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  • Effects of a Neuroscience-Based Mindfulness Meditation Program on Psychological Health: Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial
    Lynn, Sarah; Basso, Julia C. (JMIR Publications, 2023)
    Background: Mindfulness and meditation have a rich historical tradition, and a growing scientific base of evidence supports their use in creating positive psychological and neuroplastic changes for practitioners. Although meditation can be taught in various ways, the scientific community has yet to systematically study the impact of different types of meditation on neuropsychological outcomes, especially as it pertains to digital implementation. Therefore, it is critical that the instruction of mindfulness be evidence based because meditation is being used in both scientific and clinical settings. Objective: This study investigated the use of teacher cueing and the integration of neuroscience education into a meditation program. Compassion cueing was chosen as the element of experimental manipulation because traditional lineages of Buddhist meditation teach compassion for self and others as one of the primary outcomes of meditation. We hypothesized that participants receiving compassion cueing would have enhanced neuropsychological outcomes compared with those receiving functional cueing and that gains in neuroscience knowledge would relate to positive neuropsychological outcomes. Methods: Participants (n=89) were randomized to receive either functional cueing (control group) or compassion cueing (experimental group) and engaged with five 10-minute meditation sessions a week for 4 weeks. All intervention sessions were administered through digital presentation. All participants completed ecological momentary assessments before and after the daily intervention, as well as pre- and postintervention questionnaires. Results: Participants demonstrated significant benefits over time, including increased mindfulness and self-compassion, decreased depression, and gains in neuroscience content (all P<.001); however, no significant between-group differences were found. Daily scores from each day of the intervention showed a statistically significant shift from active toward settled. Importantly, long-term increases in mindfulness were positively correlated to changes in compassion (r=0.326; P=.009) and self-compassion (r=0.424; P<.001) and negatively correlated to changes in anxiety (r=–0.266; P=.03) and depression (r=–0.271; P=.03). Finally, the acute effects of meditation were significantly correlated to the longitudinal outcomes (with a small-to-medium effect size), especially those relevant to mindfulness. Conclusions: We developed a novel neuroscience-based education–meditation program that enhanced self-regulation as evidenced by improved mindfulness, self-compassion, and mood state. Our findings demonstrate the behavioral importance of engaging with mindfulness meditation and reinforce the idea that the benefits of meditation are independent of teacher cueing behavior. Future studies will need to investigate the brain-based changes underlying these meditation-induced outcomes.
  • Dissociation and other trauma symptomatology are linked to imbalance in the competing neurobehavioral decision systems
    Basso, Julia C.; Satyal, Medha K.; McKee, Kevin L.; Lynn, Sarah; Gyamfi, Daphne; Bickel, Warren K. (Frontiers Media, 2024-01-31)
    Objective: Dissociation is a conscious state characterized by alterations in sensation and perception and is thought to arise from traumatic life experiences. Previous research has demonstrated that individuals with high levels of dissociation show impairments in cognitive-emotional processes. Therefore, using the Competing Neurobehavioral Decisions System (CNDS) theory, we used statistical modeling to examine whether dissociative experience and trauma symptoms are independently predicted by impulsivity, risk-seeking, affective state (i.e., anxiety, depression, stress, and negative affect), and trauma history. Method: In this cross-sectional study design, data were collected via Amazon Mechanical Turk from a total of n = 557 English-speaking participants in the United States. Using Qualtrics, participants answered a series of self-reported questionnaires and completed several neurocognitive tasks. Three independent multiple linear regression models were conducted to assess whether impulsivity, risk seeking, affective state, and trauma history predict depersonalization, trauma symptoms, and PTSD symptoms. Results: As hypothesized, we found that depersonalization and other trauma symptoms are associated with heightened impulsivity, increased risk-seeking, impaired affective states, and a history of traumatic experiences. Conclusion: We demonstrate that an imbalanced CNDS (i.e., hyperimpulsive/ hypoexecutive), as evidenced by decreased future valuation, increased risk seeking, and impaired affective states, predicts heightened depersonalization and other trauma and PTSD symptomatology. This is the first time that dissociation has been connected to delay discounting (i.e., the tendency to place more value on rewards received immediately compared to farther in the future). Interventions that positively impact areas of the CNDS, such as episodic future thinking or mindfulness meditation, may be a target to help decrease dissociative symptoms.
