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Research Center Projects

  • Vascular analysis: determination of biomolecular markers from subjects with odorant sensitivity. (Psychology, Chemistry).Odorant sensitivity serves as an indicator to different physiological states and various diseases. This research focuses on the correlation between variations in odor sensitivity and vascular biomarker and hormone levels in blood samples among different populations.
  • Population genomics and bioinformatics in invasive predatory lady beetles, Coccinella septempunctata. (Biol. and Env. Sciences, Mathematics). The introduction of natural enemies to control pests promotes sustainable agriculture and enhances human health by reducing the need for pesticides, but there are frequently unexpected ecological and economic costs. This project focuses on population genomic studies that examine the relationship between introduction efforts and evolutionary processes affecting the establishment and spread of the seven-spotted lady beetle, C. septempunctata, which was introduced as a biological control agent, but has become invasive and is now displacing native insects.
  • The impact of heavy metal poisoning on social behavior in college students. (Sociology, Chemistry).  Lead and mercury poisoning from the ambient environment have been theorized to negatively impact social behavior. This study examines a basis for correlation between high heavy metal levels in college students and low grades, poor decision making, impulsivity, or deviant behavior.
  • Monitoring release of b-endorphins in response to transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation. (Physical Therapy, Chemistry). b-endorphins are stored in the central nervous system and released in response to transcutaneous nerve stimulation, a clinical method for therapeutic treatment of pain. This study will monitor changes in b-endorphin levels in human blood plasma preceding, during, and following TENS application to better understand the time course of circulating endorphins and optimize the clinical practice of TENS.
  • Effect of environmental factors on nitrogen, pyrimidine, and nucleic acid metabolism in corn and tobacco plants. (Biol. and Env. Sciences, Chemistry). These activities aim to elucidate repercussions of fertilizer source and temperature on metabolic enzyme activity in two major cash crops. Metabolic pathways will be tested from plants grown using both organic and chemical fertilizers and under different temperature conditions that mimic the ongoing trends in environmental climate conditions.
  • Characterizing bacterial pyrimidine metabolism and lipidomic profiles in the Tennessee River. (Biol. and Env. Sciences, Chemistry). Chattanooga is one of three major cities along the Tennessee River and is flanked by two man-made lakes and various wetlands. This study focuses on characterizing the lipid content and pyrimidine catabolism of bacterial isolates from various reservoirs and analyzing how respective aquatic environments may contribute to shaping the local bacterial flora. 
  • Defensive chemicals and their effects on interspecific interaction between invasive and native species in predatory insects. (Biol. and Env. Sciences, Chemistry). Many invasive species encounter novel defensive chemicals in prey species through predation. This project will examine a link between ingested defensive alkaloids and their effects on survivorship and development of predatory native and invasive insect species.