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EPISTEMIC COMMUNICATIONS: THE POLITICS OF CONFRONTING THE GLOBAL COVID-19 PANDEMIC

Katie Workman – Research on Capitol Hill 2021
(Mentor: Brent Steele)
  Government and health authorities have created diverse messaging surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, from countries like Sweden adopting a passive approach focused on the development of herd immunity to harsh lockdowns focused on eradicating the virus within national borders like New Zealand. Countries like the United Kingdom have pivoted approaches from herd immunity to preventive lockdowns focused on containment, as well. The United States has favored a patchwork approach to pandemic, with state and local officials making widely-different approaches. Some states have favored longer lockdowns like California, while others reopened early like Texas. Some major cities require the wearing of masks in public spaces, while other government officials like President Trump refuse to wear masks at all.
  This research proposal seeks to answer the question “What explains variations in community responses to the COVID-19 pandemic?” with a focus on the role of epistemic communities (communities of experts) in influencing political officials’ policies and their messaging. I hope to examine the cause-effect relationship of scientific evidence on shaping local, national, and international responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  By working on this research, I hope to identify and explain how messaging surrounding COVID-19 has become partisan in certain areas such as the US, while nations like South Korea see almost universal acceptance of the advice of health experts. The role and perception of epistemic communities varies widely internationally, with illuminating implications for public health policy and the limits of expert opinion when not legitimized by those in power. In a moment where such diverse responses and messaging shifts are the literal difference of hundreds of thousands of lives, an interdisciplinary approach to international political communications can aid public health policymakers amid future crises, and identify current critical failures in public health infrastructure. Such work is also critical in holding public officials and governments accountable for the effects of their words, and developing more effective communications for the future.
House Representative: Raymond Ward
Senate Representative: Todd Weiler


SUPPORTING THE ENTIRE SYSTEM: REDUCING EDUCATORS BURNOUT WITH MINDFULNESS-BASED PRACTICE AND SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL LEARNING

Elizabeth Porter – Research on Capitol Hill 2021
(Mentor: Aaron Fischer)
Teacher stress is likely to increase this academic year as COVID-19 has resulted in much uncertainty such as classroom environment changes from in-person to online teaching (de Oliveira Araújo, 2020). The purpose of this study is to provide teachers with additional emotional and mental health support. Mindfulness practice has proved as a successful resource provided to teachers to help lessen stress (Tang, 2013). Mindfulness practices encourage its users to increase awareness and management of emotions resulting in better coping mechanisms and improved mental wellbeing (Tang, 2013). Mindfulness-based Interventions (MBIs) provided in schools thus far have mainly focused on the effect MBIs have on student wellbeing — showing improved student wellbeing (Sapthiang, 2019). Limited research exists regarding the effect of MBIs on teachers’ wellbeing (Gouda, 2016). Currently, MBI training programs for teachers are usually implemented through eight-week courses. These long training programs may not be feasible to implement for every school given busy schedules of teachers (Gouda, 2016), and may be even less feasible with COVID-19 adding interruptions into teacher’s schedules. The benefits of MBI programs, however, cannot be overlooked as they can result in increased social emotional learning (Dorman, 2015). Thus, the purpose of this research is to analyze the effects of short mindfulness-based training on teachers’ stress, burnout, and overall wellbeing.
House Representative: Suzanne Harrison
Senate Representative: Kirk A. Cullimore


SENSORY PERCEPTION IN ADVANCED PROSTHETICS: THE PHILOSOPHY OF PROPRIOCEPTION

Cody Harris – Research on Capitol Hill 2021
(Mentor: Dustin Stokes)
Two modern tech examples, the “Luke” arm and the virtual hand, are used to critically analyze neuroscience, psychological and philosophical conceptions of the sense proprioception. The virtual hand and the “Luke” arm both create conditions of proprioceptive feedback, one enabled through direct nerve stimulation and the other enabled through a combination of direct nerve stimulation and visual-motor feedback. I discuss what is innovative about these new technologies, then I review the different fields of view on proprioception and the philosophy of sense perception. Finally, I construct a working philosophical characterization of proprioception and analyze this characterization against the tech examples.
House Representative: Kelly B. Miles


