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Cheyenne Chandler Summer Research Fellow 2020

Summer Research Fellows

Bridget Bolt Sustainability Research Fellow 2020

Sustainability Research Fellows

Posters at the Capitol 2018 student research group



Bowers, Lucy - listed as First Author in publication

Lucy Bowers, Human Health Sciences, May 2020 graduate and current UK Orthopedic Trauma Research Fellow - listed as First Author in publication

Bowers LC, Gribble PA, Hoch MC, Villasante Tezanos AG, Kosik KB. Physical therapy referral and medication for ankle sprain visits to physician offices: an analysis of the national ambulatory medical care survey. Phys Sportsmed. 2020;1-6. doi:10.1080/00913847.2020.1800369 




Objectives:  Supervised physical therapy is the recommended care for an ankle sprain. Yet, recent evidence indicates some ankle sprain patients may not receive the recommended care, and instead, prescribed medication to alleviate symptoms. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to describe the percentage of patients reporting to an office-based physician in the U.S. that were or were not referred to physical therapy. Secondly, to describe the percentage of ankle sprain patients with or without medication administered, supplied or ordered.

Methods:  This was a secondary analysis of the cross-sectional National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NAMCS) from 2007 to 2016. The NAMCS is a multi-stage probability sample survey of visits to office-based physicians. The percentage and associated 95% confidence intervals (CI) were calculated for visits that had a physical therapy referral or a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), opioid and non-opioid analgesics administered, supplied or ordered. Sampled data were weighted to produce national-level estimates.

Results:  A physical therapy referral was given for 16.8% (95% CI: 13.2, 21.2) of ankle sprain visits. Approximately 34.5% (95%CI: 30.5, 38.7) of all ankle sprain visits had a medication administered, supplied or ordered. NSAIDs (72.1%; 95% CI: 66.9,76.8) and opioids (21.0%; 95% CI: 16.3, 26.5) were the two most common types of medication.


Conclusions:  NSAIDs and opioid medication combined were administered, supplied or ordered more frequently than a referral to physical therapy. These findings provide evidence that suggests many ankle sprain patients reporting to an office-based physician are not receiving the recommended care; physical therapy. Rather, medication appears to be the primary type of care provided to patients. These data are important because it gives a focused area to improve the treatment of an ankle sprain by developing strategies that ensure all patients are provided the recommended care from the onset of entering the healthcare system.


Hudson, Lauren - listed as First Author in publication (1)

Lauren Hudson, Neuroscience and Biology, Sophomore - listed as First Author in publication.

Hudson, L., Samons, K. M., Dicken, H. E., Prichard, C., Weiss, L. T., Edward, J., Vanderpool, R. C., & Vanderford, N. L. (2020). A Brief Educational Intervention Enhances Basic Cancer Literacy Among Kentucky Middle and High School Students. Journal of cancer education : the official journal of the American Association for Cancer Education, 10.1007/s13187-020-01696-3. Advance online publication. 



Kentucky experiences the highest overall cancer incidence and mortality rates in the USA with the greatest burden in the eastern, Appalachian region of the state. Cancer disparities in Kentucky are driven in part by poor health behaviors, poverty, lack of health care access, low education levels, and low health literacy. Individuals with inadequate health literacy are less likely to participate in preventive measures such as obtaining screenings and making healthy lifestyle choices, thus increasing their chances of developing and dying from cancer. By increasing cancer literacy among youth and adults, it may be possible to decrease cancer disparities across Kentucky. This study aimed to establish connections with middle and high schools in Kentucky that would facilitate pilot implementation of a brief cancer education intervention and assessment of cancer health literacy among these student populations. A baseline pretest cancer literacy survey consisting of 10 items was given to 349 participants, followed by the delivery of a cancer education presentation. Immediately following the presentation, participants were given a posttest with identical items to the pretest. Participants were primarily Caucasian (89.4%), female (68.7%), and in 10th through 12th grade (80.5%). Significant (p < 0.0001) increases in both average and median percent of correctly marked items were observed between the pretest and posttest (average, pretest = 56% versus posttest = 85%; median, pretest = 60% versus posttest = 90%). The scores for all individual items increased after the brief intervention. The results demonstrated a significant increase in cancer literacy levels immediately after the pilot educational intervention. We suggest that it may be possible to improve cancer literacy rates in Kentucky by integrating cancer education into middle and high school science and/or health education curricula. This could ultimately drive changes in behaviors that may help lower cancer incidence and mortality rates. Plans for future interventional studies measuring long-term cancer knowledge retention and resultant behavioral changes among middle and high school students as well as the feasibility of integrating cancer education into middle and high school curricula are also discussed.


