2015 PNW-COSMOS Summit

Posters' Abstracts

Crow Water Quality Project, A Community Based Participatory Approach Finds Elevated Uranium In Wells On The Crow Indian Reservation, Big Horn County, Montana

Margaret J. Eggers (Graduate student), Center for Biofilm Engineering, Montana State University

Anita L. Moore-Nall (Graduate student), Earth Sciences, Montana State University

John Doyle, Little Big Horn College

Dayle Felicia, Center for Biofilm Engineering, Montana State University

David R. Lageson, Earth Sciences, Montana State University

Anne K. Camper, Center for Biofilm Engineering, Montana State University

Data from the Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology Ground Water Information Center (GWIC) and USGS National Uranium Resource Evaluation (NURE) database, show several wells with elevated U (uranium) and Pb (lead) in Big Horn County, Montana. Many wells on the reservation are in shallow Pleistocene deposits; most were not tested for uranium at the time the Indian Health Service had the wells drilled. On learning about the NURE data for the Crow Reservation and the occurrence of uranium in the geologic formations in the Pryor Mountains adjacent to the reservation, the Crow Water Quality Project decided to include uranium testing in its home well water testing. Residents from throughout the Reservation volunteered to have their well water tested for mineral and microbial contaminants, including uranium. Energy Laboratories, an EPA certified lab in Billings, Montana, conducted these tests. More than 2/3 of the local wells sampled by the Crow Water Quality Project tested positive for uranium, and about 8% of wells tested exceeded EPA’s Maximum Contaminant Level of 30 μg/L. Most of the home wells tested to date do not have elevated lead (Pb); elevated lead in the data bases is mainly in the monitoring wells associated with coal mines in the south eastern part of Big Horn County. An explanation of test results and the health risks of elevated uranium are being provided to participating homeowners both in print and in person. The project is a community-based participatory research initiative of Little Big Horn College (the Tribal College for the Reservation), the Crow Tribe, the Apsaalooke [Crow] Water and Wastewater Authority, the local Indian Health Service Hospital and other local stakeholders, with support from academic partners at MSU Bozeman and the University of New England. Continued risk communication and risk mitigation with residents of the Crow Reservation are warranted.

Selective Solid Phase Extraction of Uranium using an Aminophosphonic Acid Functionalized Composite Material

Ranalda L. Tsosie (Graduate Student), Interdisciplinary Studies, University of Montana

Edward Rosenberg, Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, University of Montana

Uranium is an element of interest due to its abundant source of concentrated energy. Mining operations that once thrived on the Navajo Reservation began to shutdown leaving behind a legacy of contamination. Consequently many Navajo communities have numerous water sources that exceed established maximum contamination levels for uranium and other toxic metals. The improper disposal of these wastes have ensued adverse health and ecological impacts.

Traditional solvent extraction methods are expensive, time consuming and pose additional problems with the generation of waste products. The aim of this study is to use solid phase extraction methods to remediate contaminated water sources. An example is Silica Polyamine Composites (SPC), which have been used to filter, isolate and remove unwanted metals by acting as a chelating agent.

Given the high valent nature of uranium and the effectiveness of adsorption of metals from wastewaters and mine leachates by SPCs, we hypothesized that a phosphonated SPC will be effective at removing uranyl ions from contaminated water. An aminophosphonic acid functionalized SPC, BPAP, has been applied to uranium adsorption studies. This study has determined BPAP’s ability to be selective for uranium adsorption even in the presence of high concentrations of competing ions, such as nitrate and sulfate, using batch capacity studies. Using ICP-OES analysis, we determined BPAPs capacity for uranium in aqueous solutions as 0.42 mmol/g. Previous reports have shown that these materials can survive more than 3000 cycles of metal ion extraction, elution and regeneration with less than 10% loss of capacity.

Establishing a Groundwater Monitoring Network for Long Term Analyses of Water Table Fluctuations around Salish Kootenai College

Travis Beauvais (Student), Salish Kootenai College

Recent climatic changes are altering seasonal weather patterns throughout the northwest.  The most recent IPCC reports predict more precipitation and earlier snowmelt in the region.  The Flathead Indian Reservation in northwestern Montana experienced noticeable variations throughout the three year period between 2010 and 2012.  The region around the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal headquarters and Salish Kootenai College experienced standing water on agricultural lands and flooding of building foundations and basements that required restoration and remediation activities that approached $1 Million.  This prompted a study to determine if these incidents were caused by higher than average precipitation, miss-management of irrigation controls, and/or groundwater flow interference from new highway construction activities. Results suggest that the road construction is not altering flow paths but rather that a combination of irrigation management and natural recharge have critical impacts on local groundwater levels.

