Recent Submissions

  • Managed sheep grazing can improve soil quality and carbon sequestration at solar photovoltaic sites

    Towner, Elizabeth; Karas, Tom; Janski, Jake; Macknick, Jordan; Ravi, Sujith; Towner|0000-0003-1618-2411; Ravi|0000-0002-0425-9373 (2022-01-13)
    Solar energy development is land intensive and recent studies have demonstrated the negative impacts of large-scale solar deployment on vegetation and soil. Co-locating vegetation with managed grazing on utility scale solar PV sites could provide a sustainable solution to meeting the growing food and energy demands, along with providing several co-benefits. However, the impacts of introducing grazing on soil properties at vegetated solar PV sites are not well understood. To address this knowledge gap, we investigated the impacts of episodic sheep grazing on soil properties (micro and macro nutrients, carbon storage, soil grain size distribution) at six commercial solar PV sites (MN, USA) and compared that to undisturbed control sites. Results indicate that implementing managed sheep grazing significantly increased total carbon storage (10-80%) and available nutrients, and the magnitude of change correlated with the grazing frequency (1-5 years) at the study sites. Furthermore, it was found that sites that experienced consecutive annual grazing treatments benefitted more than intermittently grazed sites. The findings will help in designing resource conserving integrated solar energy and food/fodder systems, along with increasing soil quality and carbon sequestration.
  • Expounding on Anorexia: Cognitive and Structural Outcomes

    Brown, Remya; Kunta, Charita; Abraham, Ashish; Kuchibhatla, Vishwanka; Carroll, Ethan; Tassoni, Molly (2021-05)
  • The Feasibility of Diagnosing Psychiatric Disorders with Neuroimaging

    Ghias, Kubarah; Vitelli, Gianna; Peters, Melissa; Abbasi, Aleena; Sposit, Chelsea; Matton, Matthew (2021-05)
    In the past few years, the number of individuals seeking treatment for psychiatric disorders has increased significantly [1]. Mental illness statistics continue to rise year after year. In his 2010 book, Robert Whitaker reported that the number of mentally ill had tripled in the past two decades [2]. In 2019, 56.4% of individuals ages 18-25 received mental health treatment, compared to the 45.9% receiving treatment in 2008 [3]. Suicide is now the second leading cause of death in persons aged 18-34. As of December 2020, Hedegaard and colleagues reported that suicide rates have increased by 35% since 1999. Furthermore, the report stated that 90% of the people who died by suicide were confirmed to have shown symptoms of mental illness [4]. These statistics are concerning and bring about a number of questions, one being the effectiveness of prescription drugs. Just how effective are these treatments? Furthermore, what limits improvement within the fields of psychiatry and psychology? One surprising limitation may be the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). The DSM-5 classifies mental disorders using set symptom-based criteria and is the standard for clinical diagnoses. However, this manual does not come without fault and controversy. A growing number of researchers have cited concern about false positives that occur as a result of the Diagnostic Manual’s recently lowered diagnostic thresholds [5]. Neuroimaging, also known as brain scans, may be useful for improving diagnostic accuracy. Neuroimaging approaches involve assessing structural anatomy and functional activity. If health professionals can diagnose individuals based on brain abnormalities associated with psychiatric disorders, then there may be a lower chance of misdiagnosis and error. This article will explore neuroimaging literature to assess the feasibility of this approach. It will be organized by first considering current issues within the field of psychiatry and a review of neuroimaging methods before a discussion of potential strengths and limitations of the approach.
  • Bridging the Gap Between the Science & People Affected by Traumatic Brain Injury

    Sotelo, Angelica; Baffoe-Bonnie, Jude; Shah, Aarohi; Michel, Erin; Jozwik, Matthew; Cában Rivera, Carolina (2021-05)
    Most Americans have probably seen media coverage of a National Football League (NFL) game. Because American football is a full contact sport, it is probably not surprising that frequent collisions between players result in concussions, or “mild” traumatic brain injury (TBI) [1]. While concussions have been associated with American football and its players since 1994, athletes are not the only people affected by them [2]. 69 million individuals sustain TBI each year worldwide [3]. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), while a concussion itself is not life-threatening, it is the after effects of the concussion that contribute to complications which may hinder a person’s quality of life for some time [1]. Recent research on the oculomotor system and neuro-optometric rehabilitation may offer affected individuals more opportunities for concussion recovery. Concussions affect our brain in a multitude of ways, including our physical, chemical, mental, and visual processes; however, neuro-optometric rehabilitation is a glimmer of hope for those recovering from traumatic brain injury.
  • Walking Again

