UMBC Office of the Dean of the College of Natural and Mathematical Sciences

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Mission – exploring, supporting, and coordinating research and education in the natural and mathematical sciences through innovative thinking, and responsibility to our students, staff, faculty, and society.

Vision – to be recognized and respected as a premier research college with a diverse and dynamic network of faculty and staff who work to collaboratively extend the boundaries of science and pursue excellence in the delivery and innovation of teaching and learning in STEM.

Values – knowledge, excellence, scholarship, integrity, innovation, inclusion, accountability, service, and community.

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Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 16 of 16
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    Facile synthesis of sulfonamide libraries using a solid-polymer-supported HOBt scaffold
    (Elsevier, 2024-02-08) Guei, Jules Seh Noel; Kalivretenos, Aristotle; LaCourse, William
    Using solid-phase synthetic methods, silica-bound 1-hydroxybenzotriazole (Si-HOBt) was prepared by coupling 3-aminopropyl silica gel with 1-hydroxybenzotriazole-6-carboxylic acid (HOBt-COOH). The Si-HOBt was activated by the reaction of Si-HOBT with 3,4-dihydroxy-9,10-dioxo-anthracenesulfonyl chloride (alizarin red S chloride), resulting in the activated Si-HOBt reagent. The reagent was used to prepare a combination library of sulfonamide derivatives of selected aliphatic and aromatic amines for the development of new therapeutics.
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    Simultaneous entry as an adaptation to virulence in a novel satellite-helper system infecting Streptomyces species
    (Nature, 2023-10-31) deCarvalho, Tagide; Mascolo, Elia; Caruso, Steven; López-Pérez, Júlia; Weston-Hafer, Kathleen; Shaffer, Christopher; Erill, Ivan
    Satellites are mobile genetic elements that are dependent upon the replication machinery of their helper viruses. Bacteriophages have provided many examples of satellite nucleic acids that utilize their helper morphogenic genes for propagation. Here we describe two novel satellite-helper phage systems, Mulch and Flayer, that infect Streptomyces species. The satellites in these systems encode for encapsidation machinery but have an absence of key replication genes, thus providing the first example of bacteriophage satellite viruses. We also show that codon usage of the satellites matches the tRNA gene content of the helpers. The satellite in one of these systems, Flayer, does not appear to integrate into the host genome, which represents the first example of a virulent satellite phage. The Flayer satellite has a unique tail adaptation that allows it to attach to its helper for simultaneous co-infection. These findings demonstrate an ever-increasing array of satellite strategies for genetic dependence on their helpers in the evolutionary arms race between satellite and helper phages.
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    Genome sequence of Streptomyces BM cluster phage Frankenweenie
    (American Society for Microbiology, 2023-10-13) Cleary, Katherine E.; Pelagalli, Charles; Cassford, Marly; Berry, Nathan; Aguas, Elizabeth; Kim, Brandon; deCarvalho, Tagide; Jacobs-Sera, Deborah; Caruso, Steven; Cornely, Kathleen
    Frankenweenie is a newly isolated bacteriophage that infects Streptomyces scabiei RL-34. Frankenweenie was discovered in Gaithersburg, MD, and has 366 genes comprising a 200,048-bp genome. Frankenweenie is grouped in cluster BM and is predicted to possess a unique tailspike protein that potentially widens its host range.
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    Association of G protein-coupled receptor 78 with salivary dysfunction in male Sjögren's patients
    (Wiley, 2023-01-18) Tanaka, Tsutomu; Diniz, Maria Cambraia Guimaro; Nakamura, Hiroyuki; Perez, Paola; Ji, Youngmi; Michael, Drew G.; Afione, Sandra A.; Zheng, Changyu; Goldsmith, Corinne; Swaim, William D.; Pedersen, Anne Marie Lynge; Chiorini, John A.