LITERACY AND REPRESENTATION IN THE LGBTQIA+ COMMUNITIES

Heather Graham – Research on Capitol Hill 2021
(Mentor: Kim Hackford-Peer)
There is little existing research about the social impact of cultural literacy surrounding LGBTQIA+ identities, despite countless stories and anecdotes from those within the community whose personal journey significantly included finding language to talk about themselves and their experiences and seeing others like them represented in various forms of media. By exploring and examining this literacy, these words, and how LGBTQIA+ people see themselves and their lived-experiences in media, academia and the overall social narrative, a better understanding of the significance can be developed. This project synthesizes a review of published scholarship, surveys, oral histories, and interviews into a detailed analysis and creation of a scholarly article and a curated zine authored by participants and their stories. From these results, an understanding of lived-experience and diversity can be recognized and used to create more inclusive and more authentic narratives and spaces in workplaces, academia, family, and in general. This also fosters a stronger, more robust support of the LGBTQIA+ communities around us and in society.
House Representative: Stephanie Pitcher
Senate Representative: Gene Davis


SURVEILLANTS: A NEW ORGANELLE OF THE SYNAPSE

Gareema Dhiman – Research on Capitol Hill 2021
(Mentor: Erik Jorgensen)
Neurons constantly fuse and recycle synaptic vesicles. Like other organelles, synaptic vesicles and proteins must be removed when damaged or overused. However, a pathway for removal of this material is unknown. Members of the Jorgensen lab have recently discovered a new organelle in C. elegans called a surveillant, which is produced when the worms undergo severe stress. Surveillants have important similarities to the main degradative organelle of the cell, the lysosome; however, unlike lysosomes, surveillants are transported to and from synapses. To better understand surveillants, we aim to answer two main questions. First, what is an endogenous marker of surveillants? Second, what is the synaptic cargo collected by surveillants? To address the first question, we will use the genetic integration technique CRISPR to tag the lysosomal protein SCAV-3 to see if it localizes to surveillants. To address the second, we are tagging synaptic vesicle proteins and other active zone proteins to see if they are taken up by surveillants. Our preliminary data shows that the synaptic vesicle protein synaptogyrin (SNG-1) is not found in surveillants. Currently, we are determining if the active zone protein ELKS-1 is a cargo of surveillants. This research is important for broadening our understanding of how neurons respond to severe stress, with relevance to human diseases such as stroke.

House Representative: Mike J Petersen
Senate Representative: Chris Wilson


IMPROVING UPPER-LIMB PROSTHESES CONTROL VIA OPTIMIZING SEMG ELECTRODE NUMBER AND LOCATION

Gursirat Grewal – Research on Capitol Hill 2021
(Mentor: Gregory Clark)
   The aim of this research is to better determine the optimal realistic number and locations of surface electromyographic (sEMG) electrodes to provide more accurate and intuitive control of upper-limb prostheses. sEMG is a non-invasive prosthesis control technique that can be used in place of traditional intramuscular electromyography (iEMG), which requires an invasive procedure. The number of sEMG electrodes and their locations are often chosen semi-arbitrarily for use with computational control algorithms. Optimizing sEMG electrode number and location could provide improved control, perhaps approaching that of iEMG electrodes.
   The sEMG data of 3 intact subjects controlling 8 degrees of freedom were gathered via a modified Kalman Filter (mKF) using 96 electrodes distributed evenly across the forearm. mKF is a computational control algorithm used to decode motor intent of the nerves by matching the sEMG signals with pre-programmed movements. The Root Mean Square Error (RMSE) between the subject’s movement and the computer’s pre-programmed movement was computed and compared with an increasing number of electrodes. Gram-Schmidt algorithm was used to find spatial locations of useful sEMG information that was analyzed using a data visualization technique called a heatmap.
   The average RMSE decreased with an increasing number of electrodes. RMSE began at 0.56 with just one electrode and decreased to 0.20 with 30 electrodes; beyond 30 electrodes, RMSE was effectively constant up to 96 electrodes. This result informs that, if placed optimally, ~30 to ~35 electrodes are enough for controlling the prosthetic hand nearly optimally. Secondly, the heatmap showed that some electrodes out of a total of 96 were infrequently or never chosen as among the best electrodes. This indicates that appropriate channel selection is key to algorithm accuracy. This research will help the researchers to optimize sEMG control more effectively and thus provide more accurate control of myoelectric upper-limb prostheses. 
Senate Representative: Todd Weiler