    Rahman, Areebah; Paroya, Sonya; Abraham, Ashish; Ayala, Victoria; Clay, Barbara; Young, Jennica (2021-05)
    Spinal cord injuries are known to be debilitating and in many cases, limit the ability to walk. This article will investigate how a research group in Germany has enabled functional recovery in mice after spinal cord injury. Motor vehicle accidents are one of the leading causes of traumatic spinal cord injuries (SCIs), along with catastrophic falls and sports injuries. Traumatic SCIs result from forced impact, such as from a car accident or sports injury, whereas non-traumatic SCIs involve an infection or slow degeneration of bones [1].
  • The Joker’s Therapy Sessions

    Al-Tikriti, Meena; Wolf, Madison; Sajeev, Nikita; Baak, Stephen; Myers, Hailey; Salla, Nikki (2021-05)
  • ALS: Diagnosis by Deduction

    Morgan, Gideon; Vajipayajula, Dhruv; Shah, Aarohi; McGrath, Rose; Swanchara, Melissa; Leonard, Brian (2021-05)
  • Trauma and PTSD: Understanding the Brain in the Midst of Recovery

    Blessley, Emily; Do, Alyssa; Forry, Taylor; Moonthianngam, Pathompon; Heidelbaugh, Samantha; May, Dana (2021-05)
    Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) should be considered in anyone exposed to a traumatic event [1]. Approximately 60% of men and 50% of women will experience trauma at some point in their life. Nonetheless, trauma exposure does not guarantee the onset of PTSD symptoms; typically, only 4% of men and 10% of women end up developing PTSD after experiencing trauma [2]. The psychological mechanisms in which PTSD is prevented within an individual is not well understood. Thus, recognition of the onset of symptoms and comprehension of the neurobiology of this disorder are critical for diagnosis, treatment and recovery [1].
  • The Social and Emotional Toll of Narcolepsy

    Mehta, Rutvik; Jiwanji, Mariyah; Singhal, Rashi; Gillam, Emily; Lockwood, Kathryn; Quarmley, Megan (2021-05)
    Normally, turning on the light in your house is as easy as flipping a switch. Now, imagine if the light didn’t work properly. Imagine that flipping a switch on or off meant guessing if the light would turn on or off, or just flicker. Not knowing what your light is going to do at any moment would severely limit your ability to function in your house and would be exhausting, frustrating, and very disrupting. For people with narcolepsy, this is an everyday reality. The light represents the brain of a person with narcolepsy, as they can feel tired or awake at any time, not knowing when sleep will attack. Although the physiological effects of narcolepsy are well-known and studied more, the social and emotional toll is not talked about as much but can have equally devastating and life-altering effects.
  • Brain-Machine Interface

    Lua, Esmeralda; McGuigan, Daniel; Rahaman, Arafat; Wanders, Siena; Neguch, Natalya; Bullock, Trent (2021-05)
    Requiring collaboration in the fields of neurobiology, electrophysiology, engineering, computer science, and biomedicine, Brain-Machine Interfaces (BMIs) are an emerging multidisciplinary technology with countless potential benefits. The ability to record and interpret neuronal activity at a higher resolution and specificity is one of the exciting promises of BMIs. The applications of this technology provide hope for a vast number of individuals who suffer from a wide range of neurological diseases and disorders. It can also be applied to artificial prostheses, to provide limb sensation for amputees. Although BMIs hold immense potential, questions within the realm of neuroethics have raised concern. In particular, the possible exploitation that could arise through medical practices with the advancement of technology [1]. Where humans may potentially be given capabilities that surpass the norm, changing the perception of what it means to be human [1]. It is important to take into account that there are BMIs currently in place that have provided relief for various conditions. To name a few, the use of deep brain stimulation in patients with Parkinson’s, spinal cord stimulation for those with intractable pain, and the use of motor prosthesis for patients with epilepsy [1]. However, these methods oftentimes only provide temporary or mild relief and are not inerrant. The trajectory of the BMIs outlined herein aims toward finding an ideal invasive mechanism to solve these drawbacks of mild and temporary relief. There are a vast number of neurological disorders that continue to trouble humanity both emotionally and economically [1], that could substantially change through the use of BMIs.
  • The Undeniable Link Between the Brain and Gut