    Objective: Sjögren's disease (SjD) has a strong sex bias, suggesting an association with sex hormones. Male SjD represents a distinct subset of the disease, but the pathogenic mechanisms of male SjD is poorly characterized. The aim of this study is to identify initiating events related to the development of gland hypofunction and autoimmunity in male SjD patients. Materials and methods: Human minor salivary glands were transcriptomically analyzed with microarrays to detect differentially expressed genes in male SjD patients. Identified genes were tested on their involvement in the disease using conditional transgenic mice and gene-overexpressing cells. Results: GPR78, an orphan G protein–coupled receptor, was overexpressed in the salivary glands of male SjD patients compared with male healthy controls and female SjD patients. Male GPR78 transgenic mice developed salivary gland hypofunction with increased epithelial apoptosis, which was not seen in control or female transgenic mice. In cell culture, GPR78 overexpression decreased lysosomal integrity, leading to caspase-dependent apoptotic cell death. GPR78-induced cell death in vitro was inhibited by treatment with estradiol. Conclusion: GPR78 overexpression can induce apoptosis and salivary gland hypofunction in male mice through lysosomal dysfunction and increased caspase-dependent apoptosis in salivary gland epithelium, which may drive disease in humans.
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    A New Effort to Diversify Faculty: Postdoc-to-Tenure Track Conversion Models
    (Frontiers, 2021-11-05) Culpepper, Dawn; Reed, Autumn M.; Enekwe, Blessing; Carter-Veale, Wendy; LaCourse, William; McDermott, Patrice; Cresiski, Robin H.
    Calls to diversify the professoriate have been ongoing for decades. However, despite increasing numbers of scholars from underrepresented racial minority groups earning doctorates, actual progress in transitioning to faculty has been slow, particularly across STEM disciplines. In recent years, new efforts have emerged to recruit faculty members from underrepresented racial minority groups (i.e., African American/Black, Hispanic/Latinx, and/or Native American/Native Hawaiian/Indigenous) through highly competitive postdoctoral programs that allow fellows the opportunity to transition (or “convert”) into tenure-track roles. These programs hybridize some conventional aspects of the faculty search process (e.g., structured interview processes that facilitate unit buy-in) along with novel evidence-based practices and structural supports (e.g., proactive recruitment, cohort communities, search waivers, professional development, enhanced mentorship, financial incentives). In this policy and practice review, we describe and synthesize key attributes of existing conversion programs at institutional, consortium, and system levels. We discuss commonalities and unique features across models (N = 38) and draw specific insights from postdoctoral conversion models developed within and across institutions in the University System of Maryland (USM). In particular, experience garnered from a 10-year-old postdoc conversion program at UMBC will be highlighted, as well as the development of an additional institutional model aimed at the life sciences, and a state-system model of faculty diversification with support from a NSF Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP) grant.
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    Trypanosoma cruzi in the Chicken Model: Chagas-Like Heart Disease in the Absence of Parasitism
    (PLOS, 2011-03-29) Teixeira, Antonio R. L.; Gomes, Clever; Nitz, Nadjar; Sousa, Alessandro O.; Alves, Rozeneide M.; Diniz, Maria Cambraia Guimaro; Cordeiro, Ciro; Bernal, Francisco M.; Rosa, Ana C.; Hejnar, Jiri; Leonardecz, Eduardo; Hecht, Mariana M.
    Background: The administration of anti-trypanosome nitroderivatives curtails Trypanosoma cruzi infection in Chagas disease patients, but does not prevent destructive lesions in the heart. This observation suggests that an effective treatment for the disease requires understanding its pathogenesis. Methodology/Principal Findings: To understand the origin of clinical manifestations of the heart disease we used a chicken model system in which infection can be initiated in the egg, but parasite persistence is precluded. T. cruzi inoculation into the air chamber of embryonated chicken eggs generated chicks that retained only the parasite mitochondrial kinetoplast DNA minicircle in their genome after eight days of gestation. Crossbreeding showed that minicircles were transferred vertically via the germ line to chicken progeny. Minicircle integration in coding regions was shown by targeted-primer thermal asymmetric interlaced PCR, and detected by direct genomic analysis. The kDNA-mutated chickens died with arrhythmias, shortness of breath, cyanosis and heart failure. These chickens with cardiomyopathy had rupture of the dystrophin and other genes that regulate cell growth and differentiation. Tissue pathology revealed inflammatory dilated cardiomegaly whereby immune system mononuclear cells lyse parasite-free target heart fibers. The heart cell destruction implicated a thymus-dependent, autoimmune; self-tissue rejection carried out by CD45+ , CD8cd+ , and CD8a lymphocytes. Conclusions/Significance: These results suggest that genetic alterations resulting from kDNA integration in the host genome lead to autoimmune-mediated destruction of heart tissue in the absence of T. cruzi parasites.