Hudson, Lauren - listed as First Author in publication (2)

Lauren Hudson, Neuroscience and Biology, Junior - listed as First Author in 2nd publication.

Hudson, L., Prichard, C., Weiss, L. T., & Vanderford, N. L. (2020). Evidence for Cancer Literacy Knowledge Retention among Kentucky Middle and High School Students after a Brief Educational Intervention. Southern Medical Journal, 113(11), 541–548.  



Objectives: Although cancer is seen in every state in the United States, it does not affect every geographic area and population equally. Kentucky has the highest cancer incidence and mortality rates in the country, with an unusually high number of cases localized in its Appalachian region. Risk factors such as sun exposure, tobacco use, poor diet/exercise, poverty, and lack of access to healthcare centers contribute to this disparity. Because education levels in the area are low, cancer literacy (defined as how well a person can understand the advice of a healthcare professional and make appropriate lifestyle decisions) also is low. In this study, we examined the short-term and long-term effects of a brief cancer-related intervention on the cancer literacy of Kentucky middle and high school students.

Methods: This study targeted middle and high school students in Kentucky. We administered an online 10-item cancer literacy pretest, followed by a brief educational intervention and a posttest to 164 students at six Kentucky middle and high schools. This posttest also included questions asking how likely students would be to change their habits or to encourage others to change their habits as a result of the intervention. All of the participating students also were sent a 3-month follow-up online survey with items identical to the pretest; 48 students completed the 3-month follow-up test, leading to a response rate of 29.2%. The data were summarized as frequencies, averages, median, and confidence intervals (CIs) of correctly marked answers. A paired t test was used to test for significance.

Results: We observed an increase in the overall average test score from 50.2% (95% CI 47.8%–52.6%) on the pretest to 77.1% (95% CI 74.6%–79.7%) on the posttest immediately following the intervention. There also was an increase in the average number of correct responses on each item. The 3-month follow-up test similarly showed average test score improvement (75.4%). When asked how likely students would be to change their habits as a result of the intervention on a scale from 1 to 10 (1 = extremely unlikely, 10 = extremely likely), the median was 6. When asked how likely students would be to encourage another to change their habits, the median was an 8.

Conclusions: These results provide evidence that a brief educational intervention can increase cancer literacy, improve cancer knowledge retention, and encourage behavior change in Appalachian Kentucky students. Increasing cancer literacy may result in increased participation in preventive cancer screenings and improved health habits, which could ultimately lower cancer rates in the region.


View Lauren's 2020 Virtual Showcase presentation


Land, Katie - listed as First Author in publication

Katie Land, Biology, Senior - listed as First Author in publication.