    Rhoads, Brigham; Jurewicz, Abigail; Nghe, Amy; Oliveras, Kiana; Nelson, Vanessa; Gingerich, Alexa (2021-05)
    Nausea, heartburn, indigestion, constipation, and stomach pain are all kinds of gastrointestinal problems we have faced before. They are easy to dismiss as merely an upset stomach, but this mentality could build up and ultimately be detrimental to mental and physical health. Improperly caring for the digestive system can lead to extensive intestinal health issues. The microbiome is a collection of all of the microorganisms that thrive in the human digestive system. It is a cohesive network of beneficial, neutral, and negative bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and viruses that help digest foods that are otherwise indigestible by our digestive tract among many other functions. Neglecting intestinal health by not nourishing the microbiome with proper nutrients, abusing medications, or excessive alcohol consumption can lead to a host of different health problems. For example, sleep disturbances, like insomnia, are a common symptom of a struggling gut. They can lead to chronic fatigue because the majority of serotonin, the neurotransmitter that is pivotal in mood and sleep, is manufactured in the gut [1]. A more acute health crisis that can develop from improper care of one’s gut is the formation of peptic ulcers in the stomach or small intestine. Peptic ulcers are caused by a breakdown of the mucus membrane in the digestive tract and result in chest and abdominal pain, weight loss, trouble breathing, and in extreme cases expulsion of blood [2]. Who would have thought that what we eat could affect the development of healthy gut flora, which then can contribute to declining mental and physical health? This article investigates topics regarding the gut’s impact on body and mind, what lifestyle choices cause dysbiosis, and how Parkinson’s Disease can develop beginning in the gut to demonstrate how central the gut is to overall wellness.
  • A Whole New World - Exploring Emotion in Music

    Brodsky, Rachel; Buddhiraju, Kirvani; Szmacinski, Ola; Calaku, Katie; Hobson, Sam; Brucato, Maria (2021-05)
    When Disney movies open with a murmur of classi cal music, crescendoing into powerful waves, they immediately transport us to animated lands of princes and princesses, talking animals and evil stepmothers. Or if you haven’t watched a Disney movie in a while, what about the recent allure of the sea shanty? When listening to the now-famil iar rhythm of the folk songs that traditionally accompanied labo rious tasks while at sea, we imagine ourselves on a 19th century ship, helping to raise the sail or hoist up the anchor. How do we create entire worlds for ourselves, whether familiar or from cen turies before, based on the music we hear? Human perception of music is influenced by pitch, key, tempo and other factors, which evoke emotion by activating the limbic and paralimbic systems [1, 2]. That said, the whole story behind music is still being sounded out, and some current theories are explored below.
  • Fungus Among Us

    Hilty, Christopher; Kitabwalla, Fatema; Pandey, Abhi; Bhatti, Saira; Sigler, Danni; Farkas, Daniel (2021-05)
    Everyone knows that drugs are bad for you. That’s why they’re illegal, right? This outdated idea is facing increased scrutiny, as we’ve already begun to see the prohibition and regulation of some of these substances being reexamined. For example, marijuana is federally recognized as a Schedule 1 drug, a classification that implies it has a high abuse potential and no recognized medicinal value. However, this classification has been challenged by many recent studies that have shown its potential as a treatment option for various conditions ranging from mild nausea to debilitating epilepsy [1]. Another drug in this Schedule 1 category is psilocybin, which was once considered a revolutionary tool in psychotherapy. This drug isn’t some modern creation synthesized in a lab, it’s a naturally occurring substance found in certain species of mushrooms . The ritual consumption of these mushrooms dates back thousands of years in Mexico, where it had been used for both medicinal and spiritual purposes [2]. In the late 1950’s, isolation of the psy choactive psilocybin molecule allowed scientists to evaluate its potential as a treatment option for various mood disorders and alcoholism [3]. However, as the war on drugs ramped up, funding for these studies dried out. After a hiatus that spanned multiple decades, research on this promising molecule is finally resuming. Recent studies indicate that psilocybin can be a powerful treat ment option for various ailments such as obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), addiction, and depression. Its ability to produce a “mystical-type experience” is thought to be correlated with its effectiveness, though the cause of this experience is still under investigation [4]. Despite the uncertainty surrounding this phenomenon, the positive therapeutic results of the drug offer hope for a new tool to fight the rising mental health issues and addic tion epidemics that lurk below the surface of our society.
  • Grey Matters, Issue 1, Spring 2021

    Sajeev, Nikita; Nelson, Vanessa (2021-05)