  • Genomic Resources of Four Colletotrichum Species (C. fioriniae, C. chrysophilum, C. noveboracense, and C. nupharicola) Threatening Commercial Apple Production in the Eastern United States
    Khodadadi, Fatemeh; Giroux, Emily; Bilodeau, Guillaume J.; Jurick, Wayne M. II; Aćimović, Srđan G. (American Phytopathological Society, 2023-03-07)
    The genus Colletotrichum includes nine major clades with 252 species and 15 major phylogenetic lineages, also known as species complexes. Colletotrichum spp. are one of the top fungal plant pathogens causing anthracnose and pre- and postharvest fruit rots worldwide. Apple orchards are imperiled by devastating losses from apple bitter rot, ranging from 24 to 98%, which is a serious disease caused by several Colletotrichum species. Bitter rot is also a major postharvest rot disease, with C. fioriniae causing from 2 to 14% of unmarketable fruit in commercial apple storages. Dominant species causing apple bitter rot in the Mid- Atlantic United States are C. fioriniae from the Colletotrichum acutatum species complex and C. chrysophilum and C. noveboracense from the C. gloeosporioides species complex (CGSC). C. fioriniae is the dominant species causing apple bitter rot in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states. C. chrysophilum was first identified on banana and cashew but has been recently found as the second most dominant species causing apple bitter rot in the Mid-Atlantic. As the third most dominant pathogen, C. noveboracense MB 836581 was identified as a novel species in the CGSC, causing apple bitter rot in the Mid-Atlantic. C. nupharicola is a sister group to C. fructicola and C. noveboracense, also causing bitter rot on apple. We deliver the resources of 10 new genomes, including two isolates of C. fioriniae, three isolates of C. chrysophilum, three isolates of C. noveboracense, and two isolates of C. nupharicola collected from apple fruit, yellow waterlily, and Juglans nigra.
  • Fast and adaptive dynamics-on-graphs to dynamics-of-graphs translation
    Zhang, Lei; Chen, Zhiqian; Lu, Chang-Tien; Zhao, Liang (Frontiers, 2023-11-17)
    Numerous networks in the real world change with time, producing dynamic graphs such as human mobility networks and brain networks. Typically, the “dynamics on graphs” (e.g., changing node attribute values) are visible, and they may be connected to and suggestive of the “dynamics of graphs” (e.g., evolution of the graph topology). Due to two fundamental obstacles, modeling and mapping between them have not been thoroughly explored: (1) the difficulty of developing a highly adaptable model without solid hypotheses and (2) the ineffectiveness and slowness of processing data with varying granularity. To solve these issues, we offer a novel scalable deep echo-state graph dynamics encoder for networks with significant temporal duration and dimensions. A novel neural architecture search (NAS) technique is then proposed and tailored for the deep echo-state encoder to ensure strong learnability. Extensive experiments on synthetic and actual application data illustrate the proposed method's exceptional effectiveness and efficiency.
  • Examining the role of urgency in predicting binge size in bulimia nervosa
    Davis, Heather A.; Smith, Gregory T. (Frontiers, 2023-05-31)
    Greater binge size within bulimia nervosa is associated with elevated distress and impairment. Theoretical models posit that emotion dysregulation predicts binge eating, but little research has investigated the potential for dispositional traits that reflect difficulty in emotion regulation to predict binge size among women with bulimia nervosa. Research supports that negative urgency, the tendency to act rashly when feeling distressed, is associated with binge eating behavior among individuals with bulimia nervosa. Relatively fewer studies have explored associations between binge eating and positive urgency, the tendency to act rashly when feeling extreme positive affect. The urgency traits may predict greater binge size within bulimia nervosa. The current study sought to examine negative urgency and positive urgency as predictors of test meal intake in a sample of 50 women, n = 21 with bulimia nervosa and n = 29 healthy controls. Dispositional levels of positive urgency, negative urgency, positive affect, and negative affect were measured prior to a laboratory binge eating paradigm. Participants in the bulimia nervosa group scored higher on negative urgency, positive urgency, and negative affect than participants in the control group. Across participants, lower levels of negative affect were associated with greater test meal intake. Elevated levels of positive urgency predicted significantly greater test meal intake, but only for participants with bulimia nervosa. No other dispositional traits predicted test meal intake when the interaction of positive urgency and group was included in the model. Findings suggest positive urgency is an underappreciated, but potentially important, risk factor for greater binge size in bulimia nervosa.
