the children’s department of the library…”Are there any books with kids who are biracial? My son is Asian and Hispanic and he wonders if he will ever see himself in a book.” (Warsinke, 2016) 

The Mixed Race Literature Database is a project conducted by LSA senior Jasmin Lee to compile literature surrounding mixed-race identity in the humanities and social sciences. The purpose of the database is to surface and gather together conceptual and empirical literature on a topic of growing importance/interest across many social science and humanities disciplines, but is often difficult to find and access due to language ambiguities, poor/inconsistent indexing, and the interdisciplinary nature of the topic. 

Jasmin is developing this literature search/discovery strategy with social science and digital scholarship librarians at the University Library and the American Culture department. She is sequencing the search and retrieval of the resources, browsing results, and choosing articles to read, analyze, and enter into the database. Jasmin has also created her own dictionary of tags and inclusion criteria for this database. For each database entry, she includes standard bibliographic information, whether the piece is empirically or conceptually based, what research methods were used (if empirical), the research question(s), any theoretical/conceptual frameworks used, sample type, and important findings. While this project is ongoing, Jasmin is looking forward for the release of the database upon its completion.

Andrea Marquez

Master's Student, Educational Studies


Title: College Matriculation Among First-Generation, Low-Income Latinx Students

The rate in which Latinx students attend college is disproportionately low. Researchers have found an array of factors that contribute to low levels of college matriculation, including family responsibilities and lack of social and cultural resources. Institutional barriers such as remedial tracks and citizenship status pose additional roadblocks. Latinx students that do not directly enter the workforce tend to attend community and vocational college, with others matriculating in four-year public institutions. The number of Latinx students who attain an education from liberal arts colleges is even more limited. While much research exists on the barriers preventing Latinx students from graduating high school and attending a four-year institution, less is known about the factors that help disadvantaged students attend universities. 

I conducted research Fall of 2021 for my undergraduate senior thesis where I studied the factors that help first-generation, low-income Latinx students attend four year institutions after high school. I interviewed 23 students from my undergrad college and found three factors that worked with one another to support their college matriculation to a liberal arts college. These three factors were positive student-teacher/mentor relationships, family involvement (especially that of older siblings), and access to college prep programs. While much research exists on the topics of positive teacher and family relationships, my research contributed to a small body of scholarship regarding the impact of college prep programs. More so, there is limited research on how these three forms of support work together to create unique opportunities for students. In my thesis, I argued that familial support, positive student-teacher relationships, and access to college prep programs work in tandem to open the door to liberal arts colleges for low-income and first-generation Latinx students.

Pedro Puente

Doctoral Candidate, Civil and Environmental Engineering


Title: Stability prediction using a modified biomethane potential test and modeling for the co-digestion of food waste and sewage sludge

Water Resource Recovery Facilities (WRRF) that stabilize sludge with anaerobic digestion are suitable places to incorporate food waste for enhanced resource recovery.  Incorporating food waste into working digesters requires careful planning and operational control to protect existing infrastructure and comply with effluent regulations.  This paper presents the experimental results of a modified Biomethane Potential test (BMP) for a novel two-phase anaerobic dynamic membrane bioreactor (AnDMBR) for the treatment of food waste and sludge.  Five combinations of a food waste blend from Ann Arbor, MI (pre- and post-consumer sources) and a sludge blend from Detroit, MI (primary and secondary thickened sludge) were tested along a blank, and a positive control. Operational conditions of the two-phase AnDMBR digesting food waste only were replicated with an inoculum-to-substrate ratio of 2, a volatile solids load of 23.78 g VS/L in a 300-mL working volume.  Contents from the first-phase reactor and anaerobic sludge from a WRRF digester were used as inocula.  To model the results, a ternary plot developed by Cook et al. (2015) to predict the stability of anaerobic digesters from the substrates’ biochemical composition is being updated. Measurements taken during the modified BMP test (methane content, pH, and alkalinity) are considered stability parameters in the updated ternary plots. These updated plots are created using different versions of the fast anaerobic digestion model No. 1 (ADM1F).

Francisco Rentería-Macedo

Master's Student, School for Environment and Sustainability / Ford School of Public Policy

franrm@umich.edu | LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/franciscorenteriamacedo/ 

Title: Greenhouse gas emissions embodied in trade: Production versus consumption accounting in British Columbia, Canada

As a result of carbon-pricing policies, a number of jurisdictions across the world claim to be decoupling their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from their gross domestic product (GDP). In British Columbia (BC), Canada, in what appears to be decoupling from 2007 to 2018, GHGs with respect to GDP declined by 16% (BC Government 2020). This finding, however, is the result of a production-based method of accounting—the predominant global approach for allocating emissions—and not a consumption-based method. In our study, we compare these two accounting methods with respect to British Columbian decoupling. We calculate consumption-based emissions through a multi-regional input-output analysis from 2010 to 2015. In our results for 2015, we find total consumption emissions of 82.5Mt of CO2e; when compared to the total production emissions of 73.7Mt of CO2e, we find BC to be a net consumer of emissions by 8.8Mt of CO2e for 2015. Although BC has had this net consumer status since at least 2004 (Dobson and Fellows, 2017), this orientation is in decline primarily due to the decarbonizing trends of China and the USA. In short, from 2010–2015, on a per capita basis in BC, both production and consumption accounts of emissions declined (even as GDP rose), but per capita consumption accounts declined more than production accounts and primarily due to emissions reductions from trade partners. Ultimately, this study may be of interest to policymakers and scientists working on GHG accounting, and like other scholars, we recommend that consumption-based inventories accompany production-based accounts when designing and assessing global GHG mitigation policy.

