UH4504: Honors Discovery and Innovation Studios

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  • Air Pollution in Urban Areas
    Skelley, Caroline; Luttazi, Sydney; Dennis, Kennedy; Frederick, Julia; Greene, Gershwin (2021-05-05)
    The goal of this project was to explore the impact of air pollution in urban areas by relaying information in the format of an Instagram page in order to reach, educate, and inspire the audience of young urban populations by considering key elements such as public health, infrastructure, and the environment. A PDF of the images used to compose the Instagram account are archived with this entry. View the full page through the URL: https://www.instagram.com/urbann_air/ This product is a learning artifact from the Spring 2021 semester of the Honors and UAP SuperStudio courses (UH-4504, UAP-4914, and UH-4514). Course instructors: Ralph Hall, Nikki Lewis, Amy Showalter, Zack Underwood, Anne-Lise Velez, and Daron Williams
  • Children’s Book: Life Before the GND
    Rouse, Maddie; Bernstein, Anna; Smith, Caroline; Thomas, Teresa; Maestrello, Savannah (2021-05-05)
    The benefits of the Green New Deal (GND), proposed by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, need to be spread equally, with the most historically marginalized groups being the main beneficiaries. For too long, vulnerable communities have been forced to bear a disproportionate amount of environmental burdens created by society. New and interdisciplinary legislation such as the GND have the potential to help bring justice to these disproportionate groups. Our book will address this in a way that is easy for all ages to understand, though our target reading level is children who are six to ten years of age.The goal of our children’s book is to bring attention to the environmental justice movement and to specifically address the disproportionate impact of climate change burdens on minority and low-income communities. We think the mainstream integration of this book would further the goals of the Green New Deal, particularly by empowering and educating a younger generation to protect the environment from resource exploitation and pollution.This book illustrates a set of environmental factors alongside a set of social factors that accompany the socioeconomic and environmental crises facing the United States in the present. The environmental factors mentioned include sea-level rise, wildfires, flooding, and pollution. The social factors include racism and food security (specifically, access to healthy, nutritious food). Set in the state of California, readers join a Grandmother as she reminisces over her youth, a time before the GND. The granddaughter looks out her window in the far future, thankful she never had to endure such injustice. The granddaughter lives in a clean, green city years after the Green New Deal had been enacted. There is less smog in California in the future, less pollution, and life is generally more conducive to an equitable society. This product is a learning artifact from the Spring 2021 semester of the Honors and UAP SuperStudio courses (UH-4504, UAP-4914, and UH-4514). Course instructors: Ralph Hall, Nikki Lewis, Amy Showalter, Zack Underwood, Anne-Lise Velez, and Daron Williams
  • Green Energy Transition in West Virginia
    Frazier, Elizabeth; Jiang, Leon; Ogle, William; Taylor, Kristen (2021-05-05)
    Historically, West Virginia has had a large dependency on coal, both for energy and wealth generation (West Virginia State Profile and Energy Estimates, 2020). Rural communities in the area often rely on coal industries for financial stability, as it traditionally has been one of the top suppliers of jobs in parts of West Virginia (Butowsky, 1994). This dependency on coal has created larger environmental and economic concerns which will need to be considered in the future. Political, economic, cultural, and social pressures in the area often make it difficult to find sustainable alternatives to fossil fuel industries, namely coal. This creates issues in terms of economic viability. Local communities sometimes rely on fossil fuel industries, which can create an unsustainable job market. This can create issues with job security, education, and health in these areas. Also, due to rapid technological advancement, workers specifically trained for coal jobs often do not have the vocational skills to transition to new technologies, including the technologies required for the green energy transition. Direct link to website containing embedded hyperlinks within the infographic: https://sites.google.com/vt.edu/green-energy-transition-wva/home This product is a learning artifact from the Spring 2021 semester of the Honors and UAP SuperStudio courses (UH-4504, UAP-4914, and UH-4514). Course instructors: Ralph Hall, Nikki Lewis, Amy Showalter, Zack Underwood, Anne-Lise Velez, and Daron Williams
  • Autonomous Search and Rescue Drone Video Presentation
    Asper, Garrett; Kaplan, Ryan; Mahesh, Rohith; Porter, Daniel (2020-12-09)
    We researched the benefits of using autonomous search and rescue (SAR) drones during and after wildfires to aid in victim recovery. In this video presentation, we discuss the benefits to your search and rescue firm or agency of investing in such autonomous SAR drones. URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=enijWQ2fgT8
  • Drones in Agriculture: New Solution for Crop-Dusting
    Bain, Celeste; Trang, Matthew; Balov-Madrid, Gregory (2020-12-09)
    We hope to inform farmers through our website and brochure about drone technology in crop dusting and other farming techniques along with their environmental impacts, and educational and training opportunities to implement them in agricultural practices in order to encourage Green Technology. URL: https://mattluutrang.wixsite.com/agridroneresearch The attached WARC file can be viewed using Webrecorder Player if the webpage no longer exists.