  • Pregnancy-induced remodeling of the murine reproductive tract: a longitudinal in vivo magnetic resonance imaging study
    Suarez, Aileen C.; Gimenez, Clara J.; Russell, Serena R.; Wang, Maosen; Munson, Jennifer M.; Myers, Kristin M.; Miller, Kristin S.; Abramowitch, Steven D.; De Vita, Rafaella (Springer, 2024-01-05)
    Mammalian pregnancy requires gradual yet extreme remodeling of the reproductive organs to support the growth of the embryos and their birth. After delivery, the reproductive organs return to their non-pregnant state. As pregnancy has traditionally been understudied, there are many unknowns pertaining to the mechanisms behind this remarkable remodeling and repair process which, when not successful, can lead to pregnancy-related complications such as maternal trauma, pre-term birth, and pelvic floor disorders. This study presents the first longitudinal imaging data that focuses on revealing anatomical alterations of the vagina, cervix, and uterine horns during pregnancy and postpartum using the mouse model. By utilizing advanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology, T1-weighted and T2-weighted images of the reproductive organs of three mice in their in vivo environment were collected at five time points: non-pregnant, mid-pregnant (gestation day: 9–10), late pregnant (gestation day: 16–17), postpartum (24–72 h after delivery) and three weeks postpartum. Measurements of the vagina, cervix, and uterine horns were taken by analyzing MRI segmentations of these organs. The cross-sectional diameter, length, and volume of the vagina increased in late pregnancy and then returned to non-pregnant values three weeks after delivery. The cross-sectional diameter of the cervix decreased at mid-pregnancy before increasing in late pregnancy. The volume of the cervix peaked at late pregnancy before shortening by 24–72 h postpartum. As expected, the uterus increased in cross-sectional diameter, length, and volume during pregnancy. The uterine horns decreased in size postpartum, ultimately returning to their average non-pregnant size three weeks postpartum. The newly developed methods for acquiring longitudinal in vivo MRI scans of the murine reproductive system can be extended to future studies that evaluate functional and morphological alterations of this system due to pathologies, interventions, and treatments.
  • Multi-tier dynamic sampling weak RF signal estimation theory
    Smith, Brett; Lanzerotti, Mary (2024-01-06)
    This paper presents a theoretical analysis in discrete time for a multi-tier weak radiofrequency (RF) signal estimation process with N simultaneous signals. Discrete time dynamic sampling is introduced and is shown to provide the capability to extract signal parameter values with increased accuracy compared with accuracy of estimates obtained in prior work. This paper advances phase measurement approaches by proposing discrete time dynamic sampling which our paper shows offers the desirable capability for more accurate weak signal parameter estimates. For N = 2 simultaneous signals with a strong signal at 850 MHz and a weak signal at 855 MHz, the results show that dynamically sampling the instantaneous frequency at 24 times the Nyquist rate provides weak signal frequency estimates that are within 1.7 x 10 -5 of the actual weak signal frequency and weak signal amplitude estimates that are within 428 PPM of the actual weak signal amplitude. Results are also presented for situations with N = 2 simultaneous 5G signals. In one case, the strong signal is 3950 MHz, and the weak signal is 3955 MHz; in the other case the strong case is 5950 MHz, and the weak signal is 5955 MHz. The results for these cases show that estimates obtained with dynamic sampling are more accurate than estimates provided using a single sample rate of 65 MSPS. This work has promising applications for weak signal parameters estimation using instantaneous frequency measurements.
