Independent Research

Each semester students participate in independent research projects under the mentorship of a faculty research advisor. These students have the opportunity to develop projects and play a key role in the progression of their faculty member’s research program.

The following abstracts are projects presented at the 2023 Fall Jepson Science Center Symposium, separated by departmental affiliations:

Biological Sciences

  • Poster 12: The Effect of Myoglianin Knockdown on DM1 Symptoms in Drosophila Melanogaster
    Charlotte Russell, Advisor: Dr. Ginny Morriss

    The primary objective of this research study is to determine the relationship between myostatin and Myotonic Dystrophy type 1 (DM1). DM1 is an inherited disorder caused by the expansion of CTG repeats in the 3’ untranslated region of the DMPK gene. There is currently no known cure for DM1 and current treatments include physical and occupational therapy to manage symptoms. While DM1 causes muscle wasting, myostatin-related muscle hypertrophy is a condition that causes an increase in muscle mass. The primary function of myostatin is to prevent excessive muscle growth, therefore reduced production of myostatin can cause overgrowth of muscle tissue. Myoglianin is the myostatin ortholog in the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, and was knocked down using RNA interference in this research study. We hypothesize that since myostatin-induced hypertrophy and DM1 exert opposite effects on the muscle, myoglianin depletion could potentially be used to treat myotonic dystrophy. In this study, four groups of fruit flies were compared using functional analysis to examine whether impairments in climbing and flight ability shown in DM1 flies could be rescued. First a climb assay was conducted, then a flight assay to determine if myoglianin knockdown could rescue impairments in climb and flight muscles. RT-qPCR will be used to evaluate the success of the RNAi knockdown. Because atrophy and hypertrophy typically balance each other in normal muscle, by activating a hypertrophic response in the muscle, we expect to re-balance the atrophy in the DM1 model.
  • Poster 14: Examining the therapeutic efficacy of chemotherapy in combination with methionine restriction in breast cancer cells. 
    Abigail Glenn, Advisor: Dr. Laura Sipe

    Triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) is an aggressive form of breast cancer with a poor prognosis for patients. There are limited treatment options for patients with TNBC outside of chemotherapy. As such, increasing the efficacy of standard chemotherapies in the treatment of TNBC could improve patient prognosis. One such possible route is methionine restriction; cancer cells require more methionine than healthy cells due to their state of extreme growth. Previous studies suggest potential for methionine restriction synergism with Paclitaxel, a taxol chemotherapy targeting microtubules during mitosis. TNBC cells grown in methionine restricted media (3%, 12%)  had markedly reduced cell viability compared to control cells. Interestingly, methionine restriction alone was more effective than Paclitaxel (5ng/mL, 10ng/mL) to reduce TNBC cell viability. However, when combined, TNBC cell viability was not reduced beyond methione restriciton alone. Additionally, TNBC cells grown in either methionine restriciton (3%) or Paclitaxel (5ng/mL) did not demonstrate an increase in apoptosis, nor did the combination treatment. Overall, the effects of methionine restriction drove an observed decrease in proliferation and cell viability without leading to apoptosis. Similarly, Paclitaxel decreased TNBC viability and proliferation, but apoptosis was not observed after 72 hours. Yet in combination, TNBC viability did not further decrease or induce apoptosis. As such, methionine restriction did not enhance the efficacy of Paclitaxel chemotherapy. Future works will aim to examine methionine restriction synergism with additional classes of chemotherapy beyond taxols, such as Cisplatin, an alkylating agent, and 5-Fluorouracil, an antimetabolite.
  • Poster 22: Knockdown of Pvr and its Relation to DM1 Muscle Wasting in Drosophila 
    Madeline Brunt, Bonnie Butler, Rose McMullen, Advisor: Dr. Ginny Morriss