Barcoding a Leech Infestation at Lake Minnewaska State Park Preserve

Na’ta’ne Miles (Student), Native Environmental Science, Northwest Indian College

A leech infestation that occurred in 2014, in Lake Minnewaska, in Ulster County, New York resulted in a temporary beach closure at that lake due to public health concerns.  Representatives of the New York State Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation; the Mohonk Preserve; and The Leech Lab of the American Museum of Natural History collaborated to identify the leeches associated with the infestation. Ecological field studies were conducted at Lake Minnewaska and two nearby lakes in the Minnewaska State Park Preserve, Lake Awosting and Mohonk Lake, and phylogenetic analysis were performed to identify the suspect organisms. Leeches infesting Lake Minnewaska were morphologically consistent with Helobdella modesta.  Those found in Mohonk Lake matched descriptions of Erpobdella punctata, H. modesta and Placobdella picta.  No leeches were found in Lake Awosting.  The infestation was determined to be a natural occurrence.

Characterizing Surface Water and Ground Water Interactions in Rosebud Creek: Using Western Science with Traditional Ecological Knowledge

Shanara (Shanny) Spang Gion (Graduate Student), Hydrogeology & Technical Communication, Montana Tech

The Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation is drained by two primary watersheds – Rosebud Creek and Tongue River.  Rosebud Creek drains approximately two-thirds of the reservation which equates to roughly 296,000 acres of the reservation.  There are many uses within this watershed including agricultural (irrigation), municipal water use and discharge, and surface coal mining activities. I intend to study Rosebud Creek, centering on the groundwater-surface water interaction of water resources in this watershed as well as understand and document Northern Cheyenne value systems and worldview toward understanding the cultural importance of water.  From this research, I plan to present in a report, or other determined media, to my tribal community and tribal government to inform water resources policy and management for the Northern Cheyenne Tribe.  This report will be based in both traditional ecological knowledge and western science, in an attempt to use these two ways of knowing toward sound water resources management.

Protein folding: thermodynamics of Ubiquitin-associated domains

Moses J. Leavens (Graduate Student), Biochemistry & Biophysics, University of Montana

Bruce Bowler, Biochemistry & Biophysics, University of Montana

Ubiquitin-associated (UBA) domains have been discovered in several proteins within the cell, and at least one domain plays an important functional role in cellular phenomena such as NF-κB signaling. Mutations within the UBA(2) domain of the ubiquitin-binding scaffold protein p62  are frequently observed in patients suffering from Pagat’s disease of bone. Both UBA(1) and UBA(2) nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) structures depict compact three-helix bundles, yet only share approximately 20% primary sequence identity. The UBA(2) domain has been shown to dimerize at concentrations below 20 mM, and has been hypothesized to play an important functional role within the cell via ubiquitination. A UBA(1) quaternary structure investigation is carried out using matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometry, thermal denaturation, fluorescent binding assay, and isothermal titration calorimetry to elucidate a possible shared property between UBA(1) and UBA(2) domains, which may suggest potential competition between Ubiquitin binding and UBA domain dimerization.

The Fishing history of the Lummi people

Lisa Cook (Student), Northwest Indian College

Future generations of the Lummi Nation need to know the history of struggle our ancestors endured to ensure that our inherent and treaty rights were protected. Interviews with Lummi elders, fishermen, and other members of the Lummi Tribe will be conducted and compiled into a documentary. Assistance from the staff of the Lummi Natural Resource Department will be sought, and the research will be enhanced by careful study of research papers, scientific journals, and literature from various sources including the Lummi Archives and the Western Washington University Archives.

Transculturation socialization: An Emerging Model for American Indian/Alaska Native Graduate Student Experience in STEM

Kelly Ward, Educational Leadership, Sport Studies & Counseling/Educational Psychology, Washington State University

Lynn Becerra (Graduate Student), Cultural Studies and Social Thought in Education, Washington State University

Carrie B. Myers, Adult and Higher Education, Montana State University

Catherine M. Johnson (Graduate Student), Adult and Higher Education, Montana State University

Nick Sanyal, Conservation Social Sciences, University of Idaho

Dusten Hollist, Sociology, University of Montana

Amy Lommen, Health and Human Performance, University of Montana

American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) students are a growing student population in institutions of higher education. The minimal representation of AI/AN population data in research reports, and the scarcity in the literature related to their experiences in higher education overlook this growth. This proposal aims to add to the understanding of AI/AN graduate student experience through the integration and development of a conceptual model.
The transculturation socialization model for AI/AN graduate student experience in STEM is informed by socialization theory, bi-cultural and intercultural socialization theory, and transculturation theory. This proposed conceptual model explores the ways these theories interact during the transculturation processes by which AI/AN graduate students interact, integrate, and successfully navigate their cultural identity and their academic identity in STEM. With the use of socialization theories, this conceptual model provides another perspective to understand the role of transculturation in the experiences of American Indian/Alaska Native graduate students in STEM degree programs. Further, this theoretical analysis uses a sociological lens to explore the structures, resources, and student-environment interactions that surround the transculturated process. Such information will broaden the understanding of the factors that help and hinder student persistence and engagement in STEM majors at the graduate level and will help inform ongoing research and practice.