Adrianna Rojas

Master's Student, Epidemiology

adriaroj@umich.edu | Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/adrianna-rojas/ 

Title: Mexico Simsmoke Simulation Model: Assessing the Public Health Burden of Tobacco among the Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social (IMSS) Population

Tobacco kills an estimated 63,200 people each year in Mexico, 9.7% of all deaths in Mexico. Following the MPOWER framework, introduced by the World Health Organization (WHO) to implement and manage tobacco control, the project will run simulation models to understand the long-term and short-term economic and health-related impact of following MPOWER guidelines on the Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social (IMSS) population, a subpopulation in Mexico that has a type of federal health insurance.  The Simsmoke simulation model, is a discrete time, first-order Markov model that is using population size, smoking rates, and tobacco control policy for Mexico to assess smoking rates and deaths into 2060. The model specifically looks at the impact of seven different types of policies, such as cigarette taxes, smoke-free air laws, mass media campaigns, advertising bans, warning labels, cessation treatment and youth tobacco access policies. Utilizing Mexican national surveys: National Survey on Addictions, National Survey on Consumption of Drugs, Alcohol and Tobacco, National Health and Nutrition Survey and Global Adult Tobacco Survey, prevalence data was obtained for the most recent simsmoke simulation model. From 2002-2009, current smoking decreased 11.3% (from 37.6% to 26.3%) among males; current smoking decreased 5.1% (from 15.2% to 10.1%) among females among the IMSS population. Next steps of the study include the possibility of including other indicators in the model and obtaining smoking rate estimations. Prevalence data obtained from the internship will be used to run the simulation model until 2060. 

Maria Santana-Garces

Master's Student, Epidemiology / Global Health Epidemiology


Title: Nawiri (“Thrive”): Assessing Drivers of Global Acute Malnutrition in Two Counties of Northern Kenya  

Background and Objectives: Nawiri is a longitudinal study being conducted in Turkana and  Samburu counties, which aims to assess drivers of global acute malnutrition (GAM). Susceptibility to drought in the region leads to decreased crop production which increases food insecurity. This study aims to understand long-term drivers of GAM and create sustainable solutions. 

Methods: This sample consists of children < 3 years old at baseline and their caregivers. Surveys and qualitative interviews were used to assess drivers of GAM. Prevalence of GAM was measured using weight-for-height z-score (WHZ). Descriptive statistics were assessed by livelihood zones, chi squared tests were conducted to compare findings between waves, and logistic regression was used to determine factors associated with GAM.  

Results: Two waves of data were collected over 7 months. In Turkana, the prevalence of malnutrition (WHZ < -2SD) was 21% in wave 1 and 20% in wave 2. Children with underweight caregivers were 1.83 times more likely to experience GAM (95% CI 1.16-2.89, p-value: 0.010). In Samburu, acute malnutrition decreased between waves (19.3% to 15.8%) and children who lived in urban/peri-urban and agro-pastoral livelihood zones had a 76% lower odds of acute malnutrition compared to children in pastoral zones (aOR=0.24, 95% 0.06-0.86, p-value=0.029).

Conclusions: For both counties, prevalence of acute malnutrition did not significantly change between waves. Samburu had a decrease between waves due to a humanitarian response to drought, however more efforts to provide sustainable low-cost sources of proper nutrition must be prioritized for this population. 

Estefania Martinez Valdivia

Doctoral Candidate, Program in Chemical Biology

estefmv@umich.edu | LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/estefaniamv/ 

Title: A Natural-Product Lipopeptide Transcriptional Inhibitor  

Hispanic and Latinx people suffer the highest rates of leukemias than any other ethnicities in the US. A shared characteristic in various types of leukemia is dysregulation in the protein-protein interactions (PPIs) of transcriptional components,  such as coactivators and activators. Coactivators act as regulators of gene expression by bridging activators engaged at enhancer regions of genes to the general transcription machinery. Thus, modulation of gene expression through the inhibition of these PPIs is an avenue to define the role of their dysregulation in the development of disease. Due to the complexity in targeting these complexes, natural-product derived molecules are well-positioned to be developed into selective and potent inhibitors. Here, we report the development of a target-adjustable inhibitor of activator-coactivator complexes based on a natural product lipopeptide previously discovered by the Mapp and Sherman labs. Structure-activity relationship studies of this inhibitor demonstrate adjustability in the selectivity of lipopeptide analogs for various coactivators, including Med25 and CBP/p300. We identified specific lipopeptide residues that dictate the selective disruption of coactivator-activator PPIs. Additionally, the binding mode of potent inhibitors to their main target was determined using 2D NMR. Our results suggest the occurrence of specific interactions between lipopeptide residues and coactivators, which are crucial for the activity and selectivity of the lipopeptides. Our data positions this molecule as a platform with modifiable selectivity, and it proposes lipopeptides as a novel scaffold for the selective inhibition and characterization of coactivator PPI networks.

Irene Vargas-Salazar

Doctoral Candidate, Astronomy

ivargasa@umich.edu | Twitter: @irinilovesyou

Title: Properties of Massive Binaries in the Field of the Small Magellanic Cloud

Almost all massive stars are born alongside another star. They orbit around each other in systems called binaries. Some of these binary star systems exchange mass with their companions which affects the star’s structure and evolution. Due to the nature of their interactions, binaries profoundly affect stellar populations and can change the way they interact with their surrounding environment. This in turn would produce changes in the composition and evolution of their galaxy. I have found that 95% of massive stars are ejected from their parent cluster into more isolated environments defined as the “field”. Since these “field stars” may themselves be ejected as binary systems, their properties can help us understand the binary statistics of the population as a whole and their ejection mechanisms. For this purpose, I study a complete sample of massive field stars in the nearby Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC). I use spectroscopic observations from multiple dates to obtain radial velocities which I use to extract their binary fraction. To examine the implications of my results, I combine them with models that can simulate the evolution of a population of stars and binaries in a similar environment to the SMC. I use these to model the number of ejections and evolution to study the effects in the massive star population and their evolutionary consequences.