DEVELOPMENT OF PV TESTING APPARATUS USING 3D PRINTING TECHNIQUE

Olivia Lam – Research on Capitol Hill 2021
(Mentor: Heayoung Yoon)
As the global population increases, the development for renewable energy becomes crucial to produce sustainable electricity for our society. Thin-film solar cells are the most cost-effective photovoltaic (PV) technology on the market today. However, the power conversion efficiencies of such solar cells are still well below (< 22 % for CdTe, for example) than their theoretical maximum values (about 30 %). In this work, we perform PV characterizations of thin-film solar cells to gain better understanding of device performances. We use a solar simulator in an inverted configuration with a customized PV apparatus that can block surrounding light not coming directly from the sun simulator. This ensures that the measurements taken are more accurate. We designed and fabricated a prototype dark box with dimensions approximately of 22 cm x 17 cm x 14 cm. We show the effectiveness of the customized PV apparatus using thin-film CdTe solar cells. We will discuss on-going progress of another PV apparatus that can control environmental parameters, including moisture and temperature, for sensitivity thin-film solar cells (e.g., perovskite PVs). Our efforts on the development of customized PV apparatus using 3D printer will provide to high-quality datasets to gain a better understanding of thin-film solar cells.

House Representative: Casey Snider
Senate Representative: Scott D. Sandall

 


SYMMETRIC ELECTROCHEMICAL CELLS IN NONAQUEOUS ORGANIC REDOX FLOW BATTERIES – APPLICATIONS FOR LONGEVITY STUDY

Julia Case – Research on Capitol Hill 2021
(Mentor: Shelley Minteer)
Redox flow batteries (RFBs) are a promising technique to address the need for renewable energy storage due to their decoupling of power and capacity. Specifically, nonaqueous RFBs are advantageous due to their wide potential windows, making high energy densities achievable. Further, nonaqueous solvents allow for the use of a wide range of cheap, abundant organic redox-active molecules as electroactive species. However, crossover of these redox-active molecules results in permanent contamination and capacity decay, preventing their widespread application. Bipolar redoxmers (BRMs), single molecules that can be used as both anolyte and catholyte resulting in a symmetric RFB, are a promising solution to address this challenge. To evaluate their hypothesized benefits, systematic analysis of BRMs in battery performance (e.g. solubility, electrochemical reversibility and stability, crossover) was conducted through electrochemistry and spectroscopies and compared to solutions containing the identical active components but as mixed, separate species. It is anticipated that the present work lays the foundation for a new battery principle, which may greatly improve the longevity of flow batteries.

House Representative: Kera Birkeland
Senate Representative: John D Johnson


CHILD LABOR TRAFFICKING AND THE CHILD WELFARE SYSTEM

Jens Nilson – Research on Capitol Hill 2021
(Mentor: Annie  Fukushima)
In the year 2000, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act was passed in the United States, defining labor trafficking as “the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services through the use of force or fraud of coercion for the purposes of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery”. Child labor trafficking is a widespread social and political phenomenon. While there has been significant research and legislation enacted toward ending child sex trafficking, other forms of child trafficking are often overlooked. The purpose of this research was to identify deficiencies in the identification and response to child labor trafficking in the current welfare system. This study accomplishes the following: 1) contributes understandings to child welfare system responses to human trafficking; 2) gathers information about the types of labor trafficking occurring and 3) furthers research on child labor trafficking, with particular attention to responses during COVID-19.
House Representative: Casey Snider
Senate Representative: Chris Wilson


CHARACTERIZATION OF SATELLITE-DERIVED AIR QUALITY MEASUREMENTS IN HEALTH APPLICATIONS

Adriana Payan-Medina – Research on Capitol Hill 2021
(Mentor: Ramkiran Gouripeddi)
Air pollution has posed an exacerbating threat to Utah citizens as motor vehicle emissions, fossil fuel contributions, and Winter inversions jeopardize human health. Chemical pollution can be inhaled deep into the lungs, contributing to lung damage before crossing the alveolocapillary membrane to enter circulation within the bloodstream, which can lead to tissue damage, and increased cardiovascular or respiratory health risks, and cause inflammatory or metabolic insults. These conditions, stimulated by adverse air quality (AQ), have promoted the increase of coronavirus death rates, demonstrating the urgency of widespread and accurate pollutant measurements. Air quality data is obtained primarily from ground-based air quality monitors which obtain measurements of the greatest accuracy when patients live within 25 miles of the monitor, and due to geographical and financial limitations, monitors are generally located in population-dense areas. Contrarily, satellite data from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) gives access to spatiotemporal air pollution data through daily global exposure coverage of NO2 and PM2.5 concentrations through geographic coordinate-specific values. Through NASA’s MERRA PM2.5, NASA’s Ozone Monitoring Instrument NO2, and the Environmental Protection Agency’s NO2 and PM2.5 concentration measurements, 15 years of chemical pollution datasets specific to each United States county were compiled. Through Python’s pandas package, a descriptive statistical analysis was made for overlapping monitor and satellite locations and dates. We will use Python’s scikit-learn package to perform unsupervised machine learning to provide a quantitative evaluation of the precision of chemical pollutant data from satellites compared to chemical pollutant data from ground-based monitors. With the results of this analysis, we hypothesize that we will attain a more thorough representation of air pollution exposure to a wider swath of the US population, and the subsequent evaluation of the impacts atmospheric pollution has on various diseases such as COVID-19 and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus.
Senate Representative: Davie P. Hinkins                                                         House Representative: Christine F. Watkins

