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Bucknell May Tip Sheet

LEWISBURG, Pa. — The following story ideas highlight three senior research projects from Bucknell’s 19th annual Kalman Research Symposium, which was held virtually and showcases undergraduate research taking place at the University. They highlight research by seniors, who had their final semesters disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Please let me know if I can assist you should you wish to follow-up with these or any of the undergraduate research presented in the symposium.

MONKEY BUSINESS ON THE MIND — It’s been previously documented that apes use problem solving skills to efficiently obtain a food reward from a puzzle task, but senior biology major Carly Rovner wanted to see if smaller primates were capable of achieving similar results. So Rovner replicated a study originally conducted on chimpanzees and gorillas with five female squirrel monkeys housed in the Bucknell Animal Behavior Facility to test their understanding of a puzzle task, which had two phases. The reward was placed lower in phase 2 to see if the monkeys would exclusively pull rods under the reward, or if they would habitually pull the same rods needed to complete phase 1. One of the five monkeys consistently completed the test through the two phases, indicating cognitive flexibility and an understanding of the task. But none of the other monkeys passed phase 1. The success of one monkey indicates that squirrel monkeys are capable of completing the task efficiently. Even though the task proved too difficult for the majority of monkeys, future research could confirm if they simply needed more trials to display efficiency. CONTACT: Rovner, 516-375-3879,

VACCINE VALIDATION — The nation appears unified over the need for a COVID-19 vaccine to provide ultimate health safety and stop the spread once and for all. But that comes at a time when controversies regarding vaccine components and side effects have misled some parents to believe that vaccines might be harmful based on inaccurate data from the Internet, celebrities, as well as misinterpreted and faulty science. That got senior neuroscience major Gray Reid curious about what her generation thinks about the importance of vaccines from the flu to polio and more. So she created a survey for college-aged individuals to gauge how they view the importance of vaccinations, as well as how much they know about them. In her preliminary study, Reid surveyed about 120 Bucknell students and found that many felt that they are knowledgeable and would like to continue getting vaccinated, in spite of research from older generations suggesting the opposite. She plans to expand her survey to a national sample and will include information regarding views on vaccines before and after COVID-19. CONTACT: Mike Ferlazzo (who will contact Reid), 570-238-6266,

AGING TELL TALE — During stressful events, vertebrate species initiate a physiological stress response, but there are differences in every individual’s response and that variation may relate to disease susceptibility. So wrote senior Ariana Majer, a cell biology/biochemistry major, in her research project. A physiological stress response involves releasing hormones known as glucocorticoids, and in her study Majer found that chronically high baseline glucocorticoid levels are related to shortening telomeres, or the DNA structures at the ends of chromosomes that protect the genetic information stored there. When shortened to a critical length, telomeres can induce a permanent termination of cell growth and division, which contributes to aging. Majer wrote that evidence suggests that telomere shortening is a risk factor in multiple diseases and can result in increased mortality.. CONTACT: Majer,


CONTACT: Mike Ferlazzo, 570-238-6266 (c),

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