Victoria Vezaldenos

Doctoral Candidate, Combined Program in Education and Psychology

toriavez@umich.edu | linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/victoria-vezaldenos-4a4a57149/ | Twitter: @vvezaldenos

Title: Raising “Antiracist Disruptors”:  Illuminating Socialization Practices that Support Antiracism in Multiracial Households

Although an emerging body of literature has advanced our knowledge of how monoracial parents can support their multiracial children in understanding the ethnic-racial identities they hold, there is a dearth of research exploring how parents socialize their children towards antiracism. Drawing from ten interviews with monoracial parents of multiracial children, this paper illuminates how parents leverage multiracial socialization practices, as identified in previous academic research, to instill an antiracist orientation in their children. Using consensual qualitative analyses, we find that although all parents had a vested interest in the well-being and identity development of their multiracial children, parents qualitatively differed in their ability and willingness to instill an antiracist orientation in their children. Specifically, parents in our sample exhibited five approaches to multiracial socialization, ranging from those that reinforced dominant racial ideologies to those that explicitly aimed to prepare youth to become antiracist activists. We also describe how monoracial parents’ lived experiences are implicated in their engagement in multiracial socialization practices, especially those that better position them to prepare their children to engage in antiracism. Our findings illuminate how monoracial parents may engage in a repertoire of strategies in order to foster antiracism in multiracial children, molding the next generation of “antiracist disruptors”.

Jessica Villarreal

Master's Student, SEAS


Sagarika Kaushik

Master's Student, SEAS


Daly Kleaveland

Master's Student, SEAS & Ford School of Public Policy


Rachel Mallet

Master's Student, SEAS


Jasmyn Noel

Master's Student, SEAS


Madison Parrish

Master's Student, SEAS & Ross School of Business


Title: Trails of History and Nature: Developing ecological & cultural materials for an ecotourism hiking network on the Aegean Island of Naxos

Although an emerging body of literature has advanced our knowledge of how monoracial parents can support their multiracial children in understanding the ethnic-racial identities they hold, there is a dearth of research exploring how parents socialize their children towards antiracism. Drawing from ten interviews with monoracial parents of multiracial children, this paper illuminates how parents leverage multiracial socialization practices, as identified in previous academic research, to instill an antiracist orientation in their children. Using consensual qualitative analyses, we find that although all parents had a vested interest in the well-being and identity development of their multiracial children, parents qualitatively differed in their ability and willingness to instill an antiracist orientation in their children. Specifically, parents in our sample exhibited five approaches to multiracial socialization, ranging from those that reinforced dominant racial ideologies to those that explicitly aimed to prepare youth to become antiracist activists. We also describe how monoracial parents’ lived experiences are implicated in their engagement in multiracial socialization practices, especially those that better position them to prepare their children to engage in antiracism. Our findings illuminate how monoracial parents may engage in a repertoire of strategies in order to foster antiracism in multiracial children, molding the next generation of “antiracist disruptors”.

Puentes Poster Session B

6:00 - 7:00 PM | Ballroom

Isiris Acevedo-Almodovar

Undergraduate Student, Department of Psychology


Title: Examining morphological awareness in Spanish-English Bilingual children

This study aims to establish the relationship between Spanish and English morphological awareness in Spanish-English bilingual children. Morphological awareness is the understanding of units of meaning in language (i.e., morphemes) that is important throughout reading acquisition, especially in grades three and up when the majority of words children read contain multiple morphemes. Behavioral data were collected from a diverse sample of Spanish and English bilinguals (N = 50; M = 8.51 years old), 29 female and 21 male participants ranging from 6-11 years old with low socioeconomic status. Some of these children’s caregivers reported that they have struggled with language or reading. Five tasks were administered to measure morphological awareness: Spanish and English auditory morphological awareness using an oddball paradigm; English visual morphological awareness; Spanish and English Early Lexical Morphology Measure (ELMM); Spanish and English Vocabulary. We predict that the morphological awareness of Spanish and English in bilingual children is correlated. Although bilingualism is common, little research has established this crucial aspect of reading development. This study could aid schools with knowledge on how their bilingual students gain reading acquisition and better the resources provided for them.

Olivia Pifer Alge

Doctoral Candidate, DCMB

oialge@umich.edu | Twitter: @oialge | LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/olivia-alge-9a99a9102

Title: Using Tensor-Reduced Physiological Signals to Predict Sepsis Trajectory

Background: The quick sequential organ failure assessment (qSOFA) scoring system, defined by Sepsis-3 in 2016, is a method to identify patients at risk to progress to poor outcomes related to sepsis using variables that can be collected at the bedside.

Methods: Our group used the learning methods Support Vector Machine, Learning Using Concave and Convex Kernels, and Random Forest to predict an increase in qSOFA using electronic health record (EHR) data. We used Random Forest for further analysis using waveform features extracted from electrocardiogram and arterial line.

Results: Our group found that although a Random Forest model trained on only EHR data can create adequate predictions in a 6-hour time frame (AUROC 0.781 ± 0.113), one trained on waveform features can create a similar prediction (AUROC 0.739 ± 0.118). A model trained on waveform features is further improved when the data are structured as a tensor, and tensor decomposition via Canonical Polyadic / Parallel Factors with Alternating Least Squares (CP-ALS) is used to reduce the feature space (AUROC 0.753 ± 0.116).

