Education/Health, Society, and the Environment

Label-free assessment of pre-implantation embryo quality by the Fluorescence Lifetime Imaging Microscopy (FLIM)-phasor approach

Ning Ma
Biomedical Engineering
Development of quantitative, safe and rapid techniques for assessing embryo quality provides significant advances in Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART). Instead of assessing the embryo quality by the standard morphologic evaluation, we apply the phasor-FLIM (Fluorescence Lifetime Imaging Microscopy) method to capture endogenous fluorescent biomarkers of pre-implantation embryos as a non-morphological caliber for embryo quality. Here, we identify the unique spectroscopic trajectories at different stages of mouse pre-implantation development, which is referred to as the developmental, or “D-trajectory”, that consists of fluorescence lifetime from different stages of mouse pre-implantation embryos. The D-trajectory correlates with intrinsic fluorescent species from a distinctive energy metabolism and oxidized lipids, as seen with Third Harmonic Generation (THG) that changes over time. In addition, we have defined a non-morphological Embryo Viability Index (EVI) to distinguish pre-implantation embryo quality using the Distance Analysis, a machine learning algorithm to process the fluorescence lifetime distribution patterns. We show that the phasor-FLIM approach provides a much-needed non-invasive quantitative technology for identifying healthy embryos at the early compaction stage with 86% accuracy. This may provide the opportunity to improve embryo implantation rates for in vitro fertilization clinics.


Effects of Preschool Center Care and Full Day Kindergarten on Low and High Socioeconomic Student Success

Laura Hunerberg
Sociology: Demographic and Social Analysis
This project investigates how the level of socioeconomic status of a family, the type of care received during the year before entering Kindergarten, and the length of the Kindergarten program day affect student success as measured through standardized reading, math, and card sort scores. Using the nationally representative ECLS-K:2011 data set and OLS and hierarchical regressions, this project tests for differential and combined effects of preschool care types and kindergarten program day length combinations on spring kindergarten test scores for low and high socioeconomic students, controlling for background variables. While there has been research into the success of students who attend preschool programs in a formal center setting, as well as into the success of students attending full day kindergarten programs, there is not yet a study that looks at the two variables together. As California politicians gear up to debate expanding the inclusivity and length of the Transitional Kindergarten program for 4 year olds born between September 1 and December 2, and considers offering preschool to all 3 year olds below the federal poverty level, exploring data about the effectiveness of early childhood educational programs, especially with regards to leveling the playing field for the lowest income students, this research is especially timely (Stavely 2018).


Understanding the Association Between CalFresh Enrollment and Diabetes Management in People with Diabetes

Emily Janio
Public Health
CalFresh is greatly underutilized in California—especially so in Orange County. Some previous studies have found that CalFresh participants are better able to manage their diabetes, relative to CalFresh-eligible nonparticipants. However, other studies have not found an association between participation and management. This study aims to address this gap in knowledge by comparing diabetes management among CalFresh participants and CalFresh-eligible nonparticipants. Additionally, data regarding reasons why nonparticipants do not participate will also be collected. Participants will be recruited from food distribution sites and health clinics in Orange County.


Is it your phone or how you use it? An investigation of the stress-buffering benefits of smartphones

John Hunter
Psychological Science
Objectives: Smartphones may provide benefits during times of stress, but how and why they do so is still unknown. Past research has demonstrated that simply having one’s phone present procures greater benefits than using one’s phone in the context of stress. We go further in this study by examining how having a phone present or using a phone freely may influence stress recovery compared to using a specific stress-reducing application.

Methods: Participants (N=180) underwent the Trier Social Stress Task and then interacted with their phone in a particular way depending on condition. Those in the No Phone (control) condition had no access to their phone. Those in the Phone Presence condition had their phone but were restricted from using it. Those in the Phone Use condition used their phone in any manner they chose. Those in the Guided Phone Use condition used a Heart Rate Variability Biofeedback (HRVB) training application. Participants self-reported stress and provided saliva samples for cortisol and alpha amylase assessments during stress recovery.

Results: Preliminary results from the pilot sample indicate that individuals in the Guided Phone Use condition exhibited greater reductions of salivary cortisol salivary cortisol (M= -0.13 ug/dl), salivary alpha amylase (M=-42.16 U/ml), and self-reported stress (M=-14.75) than those in the Phone Use condition (M=-0.06 ug/dl, M=-21.60 U/ml, M=-13.40), Phone Presence condition (M=0.01 ug/dl, M=11.63 U/ml, M=-5.80), and No Phone condition (M=-0.02 ug/dl, M=-33.12 U/ml, M=12.60), respectively.