  • “Figuring out your place at a school like this:” Intersectionality and sense of belonging among STEM and non-STEM college students
    Ovink, Sarah; Byrd, W. Carson; Nanney, Megan; Wilson, Abigail (Public Library of Science, 2024-01-10)
    Background Students’ sense of belonging in college—an individual’s feelings of contentment, mattering, importance, and “finding one’s place” in a social setting—can influence choice of major and career trajectory. We contribute to the belongingness literature through a mixed methods intersectional study of students attending a STEM-focused public university we call Meadow State University (MSU). We assess the potential for students’ intersecting social identities to differentially influence their experiences with intersectional oppression—subjection to multiple systems of oppression due to simultaneous membership in more than one marginalized group—that, in turn, may influence their college pathways. In addition, we explore whether intersectional differences affect sense of belonging differently in STEM and non-STEM majors. We employ a mixed-methods approach, informed by critical quantitative methods and in-depth interviews. We utilize quantitative institutional data measuring college satisfaction, expressed as “willingness to return” to the same university, for over 3,000 students during two academic years (2013–14 and 2016–17). Survey data explores college satisfaction as an indicator of intersectional differences in student experiences. Then, we analyze 37 in-depth interviews, collected between 2014–2016 at the same institution, to further contextualize the intersectional variation suggested by survey results. Results Willingness to return is influenced by major, as well as academic, social, and campus belonging. Moreover, the extent to which these factors affected outcomes additionally varied by race/ethnicity, gender, family income, other background factors, and the ways these factors may intersect. Important components of academic belonging included faculty-student interactions, perceptions of academic support, and a privileging of STEM degree programs and students over non-STEM students and their degree programs at MSU. Faculty responsiveness and high impact practices like internships played an important role, particularly in STEM programs. Taken together, our findings demonstrate that, particularly for students of color and those subject to intersectional oppression due to multiple marginalized identities, satisfaction with academics did not always outweigh deficiencies in other areas of campus life shaping belongingness. Conclusions Our mixed-methods approach contributes insights into how and why students’ background, individual choices, and institutional practices concurrently—and intersectionally—influence their ability to form a sense of belonging on campus. Structural changes are required to end practices that support intersecting systems of oppression by favoring White, upper-income men as the “default” STEM students in the U.S. Our research supports growing evidence that institutions must actively build models of inclusion for underrepresented and marginalized groups that address inequitable and unjust practices, providing transformative mentoring and educational guidance that attends to intersectional oppression, in order to effectively support the next generation of women and scholars of color.
  • Dimensional Stability and Equilibrium Moisture Content of Thermally Modified Hardwoods
    Masoumi, Abasali; Bond, Brian H. (BioResources, 2024-01-04)
    The dimensional stability and equilibrium moisture content (EMC) of thermally modified hardwoods were studied. Lumber of yellow-poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera); red oak (Quercus borealis); white ash (Fraxinus americana), red maple (Acer rubrum); hickory (Carya glabra), and black cherry (Prunus serotina) were modified in industrial thermo-vacuum system. The water absorption rate, EMC, swelling, anti-swelling efficiency, shrinkage, anti-shrinkage efficiency, and anisotropy of the specimens were measured and compared to unmodified wood. The results show that thermal modification significantly decreased water absorption of wood which leads to improved dimensional stability. Specifically, thermally modified wood showed reduced EMC (22% in hickory to 59% in red maple), increased water absorption repellent (14.9% in black cherry to 29.6% in yellow-poplar), increased anti-swelling efficiency (14.2% in hickory to 71.4% in ash), increased anti-shrinkage efficiency (23.5% in red maple to 65.6% in ash), and reduced anisotropy coefficient (4.7% in red oak to 31.9% in black cherry).