Conclusion: A waveform-informed model offers distinct advantages over an EHR data-informed model, despite experiencing a reduction in performance. The first is that predictions can be made continuously in real-time, and second is that these predictions would not be limited by the availability of EHR data. Additionally, structuring the waveform features as a tensor conserves structural and temporal information that would otherwise be lost if the data were presented as flat vectors.

Jesus Alonso Castor-Macias

Doctoral Candidate, Biomedical Engineering


Title: Maresin 1 Repletion Improves Muscle Regeneration After Volumetric Muscle Loss 

The acute loss of a large volume of skeletal muscle mass, or volumetric muscle loss (VML), is a significant type of injury that results in attenuation of muscle function and disability. Despite attempts using regenerative medicine and tissue engineering approaches, VML injured tissue typically results in sustained inflammation, supplantation of muscle tissue with excessive extracellular matrix and muscle fibrosis. The cellular and molecular mechanisms that drive the dysregulated VML response have not been elucidated. Herein, we contrasted VML injuries that heal with those that result in fibrosis and loss of muscle function. We used lipidomic analysis to observe imbalances in the ratio of pro-inflammatory eicosanoids to pro-resolving mediators for VML injuries that do not heal. Treatment with Maresin 1, a pro-resolving lipid mediator reduced macrophage infiltration and fibrosis and impacted muscle stem cell proliferation. These findings bring new understanding of the role lipid mediators play in severe muscle trauma and how they can be therapeutically targeted. 

Veronica Contreras

Doctoral Candidate, Electrical Engineering


Title: A high-repetition rate diagnostic for laser-produced ion acceleration

Experiments that will be performed at the Zetawatt-Equivalent Ultrashort Pulse Laser System (ZEUS) will allow researchers to investigate regimes of physics that have yet to be explored. The extreme intensity of the laser field (greater than 10^21W/cm^2) ionizes a target material (thin foils, foams, gas targets), forming a plasma, and accelerating charged particles away from this interaction. These experiments allow for studying massive astronomical events on a tiny scale in the lab, developing tabletop particle accelerators, and even exploring their use in medical applications. One key challenge arises in being able to determine and design the most effective diagnostic for the ZEUS laser system to enable measurements of accelerated protons. The goal is to measure beam properties, such as beam footprint, uniformity, divergence, and recreate an energy spectrum for the accelerated proton beam, subject to some tradeoffs. 

The new diagnostic presented here, will consist of eight scintillators, each parallel to the one in front and behind it. They will be spaced out enough to view the scintillating signal on the back of each with a camera. One key advantage of this diagnostic, as opposed to the diagnostic the idea is formed from, and the main contribution of this work is the added flexibility in the range of experiments it can be used for. Three diagnostic designs were modeled as a proof-of-concept. By adjusting the thickness of the aluminum filter preceding each scintillator, the designs include the following energy ranges: 5 – 30 MeV, 30 – 80 MeV, and 10 – 100 MeV. 

Pamela Duran

Post-Doctoral Scholar, Biomedical Engineering

paduran@umich.edu | Twitter: PDuranBE

Title: Impairment in Nascent Matrix Deposition during Aging

Muscle stem cells (MuSCs) functionality is dependent on their interactions with the extracellular matrix (ECM). During aging, compositional changes in ECM impinge on MuSC-matrix interactions, but further understanding of how MuSCs remodel their ECM is needed. Herein, we investigated nascent matrix deposition from MuSCs across lifespan. 

Hindlimb muscles from mice (n=2/group) were harvested at different ages (young: 3months, middle-aged: 13m, aged: 17m, old-aged: 24m) and MuSCs isolated via magnetic sorting. MuSCs were cultured on norbornene-modified hyaluronic acid hydrogels, and media was supplemented with a methionine analog (L-Azidohomoalanine, AHA).  Incorporated AHA, plasma membrane and nuclei were fluorescently labeled after 1, 3, and 5 days. Confocal images of MuSCs were used to quantify area of nascent matrix deposition. Data (mean±SEM) were analyzed by two-way ANOVA with Tukey’s post hoc pairwise comparisons (p<0.05).   

For young and middle-aged mice, an increase in nascent matrix deposition was observed until day 5 (young; 5 vs 1d-3.21±0.47 vs 0.50±0.5µm2, p=0.0003, 5 vs 3d-1.95±0.29µm2, p=0.02. Middle-aged; 5 vs 1d-2.01±0.68 vs 0.67±0.46µm2, p=0.04). However, no changes in nascent matrix were observed for the aged and old-aged mice between the time points. At day 5, a decrease in nascent matrix was identified across lifespan (young vs middle-aged; p=0.06, young vs aged; 1.01±0.15µm2, p<0.0001, young vs old-aged; 0.71±0.21µm2, p<0.0001. Middle-aged vs aged; p=0.056, middle-aged vs old-aged; p=0.01).

An impairment in nascent matrix deposition was observed in aged and old-aged MuSCs. Understanding the interplay between MuSCs and their ECM aids in the investigation of therapeutic approaches to rescue aged MuSCs phenotype. 

Ricardo “Ricky” Guisse

Master's Student, Architecture

rguisse@umich.edu | LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ricardoguisse/ 

Title: The Use of Artificial Intelligence as part of the Design Process in Architecture

With introduction and rapid proliferation of artificial intelligence (AI) in people’s lives, creative fields such as art, music, writing, and graphic design are being provoked with this novel technology, and architecture is not an exception.