  • Tracking Pollution in Waterways
    McCarthy, Emily; Lord, Margaret; Kingry, Elise; Koby, Ben (2020-12-09)
    We created a website about tracking plastic pollution in our oceans. We go in-depth on observation methods, impacts on water quality, and waste collection and management. With a goal of informing the public on how we can apply existing technologies and techniques to improve the quality of our waterways. URL: https://ekingry.wixsite.com/trackingpollution The attached WARC file can be viewed using Webrecorder Player if the webpage no longer exists.
  • A study of urban agriculture and its impact on food deserts
    Green, Jackson; Maunder, Lauren; Gulczewski, Kristina (2020-12-09)
    Our project features group research about the use of urban agriculture as a tool in revitalizing urban food deserts via the use of a website. On this website are definitions, explanations, and examples of both food deserts and urban agriculture, as well as the combination of these ideas. The project also introduces an addendum to the Green New Deal discussing government recognition of urban food deserts. URL: https://sites.google.com/vt.edu/superstudioportfolio/home
  • Municipal Waste Sites in Baltimore, MD - A Case Study
    Carpenter, Camden; Garrity, Sierra; Wells, Jordan; Janowsky, Sandrine (2020-12-09)
    The project researches the connections between livability aspects, such as socioeconomic status, pollution, and negative health outcomes, found within communities surrounding municipal waste management sites. Baltimore City, Maryland is the scalable example. The three sites included in the research are the BRESCO Wheelabrator Baltimore Waste-to-Energy Facility, the Quarantine Road Landfill, and the Curtis Bay Energy Facility. The final deliverable serves as a resource for community leaders and residents. The original website is attached as a web archive file that can be viewed using a tool like Webrecorder Player.
  • Universal Health Care
    Khan, Saad; Cummings, Emily; Kumi, Chelsea; Kinder, Regan (2020-12-09)
    This online interactive infographic addresses issues with the current healthcare system in the United States and we specifically looked at the effects that the implementation of a universal healthcare system under the Green New Deal would have on minority groups in the United States. We also looked at the economic implications and the ties to employment that are present in our current privatized healthcare system. This infographic is intended to inform our audience of the benefits that healthcare reform and a universal healthcare system would have on the overall quality of care that they receive. URL: https://prezi.com/view/N8GpWafiyjjsNRax26yo/
  • Prison Labor and the Green New Deal
    Waldron, Trinity; Williams, Amariah; Rivas, Alexa; Mukai, Jessica; Serrani, Kat (2020-12-08)
    This is a Prezi with supplemental text about the prison labor system in the United States and potential for reform through the Green New Deal. URL: https://prezi.com/view/ERoMJqsnSOjFgcU5eopJ/ This product is a learning artifact from the Fall 2020 semester of the Honors and UAP SuperStudio courses (UH-4504, UAP-4914, and UH-4514). Course instructors: Joanie Banks-Hunt, Ralph Hall, Nikki Lewis, Amy Showalter, Zack Underwood, Anne-Lise Velez, and Daron Williams
  • Drone Technology and University Public Safety Program Proposal
    Hower, Madeline; Makwana, Sunny; Kerrick, Cason (2020-12-08)
    This report is an initial program proposal for drone technology use for university public safety. Three different areas of focus are addressed in this report by the research team. The three focuses will include an extensive case study of similar programs adopted in other locations, with an analysis of their successes and failures, a proposed survey to be sent to Virginia Tech students on drone technology and the use of UAVs on campus and a CANVAS module outline used to inform Virginia Tech students of the campus drone guidelines, and a description of current Virginia Tech policies related to the proposed program and their challenges and needed adoptions. This product is a learning artifact from the Fall 2020 semester of the Honors and UAP SuperStudio courses (UH-4504, UAP-4914, and UH-4514). Course instructors: Joanie Banks-Hunt, Ralph Hall, Nikki Lewis, Amy Showalter, Zack Underwood, Anne-Lise Velez, and Daron Williams
  • Gabrielle and the Green New Deal
    Lavoie, Maddie; Boyle, Natalie; Hasan, Mariam; Flanary, Trevor; Harral, William (2020-12-08)
    The goal of this project was to educate the youth on the U.S. healthcare system and Green New Deal and encourage them to feel empowered to make a change. This was achieved through the creation of a children's novel that follows a young Black girl through her life and journey of learning about and experiencing the healthcare system. Through conversations with family members and friends, she learns about healthcare access, health outcome disparities, history of healthcare, health insurance, and the healthcare systems of the U.K. and Cuba. This product is a learning artifact from the Fall 2020 semester of the Honors and UAP SuperStudio courses (UH-4504, UAP-4914, and UH-4514). Course instructors: Joanie Banks-Hunt, Ralph Hall, Nikki Lewis, Amy Showalter, Zack Underwood, Anne-Lise Velez, and Daron Williams
  • Climate Crisis Barbies
    Lyon, Karson; Tracy, Julia; Ragan, Katelyn; Wikiera, Amy (2020-12-08)