    Myotonic dystrophy type 1 (DM1) is an inherited multisystem disorder that causes severe muscle wasting. DM1 is the result of unstable CTG-repeat expansions in the untranslated region of the dystrophia myotonica protein kinase (DMPK) gene. Previous research using a mouse model of DM1 with severe muscle wasting showed deregulated PDGFRβ signaling. PDGFRβ is a receptor tyrosine kinase that regulates cell growth and survival. Our lab hopes to expand on this research with use of the Drosophila melanogaster model. This is because the role of the fruit fly homolog, Pvr, has not been extensively studied within muscle wasting. Using the Gal4/UAS system in Drosophila melanogaster, we can express expanded CUG-repeat RNA in transgenic lines to determine how Pvr plays a part in DM1. The goal of this project is to modulate expression of Pvr by knocking it down and its downstream components to determine whether Pvr signaling is required for proper skeletal muscle development and function in DM1. 
  • Poster 26: Cytotoxicity of Phage Jabberwock and Phage Atlee Proteins
    Tyler Downs, Eleni Kepler, Raesa Zia, Advisor: Dr. Swati Agrawal

    This project focuses on the characterization of previously isolated Bacillus phages Atlee and Jabberwock to determine their therapeutic potential against antibiotic resistant bacteria from the Bacillus genus. While bioinformatics prediction tools provide some insight into genes encoded by the genome, the majority of functions are unknown.  These phages were isolated at the University of Mary Washington as a part of SEA PHAGES course using the non-pathogenic B. thuringiensis species; however, these phages showed a broad host range infecting other species in the Bacillus genus, including the pathogenic bacteria B. anthracis, which causes anthrax, and B. cereus, a gastrointestinal pathogen. A better understanding of proteins encoded in the genomes of Bacillus phages will aid in the process of combatting such bacteria. For each phage’s genes, a subset of protein will be selected for experimental verification of the gene model and analysis of cytotoxicity function. The main steps in the characterization process include amplification, cloning of genes, and expression of the protein in an appropriate expression vector. In addition, an assay analyzing toxicity of the phages to determine their effectiveness against bacteria will be completed. So far, 9 genes have been successfully amplified and cloned into a TOPO vector backbone. Following sequence verification, they will subsequently be cloned into protein expression vectors for verification of gene model and bacillus expression vectors for analysis of cytotoxicity and immune suppressor function.
  • Poster 28: The role of the Pvr signaling pathway in Drosophila muscle phenotypes
    Delaney Baratka, Advisor: Dr. Ginny Morriss

    Myotonic Dystrophy Type One, DM1, is a progressive, multisystemic, and autosomal dominant disorder caused by expansion of CTG-repeats in the 3′-UTR of the DMPK gene. While we understand the causal mutation that leads to DM1, the underlying mechanisms of disease progression remain unclear. Prior research in a mouse model of DM1 identified deregulated PDGFR- β signaling. PDGFR-β plays a role in cell survival and differentiation. Another study implicated the ligand for Pvr, the Drosophila ortholog of PDGFR-β, as a modifier of DM1 phenotypes. This study will evaluate the role of the Pvr signaling pathway in Drosophila muscle phenotypes, helping us better understand its role. We plan to modulate the expression of pvr by RNAi knockdown (pvr-RNAi) in flies lacking the DM1 CUG repeats and by overexpression of Pvr (Pvr-OE) flies with and without the CUG-repeat expression (CUGexp). The Drosophila DM1 model uses the Gal4/UAS system to express the expanded CUG repeats. The use of the fruit fly model allows us to study the signaling pathway in a more simplified view to understand its role in normal muscle functions. Our main goal is to determine the role of Pvr signaling for proper skeletal muscle structure and function. A secondary goal is to determine whether overexpression of Pvr in flies affected by DM1 can rescue the DM1 muscle phenotype.
  •  Poster 31: In planta gene expression by the fungal endophyte Beauveria bassiana in Glycine max
    Harrison Miles, Advisor: Dr. Dianne Baker 

