Colorado College News: Neuroscience http://www.coloradocollege.edu/newsevents/newsroom/cc-rss-news.html?cat=neuroscience, Kiersten Kelly ’16 Publishes Neuroscience Thesis Mon, 24 Apr 2017 15:00:00 MDT http://www.coloradocollege.edu/newsevents/newsroom/kiersten-kelly-16-publishes-neuroscience-thesis http://www.coloradocollege.edu/newsevents/newsroom/kiersten-kelly-16-publishes-neuroscience-thesis <p><strong>Kiersten Kelly &rsquo;16,</strong> who graduated <em>cum laude</em> from Colorado College with a degree in neuroscience, has had her senior thesis accepted for publication in the <em>Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology</em>.</p> <p>The article, titled <a href="http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13803395.2016.1250870">&ldquo;Diagnostic terminology, athlete status, and history of concussion affect return to play expectations and anticipated symptoms following mild traumatic brain injury,&rdquo;</a> is the result of research Kelly conducted with Colorado College Professor of Psychology Kristi Erdal.</p> <p>Their article states that &ldquo;mild traumatic brain injury&rdquo; and &ldquo;concussion&rdquo; are terms often used interchangeably. However, &ldquo;mild traumatic brain injury&rdquo; is frequently seen as representing a broader injury that encompasses &ldquo;concussion,&rdquo; which often conveys lesser severity. The study examined the influence of varying diagnostic terminology on acute injury expectations in an undergraduate population. Participants were presented with a mild traumatic brain injury vignette and were randomly assigned to one of two conditions in which the term &ldquo;mild traumatic brain injury&rdquo; or &ldquo;concussion&rdquo; was used to describe the injury.</p> <p>There were no significant differences between the two conditions on anxiety, symptomatology, timeline, or consequence scales. However, participants in the &ldquo;mild traumatic brain injury&rdquo; group allocated more days to return to play than participants in the &ldquo;concussion&rdquo; group.The study showed that &ldquo;mild traumatic brain injury&rdquo; was associated with worse predicted outcomes, with students predicting greater symptomatology and more negative illness perceptions when shown a diagnosis of &ldquo;mild traumatic brain injury&rdquo; than when shown a diagnosis of &ldquo;concussion.&rdquo;<br />&nbsp;<br />&ldquo;An interesting finding was that&nbsp;athletes and those with a history of concussion tended to more accurately portray the days required to return to play, whereas non-athletes and&nbsp;those without a history of concussion tended to overestimate the recovery timeline,&rdquo; notes Kelly, who will be starting at University of California&ndash;Davis School of Medicine in the fall. &ldquo;This is important because overestimations could potentially prolong post-concussion symptoms and underestimations could cause individuals to use less caution and to not take the possibility of another injury seriously.&rdquo;<br /><br />Kelly and Erdal&rsquo;s research suggests that terminology, athlete status, and history of concussion all influenced injury expectations among undergraduate students, and clinicians should consider these influences on perceptions of the severity of an injury.</p> Professor Bob Jacobs on National Geographic Special Thu, 16 Jun 2016 11:15:00 MDT http://www.coloradocollege.edu/newsevents/newsroom/professor-bob-jacobs-on-national-geographic-special http://www.coloradocollege.edu/newsevents/newsroom/professor-bob-jacobs-on-national-geographic-special <p>By <strong>Eileen Kitrick &rsquo;17</strong><br /> <br /> Until recently, virtually nothing was known of the complexity and cellular beauty of African elephant brains. Until CC Neuroscience Professor Bob Jacobs, that is. His research, beginning in 2010, has focused on the structure of the neurons in elephant cerebral cortex. The structure, or morphology, of these neurons is strikingly different from what has been observed in other mammals.<br /> <br /> Nat Geo Wild&rsquo;s special <a href="http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/wild/destination-wild/episodes/mind-of-a-giant/">&ldquo;Mind of a Giant,&rdquo;</a>&nbsp;airing at 7 p.m., Sunday, June 19 (and again at 10 p.m.), features Jacobs and the newest findings on African elephant capabilities that have allowed this threatened species to adapt to habitat loss. With Jacobs&rsquo; research and that of others featured in the <em>National Geographic </em>program, we now know that elephants are much more intelligent and phenomenal social creatures than had been previously recognized. In the Nat Geo program, experts shed light on the African elephant&rsquo;s mental abilities, which includes theory of mind, self-awareness, advanced communication abilities, and planning skills.