 
 


CORRELATING SURFACE TEMPERATURE FLUCTUATIONS WITH ATMOSPHERIC FLOW

Alexia Savas – Research on Capitol Hill 2021
(Mentor: Marc Calaf)
This project explores the analysis of data collected during the 2019 Idealized Planar Array experiment for Quantifying Spatial heterogeneity (IPAQS) aimed at better understanding surface heterogeneity and its influence on atmospheric flow. The deployment of IPAQS, which ran between June and July, provided an array of sensors capturing fast-response wind speeds, air, surface, and surface temperatures at multiple locations throughout the desert playa at the U.S. Army Dugway Proving Ground. The field deployment consisted of 30 measurement stations covering a 1- km grid. The surface energy balance problem is difficult to close due to a number of reasons, including instrument measurement error, soil heat flux measurements, and horizontal advection (atmospheric heat transfer) arising from persistent, slow moving eddies in the flow not captured through typical measurement techniques. This leads to the theory that energy left unaccounted for during the heat transfer process arising from persistent air temperature structures in the flow. It is collectively hypothesized that these structures occur due to large temperature patches at the surface. Being able to observe and compare temperature fluctuations in time and space is vital to understanding the connection of wind speed and surface temperatures in order to improve current data collection methods. For this project, autocorrelation and cross-correlation calculations are computed between surface temperature measurements and air temperature measurements. This allows for the observation of similarities or disparities between surface and air temperature fluctuations at different sensor locations. Preliminary results show a distinct frequency throughout the afternoon period in which air temperature fluctuations lag surface fluctuations. Preliminary results also present a promising correlation of this surface and air fluctuation correlation pattern with the wind velocity during a distinct period in the afternoon.  This project analysis is ongoing and is set to be completed by the end of the Fall 2020 semester.
House Representative: Carol Spackman Moss
Senate Representative: Jani Iwamoto


PRODUCTION OF PLATELET-LIKE PARTICLES USING MEG-01 CELLS

Kylie Persson – Research on Capitol Hill 2021
(Mentor: Tara Deans)
Platelets are small cell fragments derived from mature megakaryocytes, cells that primarily reside in the bone marrow. Platelets circulate throughout the body within the blood and are responsible for hemostasis and thrombosis. Platelets also play a prominent role in the body’s immune system and inflammatory response. With platelets providing these critical functions, platelet transfusions are used to alleviate low platelet levels in patients suffering from cancer, immune disorders, or traumatic injuries. Unfortunately, platelets used in transfusion medicine must be harvested from human donors and only have a shelf-life of 5-7 days, leading to shortages in emergency situations. A supply of culture-derived and donor-independent human platelets is needed to help mitigate the platelet shortage in transfusion medicine. Finding a high-throughput method for producing an on-demand supply of platelets is vital to those who rely on platelet transfusions for survival. This research focuses on engineering a microfluidic system equipped with a syringe filter to create an on-demand supply of donor-independent platelet-like particles from MEG-01 cells, an immortalized megakaryocytic cell line. The microfluidic system was shown to produce viable platelet-like particles that expressed CD41a, a common surface receptor found on natural blood platelets. Additionally, it was shown that culturing MEG-01 cells with phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate increased the CD41a expression in platelet-like particles. The work presented here could provide a significant stepping-stone for clinical applications of producing an on-demand supply of donor-independent platelets for transfusion medicine. This would allow immediate treatment for patients experiencing low platelet levels and ultimately lead to lives being saved.

