Archer’s annual STEM Symposium is an opportunity for Los Angeles high school students who have completed independent or small group projects in STEM to present their findings. Students are invited to present their research in the fields of molecular biology, chemistry, physics, and engineering.
The Archer RISE Award honors exceptional young women for their innovative scientific research or engineering design projects that further existing knowledge or develop solutions to pressing scientific challenges. Finalists for the RISE Award are noted in throughout the online program and will be awarded at lunch on May 21.
This research project was aimed to create a low-cost and rapid Lyme disease detector that does not require the capabilities of a lab and, therefore, can be used at home. The process was guided by the question, can a novel, qualitative lateral flow assay detect sparse Lyme Disease antigens in urine? The lateral flow assay was designed with the goal of taking a maximum time of 30 minutes to obtain results once the detector is dipped in urine, similar to a pregnancy test. It was crucial to design a biosensor (a detective that can test extremely low concentrations) that detects antigens and not antibodies for Lyme disease because the antibodies develop well after the antigens (OspA, OspB, OspC) have infiltrated the immune system, making early diagnosis impossible. The antigens are outer-surface proteins that are shed by the bacteria in the body before the adverse effects take place. A lateral flow assay detector that took advantage of the avidin-biotin interaction and heat shock was developed in order to answer the question. In the trials to test the detector, purchased antigens were diluted in water to reach concentration levels that would be found in the urine at various stages of the disease. Currently, tests require lab technologies, use serum, and have a low accuracy rate, and there is not a single point-of-care detector that can be taken at home and give results in real time. Thus, the success of a cost-effective, accurate and rapid self-examination urinary detector for Lyme disease is unprecedented.
Alzheimer[?]s (AD), a neurodegenerative disease suffered nationwide, is the most common form of dementia and worsens as it progresses. Extracellular beta-amyloid protein deposits constitute amyloid plaques in brains that are affected by Alzheimer[?]s. In addition, hyperphosphorylated tau proteins contribute to the plaque build-up through constructing neurofibrillary tangles. No clear treatment has been able to stop the disease or reverse its progression. However, connections between Alzheimer's and obesity have been established to further the search for a cure in AD. The study featured transgenic AD models of C. elegans as test subjects, either individually possessing mutated beta amyloids or hyperphosphorylated tau proteins. A transgenic model possessing the tub-1 gene will serve to measure obesity. Natural homeopathic antioxidants, specifically green coffee bean extract, have been shown to reduce inflammation and weight gain factors in obesity. Through a chemotaxis assay, green coffee bean extract tested the relation between the supplement's ability to suppress weight gain and improve memory conditions in transgenic models of C. elegans at different dosages. The effect of green coffee bean extract on protein buildup in the modified AD C. elegans models was then confirmed through a thioflavin-S staining assay.
The electromagnetic sensing ability found in many different vertebrates and invertebrates is mostly mediated through the opioid receptors, which receive and use opioids to control the feeling of pain. This sensing ability has been shown to be light dependent on the Cepea nemoralis (garden snail). Most of this research has been done using the Cepea nemoralis (garden snail) but very little been done using the Arion distinctus (land slug). This experiment continues the research done by Garrick et al (2015), using the Arion distinctus as the experimental subject and the Cepea nemoralis as a control group. The experiment was conducted by injecting the slugs and snails with an Enkephalinase Inhibitor, followed by a 15min exposure to a ±60μT magnetic field while the slugs are placed in two different wavelengths of light (red light- 730 nm and blue light - 455nm). This research tested the effect of the different wavelengths of light on the electromagnetic sensing abilities of the Arion distinctus (garden slug). This work is significant because it expands our current knowledge on how many animals sense and interact with their environment. In addition, it furthers our understanding of electromagnetic sensing in invertebrates and how it relates to light sensing. This research also demonstrates a new species with this electromagnetic sensing ability.