    The goal of our project was to research ways that we could effectively educate the public on environmental concerns through art. We brainstormed different final products demonstrating the techniques that we learned from our research. Our final art deliverable was created by Julia Tracy depicting barbies in a climate crisis. She played with the idea of reversing roles with animals, and the barbies represent what we have done collectively as a society to harm our environment. This product is a learning artifact from the Fall 2020 semester of the Honors and UAP SuperStudio courses (UH-4504, UAP-4914, and UH-4514). Course instructors: Joanie Banks-Hunt, Ralph Hall, Nikki Lewis, Amy Showalter, Zack Underwood, Anne-Lise Velez, and Daron Williams
  • AT-121 as a Potential Opioid Replacement
    Colgan, Grant; Patel, Kethan; Lewis, Stephanie N. (2020-05-05)
    The mu opioid Receptor (μ-Receptor) is the neural structure involved in interpreting pain signals. An opioid acts as an agonist that provides pain relief by binding to a large number of these receptors and preventing pain signals from being processed by the brain. Over prescription of addictive opioids in America has led to a rise in addiction in recent decades. To reduce addiction rates, we sought to research a new drug that has the potential to block pain signals without causing dependence and see what sets it apart from common opioids. A ligand supposedly matching this description has been identified in AT-121. We used computational docking methods and structural analysis to determine if AT-121 poses a legitimate solution to opioid addiction. To determine if docking was successful, we relied on a complementary study to identify key ligands, and their residues involved with neurochemical opioid interactions. Our results indicate that AT-121 interacted with the residue that is essential for a conformational change to the binding cavity. Given this, human testing should be carried out to further assess the agonist’s effectiveness at reducing addiction to opioids. If testing results show positive results, AT-121 could pose as a beneficial drug for helping to cease the US opioid epidemic.
  • Compare and contrast mode of action of penicillin and vancomycin: Why penicillin is still an effective antibiotic today
    Kim, Vincent; Lewis, Stephanie N. (2020-05-05)
    Penicillin is a group of antibiotics that contains β-lactam, which prevents peptidoglycan crosslinking and indirectly bursts bacterial cell walls. It is widely used today against many infections caused by staphylococci and streptococci bacteria. Although antibiotics were effective at treating disease in the early development of these treatments, the late 20th century has seen an increase in antibiotic resistance. However, penicillin-derived antibiotics are still used today through generations and we see fewer cases of resistance to this antibiotic. Understanding the interactions between penicillin and bacterial proteins would be useful for studies on counteracting antibiotic resistance. Other antibiotic called Vancomycin was compared with penicillin because vancomycin resistance is arising in late 20th century like Vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus. Computational methods were used to propose interactions between 6I1E and comparable ligands to understand what the mode of action of penicillin is. It was found that SER294 likely interacts with the carboxylic acid functional group. Additionally, assessment of vancomycin resistance provided a case study for understanding how resistance happens. Comparison of interactions between ligands and residue suggested that GLN67 and ALA88 were the key residues and mutations from Δ110 to 115 showed the significant loss of activity against substrate. This paper highlighted that each antibiotic reacts with hydrogen bond interaction between ligand and residues. In penicillin, amoxicillin and carbenicillin interacted through hydrogen bond. In vancomycin, it likely interacts through hydrogen bonding in D-Ala-D-Ala. Further steps would be choosing antibiotics that work through the same function as penicillin and comparing the structural differences and ligand interactions.
  • Binding Interactions of Psilocin and Serotonin in the 5-HT2A Receptor
    Barnes, Katie; Lewis, Stephanie N. (2020-05-05)
    Psilocin is a molecule found in psilocybin mushrooms, which are typically consumed recreationally for their hallucinogenic effects. Recently, studies have shown that psilocin can have almost immediate antidepressant effects in patients who are treatment-resistant to medications that increase serotonin levels in the synapse. Researchers believe that the molecule works by suppressing activity in the medial prefrontal cortex and amygdala, which are both brain structures involved in the emotional aspect of depression. However, psilocin’s exact mechanism of action and binding characteristics in the body remain unknown. Using Chimera for visualization and AutoDock Tools and AutoDock Vina for docking, psilocin and serotonin were separately docked in a crystallized 5-HT2A receptor. Key residues were identified using existing information in the RCSB database. Once the ligands were docked, the lengths of the potential bonds between atoms of the ligands and the key residues within the receptor were measured to determine if they were close enough to each other to interact. Serotonin had multiple possible hydrogen bonds and hydrophobic interactions; however, psilocin only had one potential hydrophobic interaction. The main structural difference between psilocin and serotonin is the presence of the phosphate group in psilocin; therefore, studies of phosphate’s binding properties within the 5-HT2A receptor could potentially provide insight on the efficacy of psilocin.