    Endophytic fungi grow within plants without causing the plant harm. Beauveria bassiana, an endophytic fungus, is also an entomopathogen, causing disease in insects; this property makes it useful as an organic pesticide. Beauveria kills insects by producing toxic compounds, two of which are called bassianolide and beauvericin. Previous studies have quantified how much of these compounds are produced during the insect infection, but less is known about how much they are produced within the host plant. Understanding this fungal gene expression could inform the timing and efficacy of its use as a biological control. This experiment attempted to inoculate soybean (Glycine max) with Beauveria bassiana to measure the endophyte’s production of the toxic compounds beauvericin and bassianolide. However, neither culturing inoculated plant tissue nor analysis of gene transcripts showed evidence of inoculation success. These results are not uncommon as retrieval of experimentally-established endophytes varies in the literature and may be low. Cultivar-specificity may play a role in inoculation success. Further optimization of experimental methods is needed.
  • Poster 38: An Inquiry into the Validity of the Tube Test as a Measure of Dominance in Mice
    Tim Philbeck, Advisor: Dr. Parrish Waters

    The social interactions of mice can provide valuable information on their behavioral and physiological state. The Tube Test is a practical and inexpensive method that is commonly used to estimate the social rank of mice living in social cages, but this test is not universally accepted as a reliable and objective measure of social dominance. Therefore, we designed a study to assess the validity of this test, which will enhance our ability to determine social relationships among mice in our lab. We kept two strains of mice (outbred CD-1 and inbred C-57) in strain specific dyads and performed multiple iterations of the Tube Test over 29 days. We compared
    these results to home cage aggression, hormone levels, and anatomical features that are associated with social dominance in mice (albeit using more expensive and labor-intensive methods than the Tube Test). Performance in the Tube Test did not predict plasma hormone
    levels or preputial gland size. We observed a relationship between Tube Test performance and home cage aggression, in which mice that consistently lost the Tube Test exhibited higher levels of aggressive attacks toward their cagemates (p ≤ 0.05). Our results suggest that care should be
    taken when assigning social ranks to mice based on results from the Tube Test.
  • Poster 41: A Pilot Study on the Impact of Riparian Restoration Along the Rappahannock River in Belle Isle State Park on Wildlife Biodiversity.
    Caroline Pitches, Kylie Jackson, Mary Coy Woodrum, Advisor: Dr. Andrew Dolby

    Riparian zones are areas along the edge of a river or stream. They provide many ecosystem services including maintaining water quality, soil health, and plant and animal diversity. Riparian zones are extremely vulnerable to change. The surrounding land and biodiversity can face severe decline if it is damaged. Restoration projects and follow-up studies on these ecosystems are rare. One riparian restoration project was conducted along a rapidly eroding shoreline along the Rappahannock River in Belle Isle State Park in 2017. Our study aimed to analyze the success of this project by evaluating the biodiversity that now utilizes the restored wetlands and beaches. We hypothesized that the restored shorelines in Belle Isle State Park made a significant impact on wildlife species richness and abundance in comparison to unrestored shorelines, and we predicted that both species richness and abundance would be greater in restored regions than in unrestored regions. We installed six wildlife cameras, three along restored and three along unrestored shorelines, to observe wildlife over the course of seven weeks. We found insignificant results for species richness being 8 species for both site types and an insignificant p-value of 0.249 for species abundance between site types. Although our study did not produce significant data, it did provide useful insight on how this study could be improved and be extended further in future studies on how biodiversity is impacted by riparian restoration in Belle Isle State Park.
  • Poster 42: Long Range PCR for Generation of Fluorescent in situ Hybridization (FISH) Probes
    Delaney Humphrey, Advisor: Dr. Ginny Morriss

