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Papers and Presentations from TechGirl courses offered at VT


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  • Sediment Diversion: Assessing the Potential of the Mississippi River to Mitigate Land Loss
    Singh, Saranya; Metrouh, Nouha; Temirkhan, Arailym; Ngan, Tran Bao (2023)
    To avoid floods, engineers built long levees along the Mississippi river that are now preventing the Mississippi from depositing sediment into the surrounding floodplain and bays, and instead is diverting the sediment into the deeper parts of the Gulf of Mexico. Because sediment is not creating new land along the Mississippi, the compounded effects of a manmade rise in sea levels and the natural subsidence process are causing Louisiana to sink. A proposal by the Army Corps of Engineers, recently approved by the Louisiana state government, aims to redirect the Mississippi river towards coastal Louisiana and use sediment within the river to rebuild the floodplain. We contribute an analysis of the volume of sediment within the Mississippi and the volume of sediment required to regain the land lost since 1932. Using discharge and concentration data from the USGS, we conclude that, although there is ample sediment in the Mississippi to compensate for annual land loss, if the project is implemented in 2030, there is not enough sediment to regain all land lost since 1932 by 2090. We also calculate that from the year of implementation, it will take approximately 245 years to regain 50% of land loss since 1932, assuming that 50% of the river is successfully diverted.
  • Utilizing Molecular Docking and Mutagenesis of Lys-233 into Ala-233 to Analyze the Effect on the Binding of the Morphinian Antagonist to the μ-Opioid Receptor
    Agarwal, Samika; Henriques, Kyra; Halaby, Reine (2021-11-11)
    Opium is one of the oldest known medicines. Its derivatives, morphine and codeine, are among the most utilized therapeutic treatments to relieve severe pain (Manglik et al., 2012). Opium was originally used to create the first crystal structure of the μ-opioid receptor: the primary receptor for opioids that regulate the body’s response to pain (MedlinePlus, 2021). However, a method to increase the binding efficiency of its morphinian antagonist, β-funaltrexamine (β-FNA), is still unknown. In this study the residue, Lys-233, was mutated into Ala-233 to observe significant changes to binding. We used computational tools including AutoDock Vina (Eberhardt et al., 2021; Trott, et al., 2010) and PyMOL (The PyMOL Molecular Graphics System) to redock the ligand into the mutated protein. As a result, we found that the best RMSD value before mutation was 1.87 Å, but after mutation became 1.167 Å. On average, in the series of trials that occurred after the mutation, the nine poses produced better RMSD values. This led to the conclusion that mutating Lys-233 into Ala-233 enhances the binding of the morphinian antagonist to the μ-opioid receptor. Such research encourages the mutation of other opioid receptor residues in order to anticipate which variation provides the optimal result. This study suggests that many other combinations of mutations exist, through which the process of drug discovery can be improved.