House Representative: Angela Romero
Senate Representative: Derek L. Kitchen


THE UNIVERSITY OF UTAH SEXUAL AND REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH CARE AND EDUCATION NEEDS ASSESSMENT

Indigo Mason – Research on Capitol Hill 2021
(Mentor: Jessica Sanders)
Sex, sexuality, and reproduction are intimately tied to what it means to be alive. The study of reproductive health explores how economic, social, and political power is intertwined with intimacy, pregnancy, and birth. Even though the field has made remarkable strides, stigma and shame still linger surrounding these most intimate of experiences. In a time where education about sexual wellness varies greatly based on zip code (Kantor and Lindberg 2019), research finds similar disparities surrounding access to holistic care for preventative treatment, contraception, fertility, and pregnancy. Most vulnerable are young adults who have the highest risk of unintended pregnancy and increasing rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) across reproductive age groups (Kost 2017) (Institute 2019). Considering the disparities in adolescent sex education classes, how can colleges serve as a place to nurture positive sexual wellness behaviors that continue throughout the lifetime? What programs are currently available to support adolescents in college during their transition to early adulthood? Similarly, what are the impacts of innovative programs like no-cost contraceptive clinics and free condom delivery services on the college experiences of adolescents? I describe issues surrounding access to sexuality education and its related lifelong sexual wellness implications. I assess trends in adolescent access to sexual and reproductive health (SRH) across the nation and turn in to focus on Utah specific barriers. Focusing on the University of Utah specifically, I analyze survey data to assess gaps in knowledge and care as well as identify strategic places for innovative programs. These results find that students desire expanded contraceptive accessibility. I discuss the process of implementing evidence-based sexual wellness programs and conclude by proposing future areas of development for University health educators and administrators across the nation.
House Representative: Brian S. King
Senate Representative: John Johnson


STAR CLUSTER MASS FUNCTION FITTING USING PROBABILISTIC MODELING

Tobin Wainer – Research on Capitol Hill 2021
(Mentor: Anil Seth)
We measure the cluster mass function for 770 young star clusters in M31 whose ages and masses were derived through integrated light spectral energy distribution (SED) fitting. Although fits to integrated light observations lead to larger uncertainties than from other methods, a majority of extragalactic star cluster samples rely on integrated light fitting. We compare the integrated light SED mass function fitting results to the mass function results of these exact same clusters whose ages and masses were derived through color magnitude diagram (CMD) fitting previously published. Our mass function fitting, carried out using a probabilistic Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) technique, confirms the existence of a high-mass truncation that is well described using a Schechter function. We find the truncation mass log(Mc/Msol) is 0.4 dex higher than the previously published CMD value, suggesting that errors on the mass estimates of individual clusters can bias the upper mass truncation parameter of the cluster mass function to significantly higher values. We then run a several experiments using M51, M83 and NGC628 incorporating individual cluster mass errors into a simulation mass function fit. We find that the high errors of the integrated light method of deriving ages and masses systematically biases the truncation mass towards higher masses. We investigate the incorporation of individual mass uncertainties when fitting the cluster mass function, and perform a preliminary mass function fit for the M33 young cluster sample.

House Representative: Jennifer Dailey-Provost
Senate Representative: David P. Hinkins
Tobin
Senator Hinkins
 


DATING/INTIMATE PARTNER VIOLENCE AND SOCIAL MEDIA USE AMONG COLLEGE STUDENTS

Tania Cervantes-Hernandez & Helen Dodson
(Mentor: Akiko Kamimura)
The purpose of this project is to evaluate dating/intimate partner violence (D/IPV) and social media use among college students. D/IPV is a significant problem that can affect the well-being and safety of college students. In fall 2020, an online survey has been collected from college students at the University of Utah. In the survey, participants were asked about social media use, perceptions of D/IPV on social media based on 10 given scenarios, and demographic characteristics. To date, 591 students participated in the survey. Half of the participants reported that they use social media 5 times a day and on average spent over 2.56 hours a day using it. The majority of students (93%) indicate that they would either interact with the post, report the post to a social media platform, or engage in other ways if they saw an incident of D/IPV on social media. Out of the 10 situations that illustrate D/IPV on social media abuse, the majority of participants indicated that they have seen half of the scenarios or similar situations related to D/IPV on social media. Scenarios that cover monitoring/physical control, sexual violence, and financial/economic situations tend to be viewed as completely unacceptable. However, scenarios that cover monitoring a dating or intimate partner and hacking a partner’s social media account are more likely to be viewed as somewhat unacceptable rather than completely unacceptable.  The results indicate that there are scenarios of D/IPV which are not always considered as D/IPV. Overall, participants are interested in intervening if they see D/IPV on social media but may not recognize what constitutes D/IPV. Based on the findings of this study, educational programs that focus on how to recognize D/IPV on social media would be beneficial to promote accurate understandings of D/IPV and bystander attitudes.