Katie L Land, Madison E Lane, Ava C Fugate, Patrick R Hannon, Ovulation is Inhibited by an Environmentally Relevant Phthalate Mixture in Mouse Antral Follicles in VitroToxicological Sciences, , kfaa170,





Phthalates are solvents and plasticizers found in consumer products including cosmetics, food/beverage containers, housing materials, etc. Phthalates are known endocrine-disrupting chemicals that can directly target the ovary, potentially causing defects in ovulation and fertility. Women are exposed to multiple different phthalates daily, therefore this study investigated the effects of an environmentally relevant phthalate mixture (PHTmix) on ovulation. Ovulation is initiated by the luteinizing hormone (LH) surge, which induces prostaglandin (PG) production, progesterone (P4)/progesterone receptor (PGR) signaling, and extra-cellular matrix (ECM) remodeling. We hypothesized that the PHTmix would directly inhibit ovulation by altering the levels of PGs, P4/PGR, and enzymes involved in ECM remodeling. Antral follicles from CD-1 mice were treated with vehicle control alone (dimethylsulfoxide, DMSO), hCG alone (LH analog), and hCG+PHTmix (1-500μg/ml), and samples were collected across the ovulatory period. The PHTmix decreased ovulation rates at all doses tested in a dose dependent manner when compared to hCG. PG levels were decreased by the PHTmix when compared to hCG, which was potentially mediated by altered levels of PG synthesis (Ptgs2) and transport (Slco2a1) genes. The PHTmix altered P4 and Pgr levels when compared to hCG, leading to decreases in downstream PGR-mediated genes (Edn2Il6Adamts1). ECM remodeling was potentially dysregulated by altered levels of ovulatory mediators belonging to the matrix metalloproteases and plasminogen activator families. These data suggest that phthalate exposure inhibits ovulation by altering PG levels, P4/PGR action, and ECM remodeling.


Marguerite, Nicole - listed as First Author in publication

Nicole Marguerite - Neuroscience & Chemical Engineering major, Junior - Listed as First Author in Publication

Marguerite NT, Bernard J, Harrison DA, Harris D, Cooper RL. Effect of Temperature on Heart Rate for Lucilia sericata (syn Phaenicia sericata) and Drosophila melanogaster with Altered Expression of the TrpA1 Receptors. Insects. 2021; 12(1):38. 



Simple Summary

Thermal receptors detect temperature changes and can alter the activity of the cells. A subtype referred to as TrpA1 responds to increased temperature and increases expression in the heart of mammals when the heart is injured or is reduced in oxygen. It is not known if this is beneficial or detrimental to the heart. Thus, we examined the effect on heart activity of altering heart expression of TrpA1 in larval fruit flies at varied temperatures. Hearts of normal larvae stopped beating at 37 °C but hearts expressing high levels of TrpA1 stopped beating at 30 °C. In contrast, unmodified larvae of a blowfly species that grows at higher temperatures showed increased heart rate with increased temperature to 37 °C. It is not known if blowflies alter their expression of the thermal receptors. Thermal receptors can also be activated by physical stretch. Thus, it is possible an increase in expression in mammalian hearts within a narrow temperature range could be helpful in maintaining heart rate, as activation of TrpA1 receptors may be modulated by the stretching and relaxing of the heart itself. More research is needed in examining the function of TrpA1 receptors in mammalian hearts.


The transient receptor potential (TrpA—ankyrin) receptor has been linked to pathological conditions in cardiac function in mammals. To better understand the function of the TrpA1 in regulation of the heart, a Drosophila melanogaster model was used to express TrpA1 in heart and body wall muscles. Heartbeat of in intact larvae as well as hearts in situ, devoid of hormonal and neural input, indicate that strong over-expression of TrpA1 in larvae at 30 or 37 °C stopped the heart from beating, but in a diastolic state. Cardiac function recovered upon cooling after short exposure to high temperature. Parental control larvae (UAS-TrpA1) increased heart rate transiently at 30 and 37 °C but slowed at 37 °C within 3 min for in-situ preparations, while in-vivo larvae maintained a constant heart rate. The in-situ preparations maintained an elevated rate at 30 °C. The heartbeat in the TrpA1-expressing strains could not be revived at 37 °C with serotonin. Thus, TrpA1 activation may have allowed enough Ca2+ influx to activate K(Ca) channels into a form of diastolic stasis. TrpA1 activation in body wall muscle confirmed a depolarization of membrane. In contrast, blowfly Lucilia sericata (syn Phaenicia sericata) larvae increased heartbeat at 30 and 37 °C, demonstrating greater cardiac thermotolerance. View Full-Text