Our group attempted the photocatalytic reduction of CO2 to ethanol using copper and graphene oxide. The motivation is the need for carbon-neutral, storable solar fuels. Graphene oxide was applied to a fluoride-doped tin oxide plate and dried on a hot plate. Reductive potential of the graphene oxide spots was tested by applying a current through the plate in a sodium hydroxide solution.
A spectrophotometer is an integral part of a traditional chemistry course for most high school students. It is a tool that measures absorption of visible light and is used by scientists in real world situations including, but not limited to, research in the life sciences, chemistry, and deep-sea exploration. Depending on the capabilities, however, the price for a spectrophotometer ranges from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands. Our goal is to replicate an experiment to build a spectrophotometer utilizing Apple technology (iPhones & iPads) and Windows software, which are more accessible and cost efficient to schools that lack the funding for a standard spectrophotometer. Once we have built the spectrophotometer, we plan to run multiple experiments to test the precision and accuracy of our instrument in comparison to a standard classroom spectrophotometer. We will also conduct a detailed cost analysis of typical classroom spectrophotometers compared to our home-made version. If the iPhone/iPad is able to complete experiments with just as much precision and accuracy as the spectrophotometer, students around the world will be able to access lab experiences that they might not have been able to previously.
Dimethyl sulfide is a trace gas commonly produced by marine algae. Recent studies indicate that dimethyl sulfide plays an important role in cloud formation which, in turn, has potential to impact global climate. However, the burning of fossil fuels has polluted the air with excess CO2 which is absorbed by the ocean. This results in ocean acidification. This study will determine how ocean acidification will affect the overall production of dimethyl sulfide in relatively acidic waters.
Photophobia, also known as light sensitivity, is an intolerance towards light. Photophobia is not an eye disease, but it can be a symptom of other illnesses such as severe headaches and migraines. Antioxidants may help with alleviating migraines and decreasing oxidative stress, therefore decreasing light sensitivity. Planarians are free-living aquatic flatworms whose photophobic response to light can be tested because of their central nervous system and basic cerebral eyes connected to the brain. In this experiment, the planarians were split into 4 groups: a control group not treated with any antioxidant, a group treated for 15 days with Lutein, a group treated for 15 days with vitamin A, and a group treated for 15 days with vitamin C. They were placed in a testing dish divided into 4 quadrants, and a light was placed above the testing dish. Their responses to the light were recorded in 2 minute intervals. The questions being answered were, how do the antioxidants Lutein, vitamin A, and vitamin C each affect the planarian negative phototactic behavior? In other words, do planarians become less sensitive to light when given an antioxidant? If so, which of the three antioxidants helps combat photophobia the most? This research is important because it will help further our understanding of eye development in humans and help discover more effective ways to deal with photophobia.
Methyl Jasmonate (MeJA), a plant stress hormone, has been shown to selectively target cancer cells and induce apoptosis by dissociating hexokinase, a key enzyme in the glycolytic pathway that is overexpressed in cancer cells, from the outer mitochondrial membrane. Because MeJA uses the glycolytic pathway to induce apoptosis, specifically targeting hexokinase, it functions well as a selective cytotoxic agent and sensitizes other chemotherapeutic agents to have increased efficacy in cancer cytotoxicity. Perillyl Alcohol (POH), a plant-derived hormone, has been used in combination therapies for cancer treatment and has been found to have similar sensitizing cytotoxic effects to MeJA. Although it has successfully induced apoptosis in a variety of cell lines, the mechanisms by which POH acts are unknown . In this study we aimed to contribute to the characterization of POH[?]s apoptotic mechanisms through a comparative study of combination treatments between MeJA and POH with common chemotherapeutic agents (cisplatin and etoposide). Cytotoxicity levels were tested in SKBR3 breast cancer cell lines and assayed using the Sulforhodamine B dye and microplate readers. In addition to the SKBR3 cell lines we tested two mutants of the same cell lines that express the molecules tDrrp and T75A. tDrrp is the truncated form of a protein that allows breast cancer to become resistant to herceptin treatment; T75A is tDrrp’s mutant that is supposed to render it inactive. Our research progressed to a data collection and analysis of POH and MJ combination effects on tDrrp expressing cancer cells, and normal cancer cells.