Foodscaping Northwest Indian College

Carol Wilson (Student), Native Environmental Science Program, Northwest Indian College

A food forest would support a botanically diverse environment, provide botanical revitalization, and deliver valuable insight about traditional land practices with a contemporary view of sustainability.  The purpose of a food forestry is to revitalize the campus landscape with native vegetation, and further investigation will support the need for environmental change.  Brief, logical analysis of data sources includes plans of action.

Genetic Diversity Analysis: Preserving culturally and medicinally important food

Danielle Guzman (Graduate Student), Horticulture, Washington State University

Many Vaccinium species, common name huckleberry, are found in the Western United States and have been a culturally important food source for several Native American tribes for centuries. In addition, Vaccinium species are also used for their medicinal properties. Huckleberries are slow growing and can take up to 15 years to reach full maturity. Because of the plant’s slow developmental rate, viable methods for commercial propagation have yet to be established. Population structure and genetic diversity analysis of Vaccinium species will be instrumental to understand genetic diversity, facilitate cultivation efforts, and be a foundation for conservation and restoration efforts. Target Region Amplified Polymorphism markers (TRAP) analysis is an efficient and cost effective method used to interpret both structure and diversity of a given population. The utility of this PCR based technique has been validated on several plant species. By utilizing TRAP analysis to study huckleberry populations across a variety of habitats information will be gained regarding genetic diversity and population structure. This information will contribute to the knowledge regarding Vaccinium species and will facilitate conservation and restoration efforts that seek to preserve this culturally, nutritionally and medicinally important genus.

Myosin head attachment time varies with sarcomere length in skinned skeletal fibers

Shelby R. Leighton (student), College of Veterinary Medicine, Washington State University

Axel J. Fenwick (student), College of Veterinary Medicine, Washington State University

Bertrand C.W. Tanner, College of Veterinary Medicine, Washington State University

Cardiac and skeletal muscle contraction results from the calcium-regulated binding of the motor protein myosin to the actin filament, which leads to a force producing cross-bridge. Previous research has shown calcium sensitivity in skinned skeletal fibers to be impacted by sarcomere length. We hypothesize that sarcomere length might also affect myosin cross-bridge attachment time (ton) in skinned skeletal muscle fibers. This was tested in two groups of soleus muscle fibers, at short (2.0µm) and long (2.5µm) sarcomere lengths, as dictated by the skeletal length-tension relationship. The calcium sensitivity was measured by titrating fibers from pCa 8.0 (relaxed) to pCa 4.8 (activated), where pCa is the negative log of the calcium concentration, and fitting the force-pCa data to a Hill equation. The attachment time of a myosin head on an actin filament was measured by stochastic length-perturbation analysis. Confirming previous research, the force-pCa data showed a lower calcium sensitivity at short vs. long sarcomere length. We also found different ton values between short and long sarcomere lengths, which were 82±11 ms for 2.0 µm sarcomere length and 96±7 ms for 2.5 µm sarcomere length.  This lower ton value for shorter sarcomere lengths is thought to be due to changes in lattice spacing within the muscle fiber at the short and long sarcomere lengths, which in turn strains the myosin head and causes early detachment at 2.0 µm sarcomere length.  We conclude that cross-bridge cycling kinetics are influenced by sarcomere length, which could change force production as skeletal muscles shorten and lengthen.

Forest Gardening: A Synthesis of Individual and Community Environmental Resilience at a Tribal College

Dineh Judd (Student), Native Environment Science, Northwest Indian College

This project addressed one objective of a broader project entitled Telling the Story of the Land: Revitalizing Traditional Plant Knowledge and Harvest With a View Toward Sustainability. It addressed the development of a baseline for ongoing, long-term lowland forest research with a focus on Lummi ethnobotany and Forest Gardening which is based on a model of seven layers of vegetation.  It included collecting and identifying plants in the Coast Salish Forest Garden (CSFG) at Northwest Indian College. Findings included an expanded list of ethnobotanical species in the CSFG and the conclusion that not all seven forest layers are well represented there. Recommendations for helping to ensure long-term sustainability and enhance culturally relevant research opportunities in the garden include adding more ethnobotanical species that represent the seven forest layers to the CSFG.

A Palynological Reconstruction of the Late Holocene Flora and Climate Change from Three Minnesota Lakes

Matthew Wiengart (Student), Hydrology & Environmental Science, Salish Kootenai College

This study is a coordination between the LacCore Facility (Limnologic Research Center, University of Minnesota) and the Department of Natural Resources for the Fond du Lac Reservation located in Northern Minnesota. The primary focus is on the historical presence and abundance of Wild Rice (Zizania palustris and Zizania aquatica). Pollen grains found within lake sediment cores extracted from Deadfish Lake, Perch Lake, and Rice Portage Lake on the Fond du Lac Reservation were used to reconstruct the paleoenvironment from the late holocene to present. A minimum of 300 pollen grains were counted from each 16cm (~25-100 years) sample interval of sediment and were identified down to the species, genus, or family level. The data was then compared to the climate sensitivities (xeric/mesic) of each taxa to relate observed changes in the pollen record. Changing environmental conditions were derived from the vegetational responses.