    Myotonic Dystrophy Type 1 (DM1) is characterized by an expansion of CTG repeats in the DMPK gene and can cause muscle weakening and wasting. The transgenic flies in this study have either 60, 250, or 480 human CTG repeats which cause DM1. This project aimed to generate fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) probes to confirm previous research that genetically localized the (CTG)60, (CTG)250, and i(CTG)480 transgenes in the Drosophila genome. FISH can be used to determine the location of specific DNA sequences within the genome, allowing researchers to more rationally design crosses which can be used for genetic modulation of DM1. FISH uses fluorescently labeled probes that hybridize to the CTG transgene, as well as four unique chromosomes in the fly. To generate the probes, long-range PCR was used to amplify fragments of isolated DNA. The products of the long-range PCR are visualized on agarose gels. To troubleshoot the PCR, as some targets have not yet yielded bands and some are giving nonspecific bands, primer tiling will occur. Primer tiling will enhance the reliability, accuracy, and coverage of amplification in the DNA sequence. PCR fragments will eventually be purified from the gel and fluorescently labeled using nick-translation. The fluorescent probes will be used to label chromosomes prepared from Drosophila larvae using fluorescent in situ hybridization. 
  • Poster 43: The Effect of Social Isolation on Orexin Production  and Hedonic Drive in Female Mice
    Hudson McNerney, Advisor: Dr. Parrish Waters

    Social stress is a primary instigator of psychological disorders in humans. While social stress results from social dominance relationship (i.e., being subordinate), social isolation is an intense psychosocial stressor for social organisms (including mice and humans) that can have profound effects on physiological and neurobiological systems. One of these negative effects is a loss of feelings of reward, or anhedonia. Rewarding feeling in response to positive stimuli, or ‘hedonic drive’, is controlled in largely orexins. Two neuropeptides, orexin A and orexin B, are produced in the lateral hypothalamus, and can be disturbed by intense or chronic stress. While the effects of these ligands on reward seeking are understood, how isolation stress can affect orexins, and how this may influence a depressed state has not been thoroughly explored. This project will examine the effects of isolation stress on central orexin systems and anhedonia, as a model depression in female mice. We will keep mice in social or isolated cages. Each cage will contain a raised platform with a sucrose pellet dispenser to test motivation (i.e. hedonic drive), as well as running wheels. We will track which animal is running using RFID tags to track each individual’s activity. After 4 weeks in this environment, we will test all mice in discrete behavioral tests that assess hedonic drive and anxiety. We will collect brain and blood tissue to assess orexin and corticosterone, respectively. Our findings will contribute to a better understanding of the role that orexins play in regulating stress responsive physiological systems. 
  • Poster 44: Assessing progression of muscle phenotypes in an adult-onset model of myotonic dystrophy in Drosophila melanogaster
    Ashlyn Rauch, Kayla Rodriguez, Sarah White, Advisor: Dr. Ginny Morriss

    Myotonic Dystrophy Type One (DM1) is a multisystemic disorder caused by expansion of CTG repeats in the dystrophia myotonica protein kinase (DMPK) gene. Individuals diagnosed with DM1 may display a wide spectrum of CTG expansions, ranging from 50 to 4000 repeats. Unaffected individuals typically have between 5 to 37 CTG repeats. In individuals with shorter repeat expansions, development of symptoms typically occurs in the later adult years, whereas individuals with very long expansions can have a juvenile or congenital onset. Since DM1 results in progressive worsening of symptoms over generations, it is important to understand the progression of the disease. The Drosophila DM1 model uses the GAL4/UAS system to drive expression of expanded CUG repeat-containing RNA (CUGexp). This study uses the 1151-Gal4 driver, an adult-onset, skeletal muscle-specific driver to study the progression of skeletal muscle weakening and wasting. We crossed the 1151-Gal4 lines with transgenic lines containing 60 (UAS-CTG60) and 250 (UAS-CTG250) CUG repeats to represent the unaffected and DM1 mutant phenotypes. We are in the process of testing 1151-Gal4>UAS-CUGexp flies for physiological defects at 3, 4, and 5 weeks of CUGexp expression. We use tests that measure climbing velocity and flight ability in the flies to assess defects in physiological function in the flies as well as histological analysis to assess muscle atrophy.  This study determines the time of onset of the DM1 muscle phenotypes for Drosophila DM1 model. 

