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Anil Gautam – Thesis for Master of Science in Molecular Biology, Microbiology, and Biochemistry (MBMB) Thesis for Master of Science in Molecular Biology, Microbiology, and Biochemistry (MBMB)
Title: Combination of calorie restriction mimetics improves health span in short-lived PEPCK bGH transgenic mice
Major Professor: Andrzej Barkte
Committee Member: Shelley Tischkau
Committee Member: Rong Yuan
Defended October 19, 2023

Aging is the major risk factor for chronic age-related diseases characterized by loss of homeostasis, organ dysfunction, and inflammation. Calorie restriction (CR) has been shown to slow aging and delay the onset of chronic age-related diseases. Even though CR has many positive health effects, the degree and duration of the restriction needed would reduce the intervention's usefulness and make it challenging to start and maintain in humans. The difficulties brought on by CR have led to the development of CR mimetics that can mimic the effects of CR without reducing food intake (in an ad libitum state). We hypothesize that in PEPCK bovine Growth Hormone (bGH) overexpressing transgenic mice with accelerated metabolic and cognitive aging, the health span and phenotypes of aging can be improved by adding CR mimetics, a combination of lipoic acid, nicotinamide, thiamine, pyridoxine, and piperine to the diet. From 10 to 40 weeks of age, bGH-tg mice and their normal (N) littermates were fed CRM diet ad libitum. Normal littermates and bGH-tg mice fed a standard chow diet served as controls. Evaluation of the effects of CRM included insulin and glucose tolerance tests (ITT and GTT), indirect calorimetry as well as rotarod, working memory, grip strength testing. Body weight and percent fat mass were significantly lower, but percent lean mass was significantly higher in mice on a CRM diet at 40 weeks. At 19 weeks, insulin sensitivity was improved considerably in treated N and bGH-tg males. At 20 weeks of age, all mice on a CRM diet had significantly improved glucose tolerance and lower fasting glucose. At week 32, treated N female mice had significantly higher energy expenditure during the day and night per gram of body weight. In treated N males, this was true only during the day. Male bGH-tg mice on CRM diet had decreased energy expenditure during the night. Insulin sensitivity was significantly improved in treated male N and bGH-tg mice at week 37. Week 38 GTT showed enhanced glucose tolerance and lower fasting glucose in all mice on a CRM diet except Tg females. Week 39-40 Y-maze, rotarod and grip strength testing showed improved motor coordination and grip strength in all mice on CRM diet with no difference in working memory. Also, there was a significant improvement in metabolic and aging phenotype with lowered pro-inflammatory cytokines at the gene and protein levels in various tissues. Our study indicates the employed CRM produce the beneficial health effects in short-lived, insulin resistant bGH Tg mice but the effects are time-, sex-, genotype-, and diet-dependent. Most of the effects of this intervention resemble the effects of CR suggesting that employed compounds may act via similar mechanisms. This work was funded by the SIU-SOM Geriatrics Research Initiative (AB), NIA R01AG068288, and the Hillblom Foundation (PK).

Bhavana Sai Yadav Akula – Thesis for Master of Science in Computer Science Bhavana Sai Yadav Akula SIU
Title: Drone Swarms in Adversarial Environment
Major Professor: Henry Hexmoor
Committee Member: Bidyut Gupta
Committee Member: Koushik Sinha
Defended: November 3, 2023

Drones are unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) operated remotely with the help of cameras, GPS, and on-device SD cards. These are used for many applications including civilian as well as military. On the other hand, drone swarms are a fleet of drones that work together to achieve a special goal through swarm intelligence approaches. These provide a lot of advantages such as better coverage, accuracy, increased safety, and improved flexibility when compared to a single drone. However, the deployment of such swarms in an adversarial environment poses significant challenges. This work provides an overview of the current state of research on drone swarms in adversarial environments including algorithms for swarming formation of robotic attack drones with their strengths and weaknesses as well as the attack strategies used by attackers. This work also outlines the common adversarial counterattack methods to disrupt drone attacks consisting of detection and destruction of drone swarms along with their drawbacks, a counter UAV defense system, and splitting large-scale drones into unconnected clusters. After identifying several challenges, an optimized algorithm is proposed to split the large-scale drone swarms more efficiently.