House Representative: Steve Waldrip and Jeffrey D. Stenquist
Senate Representative: John D. Johnson and Daniel McCay


ANATOMICAL DIMENSIONS OF HUMAN VERTEBRAL BODIES OVER TIME

Zak Wankier – Research on Capitol Hill
(Mentor: Gidon Ofek)
   
Current methods for the treatment of Early-Onset Scoliosis include the use of casting, spinal fusion rods, and active growing systems.  These treatment methods report a high rate of complications such as endangered thoracic growth and pulmonary function, limited curve correction, and multiple revision surgeries as the child develops.  The purpose of this research was to create anatomical models for the curvature and vertebral body size during pediatric development to aid in the design of novel growing rods for Early-Onset Scoliosis treatment.
   An initial literature review was conducted to identify exact measurements of individual vertebral bodies C3-L5 as they develop in the human spine.  Average vertebral body height, width, and depth measurements, as well as the angle between vertebrae and intervertebral disc heights were all identified for children 3-6 years old, 7-9 years old, 10-12 years old, 13-15 years old, and finally for the fully developed human spine.  Data was compiled from 21 articles spanning 44 years of research.
  Approximation methods were further developed to extrapolate missing anatomical measurement data from the literature at different time points.  Custom MATLAB code was written to perform the calculations to approximate vertebral body height, width, and depth measurements separately for the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar regions of the spine.  Similar calculations were performed to approximate missing intervertebral disc heights as well as lordotic and kyphotic angles within the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar regions.
  Comprehensive anatomical measurements were compiled from the literature review and approximations; and were used to create anterior and lateral view engineering drawings of the spine at each timepoint.  These engineering drawings will be used to develop a detailed CAD model for the development of the pediatric spine.  Further work will validate the model using radiographs of normal spines at various stages of maturation.

House Representative: Doug Owens
Senate Representative: Jani Iwamoto


ENERGY CONSUMPTION AND THE LIMITS OF ECONOMIC GROWTH

Joshua Swan – Research on Capitol Hill 2021
(Mentor: Stephen Bannister)
  Clean, renewable energy is a pressing topic within economics and various other scientific circles. Still, many limited ventures have failed over the decades to combat the issues of climate change and its impact on the global economy. This research presents modeling of possible time paths for key environment- related variables including GDP per capita, energy use per capita, and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions per capita. These forecasts are then assembled into forecasts of the levels data of GDP, energy use, and CO2 emissions using a population forecast. The forecasting horizon mimics those of the economic components of current Integrated Assessment Models (IAM), typically to the year 2100. The modeling is at the global level. 
  We suggest a different methodology that takes a more macro and structural approach than existing models, and has the potential for being more realistic in the spirit of empirical approaches to economics and in the service of better policy. We also incorporate a unique mathematical concept into our analysis called Laplace Transform, that is used to take any function of a real variable and turn it into a function of a complex variable, this can help in our predictive models to better gather information regarding relationships in all of our data. We used R statistical software as our primary tool of conducting this project.
   Some surprises emerge with the results, conditional on the population forecasts driving the model. Zero-growth proponents may be encouraged that global GDP growth should level and start down in this century. Those seeking policy guidance to limit emissions will gain a sense of what policies might have the greatest impact. Those interested in sustainability may gain a new context to guide their research and policy ideas.

House Representative: Steve Waldrip
Senate Representative: John D. Johnson


CONTROLLING BACTERIAL TRANSCRIPTION WITH THE EUKARYOTIC TRANSCRIPTION FACTOR QF

Travis Seamons – Research on Capitol Hill 2021
(Mentor: Tara Deans)
Synthetic biology engineers bacteria to produce therapeutics, synthesize biofuels, and treat disease. Realizing these applications, however, requires the development of tools that allow orthogonal control of gene expression. Here, we report the successful development of a novel genetic tool in Escherichia coli (E. coli). Namely, the QUAS/QF system found naturally in the fungus Neurospora crassa is shown to function in E. coli to control gene expression. The activating protein (QF) functions in eukaryotes by binding to an activating sequence (QUAS). When QF binds to QUAS, gene expression is activated. We demonstrate similar behavior in E. coli. These findings demonstrate a paradigm shift in prokaryotic synthetic biology by reversing the current approach of moving genetic parts between organisms. This work introduces new gene regulation systems that may facilitate future applications of engineered bacteria in medicine and industry.
Senate Representative: Jani Iwamota