  • Identifying and Removing Interference and Artifacts in Multifractal Signals With Application to EEG Signals
    Hbibi, Bechir; Khiari, Cyrine; Wirsing, Karlton; Mili, Lamine M.; Baccar, Kamel; Mami, Abdelkader (IEEE, 2023-10-18)
    Recorded Electroencephalogram (EEG) signals are typically affected by interference and artifacts, which can both impact eye reading and computer analysis of the data. Artifacts are induced by physiological (noncerebral) activities of the patient, such as muscular activities of the eyes, or the heart, or the body, while interference may be of external or internal origin. External interference can be induced by electrical machines if the latter are in the same room as the patients, while internal interference can be caused by abnormal breathing, or body movement, or electrode malfunction, or headset movements. Interference may cause severe distortion of EEG signals, resulting in loss of some segments of brain signals, while artifacts are additive signals to brain signals. Therefore, in order to analyze the brain activity signals of a patient, we need to identify and eliminate interference and isolate artifacts. In this paper, we analyze the EEG signals that were recorded using a headset with fourteen channels placed on the heads of comatose patients at the National Institute of Neurology in Tunis, Tunisia. We identify the interference using a robust statistical method known as projection statistics and we separate the brain signals from the artifacts cited above by applying an independent component analysis method. Finally, we show the multifractal behavior of the EEG signals without interference by applying the wavelet leader method and analyze their properties using the singularity spectrum.
  • Adaptive constraints at the range edge of a widespread and expanding invasive plant
    Fletcher, Rebecca A.; Atwater, Daniel Z.; Haak, David C.; Bagavathiannan, Muthukumar; DiTommaso, Antonio; Lehnhoff, Erik; Paterson, Andrew H.; Auckland, Susan; Govindasamy, Prabhu; Lemke, Cornelia; Morris, Edward; Rainville, Lisa; Barney, Jacob N. (Oxford University Press, 2023-11-05)
    Identifying the factors that facilitate and limit invasive species' range expansion has both practical and theoretical importance, especially at the range edges. Here, we used reciprocal common garden experiments spanning the North/South and East/West range that include the North American core, intermediate and range edges of the globally invasive plant, Johnsongrass (Sorghum halepense) to investigate the interplay of climate, biotic interactions (i.e. competition) and patterns of adaptation. Our results suggest that the rapid range expansion of Johnsongrass into diverse environments across wide geographies occurred largely without local adaptation, but that further range expansion may be restricted by a fitness trade-off that limits population growth at the range edge. Interestingly, plant competition strongly dampened Johnsongrass growth but did not change the rank order performance of populations within a garden, though this varied among gardens (climates). Our findings highlight the importance of including the range edge when studying the range dynamics of invasive species, especially as we try to understand how invasive species will respond to accelerating global changes.
  • Semaglutide and Tirzepatide reduce alcohol consumption in individuals with obesity
    Quddos, Fatima; Hubshman, Zachary; Tegge, Allison; Sane, Daniel; Marti, Erin; Kablinger, Anita S.; Gatchalian, Kirstin M.; Kelly, Amber L.; DiFeliceantonio, Alexandra G.; Bickel, Warren K. (Nature Portfolio, 2023)
    Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) contributes significantly to global mortality. GLP-1 (Glucagon-like peptide-1) and GLP-1/GIP (Glucose-dependent Insulinotropic Polypeptide) agonists, FDA-approved for managing type 2 diabetes and obesity, where the former has shown to effectively reduce the consumption of alcohol in animal models but no reports exist on the latter. In this report, we conducted two studies. In the first study, we conducted an analysis of abundant social media texts. Specifically, a machine-learning based attribution mapping of ~ 68,250 posts related to GLP-1 or GLP-1/GIP agonists on the Reddit platform. Secondly, we recruited participants (n = 153; current alcohol drinkers; BMI ≥ 30) who self-reported either taking Semaglutide (GLP-1 agonist), Tirzepatide (the GLP-1/GIP combination) for ≥ 30 days or, as a control group; no medication to manage diabetes or weight loss for a within and between subject remote study. In the social media study, we report 8 major themes including effects of medications (30%); diabetes (21%); and Weight loss and obesity (19%). Among the alcohol-related posts (n = 1580), 71% were identified as craving reduction, decreased desire to drink, and other negative effects. In the remote study, we observe a significantly lower self-reported intake of alcohol, drinks per drinking episode, binge drinking odds, Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) scores, and stimulating, and sedative effects in the Semaglutide or Tirzepatide group when compared to prior to starting medication timepoint (within-subjects) and the control group (between-subjects). In summary, we provide initial real-world evidence of reduced alcohol consumption in people with obesity taking Semaglutide or Tirzepatide medications, suggesting potential efficacy for treatment in AUD comorbid with obesity.