Keywords: TRPADrosophilahearttemperature


McCubbin, Shelby - listed as First Author in publication (1)

Shelby McCubbin - Junior, Neuroscience major -  listed as First Author in publication 

McCubbin, S., Abou El-Ezz, M., Brown, C., Calderaro, T., Evans, C., Grant, T., Hazelett, R., High, C., Buendia Castillo, D., Ilagan, T., Klier, J., Marguerite, N., Marino, F., Meredith, N., Naidugari, J., Nethery, B., Russell, W., Sommers, N., and Cooper, R.L. (2021). The effects of Levetiracetam on glutamatergic synaptic transmission. Impulse, 1-8.




Epilepsy is a neurological disorder characterized by recurring, unpredictable seizures. Its disease burden is high, ranking fourth in the world’s neurological disorders behind tension-type headaches, migraines, and Alzheimer’s disease. The commonly used antiepileptic drug levetiracetam (Keppra) reduces epileptic seizures; however, the exact mechanism is not known. Some studies suggest that sodium and/or potassium ionic channels are directly altered, reducing membrane excitability. Yet others suggest it interacts with synaptic vesicle protein SV2 to alter synaptotagmin's (a calcium sensor vesicle protein) action in the presynaptic nerve terminal to reduce excitability. The aim in this study was to examine whether synaptic transmission would be reduced in a model glutamatergic synaptic preparation. In this study, the glutamatergic synapses at crayfish neuromuscular junctions (NMJs) were used to assess the drug's action. The evoked excitatory junction potentials of the crayfish NMJ were unexpectedly enhanced within 20 min of stimulation with pulse trains following static incubation of 10 min exposure to 1 mM doses. Repetitive stimulation for 2 min and incubation for 10 min without stimulation did not show an effect. This project was an authentic course-based undergraduate research experience (ACURE) in a neurophysiology teaching laboratory with 16 students. It appears levetiracetam acts differently in different animal models and varied experimental conditions are required to note the effects.

Abbreviations: ACURE – authentic course-based undergraduate research experience; EJP – excitatory junction potential; NMJ – neuromuscular junctions; STF – Short-term facilitation

Keywords: invertebrate; crustacean; neuromuscular, glutamate


McCubbin, Shelby - listed as First Author in publication (2)

Shelby McCubbin - Sophomore, Neuroscience major -  listed as First Author in publication 

McCubbin, S., Jeoung, A., Waterbury, C., and Cooper, R.L. (2020). Pharmacological profiling of stretch activated channels in proprioceptive neuron. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part C 233.





Proprioception in mammals and invertebrates occurs through stretch activated ion channels (SACs) localized in sensory endings. In mammals, the primary organs for proprioception are the intrafusal muscle spindles embedded within extrafusal muscle. In invertebrates there are varied types of sensory organs, from chordotonal organs spanning joints to muscle receptor organs (MRO) which are analogous to the mammalian muscle spindles that monitor stretch of muscle fibers. A subset of SACs are the PIEZO channels. They are comprised of a distinct type of protein sequence and are similar among species, from mammals to invertebrates. We screened several new agents (YODA 1, JEDI 2, OB 1 and DOOKU) which have been identified to act on SACs of the PIEZO 1 subtype. JEDI 2 increased activity in the crayfish MRO but not the crab chordotonal organs. The SACs of the crustacean proprioceptors have not been satisfactorily pharmacologically classified, nor has their molecular makeup been identified. We screened these pharmacological agents on model sensory organs in crustaceans to learn more about their subtype classification and compare genomic profiles of related species.

Keywords: Crustacean, Proprioception, SAC, Sensory, Stretch activated ion channels


Potter, Samuel – listed as First Author in publication

Samuel Potter, Biology, Junior – listed as First Author in publication.