House Representative: Brian King
 


ADDING UP THE COST OF EXCLUDING UNDOCUMENTED UTAHNS FROM STATE AND FEDERAL COVID-19 RELIEF

Mario Ramirez-Arrazola – Research on Capitol Hill 2021
(Mentor: Thomas Maloney)
The Coronavirus pandemic represents an unprecedented challenge for our state and nation, and one whose impact is not borne equally by all Utahns. The disparate impact of the pandemic has been well documented, such as the fact that 42% of all COVID-19 cases in Utah are experienced by members of Utah’s Latinx minority, who make up just 14% of the entire population. But these disparities are not limited to the health effects of the pandemic. One of the most egregious economic disparities of the Coronavirus pandemic is the exclusion of undocumented Utahns from the major state and federal relief efforts. Undocumented Utahns go to work – often in essential jobs – and pay taxes like everyone else, but they (and their US-citizen family members) do not qualify for the $1200 tax rebates ($500 for children) provided by the federal CARES Act. In addition, they do not qualify for either regular state unemployment benefits or the enhanced federal benefit (the extra $600/week) provided by the CARES Act through July 31, 2020. This report examines the details of how much these Utahns – and our state economy as a whole – are losing as a result of this exclusion. According to the ITEP study, undocumented Utahns paid $69,770,000 in state and local taxes in 2017. This amounts to an average of $1,789 per household. In addition, undocumented workers are subject to unemployment insurance (UI) premiums paid by their employers but whose incidence, as with payroll taxes, is believed by economists to be borne mostly by the worker. According to one recent study, the average annual unemployment insurance premium that Utah unauthorized workers pay is $232 to the state and $42 to the federal government, adding up to a total contribution for 2010-2019 of $10,920,000 to the federal UI fund and $60,346,000 to the state fund. Thus, undocumented Utahns contributed more than $71 million over the last decade for a benefit that they themselves are not allowed to receive, even now, when unemployment rates have reached levels not seen since the 1930s. The sum total of these exclusions adds up to over $154.4 million:

$84 million in CARES Act tax rebates to adults (70,000 adults @ $1,200 each)
$4.5 million in CARES Act tax rebates for children (9,000 children @ $500 each)
$21 million in regular Utah unemployment compensation (calculated based on 55,000 undocumented workers at an average unemployment rate of 8% (which was Utah’s average unemployment rate for April-June) receiving $239 weekly (Utah’s average benefit) for the 20 weeks from mid-March through the end of July)
$44.9 million in CARES Act enhanced unemployment compensation (55,000 undocumented workers at an average Utah unemployment rate of 8% for 17 weeks (March 29 – July 25) @ $600 weekly)

House Representative: Karen Kwan
Senate Representative: Karen Mayne


ANALYSIS OF AYA CANCER PATIENT PRIORITY SYMPTOMS THROUGH TEXT MINING SOFTWARE

Kylie Bethards – Research on Capitol Hill 2021
(Mentor: Lauri Linder)
   Adolescents and young adults (AYAs) with cancer face frightening and often debilitating effects of their cancer.  To support the care of AYAs, healthcare providers need to understand their distinct experiences, including their priority symptoms — those that take the forefront of a patient’s concern. This project involved a secondary analysis of AYAs’ responses to three questions related to their priority symptoms using quantitative text analysis.  These questions were: 1) What makes this a priority symptom?, 2) What do you think causes it?, and 3) What do you do to make it better? 
Methods: Data were derived from a larger study in which 86 AYAs (15-29 years of age; median 19 years) receiving chemotherapy identified 169 priority symptoms prior to two cycles of chemotherapy using a heuristics-based symptom reporting tool.  AYAs’ responses to each question were analyzed using KH Coder (a text mining software).  Analyses included generation of word frequency charts, co-occurrence networks, and hierarchical clusters.  
Results: The most common responses to, “What makes this a priority symptom?,” centered around the words “make” and “feel”, “need” and “energy”, and “do” and “not.”  Responses were organized into sixteen co-occurrence networks, suggesting distinct personal reasons for identifying priority symptoms.  Responses to “What do you think causes it?,” were organized into eight co-occurrence networks that were connected to “chemo.”  Responses to “What do you do to make it better?,” emphasized the words “take” and “medicine,” “try” and “eat,” and “sometimes,” “not,” “work.”  These were organized into eleven co-occurrence networks that illustrated patients’  tactics for alleviating their symptoms.
Implications: Our quantitative findings complemented those from previous qualitative analyses and extended this research by quantifying keywords and providing visual connections between these keywords.  Collectively, these data contribute to a better understanding of how AYAs cope with their symptoms, and how to better address priority symptoms among AYAs with cancer.   
House Representative: Jeffrey D. Stenquist
Senate Representative: Daniel McCay