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    Inhibition of Autoimmune Chagas-Like Heart Disease by Bone Marrow Transplantation
    (PLOS, 2014-12-18) Diniz, Maria Cambraia Guimaro; Alves, Rozeneide M.; Rose, Ester; Sousa, Alessandro O.; Rosa, Ana de Ca´ssia; Hecht, Mariana M.; Sousa, Marcelo V.; Andrade, Rafael R.; Vital, Tamires; Plachy, Jirˇı´; Nitz, Nadjar; Hejnar, Jirˇı ´; Gomes, Clever C.; Teixeira, Antonio R. L.
    Background: Infection with the protozoan Trypanosoma cruzi manifests in mammals as Chagas heart disease. The treatment available for chagasic cardiomyopathy is unsatisfactory. Methods/Principal Findings: To study the disease pathology and its inhibition, we employed a syngeneic chicken model refractory to T. cruzi in which chickens hatched from T. cruzi inoculated eggs retained parasite kDNA (1.4 kb) minicircles. Southern blotting with EcoRI genomic DNA digests revealed main 18 and 20 kb bands by hybridization with a radiolabeled minicircle sequence. Breeding these chickens generated kDNA-mutated F1, F2, and F3 progeny. A targeted-primer TAIL-PCR (tpTAIL-PCR) technique was employed to detect the kDNA integrations. Histocompatible reporter heart grafts were used to detect ongoing inflammatory cardiomyopathy in kDNA-mutated chickens. Fluorochromes were used to label bone marrow CD3+ , CD28+ , and CD45+ precursors of the thymus-dependent CD8a+ and CD8b+ effector cells that expressed TCRcd, vb1 and vb2 receptors, which infiltrated the adult hearts and the reporter heart grafts. Conclusions/Significance: Genome modifications in kDNA-mutated chickens can be associated with disruption of immune tolerance to compatible heart grafts and with rejection of the adult host’s heart and reporter graft, as well as tissue destruction by effector lymphocytes. Autoimmune heart rejection was largely observed in chickens with kDNA mutations in retrotransposons and in coding genes with roles in cell structure, metabolism, growth, and differentiation. Moreover, killing the sick kDNA-mutated bone marrow cells with cytostatic and anti-folate drugs and transplanting healthy marrow cells inhibited heart rejection. We report here for the first time that healthy bone marrow cells inhibited heart pathology in kDNA+ chickens and thus prevented the genetically driven clinical manifestations of the disease.
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    Aquaporin gene therapy corrects Sjögren’s syndrome phenotype in mice
    (PNAS, 2016-05-02) Lai, Zhennan; Yin, Hongen; Cabrera-Pérez, Javier; Diniz, Maria Cambraia Guimaro; Afione, Sandra; Michael, Drew G.; Glenton, Patricia; Patel, Ankur; Swaim, William D.; Zheng, Changyu; Nguyen, Cuong Q.; Nyberg, Fred; Chiorini, John A.
    Primary Sjögren’s syndrome (pSS) is a chronic autoimmune diseasethat is estimated to affect 35 million people worldwide. Currently, noeffective treatments exist for Sjögren’s syndrome, and there is alimited understanding of the physiological mechanisms associatedwith xerostomia and hyposalivation. The present work revealed thataquaporin 5 expression, a water channel critical for salivary glandfluid secretion, is regulated by bone morphogenetic protein 6. In-creased expression of this cytokine is strongly associated with themost common symptom of primary Sjögren’s syndrome, the loss ofsalivary gland function. This finding led us to develop a therapy inthe treatment of Sjögren’s syndrome by increasing the water perme-ability of the gland to restore saliva flow. Our study demonstratesthat the targeted increase of gland permeability not only resulted inthe restoration of secretory gland function but also resolved thehallmark salivary gland inflammation and systemic inflammation as-sociated with disease. Secretory function also increased in the lacri-mal gland, suggesting this local therapy could treat the systemicsymptoms associated with primary Sjögren’ssyndrome.
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    Inhibition of bone morphogenetic protein 6 receptors ameliorates Sjögren’s syndrome in mice
    (Nature, 2020-02-19) Yin, Hongen; Kalra, Lovika; Lai, Zhennan; Diniz, Maria Cambraia Guimaro; Aber, Lauren; Warner, Blake M.; Michael, Drew; Zhang, Nan; Cabrera-Perez, Javier; Karim, Arif; Swaim, William D.; Afione,  Sandra; Voigt, Alexandria; Nguyen, Cuong Q.; Yu, Paul B.; Bloch , Donald B.; Chiorini, John A.