A typical architecture project starts with a schematic or concept and ends in a design reality, usually in built form. Architectural design itself encapsulates problem-solving processes to better introduce solutions within the built environment. Pen, paper, scale models, and precedent studies have always been part of the design process since the dawn of architecture as a discipline. The advent of computer-aided design (CAD) and 3D modeling software provided better tools for solving design issues which are commonly present in schools and firms today. 

The use of AI, as part of the design process, has been recently the subject of current research for my final thesis with Prof. Matias del Campo. From the early use of neural networks such as StyleGAN, to the present use of diffusion models like Midjourney and Dall-E, my research attempts to reveal how AI presents both opportunities and challenges in the design process commonly used by architects and designers in addition (and in contrast) to conventional design methods. I will use two studio projects, one using a typical design methodology and one that uses AI. To that end, I am focusing on revealing the opportunities that can lead to the production of innovative designs and fast conception of schematic ideas, while also revealing the challenges of potential biases towards Western culture, the English language, and Anglo-American perspectives in the datasets used in diffusion models like Midjourney. Whether AI can be an incredible or a problematic tool in the design process, it is worth noting that this technology is increasingly becoming a prescient reality in the future of architecture.

Ezekiel Juan Herrera-Bevan

Master's Student, School For the Environment and Sustainability- Ecosystem Science and Management 

ehbevan@umich.edu | LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/ezekiel-j-herrera-bevan-87b5881a3 

Title: Exploring the Impacts of Flooding on Tree Communities in Michigan

Contemporary hydrological research and data for the state of Michigan have shown increases in precipitation in recent years and into the future. Furthermore, flooding events are projected to increase in intensity and frequency in the future across the state. Therefore, I am interested in exploring and understanding how inundation (flooded) conditions are possibly impacting tree communities across the Lower Peninsula. Currently, we don’t have a general in-field understanding of tree populations and communities' relationship with flooding conditions and how forests may respond to novel environments experiencing inundated conditions. This research aims to understand better how communities' abundance and diversity may be affected by such novel environments becoming flooded. We implemented in-field data collection through transect methods to collect data on tree seedling abundance, diversity, soil moisture, light intensity levels, elevation, and also adult tree abundance, diversity, and diameters. At this point of this analysis, we see differences in abundance and diversity in flooded and non-flooded environments. We also see a general trend of seedling abundance and diversity decreasing along a soil moisture gradient. 

Alanna Hurd

Master's Student, School of Education - M.A. Ed Studies: Educational Equity, Justice, and Social Transformation

Aghurd@umich.edu | LinkedIn @alanna-hurd 

Title: The Misuse of Restorative Justice in Schools: What are we missing?  

Disproportionate use of exclusionary discipline is a symptom of the White Supremacist, capitalist, and carceral foundations of our American schools which plague primarily Black and Latinx students. Exclusionary discipline has a strong relationship with negative outcomes including disengagement, higher incarceration rates, higher school dropout rates, and reduced academic performance. As an alternative to these punitive discipline practices, Restorative Justice has often been posed as a central solution to disproportionate discipline in schools. Despite many attempts to incorporate Restorative Justice into classrooms, schools, and districts, Restorative Justice practitioners in education have struggled to implement this framework into our American schools with fidelity. These many failed efforts beg the question, are we using Restorative Justice correctly? Are we honoring the essence of Restorative Justice that is rooted in Indigenous ways of healing? I have begun an inquiry into these questions regarding what sits at the roots of Restorative Justice and how that compares to the Restorative frameworks we are attempting to implement in schools today. Exploring the literature exclusively from Indigenous scholars and thinkers, as well as Restorative Justice practitioners of color, I will investigate the Indigenous values and thinking that beget these contemporary iterations of Restorative Justice reforms to better understand the failure of our modern frameworks. 

Contents of Study: 

- Incorporation of my Fall 2022 Program of Research: The Challenges of Implementing Restorative Practices (a brief literature review of peer-reviewed empirical studies)

- Analysis of collections of critical academic literature on Restorative Justice

- Analysis of non-“academic” literature and community voices 

Amador Cabrera Lagunas

Doctoral Candidate, Biomedical Engineering


Title: Pudendal neuromodulation evokes varied pelvic floor responses which may be related to treatment outcomes  

Millions of people in the United States have lower urinary tract problems like overactive bladder and incontinence. These disorders will become increasingly prevalent as the population continues to age. Unfortunately, if current treatments like lifestyle changes, pharmaceuticals, or sacral neuromodulation fail, individuals are left with few options. Pudendal neuromodulation is a promising off-label treatment for pelvic pain and bladder dysfunction that can fill this need. The goal of this study is to measure the physiological effects of clinical pudendal neuromodulation on the lower urinary tract and the pelvic floor in participants with an implanted stimulation lead at the pudendal nerve. We utilize a high-density pressure sensing catheter placed in the urethra and bladder along with an abdominal catheter in the rectum and electromyogram electrodes around the anus. Participant sensations during stimulation are recorded. During bladder filling we turn on stimulation with the implanted lead to observe how bladder volume impacts stimulation outcomes. Bladder pressure changes, urethral pressure changes, and patient sensations in response to stimulation have varied across the first twelve patients (ten female). In most participants, activation of the stimulator led to reduced urgency sensations and increased bladder capacities. However, results have varied and showcase the heterogeneity of patient responses and hint at the importance that the relative electrode-pudendal nerve location may play in treatment outcomes. Continued patient recruitment and data analysis will improve our understanding of the role that urethral and bladder activation play in pudendal neuromodulation for the treatment of lower urinary tract dysfunction.