  • Motivational climate predicts effort and achievement in a large computer science course: examining differences across sexes, races/ethnicities, and academic majors
    Jones, Brett D.; Ellis, Margaret; Gu, Fei; Fenerci, Hande (2023-11-13)
    Background: The motivational climate within a course has been shown to be an important predictor of students’ engagement and course ratings. Because little is known about how students’ perceptions of the motivational climate in a computer science (CS) course vary by sex, race/ethnicity, and academic major, we investigated these questions: (1) To what extent do students’ achievement and perceptions of motivational climate, cost, ease, and efort vary by sex, race/ethnicity, or major? and (2) To what extent do the relationships between students’ achievement and perceptions of motivational climate, cost, and efort vary by sex, race/ethnicity, and major? Participants were enrolled in a large CS course at a large public university in the southeastern U.S. A survey was administered to 981 students in the course over three years. Path analyses and one-way MANOVAs and ANOVAs were conducted to examine diferences between groups. Results: Students’ perceptions of empowerment, usefulness, interest, and caring were similar across sexes and races/ ethnicities. However, women and Asian students reported lower success expectancies. Students in the same academic major as the course topic (i.e., CS) generally reported higher perceptions of the motivational climate than students who did not major or minor in the course topic. Final grades in the course did not vary by sex or race/ethnicity, except that the White and Asian students obtained higher grades than the Black students. Across sex, race/ethnicity, and major, students’ perceptions of the motivational climate were positively related to efort, which was positively related to achievement. Conclusions: One implication is that females, Asian students, and non-CS students may need more support, or different types of support, to help them believe that they can succeed in computer science courses. On average, these students were less confdent in their abilities to succeed in the course and were more likely to report that they did not have the time needed to do well in the course. A second implication for instructors is that it may be possible to increase students’ efort and achievement by increasing students’ perceptions of the fve key constructs in the MUSIC Model of Motivation: eMpowerment, Usefulness, Success, Interest, and Caring.
  • Engineered live bacteria as disease detection and diagnosis tools
    Tanniche, Imen; Behkam, Bahareh (2023-10-24)
    Sensitive and minimally invasive medical diagnostics are essential to the early detection of diseases, monitoring their progression and response to treatment. Engineered bacteria as live sensors are being developed as a new class of biosensors for sensitive, robust, noninvasive, and in situ detection of disease onset at low cost. Akin to microrobotic systems, a combination of simple genetic rules, basic logic gates, and complex synthetic bioengineering principles are used to program bacterial vectors as living machines for detecting biomarkers of diseases, some of which cannot be detected with other sensing technologies. Bacterial whole-cell biosensors (BWCBs) can have wide-ranging functions from detection only, to detection and recording, to closed-loop detection-regulated treatment. In this review article, we first summarize the unique benefits of bacteria as living sensors. We then describe the different bacteria-based diagnosis approaches and provide examples of diagnosing various diseases and disorders. We also discuss the use of bacteria as imaging vectors for disease detection and image-guided surgery. We conclude by highlighting current challenges and opportunities for further exploration toward clinical translation of these bacteria-based systems.
  • Adhesive Bonding Performance of Thermally Modified Yellow Poplar
    Masoumi, Abasali; Balma, Francisco Xavier Zambrano; Bond, Brian H. (2023-10-16)
    Thermal modification of wood changes its chemical, physical, and structural properties, which may affect adhesive bondline quality and bonding performance. This research compared the effect of thermal modification on the adhesive bonding performance of poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera) wood. Samples were prepared from thermally modified and unmodified yellow poplar using one-component polyurethane (PUR) and polyvinyl acetate (PVA), as they are adhesives used in wood products. Microscopic properties of the bondlines were investigated to understand shear performance and durability. Adhesive line thickness, penetration, shear strength, and moisture durability were measured, and failure modes were recorded. Thermal modification negatively affected the wood and adhesive interaction by reducing penetration (31.2% in PUR and 29% in PVA), therefore creating a thicker adhesive line (70% in PUR and 2% in PVA) and consequently causing a significant reduction in the shear strength of both adhesive types (27% in PUR and 36% in PVA) compared with non-modified specimens. The PUR adhesive had higher shear strength than PVA by 2.7% in non-modified and 14% in thermally modified wood.