Potter, S., Krall, R.M., Mayo, S. Johnson, D., Zeidler-Watters, K., and Cooper, R.L. (2015). Population dynamics based on resource availability and founding effects: live and computational models. (In Press, The American Biology Teacher).

Tillson, Martha - listed as First Author in publication


Martha Tillson, Justin C. Strickland & Michele Staton (2017) Age of First Arrest, Sex, and Drug Use as Correlates of Adult Risk Behaviors Among Rural Women in Jails, Women & Criminal Justice, 27:5, 287-301, DOI: 10.1080/08974454.2017.1291392



Incarcerated women frequently report initiation of substance use and sexual encounters at an early age, and often engage in high-risk drug use and sexual behaviors as adults. This study examined the timing of first sex, drug use, and arrest, as well as their unique influences on specific risky behaviors in adulthood, among a high-risk population of rural women recruited from jails. Ages of initiation were all positively and significantly correlated, and each independently increased the likelihood of several risky behaviors in adulthood. Implications are discussed for screening, intervention, and treatment targeting high-risk women and girls in rural areas, particularly within criminal justice settings.

Keywords: risk behaviorsruralincarceratedwomeninitiation

Lucy Bowers

Presented research at the 2020 Posters-at-the-Capitol in Frankfort, KY.

 "Opioid and Non-Opioid Prescribing Rates for Ankle Fractures in Emergency Departments Across the United States Between 2006 and 2015"


An ankle fracture is a common injury observed in the Emergency Department (ED) and is often treated conservatively or surgically, depending on whether the fracture is stable. Opioids provide value for the management of acute musculoskeletal pain. However, prolong opioid use is associated with well-known consequences in the United States such as dependence, abuse and/or misuse. Considering these concerns and the effectiveness of non-pharmacological interventions for the treatment of acute pain, it is critical to identify the prescribing patterns for patients diagnosed with an ankle fracture in the ED. Objective: Describe the percentage of patients prescribed a scheduled and non-controlled medication in the ED. Methods: This was a secondary analysis of the publicly available data collected through the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey from 2006-2015. Data analyzed using the sampled visit weight, yielding an unbiased national estimate of ED percentages. Due to the complex sample design, sampling errors were determined using SAS software. Results: From 2006-2015, 86.9% of patients presenting with an ankle fracture received medication during their ED visit. Among those prescribed a medication, 63.02% were prescribed a controlled substance and 34.29% were prescribed a non-controlled substance. The majority of the controlled substances were given to patients between the ages of 25-64. Conclusion: Approximately 2 out of 3 patients diagnosed with an ankle fracture in the ED received a controlled substance. The majority of these given to young-adults. Other effective non-pharmacological interventions should be explored to prevent the risk of the well-known consequences associated with opioid use. 


Lucy Bowers and mentors Posters-at-the-Capitol 2020


Katie Land

Presented research at the 2020 Posters-at-the-Capitol event in Frankfort, KY

"I have gained so much by being involved in research while being an undergraduate. Not only has working in a lab taught me so much, but it has also illuminated the specific career path I want to peruse. I came into college as a pre-medical student that had no clue what I wanted to specialize in after medical school. However, through getting involved in research in UKCOM’s OB/GYN department, I have become very passionate about research, and I am now confident that I want to specialize in obstetrics/gynecology as a physician while still being heavily involved in research (MD/Ph.D.). Working in a lab has taught me basic lab skills and numerous established procedures. Additionally, I have learned how to write abstracts and publication-level manuscripts, how to make scientific posters and present them, how to answer questions about my research to different audiences, and how to efficiently read, analyze, and critique other scientific papers. But most importantly, research has taught me how to be a scientist. This means how to think critically and problem solve when you don’t get results that you expected, and I firmly believe that this is something that cannot be taught in a classroom." - Katie Land, Biology major, UK Class of 2021

Read Abstract

Katie Land_P@C 2020

Maya Woolfolk

Presented research at The Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS) 2019 Conference in Anaheim, CA.