Alejandra Gonzalez Manso

Undergraduate Student, Language and Literacy Lab


Title: Examining Morphological Awareness in Spanish-English Bilingual Children 

This study aims to establish the relationship between Spanish and English morphological awareness in Spanish-English bilingual children. Morphological awareness is the understanding of units of meaning in language (i.e., morphemes) that is important throughout reading acquisition, especially in grades three and up when the majority of words children read contain multiple morphemes. Behavioral data were collected from a diverse sample of Spanish and English bilinguals (N = 50; M = 8.51 years old), 29 female and 21 male participants ranging from 6-11 years old with low socioeconomic status. Some of these children’s caregivers reported that they have struggled with language or reading. Five tasks were administered to measure morphological awareness: Spanish and English auditory morphological awareness using an oddball paradigm; English visual morphological awareness; Spanish and English Early Lexical Morphology Measure (ELMM); Spanish and English Vocabulary. We predict that the morphological awareness of Spanish and English in bilingual children is correlated. Although bilingualism is common, little research has established this crucial aspect of reading development. This study could aid schools with knowledge on how their bilingual students gain reading acquisition and better the resources provided for them.

Isabel Munoz Orozco

Doctoral Candidate, School of Kinesiology


Julianna Hickey | Mithra Arun | Geetje Duron Annabel Luna-Smith | Nicholas Fears | Haylie Miller

Title: Knowledge, Awareness, and Manifestation of Autistic Sensorimotor Characteristics among Hispanic Families in Texas 

Background: The documented prevalence of autism among Hispanic Texans is 1 in 99, but studies estimate that the rate is closer to 1 in 59, leaving many families overlooked. The average age of diagnosis is 8.8 years for Hispanics and 6.3 years for White non-Hispanics. Underrepresented minorities are more likely to receive an incorrect diagnosis first, prolonging their diagnostic trajectories. Additionally, autism commonly co-occurs with Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD), which often goes undiagnosed. Purpose: Our study purpose was to characterize differences between Hispanic and non-Hispanic 1) caregivers’ and self-advocates' knowledge about autistic sensorimotor traits and what they identify as barriers to assessment, diagnosis, and care, 2) autistic and non-autistic individuals’ sensorimotor integration skills, and 3) autistic individuals’ presentation of undiagnosed DCD. Methods: We used a mixed-methods approach including interviews, questionnaires (e.g., medical, developmental, motor), and balance testing. Interviews were transcribed and thematic analysis was conducted using NVivo. Balance data were processed and analyzed using Matlab. Results: Caregivers were aware of their children’s sensorimotor differences but did not know that these were linked to autism and were unaware of their implications for daily living. Many reported that clinicians had dismissed their early concerns about motor differences. Conclusion: Results can inform the development of community- and provider-based education and assessments related to sensorimotor differences. Community-based sensorimotor assessments could trigger earlier referral to clinical evaluation for co-occurring DCD. Use of more objective measures of autistic traits (i.e., sensorimotor skills), could narrow the gap in age of diagnosis and reduce disparities for Hispanic families. 

Patricia Torres Pineda

Doctoral Candidate, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology


Title: The functional morphospace of locomotor morphology of Neotropical poecilids: A preliminary study

Morphological traits affecting the capacity to perform ecologically relevant functions are likely adaptively relevant (Arnold 1983), thus phenotypic differentiation serve as a basis for predictions of the relationship between morphology and ecology. Phenotypic variability linked to locomotor performance in fishes, such as body and fin size and shape has been linked to habitat use as well as access to food and mates. Poeciliids (Cyprinodontiformes: Poeciliinae) a major component of Neotropical fish diversity, exhibit large variability in fin as well as body size and shape. Some of the variability observed is linked to sexual selection and phenotypic plasticity, however, analyses of functionally informed morphological traits at a macroevolutionary scale can help detect signals of adaptation. I measured and compared 16 functional morphological traits across main groups of the phylogeny of Poeciliinae. The morphospace of poecilids is extensive, with certain groups exploring novel spaces of the morphospace. The functional locomotor morphology constitutes an important dimension of phenotypic evolution in poecilids. Patterns recovered here will inform subsequent inferences and testing of the link of these traits with ecological divergence.

Andres Pinedo

Doctoral Candidate, Combined Program in Education and Psychology


Title: Uncovering Profiles of Stigma-Based Solidarity among Latinx and Native American Adolescents  

Solidarity between different racial groups has historically been a key strategy for promoting social change. Recent theorizing suggests that critical reflection, a structural-historical understanding of inequality, is key to promoting solidarity across racial groups (Burson & Godfrey, 2020). Models of collective action, like the Social Identity Model of Collective Action, propose that racial identity, political efficacy, and anger at injustice encourage stigma-based solidarity (van Zomeran et al., 2008). To integrate and extend theories of stigma-based solidarity and collective action, I employ latent profile analyses to examine whether 457 Latinx and Native American high school students can be typed into different subgroups based on their levels of critical reflection, political efficacy, ethnic-racial identity centrality, egalitarianism, and anger at injustice. That is, do participants share patterns in their responses to these variables that probabilistically lead them to be in one subgroup over another? 

Three profiles emerged in our analyses, characterized as uncritical and unengaged (i.e., below the mean on all constructs), engaged but uncritical (i.e., above the mean on all constructs but lowest in critical reflection), and critical and engaged (highest critical reflection and all other variables). Profiles two and three were differentiated primarily by their critical reflection. These profiles differed in their solidarity with Black people, with the two engaged profiles endorsing solidarity with Black people more than the unengaged profile. Moving forward, we will examine whether youth enrolled in ethnic studies are more likely to move from one profile to another over a semester. We hypothesize that youth enrolled in ethnic studies, versus those who are not, will be more likely to transition from the less critical profiles to the most critical profile. Implications of these findings for stigma-based solidarity will be discussed.