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;There is more than one way to wire an intelligent brain,&rdquo; says Jacobs.<br /> <br /> The elephant brain was the first non-human animal brain that Jacobs extensively examined in his laboratory. &nbsp;Jacobs, who developed the neuroscience major in Colorado College&rsquo;s Psychology Department in 1996, has worked with several students for his research on elephant brains, some of whom are co-authors on the first paper published in 2011. The organizational differences in African elephant brains are indicative of the elephant&rsquo;s complex cognitive and social abilities, leading researchers to believe that elephants may even be able to understand what other animals are thinking. &nbsp;Since the initial publication, Jacobs has conducted neuromorphological research on other large mammal species, including the giraffe, humpback whale, Siberian tiger, and manatee. His more recent research, published in 2015, comparing newborn elephant brains to that of adult elephant brains and other species&rsquo; newborns, reinforces the neuronal distinction in elephants and the variations that exist across species.</p> <p>&ldquo;Mind of a Giant&rdquo; will be available across Roku, Apple TV, Xbox, and other streaming platforms through July 24.</p> Devin Wahl ’12, Sister Complete English Channel Swim Mon, 28 Jul 2014 16:44:00 MDT http://www.coloradocollege.edu/newsevents/newsroom/devin-wahl-12-sister-complete-english-channel-swim http://www.coloradocollege.edu/newsevents/newsroom/devin-wahl-12-sister-complete-english-channel-swim ]]> <p>Danielle and <strong>Devin Wahl &rsquo;12</strong> successfully swam across the English Channel on July 27, Danielle for the second time and Devin for the first.<br /><br />The siblings, along with brother Dustin, had hoped to become the first three siblings to swim the English Channel, but only two of them made it across the 21-mile stretch of water. Dustin stopped the swim in French waters, due to extreme sickness and cramping. The swim originally was scheduled for July 22, but was delayed due to weather and boat issues.<br /><br />Devin, a neuroscience major at Colorado College, earned honorable-mention All-America honors in the 800-yard freestyle relay during his senior year. Danielle, who swam the English Channel in 2013 in nine hours and 49 minutes, competed at Colorado College as a freshman. She holds CC records in three freestyle distance events and was an honorable mention All-American in the 1,650 free in 2012.&nbsp;She later transferred to Centre College, where Dustin also swims.&nbsp;<br /><br />The siblings launched their swim in an effort to raise $20,000 in the fight against Alzheimer's Disease, which affects millions of people every year, including two members of their immediate family. <a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/siblings-swim-english-channel-for-alzheimers-awareness/">Watch CBS News coverage here</a>&nbsp;and <a href="http://m.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/three-siblings-attempt-to-swim-the-english-channel-falls-short-of-a-first/2014/07/28/ccb74432-166d-11e4-9e3b-7f2f110c6265_story.html">read <em>The Washington Post</em> story here</a>.</p> Three Recent Alumni Awarded NSF Graduate Research Fellowships Tue, 07 May 2013 15:51:00 MDT http://www.coloradocollege.edu/newsevents/newsroom/three-recent-alumni-awarded-nsf-graduate-research-fellowships http://www.coloradocollege.edu/newsevents/newsroom/three-recent-alumni-awarded-nsf-graduate-research-fellowships <p>Three recent Colorado College alumni, <strong>Keith Fritschie &rsquo;11, Rachel Wheat &rsquo;09,</strong> and <strong>Jacob Morgan &rsquo;08,</strong> have been awarded National Science Foundation graduate research fellowships. This highly prestigious fellowship recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines.</p> <ul> <li><strong>Keith Fritschie &rsquo;11</strong>, who graduated <em>cum laude</em> with a degree in Environmental Science, is earning a master&rsquo;s degree from the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences at the University of Washington, where he works in the Freshwater Ecology and Conservation Lab. His research focuses on how shifts in fish communities are changing the way nutrients cycle through streams.<br />Fritschie&rsquo;s research focuses on the desert Southwest, particularly the Verde River system of central Arizona, where he combines experiments with endangered species in a hatchery, fish community manipulations in the field, and species distribution modeling in the lab. <a href="/newsevents/newsroom/keith-fritschie-11-wins-national-science-foundation-fellowship">Read more here.