Earth and Environmental Sciences

  • Poster 4: Examination of the Potential Health and Ecological Impacts of the Total and Bioavailable Concentrations of Harmful Metals in Some Kingston, Jamaica, Surface Soils
    Anna Velardi, Faith Jones, Audrey Turner, Advisor: Dr. Melanie Szulczewski

    This study investigated background levels of concerning metals in a variety of soils in and near Kingston, the capital of Jamaica. Minimal soil sample collection and analysis had occurred since a 1988 island-wide geochemical survey revealed very high concentrations of total Cd in many regions, along with elevated concentrations of As, Cu, Zn, and Cr in some types of soil, with background lead levels elevated only at specific polluted sites. An updated examination was deemed important due to a growing city population, increased fuel combustion, and intensive urban gardening. This study analyzed soils collected in 2022 for total metal concentrations, as well as bioavailable concentrations, previously only reported for lead. The typically basic soils in this urban center of a tropical country provided interesting preliminary results regarding metal content in the region’s soils. Arsenic and cadmium were detected in every soil, usually far exceeding US EPA cleanup levels. By contrast, Pb levels were lower than expected. Further analysis looked for correlations in the soil samples between metal concentrations and pH, organic matter content, soil texture, and biologic activity, with concerning results.
  • Poster 23: Evaluating Sedimentary Trace Metal Contamination, Bioaccumulation, and Fish Species Diversity Near A Virginia Coal Ash Repository
    Summer Orledge, Advisors: Dr. Ben Kisila and Dr. Tyler Frankel

    This research assesses the spatio-temporal distribution and biological impacts of trace metal pollutants near Bremo Power Station. This decommissioned coal-fired power plant, located by the James River in Virginia, stores 6.2 million cubic yards of coal combustion residuals (CCRs) in its adjacent North Ash Pond. It is one of hundreds of CCR repositories in the U.S. Industrial coal combustion and subsequent waste disposal release toxic, persistent, and non-biodegradable trace metals into the environment. CCRs can infiltrate waterways via accidental spills, authorized discharge, or leaching from insufficiently lined impoundments. The latter remains under-examined, as existing research primarily focuses on large spills. Surficial sediments, sediment cores, and native adult panhandle pebblesnails (Somatogyrus virginicus) were sampled from the James River upstream, downstream, and adjacent to the station. Samples were analyzed for 13 CCR-associated trace elements (Al, As, B, Cd, Ca, Cr, Cu, Fe, Pb, Mg, Mn, Se, and Zn) using ICP-OES (inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry.) In addition, eDNA (environmental DNA) samples were collected and fish species diversity analyzed using MiFish primers. Preliminary results indicate significantly enriched Al, Cu, and Pb in surficial sediments downstream from the station. We anticipate increased concentrations of trace metals in snails sampled downstream, accompanied by diminished fish diversity. Expected findings also include a temporal correlation between the plant’s operational period and trace metal enrichment. Further results will provide crucial insight into the transport, deposition, and lasting ramifications of CCR-associated trace metals, informing environmental remediation efforts and illuminating risks to ecosystem and human health.
  • Poster 34: Evaluating the Geochemistry from Coral Species Hydnophora Microconos as a Reliable Proxy for Tropical Pacific Climate
    Jessica Oberlies, Ainsley Lord, Sophia Austin, Advisor: Dr. Pamela Grothe