    Primary Sjögren’s syndrome (pSS) is a chronic autoimmune disease, with only palliative treatments available. Recent work has suggested that increased bone morphogenetic protein 6 (BMP6) expression could alter cell signaling in the salivary gland (SG) and result in the associated salivary hypofunction. We examined the prevalence of elevated BMP6 expression in a large cohort of pSS patients and tested the therapeutic efcacy of BMP signaling inhibitors in two pSS animal models. Increased BMP6 expression was found in the SGs of 54% of pSS patients, and this increased expression was correlated with low unstimulated whole saliva fow rate. In mouse models of SS, inhibition of BMP6 signaling reduced phosphorylation of SMAD1/5/8 in the mouse submandibular glands, and led to a recovery of SG function and a decrease in infammatory markers in the mice. The recovery of SG function after inhibition of BMP6 signaling suggests cellular plasticity within the salivary gland and a possibility for therapeutic intervention that can reverse the loss of function in pSS.
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    Rescue of Adeno-Associated Virus Production by shRNA Cotransfection
    (Mary Ann Liebert, 2020-10-16) Diniz, Maria Cambraia Guimaro; Afione, Sandra A.; Tanaka, Tsutomu; Chiorini, John A.
    Adeno-associated virus (AAV) vector technology is rapidly advancing and becoming not only the leading vector platform in the field of gene therapy but also a useful tool for functional genomic studies of novel proteins. As most vectors utilize constitutive promoters, this results in transgene expression during production. Depending on the transgene product, this could induce proapoptotic, cytostatic, or other unknown effects that interfere with producer cell function and, therefore, reduce viral vector yield. This can be a major limitation when trying to characterize poorly described genes. We describe the novel use of shRNA encoding plasmids cotransfected during packaging to limit the expression of the cytotoxic transgene product. This allowed the production of an otherwise unpackageable vector. The approach is simple, versatile, does not require modification of the vector plasmid, and should be easily adaptable to almost any transgene with minimal cost.
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    The program and policy change framework: A new tool to measure research use in low- and middle-income countries
    (Oxford University Press, 2020-09-23) Fowle, Karen; Wells, Brent; Day, Melissa; Kumar, Anjali; Bess, Cameron; Bingham, Brian; Wayman, Annica
    Organizations that fund research to address global development challenges are increasingly interested in measuring the social and economic outcomes of research. However, traditional metrics for measuring research outputs are often insufficient for capturing the outcomes targeted by international assistance organizations. To address this, the Center for Development Research (CDR), part of the U.S. Global Development Lab at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), has designed a new tool: the Program and Policy Change (PPC) framework for tracking and quantifying the influence of research on program and policy change in international development. The framework draws on existing conceptual frameworks of evidence uptake and the literature on policy change. This article describes the design of the PPC framework and presents the results of applying the framework to two USAID research programs. The benefits of the framework include applicability across research sectors, focus on evidence-informed policy at various levels of geographical influence, and inclusion of a numeric scoring system that enables quantification of outcomes.
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    Spermathecal variation in temperate Opiliones
    (Oxford University Press, 2020-08-17) Zulekha, Karachiwalla; Tagide, deCarvalho; Mercedes, Burns
    Most arachnid fertilization occurs internally, allowing for a variety of post-copulatory mechanisms to take place. Females are expected to exert some level of control over sperm fate when 1) the point of gametic fusion is particularly distant from the point of oogenesis, 2) the time of syngamy is significantly later than the time of mating, 3) sperm are non-motile, and/or 4) the morphology of females allows for selective containment of sperm. Many of these conditions are met in Opiliones (a.k.a. “harvesters,” “harvestmen,” or “daddy-longlegs”), where we have evidence of sexual antagonism, multiple mating, and delayed oviposition for a number of species. We used confocal laser scanning microscopy to capture and analyze images of harvester spermathecae, structures within the genitalia of female arthropods that store and maintain sperm after copulation. Spermathecal morphology may have critical function in controlling seminal movement. We anticipated that species with previously identified traits associated with sexual antagonism would also have thicker and/or relatively more complex spermathecae. We examined spermathecal morphology in thirteen species of Leiobunum and one species of Hadrobunus, which were collected from North America and Japan. Our results show that eight species had structures consisting of a single chamber with no or partial invagination, and the remainder had multiple cuticular invaginations producing 2-3 lumina within the spermathecae. Using phylogenetic multivariate comparative methods, we estimated a trend towards cross-correlation between conflict and spermathecal traits. Some, but not all, of the species with thicker, more complex spermathecae had morphological traits associated with sexual conflict (larger body size, thicker genital muscle). In conclusion, we discuss methods to elucidate spermathecal mechanism and sperm precedence in these species. Confocal microscopy allowed us to visualize internal structures difficult to interpret with two-dimensional brightfield microscopy, a technique that could be applied to the characterization of internal reproductive structures in other arthropods.