KETAMINE ASSISTED PSYCHOTHERAPY PLUS AFFECTIVE TACTILE GROUNDING ON PSYCHEDELIC STATES AND TREATMENT OUTCOMES IN ADULTS WITH MAJOR DEPRESSION

Anya Ragnhildstveit – Research on Capitol Hill 2021
(Mentor: Patricia Henrie-Barrus)
Subanesthetic ketamine — a noncompetitive N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) glutamatergic receptor antagonist — has come into psychiatric use as a groundbreaking intervention for major depressive disorder (MDD). Recently, studies have found ketamine assisted psychotherapy (KAP) to be significantly more effective in reducing depression than ketamine alone, given its chronic and refractory nature. Yet neither ketamine- nor KAP-based models have explored the utility of grounding during a largely dissociative experience. Such ego-dissolving, out-of-body, mind-wandering, and reality-detaching effects of ketamine — though therapeutic for most and transient in nature — can produce non-therapeutic responses. Negative emotions such as fear and anxiety as well as disintegration (fragmented self-concepts of identity, values, beliefs, and perceptions) may occur, attenuating clinical benefit. Within a pilot randomized controlled trial (RCT), we aim to test the feasibility and preliminary effectiveness of affective tactile grounding (ATG), as an adjunct technique to KAP, to improve psychedelic states and treatment outcomes for adults with MDD. Potential mechanisms of improvement (dissociation, nondual awareness, emotional stability, and psychological detachment) will also be explored. Participants (N=12) will be randomly assigned to receive six sessions of KAP plus ATG (treatment) or KAP alone (standard of care control). KAP sessions will include preparatory psychotherapy (30 minutes) and intravenous ketamine (0.5 mg/kg) plus therapist-guided psychotherapy over 40 minutes. All participants will receive one counseling session (50 min) prior to any KAP treatment. KAP will be scheduled on a weekly interval (two sessions per week over 21 days), with participants completing self-report measures at baseline and one-week post-intervention in addition to brief clinician-administered measures immediately following each KAP session. It is anticipated that adjunctive ATG will be associated with high feasibility, credibility, and acceptability as well as improvements in psychedelic states during treatment to mediate KAP’s anti-depressive effect. This randomized study will provide the first clinical evidence that KAP plus ATG can improve psychedelic states and overall treatment outcomes for adults with MDD. 

House Representative: Jeffrey D. Stenquist
Senate Representative: Daniel McCay


ORAL HISTORIES IN THE ERA OF COVID-19: THE UTAH NAVAJO AND THE WESTSIDE OF SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH

Oralia Aguilar & Jami Harvey – Research on Capitol Hill 2021
(Mentor: Mary Ann Villarreal)

Our research consists of a collection of recordings from the voices of undocumented Latinx communities of the Westside of Salt Lake City and the Utah Navajo Communities of San Juan County, during the COVID-19 pandemic. This project gives agency and voice to those who are given few opportunities to do so.
House Representative: Angela Romero and Phil Lyman
Senate Representative: Luz Escamilla and David P. Hinkins
 


ECONOMETRIC ANALYSIS ON THE IMPACT OF WATER RATES ON RESIDENT USAGE AND CITY REVENUE: A STUDY IN SALT LAKE COUNTY, UTAH

Nate Nellis – Research on Capitol Hill 2021
(Mentor: Scott Schaefer)
This project aims to examine what effect a change in municipal water rates has on water consumption. Data was provided by two cities in Salt Lake County, Utah and consists of monthly water usage for 26,510 households from July 2016 to July 2020, yielding a total of 1,192,463 observations. Beginning the month of July 2018, one city increased the rates charged per thousand gallons used, creating a natural experiment, while the other did not, serving as a control effect. City officials estimated a 5% increase in water rates would yield a 5% increase in city revenue. The year after the rate change however, water revenue decreased by 1%. The question of city officials was whether this was due to the rate change or other factors. The goal of this study is to determine if the rate increase had a measurable effect on water consumption and if so, whether or not it was enough to cause revenue city-wide to decrease. Using linear regression techniques and controlling for several variables that impact water consumption, I find average usage should have decreased between 119-238 gallons per month for the average household after the rate change. Even with the decrease in water usage, I estimate the average monthly bill should have risen by approximately $3.43. This information is important, as it shows that without other factors that affect usage, the city should have expected to see a small impact in conservation and an increase in revenue for the city after the rate change. In normal years, this small 5% rate increase would grow city revenue by an estimation of $889,718 per year, increasing the ability of the city to provide for essential public goods and services to its residents.
House Representative: Melissa Ballard
Senate Representative: Todd Weiler