  • US Healthcare Reform in a Green New Deal World
    Bonnes, Caroline; Harley, Diana; Koppler, Natalie; Phan, Jenna; Lewis, Stephanie N. (2020-05-09)
    National health insurance has been a topic of discussion in the United States for over a century, yet even in 2020, this is a widely controversial and argued topic. There are disagreements about who should provide healthcare, who should be responsible for providing insurance, and what role, if any, the government should have in the process. One thing remains clear, however: access to healthcare in the United States is inherently unstable. Through an analysis of the Green New Deal, the current healthcare system, health expenditures and outcomes, private insurance in the US, and a survey of healthcare in other countries, this report aims to answer the following research question: Would a renovation of the current healthcare system following the initiatives outlined within the GND allow for the effective and efficient provision of equitable quality healthcare to all individuals living within the US? This report was developed as the final project deliverable for the Honors StudioStudio course "Data Analysis for Health Reform".
  • Analyzing the Presence of Unmet Need and Depressive Symptoms in Older Adults
    Butynes, Amanda; Tarr, Nina; Thompson, Caleb; Lewis, Stephanie N. (2019-12-11)
    This paper works to examine and determine a relationship or association between unmet need from disability and depressive symptoms in older adults. The older adult population is extremely vulnerable to deteriorating quality of life in the presence of unmet need or disability. Older adults are significant members of the population and deserve the right to a healthy, positive quality of life. Data from the National Health and Aging Trends Study (NHATS) provided quantitative data for both unmet need and depressive symptoms for beneficiaries of Medicare. The data was processed using descriptive statistics and basic statistical analysis. Dividing up data into subpopulations based on their unmet need and depressive symptoms across time points allowed the team to understand how the behaviors of the participants changed over time. The results of this analysis showed that those with a higher unmet need due to disability score also show more depressive symptoms. The data suggest that depressive symptoms and disability in adults are closely associated. Currently, there are several forms of governance helping this population out with basic needs, but there is substantial room for improvement. The results of this study have the potential to spread awareness and amend government policies to provide older adults with the services they need.
  • Potential Opioid Addiction Therapeutics
    Parras, Isabel; Kidd, Rachel; Merten, Eric; Lewis, Stephanie N. (2019-05-07)
    Throughout the last thirty years, a severe opioid epidemic has arisen due to the excessive consumption and abuse of these addictive narcotics. Opioids are currently the best analgesic known to man, however the effects of opioids are not all beneficial; they are extremely addictive and are deadly when taken in high doses. Since opioids began rising in popularity in the 1990’s as a prescribed pain-reliever, opioid deaths have skyrocketed. These circumstances have caused the need for the development of both a potent, non-addictive pain reliever and also a way to treat patients with an opioid addiction. To solve this problem, we used computational methods and structural analysis to investigate the µ-opioid receptor binding cavity and its unique interactions with four different ligands: morphine, heroin, fentanyl, and naloxone. From the results, we have created a criterion of interactions that a potential opioid therapeutic should have.
  • Adderall and Academia: How Amphetamine binds in the Human Norepinephrine Transporter Protein
    Bell, Ian; Jachimowski, Lindsey; Lewis, Stephanie N. (2019-05-07)
    Recently, there has been a drastic increase in the use of prescription stimulants by healthy individuals in academia – specifically with undergraduate college students. We wanted to answer why this was phenomenon was occurring. Are there cognitive benefits from taking stimulants when there is no medical need and are these benefits why students are drawn to them? Amphetamine or AdderallTM is a popular misused stimulant and serves as an example to explore this issue. The first question to answer was how amphetamine is processed in the brain. Our chosen transporter was the human norepinephrine transporter (hNET) protein. This transporter controls the uptake and reuptake of both dopamine (DA) and norepinephrine (NE). The unbalance of these two neurotransmitters are believed to play a major role in Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). hNET is often a main target in research studies because of this. To analyze the interaction of amphetamine and NET we built a human 3D model through a process known as homology modeling and docked amphetamine, NE, and DA into it. We found that amphetamine successfully binds in the hNET binding cavity. In impaired individuals this means that amphetamine does in fact have positive benefits. However, the effect on healthy individuals is still unknown. Further research needs to be done to determine whether or not healthy individuals experience any benefits before we can answer why undergraduate college students are misusing the drug.