</a><br /><br /></li> <li><strong>Rachel Wheat &rsquo;09</strong> graduated <em>magna cum laude</em> with a degree in biology, and currently is a Ph.D. candidate in the Environmental Studies department at the University of California-Santa Cruz. Her Ph.D. research focuses on the direct and indirect impacts of Pacific salmon availability on terrestrial wildlife, particularly fish predators such as bald eagles and brown bears. She and another UCSC graduate student were among the first to try crowdfunding to generate funds to support a pilot study for their research.<br />Wheat&rsquo;s primary research project examines how salmon availability influences the migratory and foraging behavior of bald eagles across multiple spatial scales. She hopes to work as a field ecologist, perhaps conducting research for a government agency such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, or for an NGO <a href="/newsevents/newsroom/rachel-wheat-09-awarded-national-science-foundation-fellowship">Read more here.</a><br /><br /></li> <li><strong>Jacob (Jake) Morgan &rsquo;08</strong>&nbsp;majored in neuroscience at CC and currently is a first-year biophysics graduate student at the University of Virginia, where he is studying the molecular mechanism by which cellulose synthesis in bacteria is regulated.<br />&ldquo;Cellulose is typically recognized in the context of plants, but many bacteria actually make and secrete cellulose in order to stabilize biofilms, multicellular aggregates that they form in order to attach to surfaces and protect themselves from threats such as antibiotics and our immune system. Complications due to the establishment of bacterial biofilms in the lungs is a major cause of mortality for&nbsp;cystic fibrosis patients.&nbsp;In my lab at UVA, we used X-ray diffraction to determine the atomic structure of the enzyme responsible for synthesizing cellulose in bacteria,&rdquo; Morgan says. The work was recently published in&nbsp;<em>Nature</em>. <a href="/newsevents/newsroom/jacob-jake-morgan-08-wins-national-science-foundation-fellowship">Read more here.</a></li> </ul> <p>The National Science Foundation graduate research fellowships support graduate students pursuing research-based master&rsquo;s and doctoral degrees at accredited U.S. institutions. The NSF received more than 13,000 applications for the 2013 competition, and awarded 2,000 fellowships.</p> Jacob (Jake) Morgan ’08 Wins National Science Foundation Fellowship Mon, 06 May 2013 18:14:00 MDT http://www.coloradocollege.edu/newsevents/newsroom/jacob-jake-morgan-08-wins-national-science-foundation-fellowship http://www.coloradocollege.edu/newsevents/newsroom/jacob-jake-morgan-08-wins-national-science-foundation-fellowship <p><strong>Jacob (Jake) Morgan &rsquo;08 </strong>majored in neuroscience at CC and currently is a first-year biophysics graduate student at the University of Virginia, where he is studying the molecular mechanism by which cellulose synthesis in bacteria is regulated. Morgan was recently awarded a National Science Foundation graduate research fellowship.<br /><br />&ldquo;Cellulose is typically recognized in the context of plants, but many bacteria actually make and secrete cellulose in order to stabilize biofilms, multicellular aggregates that they form in order to attach to surfaces and protect themselves from threats such as antibiotics and our immune system. Complications due to the establishment of bacterial biofilms in the lungs is a major cause of mortality for&nbsp;cystic fibrosis patients.&nbsp;In my lab at UVA, we used X-ray diffraction to determine the atomic structure of the enzyme responsible for synthesizing cellulose in bacteria,&rdquo; Morgan says. The work was recently published in&nbsp;<em>Nature</em>.<br /><br />The enzyme is regulated by cyclic-di-GMP, a small molecule that appears to be found exclusively in bacteria.&nbsp;Because cyclic-di-GMP is exclusive to bacteria, it's effectors are considered to be good targets for modulation by drugs where the goal is to harm the bacteria without harming people.&nbsp;His task as a graduate student, and the subject of his NSF fellowship, is now to determine the molecular motions that take place in the enzyme when it binds cyclic-di-GMP, and to figure out how these movements lead to activation of the enzyme. An understanding of this process could help to reveal ways to destabilize or prevent the formation of bacterial biofilms.<br /><br />His favorite classes at Colorado College were organic chemistry and biochemistry, and he cites Neena Grover and Peggy Daugherty as being his most influential professors. It was his research project with them, conducted the year after he graduated, that drew him to where he is now.&nbsp; He worked on a project with two high school students and their teacher to purify a specific protein from E. coli and then used it to synthesize&nbsp;an RNA sequence&nbsp;that one of Grover&rsquo;s students could use for her research.&nbsp;</p>