    The tropical Pacific is a critical region for studying the impacts of climate change because of its central role in modulating global climate variability. This is most evident during extreme El Niño Southern Oscillation events, which cause large swings in global precipitation patterns. However, the lack of recorded instrumental data prior to the mid-20th century presents a challenge to quantify the extent of anthropogenic influence on tropical climate, preventing robust simulations of future climate impacts. Geochemical records from modern and fossil coral Porites are a reliable method to extend the instrumental sea surface temperature records through the preindustrial period. However, relying on one coral genus prohibits a robust reconstruction due to limited temporal sample availability spanning centuries to millennia. Here, we test a new species of coral, Hydnophora microconos, as a reliable archive to reconstruct sea surface temperature in the central tropical Pacific. As corals secrete their aragonite skeletal material (CaCO3), they preserve the environmental conditions through incorporation of both oxygen isotopes (𝛿18O) and changes in their strontium (Sr) and calcium (Ca) ratios. Coral Sr/Ca ratios record sea surface temperature (SST), while coral 𝛿18O are influenced by both SST and sea surface salinity. Initial results from a modern paired record of 𝛿18O and Sr/Ca from a Hydnophora microconos coral from Kiritimati Island show that these corals reproduce the instrumental SST and track warming from recent El Niño events, suggesting these corals may be reliable proxies for paleoclimate reconstruction. Future work includes comparing young fossil Hydnophora microconos geochemical records with the well-established Porites geochemical records from Kiritimati Island to ensure the fossils reproduce the established Porites-based SST record for this island. If successful, Hydnophora microconos will be paired with Porites to create a record of the climate in the tropical Pacific for the past 200 years to quantify the timing and magnitude of warming and freshening in the tropical Pacific. 

Chemistry and Physics

  • Poster 7: Observation and Interpretation of Exoplanetary Light Curves
    Carter Bussey, Advisor: Dr. Matthew Fleenor

    Space exploration and the possibility of alien life have captured the human imagination for decades. Current technology has led to thousands of extrasolar worlds being discovered, catalogued, and insight into their atmospheres. Trial observations of two Jupiter-sized planets were sent to a browser-based telescope system to better understand transit timing and observational frequency. Light curves were constructed using two Python programs and data from NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS). Light curves generated from the observations showed that the reference and planet-hosting stars changed in tandem, demonstrating that the effects of atmospheric blurring are greater than the change in light due to a transit. Future work includes using the same techniques to observe eclipsing binaries with Skynet and confirming planetary candidates with TESS data. ​
  • Poster 8: Rotational dynamics of nitromethane using the random phase quantum state model
    Katherine Lauderbaugh, Advisor: Dr. Varun Makhija

    Nitromethane is the smallest nitro-organic compound and a homemade explosive. In order to understand and control the explosion, we need to understand how the molecule reacts when it is ionized, since shock-ionization is the first step of the explosion reaction.  Specifically, if we can understand how the ionization of nitro-organic compounds depends on their orientation, then we can potentially control the likelihood of ionization by controlling the orientation using laser pulses. To compute the rotational motion of nitromethane, we started by processing numerically solved the Time Dependent Schrodinger equation (TDSE), which is the central equation needed for quantum mechanics, in a C++ code, treating nitromethane as a simple quantum top interacting with a femtosecond (10-15 sec) laser pulse, which initiates rotation. We computed the rotational motion at low temperatures around 1 Kelvin up to a higher temperature of 30 Kelvin. We modeled the temperature by considering a thermal distribution of initial quantum states, each of which were propagated through the TDSE code. There were 5,180 times that the code needed to run at 30 Kelvin, which took two weeks. We estimated that at 300 Kelvin (room temperature), the code would need to run 131,209 times to calculate the entirety of the rotational motion, which would take around a year, if we ran the code in its current form. So, I am now trying to utilize the “random phase wave function” method, which has been used previously for computing the rotational motion of small molecules like sulfur dioxide at room temperature.  
  • Poster 30: Fluid Dynamic and Water Flume Design
    Boone Fleenor, Advisors: Dr. Joe Nicholas, Dr. Matthew Fleenor