Christian Kessler - Thesis for Master of Science in Plant, Soil, and Agricultural Systems
Title: Managing Winter Rye for Corn Production, Nitrogen Use, and Farm Profit
Major Professor: Amir Sadeghpour
Committee Member: Karla Gage
Committee Member: Ahmad Fakhoury
Defended: October 27, 2023

Cover crops are often planted during the fallow periods of cash crop harvests to cover the soil and reduce erosion but also to provide other ecosystem benefits including capturing residual nutrients and thus, reducing environmental losses of nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) in agroecosystems. Among these cover crops, winter rye (Secale cereale) is popular due to its winter hardiness and relatively cheap seed costs. However, growers in the Midwest, USA are reluctant to use winter rye prior to corn (Zea mays L.) due to the potential yield penalty in corn. This thesis introduces two strategies that could minimize winter rye’s effect on corn while providing nutrient loss reduction benefits are precision planting and reducing the seeding rate of winter rye ahead of corn. One study evaluates whether precision planting (planting winter rye strategically to avoid intersecting zones with corn) of winter rye at low seeding rate (37.5 kg ha-1) could produce similar cover crop biomass and quality to normal planted winter rye (50 kg ha-1) and if precision planting can improve performance and N requirement of corn (Chapter 1). The study was conducted in central Indiana during 2020-2021 (CIN21), and southern Illinois during 2021-2022 (SIL22), and 2022-2023 (SIL23) growing seasons. The experiment was arranged in a randomized block design with split plot arrangement. Main plots were three cover crops (a no-cover crop control (NoCC), conventional planted winter rye (CR), and precision planted winter rye (PR). Subplots were six rates of N fertilizer that ranged from 0-280 kg ha-1 for the CIN21 and 0-359 kg ha-1 for SIL22 and SIL23. Our results indicated that shifting from normal planting to precision planting resulted in similar cover crop biomass production with limited effect on winter rye quality [N concentration, Carbon (C):N ratio] and N and C accumulation. In CIN21, the no-cover crop control had higher yield and lower N requirements which was consistent with those of SIL22. The economic optimum rate of N (EORN) was below the typical recommended range for central Indiana and was above the recommended range for southern Illinois. Precision planting resulted in a slight increase in corn yield and N requirement, but overall was more profitable than normal planting due to a reduction in the number of seeds required and higher corn to fertilizer prices. Therefore, we recommend that (i) decision support tools for N management in corn should be revised for addition of cover crops in the Midwest, and (ii) precision planting should be implemented instead of normal planting for greater economic benefit. Future research should evaluate ecosystem services of precision vs. normal planting of winter rye over time. The other study evaluates whether planting method of winter rye (precision vs. conventional) at medium and low seeding rates of winter rye influence cover crop biomass production, N and C concentrations and accumulations, and corn performance (Chapter 2). A trial was conducted in 7 site-yrs in Indiana and Illinois during 2020-2021, 2021-2022, and 2022-2023 growing seasons. The trial was arranged in a randomized complete block design with four replicates. Cover crops [conventional planting (CR) and precision planting (PR)] were factorially arranged with two seeding rates (18.75 vs. 37.5 kg ha-1) for PR and (25 vs. 50 kg ha-1) for CR. Two extra treatments were included as control which were no-cover crop with zero-N and a 224 kg N ha-1 addition to corn. Cover crop biomass, C, N, their uptake, and C:N ratio were evaluated along with corn plant population, and corn grain yield. Our results indicated that winter rye had similar aboveground biomass, N uptake, and C accumulation regardless of planting method and seeding rate suggesting a precision planting at low seeding rate is most economical for cover crop establishment. Corn plant population was only affected by winter rye in one site-yr (CIL23) in which precision planting did not help with minimizing the negative effect of winter rye on corn population. In this study, lack of N fertilization did not decrease corn population but significantly reduced corn grain yield in all site-yrs. Corn grain yield was similar among cover crop treatments (with exception of no cover crop no N) but in one of the site-yrs, precision planting at 18.75 kg ha-1 resulted in greater corn yield than the no-cover crop with 224 N ha-1. We concluded that growers that plant winter rye prior to corn could use precision planting at a seeding rate of 18.75 kg ha-1 to take up residual soil N with limited interference with corn production at a reduced cost compared to conventional winter rye management.