  • Yoga studio websites: are they an accurate first glance at the studio’s mission, values, and resources?
    Dysart, Anna; Barnett, Jake; Harden, Samantha M. (2023-08-25)
    Background Yoga, as an ancient and modern practice, increases physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and social health. Yoga studio websites serve as a dissemination channel for studios to express their offerings, whom they employ, and whom they seek as clientele. Public health workers, physicians, researchers, and clinicians, can refer to existing studios to increase health among their patients or clients. The degree to which these websites can provide relevant information to these various stakeholder groups has yet to be defined. Methods A pragmatic, sequential mixed-methods study was employed with quantitative data extraction, summarized as means and proportions, to score the studio websites (N = 28), and semi-structured interviews (n = 6) analyzed using the rigorous and accelerated data reduction (RADaR) technique, to confirm website content and staff intention. To explore urban and rural characteristics, yoga studios in southwest Virginia and Los Angeles were selected for inclusion. Results Overall, community-based yoga studios websites included information on the type, duration, cost, and COVID mitigation strategies. The most common class duration was 60 min. Rural Southwest Virginia studios offered 8.5 classes per week whereas those in urban Los Angeles offered 24.2 classes per week. All studios used iconography and images to invite racial, ethnic, age, and body type and ability diversity. While studios in both areas specified that there were 200- and 500-hour registered yoga teachers, many of the instructor biographies did not include information on their training. Although only preliminary, the interviews (n = 6) confirmed that the websites generally represented the feel, intention, and offerings of the studio and that the primary purpose of the studio was to build relationships and ensure people felt comfortable in the space. Conclusion Website information was related to studio offerings and values; however, discussion with management or visiting the studio may provide a richer picture of the yoga practices offered in the space. Further suggestions for website content are provided.
  • Risk Analysis in Implementing Building Energy Performance Projects: Hybrid DANP-VIKOR Model Analysis — A Case Study in Iran
    Naderi, Hossein; Heydari, Mohammad Hossein; Parchami Jalal, Majid (MDPI, 2023-08-14)
    Building energy performance contracts have emerged as a highly effective strategy for reducing energy consumption in both developed and developing markets. These projects inherently involve risks, and a comprehensive risk analysis can greatly enhance their successful implementation, especially in emerging markets. This research aims to analyze risks associated with building energy performance projects, considering their interrelationships, prioritization, and the ranking of optimal project types based on the analyzed risks. Given its position as the largest electrical energy consumer in the Middle East and its status as an emerging market, Iran was selected as the case study for conducting the risk analysis. Thirteen risk factors were classified into four distinct risk groups, and their relationships and priority weights were determined using a hybrid DANP approach. Subsequently, the VIKOR method was employed to rank the most-advantageous project types based on their risk priorities. The findings of this research identified project lifecycle risks as the highest-priority risks, while external risks were determined to be the most-influential among all identified risks. Moreover, the implementation of packaged public projects was identified as the most-favorable alternative for promoting building energy performance projects in Iran and similar emerging markets. By providing a comprehensive understanding of risks, this study offers valuable insights that can aid emerging and developing markets in successfully implementing energy performance projects and improving overall energy efficiency.
  • Determining Genetic Markers and Seed Compositions Related to High Test Weight in Glycine max
    Shea, Zachary; Singer, William M.; Rosso, Luciana; Song, Qijian; Zhang, Bo (MDPI, 2023-08-19)
    Test weight, one of the primary indicators of soybean seed quality, is measured as the amount of soybean seeds in kilograms that can fit into one hectoliter. The price that growers receive for their soybean is dependent on test weight. Over the past 50 years, growers have observed a decreasing trend in test weight. Therefore, it is imperative to understand better the relationship between soybean test weight and other traits to enable breeders to select parental lines with high test weights in breeding programs to ensure the grower’s profitability. The objectives of the study were to identify genetic markers associated with high test weight in soybean and to determine the correlation between high test weight and five important seed composition traits (protein, oil, sucrose, raffinose, and stachyose content). Maturity group IV and V germplasms from the USDA soybean germplasm collection were grown in Blacksburg and Warsaw in Virginia from 2019 to 2021 and were measured for all of the above traits. Results show that test weight values ranged from 62–77 kg/hL over the three years. Multiple single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) significantly associated with high test weight were found on chromosome (Chr.) 15 along with a couple on chromosome 14, and 11 candidate genes were found near these SNPs. Test weight was found to be significantly negatively correlated with oil content, inconsistently correlated with protein content in all environments, and negatively correlated but not significantly with all three sugars except for raffinose in Blacksburg 2019. We concluded that the genes that underlie test weight might be on chromosome 15, and the validated associated SNPs might be used to assist breeding selection of test weight. Breeders should pay special attention to test weight while selecting for high oil content in soybean due to their negative correlation.