    Dimensionless numbers are used in fluid mechanics as a means of scaling for the purposes of design and testing. We explored the use of dimensionless numbers as they relate to the construction of a water flume that exhibits both tranquil and turbulent flow. The Reynolds (Re) and Froude numbers are both dependent upon the entry velocity and flume geometry, which we manipulated to exhibit different flow types and their associated values. Preliminary testing was completed to ensure construction specifications that provide laminar flow. Entry velocities need to be constrained to < 1.0 cm/s to maintain an Re < 1000 for the specifications. A variety of sluice gate designs were introduced to manipulate fluid depth, which has an inverse relationship with Re. For the current dynamic and geometric constraints, an average operating fluid depth must be > 4.0 cm to produce an acceptable Re.  
  • Poster 39: Acceleration of gravity on a flat Earth
    Daniel Paluh, Advisor: Dr. Desmond Villalba

    In science, we learn that the Earth is a sphere and the average acceleration of gravity for Earth is g=9.81 m/s/s, but where does this acceleration of gravity value come from and how does the value change as Earth changes shape? For example, if the Earth were a flat-like shape, we expect the acceleration of gravity to vary wildly from its average value of 9.81 m/s/s. We have calculated numerically the acceleration of gravity if the Earth were a 1-dimensional line and a 2-dimensional sheet, and in both cases the value of g changed drastically at the edges compared to at the center. In our ongoing research we anticipate that in the case of other flat Earth-like shapes a drastic change in g will manifest in the 3-dimensional shapes we are studying.
  • Poster 40: Molecular Dynamics in Jahn Teller Distortion
    Mason Clark, Advisor: Dr. Varun Makhija

    Jahn Teller Distortion can cause symmetric molecules to change their structure. Under specific electronic configurations, the structure is unstable, resulting in a symmetry-breaking distortion. Our colleagues, Dr. Max Waters and Dr. Hans Wörner at ETH Zürich, might have observed this phenomenon in carbon tetrachloride experimentally, but we don’t know for sure. Using a quantum model of this system, I am working to determine how the wave-like nature (coherences) of electrons affects this geometric distortion. Successful replication of experimental results could verify both its observation and whether coherences result in Jahn Teller Distortion. Additional work will be needed to input relevant information from the original experiment and potentially replicate the results.


  • Poster 19: Guitar Effects Synthesizer
    Samuel Slate, Advisor: Prof. Rebecca Callaway

    The main purpose of this study was to construct a guitar synthesizer effects pedal. The guitar synthesizer pedal is a digital signal processor that can modify analog audio in various ways by using different electronic components. Over the course of the semester, I wanted to learn how to build an effects pedal and how the components interact with each other to achieve certain sounds. At its essence, an effects pedal of this caliber is a circuit that inputs an audio signal and alters its properties to achieve different sounds. Through-hole electronic components were soldered into a pre-designed printed circuit board. The locations of the components on the PCB were meticulously located and verified, and each region on the board was researched to understand its purpose and individual effect on the audio signal. This multi-functional synth pedal works in tandem with electric guitars and amplifiers with the potential of incorporating  other electronic instruments.
  • Poster 37: Electric Guitar Design
    Gabriel Morris, Advisor: Prof. Rebecca Callaway

    The main purpose of this project was to construct an electric guitar. Electric
    guitars are a type of guitar that uses electricity to amplify the sound and produce different tones. The process of putting this electric guitar together involved sanding the guitar until it reaches a desired smoothness, followed by applying a waterbased sanding sealant to seal the wood. The guitar was then painted, followed by the application of a high-gloss finish. The pieces of the guitar, including the electrical circuit, neck, body, tuning pegs, the bridge, and the strings were then all assembled. This project provided a better understanding of how electric instruments are made and how they function. It also provided a unique experience into the design and eventual
    construction of guitars and how the mechanical vibrations of strings can interact with the electromagnetic pick-ups to produce a electrical signal that can be processed back into sound.