Jen Helms – Thesis Play for MFA in Theater, Costume Design Jen Helms – Thesis Play for MFA in Theater, Costume Design Title: Wedding Band: A Love-Hate Story img
Title: Wedding Band: A Love-Hate Story
Major Professor: Wendi Zea
Committee Member: Jacob Juntunen
Committee Member: Thomas Fagerholm
Nov. 30, Dec. 1-3, Dec. 7-10
Christian H Moe Laboratory Theater, Communications Building
7:30 PM; 2:00 PM on Sundays

Jen Helms will be designing costumes for the SIU School of Theater and Dance production of Wedding Band: A Love-Hate Story in Black and White, as partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Master of Fine Arts in Theater.
Set in Charleston, South Carolina in 1918, Wedding Band is an unsparing tale about the consequences of a decade-long romance between a black seamstress and a white baker. Julia and Herman have loved each other devotedly, enduring harsh disapproval from whites and scorn from blacks. As they confront the impossibility of ever living a normal married life, and as Herman falls ill, Julia gradually reaches out to forge affirming bonds of solidarity with her community.
The play will be produced in the Moe Theater, opening on November 30 and running two weekends.

Leonard Lively – Thesis Play for MFA in Theater, Technical Direction
Title: Ride the Cyclone
Major Professor: Tom Fagerholm
Committee Member: MK Hughes
Committee Member: Darryl Clark
October 12-15, 2023
McCleod Theater, Communications Building
7:30 pm, 2:00 pm on Sunday

Leonard Lively is technical director for the SIU School of Theater and Dance production of Ride the Cyclone, as partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Master of Fine Arts in Theater.
In this hilarious and outlandish story, the lives of six teenagers from a high school choir are cut short in a freak accident aboard a roller coaster. When they awake in limbo, a mechanical fortune teller invites each to tell a story to win a prize like no other: the chance to return to life. This popular musical is a funny, moving look at what makes a life well-lived.
The play will be produced in the McLeod Theater, opening October 12 and running one weekend.

Loren Koenigstein - Research Paper for Master of Science in Agribusiness Economics koenigstein-loren-siu
Title:  Comparison of Central and Southern Illinois Grain Farm Economic Profit and Operating Costs
Major Professor: Jebaraj Asirvatham
Defended: October 16, 2023

Over the past twenty years, Illinois agriculture has witnessed periods of high volatility—be that in commodity or input prices, which tightens net farm income in some years, while yielding the highest net farm incomes ever seen in Illinois in other years. As agriculture undergoes changes favoring the most efficient farms, and with volatile net farm incomes observed in recent years, understanding which characteristics describe a profitable Illinois farm holds a renewed importance. The scope of this research is to show how different categories of operating costs determine management returns per operator acre in Central and Southern Illinois. If operating costs differentially affect economic profit in these regions, examining those relationships proves beneficial to farmers in each region. If we can pinpoint differences between the regions, we can help farm operators across the state focus on the best practices that make them successful, allowing them the support to be more profitable, contribute to their communities, and rely less heavily on government support. This research aims to address this problem by using Farm Business Farm Management (FBFM) economic and financial data to examine the differences between Central and Southern Illinois farms, so Illinois agriculture can embrace the changes in the agriculture industry and farmers can grow more knowledgeable about their operation.

