University of Vermont

Three CNHS McNair Scholars Present Their Research at the August 2 Symposium

2012 McNair Scholars
The 2012 McNair Scholars gather in John Dewey Lounge following their Aug. 2 presentations. Tony is third from left, Mukta is fourth from left, and Jillian is third from right.

Three students from the College of Nursing and Health Sciences presented their research August 2 at the ninth annual McNair Scholars Symposium. Tony Jiang '13 introduced the crowd gathered in Lafayette Hall to his research on proteins; Mukta Mukta '13 discussed her work on the social and cultural factors affecting Bengali adults with Type 2 Diabetes, and Jillian Tanych '13 presented her research on adolescents and exercise.

Introduced at UVM in 2004, the mission of the McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program "is to work with undergraduates to increase the number of first generation, limited income and underrepresented minority students who earn a doctorate." This year ten UVM students participated in the summer research program. The following are abstracts from CNHS students' research projects:

Tony Jiang '13, Medical Laboratory Science
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Christopher Berger
"The Role of Kinesin's Neck-linker Length in Navigating the Microtubule Landscape"

Kinesin-1 and kinesin-2 are motor proteins that transport intracellular cargo down the axon of nerve cells. The microtubule-associated protein tau has been shown to inhibit the movement of kinesin-1 along taxol-stabilized microtubules. Kinesin-2 contains three extra amino acids in its flexible neck-linker than kinesin-1, which may allow it to navigate around roadblocks such as tau on the microtubule surface. Therefore, we expect tau to be less inhibitory to kinesin-2 compared to kinesin-1. Single molecules of fluorescently-tagged kinesin-2 will be imaged as they walk along individual molecules using TIRF-microscopy in the absence and presence of tau to directly test this hypothesis.

Mukta Mukta '13, Nursing
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Sarah Abrams
"The Role of Culture and Social Structures in Bengali Adults with Type 2 Diabetes in Managing Their Health Condition"

The purpose of this study is to better understand the effects of culture and social structures on Bengali adults with Type 2 diabetes mellitus in managing their health condition and regimens, using a qualitative approach and semi-structured individual interviews. Participants will be included if they are of Bengali origin, were over 18 years of age when they immigrated, are able to speak, read, and write minimally in English or Bengali, are cognitively intact, and have Type 2 diabetes. Interviews will be recorded and transcribed by the Bengali-speaking investigator and coded by the two investigators to assure inter-coder reliability. Themes developed through content analysis are expected to yield evidence of the cultural and social influences affecting diabetes self-care management.

Jillian Tanych '13, Exercise & Movement Science
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Connie Tompkins
"Perception and Attitudes Towards Physical Activity in Healthy Weight and Obese Adolescents"

Physical activity plays a crucial role for both obesity prevention and treatment in adolescents. Despite numerous resources devoted to promoting physical activity in youth, the numbers of adolescents who actually participate in physical activity are low. Several factors, including the perception that exercise may be difficult or a negative attitude towards exercise, may contribute to this inactivity in adolescents. This study investigates these two potential barriers of participation in physical activity in both healthy weight and obese adolescents. It was hypothesized that obese adolescents would anticipate exercise to be more difficult and report greater negative attitudes towards physical activity compared to their healthy weight peers. Both healthy weight and obese, between the ages of 13-18 years participated in a standardized, submaximal treadmill walking test. Prior to the test, participants were asked to perceive how much discomfort (on a scale of 0 to 10) they expected to experience during the treadmill test. Participants were also administered questionnaires regarding their attitudes towards physical activity. Results thus far have indicated no significant difference between healthy weight and obese adolescents in either perception of exercise difficulty or attitudes towards physical activity. Identifying whether perception of exercise difficulty and negative attitudes towards physical activity are indeed barriers would help explain why few adolescents, particularly obese, participate in physical activity. Furthermore, identifying specific barriers would allow practitioners to target specific contributors to inactivity. This would help tailor more effective ways of promoting physical activity to adolescents, subsequently helping to prevent and/or treat obesity in this population.