"This opportunity was beneficial to me because I was able to gain experience presenting my research in a setting with experts from my discipline. I was also able to network with potential graduate programs and attend exciting research seminars. Research has contributed to my undergraduate experience by allowing me to think critically and ask questions in an environment outside of the classroom. Learning research skills has given me a more well-rounded education." - Maya Woolfolk, Biology major, UK Class of 2020

Maya Woolfolk ABRCMS 2019 conference

Nicholas Graves

Presented research at The Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS) 2019 Conference in Anaheim, CA.

"I had a great time presenting my research at the ABRCMS 2019 Conference in Anaheim, CA. This opportunity granted me the chance to travel to another part of the country and learn about new research students are working on. This was also a chance for me, an introvert at heart, to step out of my comfort zone and learn in a new environment." - Nicholas Graves

Nicholas Graves ABRCMS 2019 conference

Claire Crosby

Presented research at the 2019 Southeastern Regional IDeA Conference.

"While attending the 2019 Southeastern Regional IDeA Conference, I was able to listen to great presentations about current research in a variety of different fields including biotechnology, cancer research, and clinical and translational science. Also, the conference allowed me to attend workshops to better develop my professional skills including a grant writing workshop. At the end of the conference, I presented my undergraduate research in a poster session. While presenting my poster, I received valuable feedback and insight on my project and also networked with other professionals in the scientific community." - Claire Crosby

Claire Crosby - 2019 Southeastern Regional IDeA Conference




Lucas Barrett - 2019 Summer Research Fellow

"My summer experience was phenomenal. Dr. Osborn was and continues to be everything I look for in a research mentor and provides advice, guidance, and knowledge at every opportunity. The skills and experience I gained this summer will be essential in helping me to matriculate to a fully-funded MD/PhD program after finishing my undergraduate degree and will allow me to fulfill my goal of becoming a leading physician-scientist who studies disease to improve patient outcomes and health."

Lucas Barrett and Dr. Jeff Osborn summer research

Emily Andreasson - 2019 Summer Research Fellow

"The experience of doing independent research with a faculty mentor has greatly enriched my undergraduate experience. It has given me the confidence to pursue greater knowledge in areas of personal interest even if there is not a class that can help me to explore those ideas. Furthermore, researching various forms of play, particularly nature play and contemplative play have allowed me to learn a lot about the value of things that I am passionate about –namely the environment and the importance of reflection." - Emily Andreasson, Interior Design major, 2019 Summer Research Fellow

Emily Andreasson - 2019 Summer Research Fellow

Bernardo Aguzzoli Heberle - 2018 Summer Research Fellow

"This summer research experience has contributed greatly to my undergraduate education and life goals. My career goal is to become a professor/PI and do research to help improve the lives of people who suffer from mental health and/or neurological diseases. Learning about epigenetic mechanisms in drug dependency opened my eyes to a whole new field of knowledge with many practical applications. In addition, working at PUCRS has also taught me to navigate the dynamics of lab team and how important it is for all the members to maintain clear lines of communication. While at PUCRS I also learned protocols for important biochemical assays such as RNA extraction, cDNA conversion, and PCR. Lastly, the main thing that I have taken from working at this summer project is that scientific research is the field of work I want to pursue; this summer project has motivated me even more to pursue my aspirations." - Bernardo Aguzzoli Heberle - 2018 Summer Research Fellow

Bernardo Aguzzoli Heberle - 2018 Summer Research Fellow
Angela Jones SRG sign 2018
SRG 2019 sign
Parisa SRG sign 2018
Jeremiah Wayne SRG 2018 sign
Kenyatta Mitchell SRG 2018 sign
Usman Hamid SRG 2019 sign
Maddie Miles SRG 2018 sign
May Hagan SRG 2018 sign
Gavin Norman 2019 SRG sign