  • Higher Dietary Acid Load Might Be a Potent Derivative Factor for Multiple Sclerosis: The Results from a Case-Control Study
    Saeedirad, Zahra; Ariyanfar, Shadi; Noormohammadi, Morvarid; Ghorbani, Zeinab; Naser Moghadasi, Abdorreza; Shahemi, Sahar; Ghanaatgar, Milad; Rezaeimanesh, Nasim; Hekmatdoost, Azita; Ghaemi, Amir; Razeghi Jahromi, Soodeh (MDPI, 2023-07-26)
    This study aimed to investigate the association between dietary acid load (DAL) and multiple sclerosis (MS), through the potential renal acid load (PRAL) and net endogenous acid production (NEAP) scores. In a hospital-based case–control study of 109 patients with MS and 130 healthy individuals, a validated 168-item semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire and a logistic regression model were used to evaluate the association between the DAL and MS. After adjusting for age (years), gender (male/female), body mass index (Kg/m2), and total calories (Kcal), the MS odds were 92% lower for those in the highest tertile of total plant-based protein (OR: 0.08, 95%CI: 0.03, 0.23; p-value < 0.001) and about four times higher for those in the highest tertile of the PRAL (OR: 4.16, 95%CI: 1.94, 8.91; p-value < 0.001) and NEAP scores (OR: 3.57, 95%CI: 1.69, 7.53; p-value < 0.001), compared to those in the lowest tertile. After further adjusting for sodium, saturated fatty acid, and fiber intake, the results remained significant for total plant-based protein intake (OR: 0.07, 95%CI: 0.01, 0.38; p-value = 0.002). In conclusion, a higher NEAP or PRAL score may be associated with increased odds of MS, while a higher intake of plant-based protein instead of animal-based protein may be protective.
  • Non-Invasive Techniques Reveal Heifer Response to Fescue Endophyte Type in Grazing Studies
    Poudel, Sanjok; Fike, John H.; Wright, Lee; Pent, Gabriel J. (MDPI, 2023-07-21)
    Cattle grazing tall fescue (Schedonorus arundinaceous) infected with wild-type endophytes (WE) leads to a syndrome commonly known as fescue toxicosis. Replacing WE tall fescue with a novel endophyte-infected (NE) tall fescue can mitigate this problem but adoption of this technology has been limited. This study measured and determined the physiological and behavioral responses of heifers that grazed either WE or NE tall fescue, utilizing relatively non-invasive techniques including hair cortisol, thermography (for extremity temperatures), small loggers for intravaginal temperature, and remote observation of in-field behavior. Heifers that grazed WE had greater (p < 0.0001) hair cortisol levels, lower extremity temperatures (p ≤ 0.0075), and 0.3–0.9 °C greater (p ≤ 0.02) intravaginal temperatures (particularly during the daytime) than heifers that grazed NE. From 1200 h–1700 h each day, heifers on WE pastures spent 1.5 more (p = 0.0003) hours standing up and 0.9 fewer (p = 0.0402) hours lying down than heifers on NE pastures. Differences (p = 0.0160) in ADG were small (0.1 kg d−1) and were only observed in the first year of these 8-week studies. However, even in the mild environment of the study site, grazing NE tall fescue provided clear welfare benefits as evidenced by heifer behavioral changes, temperature differentials, and hair cortisol levels. This study underscores the potential utility of non-invasive techniques, such as thermographic imaging and hair cortisol analysis, for evaluating animal responses to stress in extensive grazing systems.