This group conducted several experiments to understand the underlying structural qualities of high oxygen evolution reactions (OERs) and low OERs of iron oxide film deposits on fluoride-doped tin oxide plates. Structural differences on the molecular level were observed for deposits made with several different deposition and drying techniques using atomic force microscopy. In particular, the group studied the "coffee ring effect" on dried spots and were able to minimize those by placing spherical glass balls on the spots while drying, which led to a more even distribution of material.
When an organism is put under stress, nutrients are diverted from non vital processes and converted to fat to protect the organism. In micro-aglae, this evolutionary trait can be taken advantage of to increase the lipid content to make the micro-algae a more viable and cost-effective biofuel. Spirulina platensis is a species of cyanobacteria whose starvation profile is not well characterized. It has the potential to be a biofuel candidate because of its structure, high pH tolerance, and ability to be genetically engineered to increase lipid content. This experiment will hone in on the growth conditions that best increase the lipid content such as nitrate and phosphate deficiency, which will be tested through optical density measurements and fluorescence microscopy. Based on a review of the literature, it can be hypothesized that as the concentration of the nitrates and phosphates in the media decreases, the lipid concentration in [?]Spirulina platensis will increase after two weeks. The purpose of increasing the lipid content is to attempt to make costs as low as possible for this biofuel to make it competitive with petroleum oil. Since this biofuel is a carbon-neutral source using it nation-wide would decrease carbon dioxide emissions and slow the greenhouse effect. An in-depth characterization of the stress-response profile for Spirulina platensis could lead to new discoveries for Spirulina and its stress response. This characterization is essential as it becomes a better candidate for biofuel, especially since it does not require clean water or arable land like biofuel from crops.
Bioluminescence has broad and unexpected commercial applications, from its proposed use in streetlights to crop growth indicators. In our research, we are exploring both the processes and the proteins involved in bioluminescence. The first portion of our experimentation will consist of analyzing known concentrations of chemiluminescent solutions, attempting to utilize a visible spectrophotometer to understand and quantify luminescence and generate a calibration curve relating concentration to chemiluminescence. We will then study the process of bioluminescence in dinoflagellates and vibrio fischeri and take data in the same manner, hoping to both quantify the proteins in the lab and learn about their mechanism of action. By using a lux meter in a light-controlled enclosure we will analyze exactly how exposure to light and darkness over time affects the organisms' ability to luminesce. The concluding portion of our research will consist of analyzing how pollutants could affect the brightness and longevity of dinoflagellate and vibrio fischeri luminescence.
The goal of the project is to move genes for Photosystem II from the algae Chlamydomonas reinhardtii into E. coli bacteria for use as a hydrogen-producer and potential biofuel. PSII is capable of photo-electrolyzing water efficiently and inexpensively with sunlight. Within PSII, enzymes capture photons of light to energize electrons that are then transferred through a variety of coenzymes and cofactors to reduce plastoquinone to plastoquinol. The energized electrons are replaced by oxidizing water to form molecular oxygen and hydrogen ions, which can be used as fuel and for other uses. C. reinhardtii was selected due to its ability, under certain circumstances to switch from oxygen to hydrogen production. However, C. reinhardtii is slow-growing and difficult to manipulate relative to well-studied bacteria like E. coli, so we have begun the process of moving the core genes of PSII into E. coli, beginning with genes psbD and psbT.