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    CAREER-RELEVANT MATHEMATICS PATHWAYS: ON THE ROAD TO STUDENT SUCCESS
    (University System of Maryland) Kowalewski, Caitlin; Stanwyck, Liz; LaCourse, William R.
    UMBC, a diverse public research university, has a reputation for producing highly capable undergraduate scholars. Unfortunately, many students place into mathematics courses at a lower level than those that offer degree credit or an “M” designation, which is a requirement of the General Education Program (GEP). This chapter provides an in-depth description of the institutional transformation process from a singular mathematics course pathway designed for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) majors to one that includes an alternate pathway based on career-relevant mathematical skills for non-STEM majors. This new pathway development involved the creation of a course entitled Quantitative Literacy, which is intended for students who place into a developmental math course (based on the university math placement test) and are pursuing a major that does not require calculus or an algebraintensive course. Quantitative Literacy focuses on algebraic and numeric skills in the context of applications and problem-solving to prepare students for either Introduction to Statistics for the Social Sciences or Contemporary Mathematics, both of which carry GEP credit and an “M” designation. Data analytics are used to explore the impact of the new Quantitative Literacy course on the progression of non-STEM majors. Challenges and opportunities will be addressed as career-relevant pathways proceed to full institutionalization.
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    Students’ Understanding and Perceptions of Assigned Team Roles in a Classroom Laboratory Environment
    (NSTA, 2018-03-01) Ott, Laura E.; Kephart, Kerrie; Stolle-McAllister, Kathleen; R. LaCourse, William
    Using a cooperative learning framework in a quantitative reasoning laboratory course, students were assigned to static teams of four in which they adopted roles that rotated regularly. The roles included: team leader, protocol manager, data recorder, and researcher. Using a mixed-methods approach, the authors investigated students’ perceptions of the team roles and specifically addressed students’ understanding of the roles, students’ beliefs in their ability to enact the roles, and whether working with assigned team roles supported the teams to work effectively and cohesively.
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    Discovery Learning: Development of a Unique Active Learning Environment for Introductory Chemistry
    (The Trustees of Indiana University, 2018-12-10) Ott, Laura E.; Carpenter, Tara S.; Hamilton, Diana S.; LaCourse, William R.
    It is well established that active learning results in greater gains in student conceptual knowledge and retention compared to traditional modes of learning. However, active learning can be very difficult to implement in a large-enrollment course due to various course and institutional barriers. Herein, we describe the development and implementation of Discovery Learning, a novel active learning discussion/recitation for a large enrollment general chemistry course. Drawing on the very successful cooperative learning pedagogies Process-Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL) and Student-Centered Active Learning Environment with Upside-down Pedagogies (SCALE_UP), Discovery Learning involves students working in self-managed teams on inquiry problems in a unique learning environment, the Chemistry Discovery Center. In this case study, we will describe the design and implementation of Discovery Learning and report data on its successes, which include increased student performance and retention.
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    Awareness, Analysis, and Action: Curricular Alignment for Student Success in General Chemistry
    (ACS Publications, 2018) Jewett, Sarah; Sutphin, Kathy; Gierasch, Tiffany; Hamilton, Pauline; Lilly, Kathleen; Miller, Kristine; Newlin, Donald; Pires, Richard; Sherer, Maureen; LaCourse, William R.
    This article examines the ways that a shared faculty experience across five partner institutions led to a deep awareness of the curriculum and pedagogy of general chemistry coursework, and ultimately, to a collaborative action plan for student success. The team identified key differences and similarities in course content and instructional experiences. The comparative analysis yielded many more similarities than differences, and therefore, the team shifted its focus from “gap analysis” to an exploration of common curricular challenges. To address these challenges, the team developed content for targeted instructional resources that promoted the success of all STEM students across institutions. This article contextualizes the interinstitutional collaboration and closely examines the interactive components (awareness, analysis, and action), critical tools, and productive attitudes that undergirded the curricular alignment process of the STEM Transfer Student Success Initiative (t-STEM).