Carmen Ramos

Doctoral Candidate, Department of Nutritional Sciences


Title: The Role of Coparenting Dynamics in Early Childhood Feeding among Three-Generation Latinx Households  

One-quarter of children in the US, or over 20 million children, are Latinx.1 Further, Latinx children are more than twice as likely as non-Latinx children to live with both their parents and grandparents in a three-generation household.2,3 While US Latinx children report healthier diets than their non-Latinx peers, they are nearly twice as likely to experience obesity than non-Hispanic white children.4,5 Identifying the unique socio-cultural influences on Latinx children’s weight and weight-related behaviors, such as residing with grandparents in three-generation households, is critical for developing effective interventions to improve the health of this community. While one may assume that living with grandparents influences how children are raised, including what and how children are fed, the health impacts of growing up in a three-generation household are poorly understood. The goal of this research is to elucidate the roles that Latinx grandparents residing in three-generation households play in feeding their grandchildren, including how Latinx parents and grandparents residing together navigate feeding responsibilities. To accomplish this, I will recruit 30 Latinx mother/grandmother dyads who report living together with a 1 through 5-year-old child. Participants will complete 45-minute individual, semi-structured, qualitative interviews regarding coparenting and feeding responsibilities, and dyadic thematic analysis will be utilized to assess themes. This knowledge is foundational to understanding the mechanisms by which living in a three-generation household affects Latinx children’s eating, as well as identifying (grand)parenting behaviors and family dynamics to be promoted or discouraged in nutrition promotion and obesity prevention programs for Latinx families.


1.        Chen Y, Guzman L. Latino Children Represent Over a Quarter of the Child Population Nationwide and Make Up at Least 40 Percent in 5 Southwestern States. National Research Center on Hispanic Children and Families. 

2.        Pilkauskas NV, Cross C. Beyond the Nuclear Family: Trends in Children Living in Shared Households. Demography. 12 2018;55(6):2283-2297. doi:10.1007/s13524-018-0719-y.

3.        Children Living with or Being Cared for by a Grandparent. Washington D.C.: Pew Research Center; 2013.

4.        Thomson JL, Landry AS, Tussing-Humphreys LM, Goodman MH. Diet quality of children in the United States by body mass index and sociodemographic characteristics. Obes Sci Pract. Feb 2020;6(1):84-98. doi:10.1002/osp4.388.

5.        Statistics NCfH. Health, United States. 2018. 

Isabella Rios

Master's Student, School of Public Health Epidemiology Program/Department in partnership with the School of Nursing


Title: Evaluation of a zine to promote healthy chest-binding practices   

Background and Objectives:  Many people on the LGBTQ+ spectrum practice binding as a form of gender expression. Chest-binding can have positive mental health benefits, but negative physical side effects. There is a need for educational materials to inform those that bind to promote safe and healthy chest-binding practice. The proposed project is designed to assess how a chest-binding zine (graphic novel/comic book) effectively educates the public on healthy chest-binding practices, and will also be translated in Spanish to promote healthy chest-binding practices in the Latinx community.  

Methods: Two groups (n=16) will be conducted in English, one for youth (15-17) and one for adults (18+ years old) consisting of a screener survey, pre/post-survey, and a focus group session. The third group (n=5)  will be conducted in Spanish (ages 18+) , consisting of the same surveys and a focus group and a translation review of the zine. To assess the survey simple descriptive statistics will be used to summarize responses to survey questions. T-tests or tests of two proportions will be used to assess pre-test/post-test changes to survey questions. Content analysis will be used to identify and describe themes from the focus group data. 

Results and Conclusions:  The study is still ongoing. Based on previous research concerning comics as health promotional tools it is expected that those that read the zine will learn about healthy chest-binding practices and will adopt healthy practices in their life as well as utilize the resources presented to them.

Solangel Troncoso

Doctoral Candidate, Personality and Social Contexts and Women's and Gender Studies (GFP)


Title: Women Versus Females: Gender Essentialism in Everyday Language 

How do different words referring to gender/sex categories reflect and/or shape our understanding of gender/sex concepts? The current study examined this issue by assessing how individuals use gender/sex terms (females, males, women, men). Participants (N = 299) completed three online surveys: a ratings task, in which they rated each word on nine dimensions (e.g., polite, technical); a fill-in-the-blank task, in which they selected which word best fit in each of seven different types of contexts (e.g., biological, casual); and a gender essentialism scale (Skewes et al., 2018). We found that overall participants judged the words women and men to be a better fit on most dimensions. However, the words females and males were distinctive in being more closely linked to biological and technical meanings. Furthermore, preference for females and males correlated positively with gender essentialism—particularly for women participants. These findings suggest that word choice is linked to more essentialist views of gender/sex. Future research should further explore the relation between choice of gender/sex terms, how these reflect and shape attitudes and beliefs about gender/sex, and factors (e.g., race) that may influence this relation.