Rylie Wheeler – Master’s Research Paper for MA in Criminology and Criminal Justice Rylie-Wheeler-The-Evaluation-of-Juvenile-Rehabilitative-Approaches-img
Title: The Evaluation of Juvenile Rehabilitative Approaches
Major Professor: Breanne Pleggenkuhle
Committee Member: Matthew West
Committee Member: Raymund Narag
October 19, 2023
Faner 4321
9:00 AM

The current research seeks to evaluate current juvenile rehabilitative approaches and analyze their effectiveness in reducing juvenile offending behaviors. The juvenile justice system is analyzed from a historical perspective beginning prior to the establishment of the juvenile justice system in the 19th century and leading to the current approaches of the 21st century. Developmental research has found that most juveniles will desist from delinquency on their own by naturally growing out of their offending behavior. However, when juveniles become involved in the justice system the opportunity to age out of offending behavior is limited. Recognizing this, the juvenile justice system is currently in a more rehabilitative approach focusing on the potential for juveniles to change their behaviors and using alternatives to incarceration. The current research evaluates these alternatives, more specifically juvenile probation, individual therapy (including cognitive-behavioral therapy, interpersonal psychotherapy, and psychodynamic therapy), group therapy, and family therapy (including multisystemic therapy, functional family therapy, and multidimensional family therapy). Findings conclude that juvenile probation is an ineffective alternative on its own and individual therapy as well as family therapy are highly effective in its designed goals and in reducing juvenile offending behaviors. Group therapy, however, was shown to be ineffective when high-risk delinquents were grouped together and more effective when high-risk delinquents were grouped with low-risk or nondelinquent youth. Future considerations suggest the juvenile justice system could aid in reducing juvenile offending behaviors by using effective alternatives, specifically therapies, to incarceration.

Sruthi Rachamalla - Dissertation for Ph.D. in Computer Science Sruthi-Rachamalla-siu-img
Title: A Framework for Crypto-Based Monetization of Driver Behavior with Blockchain
Major Professor: Henry Hexmoor
Committee Member: Chun-Hsi “Vincent” Huang
Committee Member: Bidyut Gupta
Committee Member: Koushik Sinha
Committee Member: Mohammad Sayeh
Defended: October 27, 2023

The transportation system places a top priority on driving safety. Most drivers on the road and their actions determine how safe it is to drive. Speed, hard braking, abrupt accelerations, and other aggressive driving behaviors are some of the main safety-compromising elements that could jeopardize human life in the event of a fatality. We presented a driver incentive model that ranks and rewards the driver's daily behavior in order to increase the safety of drivers and other road users. These rewards will come in the form of cryptocurrency tokens. We also examined the cooperative driving (or platooning) scenario. Road safety can be improved by connecting two or more cars together by utilizing vehicular communication technologies. The leader vehicle is crucial as it manages the platoon, establishes communication between vehicles, and performs platoon maneuvers namely Join, Merge, Leave, and Split. As the leader of the platoon has multiple responsibilities than followers, our model rewards more incentives to the leader than to followers. This digital monetization method is accomplished by secure transactions using blockchain.

School of Architecture Thesis Reviews
All Master of Architecture graduate students are required to produce a Thesis Project as the last product, ruled by internal requirements and School of Architecture faculty. Every student has a thesis committee composed of three faculty members, one of them from outside the School of Architecture and sometimes even from out of campus, according to their thesis-specific topic. Even though they are online students, they come to Carbondale to present their theses and, if they want, to walk in the graduation ceremony. December 14 and 15 are two intense days of presentations (Thursday and Friday before Commencement). The Architecture online graduate program is the largest SIU Carbondale graduate program with 121 students, and this semester 16 students will present their theses. 2023-fall-architecture-thesis-reviews.jpg

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