Conclusions: Results suggest that engaging in Heart Rate Variability Biofeedback training on a smartphone application is more effective at aiding in recovery from stress than using a phone freely, having a phone present, or doing nothing at all. These results are a critical step in a deeper understanding of how, why, and when smartphones might be good for us in times of stress, which may inform future interventions.


BEST FRENNEMIES?A characterization of Transportation Network Companies (TNC) and transit users based on the 2017 NHTS

Farzana Khatun
Transportation Science, Institute of Transportation Studies
The emergence of on-demand ride services from Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) like Uber and Lyft has created new transportation options and additional competitions for taxis and transit. In spite of their popularity, however, relatively little is known about the characteristics of TNC users because TNCs tend to be secretive about their customers. This study starts filling this gap based on data from the 2017 National Household Travel Survey. I estimate a cross nested logit (CNL) model for California at the household level to contrast households who used public transportation and TNCs in the 30 days before they completed the 2017 NHTS questionnaire. I split our sample into four mutually exclusive categories: 1) households who took public transportation but not TNCs, 2) households who took TNCs but not public transportation; 3) households who took both; and 4) households who took neither. I found that households with millennials and post millennials, higher incomes, an advanced education, no children, fewer vehicles than driving license holders, and who live in higher densities areas (especially MSAs over 1 million) are more prone to using TNCs or both public transportation and TNCs. They are also more likely to leave transit in favor of TNCs. Conversely, households with members who are Baby Boomers or belong to the Silent Generation, who have a lower income, a lower educational attainment, children, who have adult members with a medical condition that reduces their mobility, or who live in lower density areas are less likely to use these services. Understanding which groups of households are more likely to leave transit for TNCs is important for formulating policies that will make transit more attractive. For example, it might help those transit authorities who are considering contracting with TNCs to solve the “first and last mile problem” and make public transportation more attractive.


Academic Success Factors In K-12 Education: A Geospatial Analysis

Brianna Chew
Paul Merage School of Business
Standardized test scores are often used to measure students’ academic success. Although factors that affect student success involve teaching techniques, classroom dynamics, and study skills, there are other factors outside the classroom that could influence students’ overall academic performance. Oftentimes, these factors are overlooked or easily deemed uncontrollable by educators. Prior studies have identified and examined such factors; however, for this analysis, we will use Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to analyze and display spatial patterns that were not previously possible. Utilizing GIS and variations of demographic and lifestyle data allows us to take a closer look into understanding the factors that positively or negatively correlate with academic achievement.

We use a sample of Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) scores from the California Department of Education for 1,070 public schools and their location-based socioeconomic and demographic data from Esri to develop statistical models in order to understand the demographic and socioeconomic factors that influence SAT scores. Results indicate that family income is an influential factor of students’ academic achievement. We also learn that multigenerational households and diversity have negative impacts on students’ SAT scores.


“Sense of Possibilities”: A Dialogue between German-Austrian and Chinese Modernism

Yao Pei
German
In the late 19th century, the discourse on the sense of possibilities in Chinese and German-Austrian modernism started to flourish. Both German-Austrian and Chinese scholars believed that humans should open their limited borders and embrace new experiences of life in a modern society. In the German-Austrian modernist tradition, the discovery of uncertainty in science shook its foundation and raised heated discussions on new theories of the sense of possibilities. Similarly, in Chinese modernism, the idea of the sense of possibilities was also revitalized to cope with new challenges in radical cultural and social transformations. The idea of the sense of possibilities, therefore, becomes the basis for an important interplay of German-Austrian-Chinese cultural exchange.
To date there has been little research on this idea of sense of possibilities within modernist Chinese-German-Austrian cultural exchange of the early 20th century. During my preliminary dissertation research, I found remarkable similarities between the understanding of the sense of possibilities in the German-Austrian writer Robert Musil’s (1880-1942) Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften and the Chinese writer Zhang Taiyan’s (1868-1936) broader body of work. This project will trace the historical-transnational connections between both writers. My strength in my unique language qualifications in Chinese, German and English enables me to do a close reading of literary sources and archival materials in the original languages. I will also employ my interdisciplinary knowledge in Chinese and German studies to pursue connections between both writers, using approaches of philosophy of science, mysticism and essaysim. Through my research, I will shed new light on research on both Musil and Zhang by explicitly focusing the idea of the sense of possibilities in a transnational context. Further, I intend to gain new insights into cultural communication in the German-Austrian-Chinese relationship.


Location: Emerald Bay B Date: April 26, 2019 Time: 10:30 am - 12:00 pm