Natalia Ubilla

Doctoral Candidate, Biological Chemistry


Title: Identification and Characterization of a peroxidase-loaded bacterial compartment 

Intracellular compartmentalization is a fundamental feature of cells. Encapsulins (Encs) are prokaryotic protein-based nanocompartments. Encs sequester cargo proteins that encode either C-terminal targeting peptides or N-terminal encapsulation-mediating domains. A common cargo protein type associated with encapsulins are the heme-bound Dye-decolorizing Peroxidases (DyPs). Major enterobacterial pathogens, including Salmonella, Shigella, and Escherichia species, that can cause extraintestinal and gastrointestinal diseases, encode a conserved DyP-Enc operon situated inside a mobile genetic element. The molecular function of this encapsulin nanocompartment and its influence on the fitness and virulence of enteric pathogens are currently unknown. Here, we set out to (i) resolve the architecture of the cargo-loaded encapsulin, and (ii) establish the involvement of the DyP-Enc operon in enterobacterial stress response, fitness, and virulence. Using cryo-EM, the encapsulin shell and unencapsulated DyP structures were resolved at 2.5 Å and 4.3 Å resolution, respectively. The encapsulin shell assembles into 60 subunits with a diameter of 20 nm, displaying T1 symmetry. The unencapsulated DyP forms hexamers with the capacity to degrade organic and inorganic peroxides. A two-plasmid expression system was employed to determine the organization of cargo-loaded encapsulins. Through this approach, we optimize the heme-loading of DyP and DyP encapsulation. Furthermore, peroxide disc diffusion assays exhibited similar levels of increased resistance for heterologous strains expressing either the DyP-Enc operon or Enc in neutral pH environments. Although the physiological function of this peroxidase-loaded encapsulin remains to be elucidated, our results suggest it may serve as a detoxification mechanism for enterobacterial pathogens during oxidative stress. 

We gratefully acknowledge funding from the NIH (R35GM133325) and Rackham Merit Fellowship.

Carlos Urrego 

Doctoral Candidate, Biomedical Engineering 

currego@umich.edu | Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/carlos-andres-urrego-villegas-b07174134/ 

Title: The Effect of Type 1 Diabetes on Bone Architecture Changes Across Bone Length 

Type 1 diabetes (T1D) decreases bone quality and increases fracture risk. Conventional fracture risk assessment tools often underdiagnose diabetic subjects due to the lack of understanding of the effects of T1D on bone quality, and bone quality changes spatially in  bone. The purpose of this study is to evaluate how T1D affects bone architecture along the length of the femur using a mouse model of T1D. Femoral proximal metaphysis, diaphysis, and distal metaphysis of Streptozotocin-induced diabetic mice were evaluated. Micro-Computed Tomography (CT) was used to evaluate bone volume (BV), Bone mineral Density (BMD) and bone fraction (BV/TV) changes in cortical and trabecular bone. No significant effect of diabetes was found in trabecular bone, while cortical bone exhibited changes in  all regions evaluated. The diabetic femoral distal metaphysis BV was lower compared to control (p=0.0427). At the diaphysis, diabetic BMD and BV/TV were lower compared to control (p=0.0082 and p=0.0108 respectively). At the proximal metaphysis, BV, BMD,  and BV/TV were lower in diabetic samples compared to control (p= 0.0198, p=0.0159 and p=0.002 respectively). The magnitude of the effect and number of properties affected demonstrated  that the effect of diabetes on bone architecture increases from the distal end towards the proximal metaphysis, affecting only cortical tissue. The strong location-dependent effect of T1D on bone suggests that standard femoral neck BMD measurements may not be suitable for an adequate fracture risk evaluation on diabetic patients, and that additional properties and areas of interest should be considered.

Valeria Ortiz Villalobos 

Doctoral Candidate, Combined Program in Education and Psychology


Title: The influences of cognitive factors on Spanish Reading Comprehension in young Spanish heritage language learners 

This ongoing study examines Spanish heritage language (HL) learners’ cognitive factors associated with the development of reading comprehension (RC). As the ultimate developmental outcome of reading, RC is an essential skill for successful learning and cultural integration. Spanish HL children face the challenging task of acquiring RC in Spanish in an English-dominant environment. Well-established models of RC like the Simple View of Reading (SVR) (Gough & Tunmer, 1986; Hoover & Gough, 1990) posit that RC is a product of decoding and linguistic comprehension. However, SVR findings are largely limited to monolingual English-speaking populations, and crosslinguistic evidence from non-English monolingual learners or bilingual learners is inconsistent and scarce (e.g.Goodwin et al., 2015; Kim and Pallante, 2012). The current study tests the applicability of the SVR framework on a population of 51 Spanish heritage learners, ages 4-7. Children are recruited from a Saturday Spanish HL school in SE Michigan, in an area of relatively recent-arriving immigrant Latino families (4.6 %; DATA USA, 2022). Participants are divided into two experimental groups, readers and non-readers. Least Squared Regression Analyses are implemented within structural equation modeling. In line with SVR, we hypothesize that both decoding and linguistic comprehension explain significant and unique variance in RC. However, we also ask whether Spanish fluency and vocabulary measures parallel English-based SVR,  or instead constitute language-specific outcomes. Study findings will inform parental and educator practices to effectively support children’s HL development and foster RC skills, thus contributing to equity-based research and education strategies that support minority(-language) children.

Carina Kimberly Wilson

Master's Student, Educational Studies

carinaw@umich.edu | LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/carina-wilson-506245181/ 

Title: Using Autoethnography as a Mechanism for Educational Reflection, Critical Consciousness Raising, and Restorative Reconnection

My research interest is centered on the practice of autoethnography as a tool for raising critical consciousness, affirming identity exploration, and a mechanism for restorative reconnection/ healing. I am a mixed lineage, light skin, reconnecting Indigenous (Mexican/Diné) mother. Using an Indigenous framework and paradigm I explore the ways that autoethnography supports my understanding of disconnection, reconnection, healing, and critical/ restorative praxes through a variety of educational epistemologies, pedagogies, and ontologies. In doing so, I hope to contextualize my experiences with  disconnection,separation, and intergenerational trauma as a gift to my communities past, present, and future, so that I may walk forward in a good way.