Oil spills have proven to be catastrophic messes that are difficult to clean up. Skims, booms, in situ burning, and chemical dispersants are a few of the many methods to remove the pollution; yet they are not the safest or most effective. Bioremediation–a naturally occurring process that breaks down the oil– can clear nearly 100% of the spill and does not harm the spill site[?]s native organisms, but the bioremediators, such as the bacteria–Alcanivorax borkumensis –are too slow to show immediate success. With the presence of specific nutrients, bioremediation has the potential to become the leading cleanup method. The effect of nutrients available to Alcanivorax borkumensis in its growth media was tested. Previous work has shown the importance of nitrogen supplied to the bacteria in different forms, whether it is provided as a nitrate (KNO3) or the organic nitrogen present in the peptone ingredient of the standard growth media. It has also been shown that phosphorus is an important supplement for bacterial bioremediation. Moreover, fertilizers that provide nitrogen and phosphorus have improved the bioremediation effect of Alcanivorax. However, studies looking at changes in solely the phosphorus concentration available to the bacteria are limited. Using a broth to recreate oceanic conditions, my work explores how varying the phosphorus ingredient can influence overall bacterial growth of the responsible bioremediator– Alcanivorax borkumensis.
The objective of this research was to test if Muscadine Grape seed extract had an effect on lowering triglyceride levels in C. elegans. By testing Muscadine Grape seed extract's effect on lowering triglyceride content levels, Muscadine Grape seed extract[?]s potential as a treatment for obesity could be determined.For this research both the N2 wild type and tub-1 mutant C. elegans, which model the presence of obesity in the body, were utilized. The tub-1 mutant, which lacked the ability to regulate lipid or fat accumulation and as a result had excess body fat, showed the effects of Muscadine Grape seed extract as a treatment for obesity by lowering the C. elegan’s fat levels. This experiment used a Triglyceride Colorimetric Assay which measured Triglyceride, the main constituent of animal fat, amounts in the body. In the assay, Triglyceride was broken down into free fatty acids and glycerol. Then the plate reader read the sample to determine the amount of glycerol there was in each well, which correlated to how much Triglyceride there was in each well. Each well contained homogenized C. elegans fed either 5%, 10%, or 15% Muscadine Grape seed extract or no Muscadine Grape seed extract at all (Control). This meant that the assay showed the difference in triglyceride content between the different doses of Muscadine Grape seed extract, determining if Muscadine Grape seed extract was treatment for obesity and lowered Triglyceride levels in a dose dependent manner.
Many deadly tumors are associated with the overexpression of angiogenesis, the growth of blood vessels from preexisting vasculature. Angiogenesis is overexpressed in vascular tumors, such as breast cancer, glioblastoma, and pancreatic cancer. When angiogenesis is overexpressed, tumor expansion and metastasis occurs. Previous experiments have shown that the inhibition of angiogenesis suppresses tumor growth and metastasis. Antiangiogenic agents, products used to inhibit angiogenesis in tumors, are classified by their ability to target blood supply to tumors by inhibiting their signaling pathways. The vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is one of the signaling pathways for angiogenic targets. Preliminary research has suggested that D-limonene, an oil extracted from a citrus rind, decreases the concentration of PVF-1 (a model for VEGF) in Caenorhabditis elegans at a 50% concentration. This experiment aimed to study the effect of 50% D-limonene concentration on the inhibition of angiogenesis in the Chick Chorioallantoic Membrane. D-limonene was analyzed with the CAM Assay for its efficacy as a natural antiangiogenic agent: the response of blood vessels to D-limonene was quantified microscopically and macroscopically.
The Archer School for Girls’ InvenTeam has invented a compact faucet attachment that monitors water usage and encourages eco-friendly, water-saving behaviors. Our device has an adjustable aerator to enable the most efficient water use and an integrated digital water meter which compares usage to the recommended amount. It also has a thread adapter to ensure that it fits on most household sinks.Our invention promotes two primary functions which promote conservation and awareness. Users will be able to input the number of people in their house and compare the amount of water they use to locally recommended amounts. The aerator will allow users to adjust water pressure and flow pattern for most efficient use. For example, the amount of water released on the hand-wash setting will be significantly less than that of the dishwashing setting. The invention will encourage efficient, conscientious water usage to help mitigate the effects of the California drought, one home at a time.