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  1. The presence of methylmercury in aquatic environments and marine food sources is of global concern. The chemical reaction for the addition of a methyl group to inorganic mercury occurs in diverse bacterial taxonomic groups including the Gram-negative, sulfate-reducing Desulfovibrionaceae family that inhabit extreme aquatic environments. The availability of whole-genome sequence datasets for members of the Desulfovibrionaceae presents opportunities to understand the microbial mechanisms that contribute to methylmercury production in extreme aquatic environments. We have applied bioinformatics resources and developed visual analytics resources to categorize a collection of 719 putative universal stress protein (USP) sequences predicted from 93 genomes of Desulfovibrionaceae.more »We have focused our bioinformatics investigations on protein sequence analytics by developing interactive visualizations to categorize Desulfovibrionaceae universal stress proteins by protein domain composition and functionally important amino acids. We identified 651 Desulfovibrionaceae universal stress protein sequences, of which 488 sequences had only one USP domain and 163 had two USP domains. The 488 single USP domain sequences were further categorized into 340 sequences with ATP-binding motif and 148 sequences without ATP-binding motif. The 163 double USP domain sequences were categorized into (1) both USP domains with ATP-binding motif (3 sequences); (2) both USP domains without ATP-binding motif (138 sequences); and (3) one USP domain with ATP-binding motif (21 sequences). We developed visual analytics resources to facilitate the investigation of these categories of datasets in the presence or absence of the mercury-methylating gene pair (hgcAB). Future research could utilize these functional categories to investigate the participation of universal stress proteins in the bacterial cellular uptake of inorganic mercury and methylmercury production, especially in anaerobic aquatic environments.« less
  2. Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a genetic disease that has multiple aspects including public health and clinical aspects. The goals of the research study were to (1) understand the public health aspects of sickle cell disease, and (2) understand the overlap between public health aspects and clinical aspects that can inform research and practice beneficial to stakeholders in sickle cell disease management. The approach involved the construction of datasets from textual data sources produced by experts on sickle cell disease including from landmark publications published in 2020 on sickle cell disease in the United States. The interactive analytics of themore »integrated datasets that we produced identified that community-based approaches are common to both public health and clinical aspects of sickle cell disease. An interactive visualization that we produced can aid the understanding of the alignment of governmental organizations to recommendations for addressing sickle cell disease in the United States. From a global perspective, the interactive analytics of the integrated datasets can support the knowledge transfer stage of the SICKLE recommendations (Skills transfer, Increasing self-efficacy, Coordination, Knowledge transfer, Linking to adult services, and Evaluating readiness) for effective pediatric to adult transition care for patients with sickle cell disease. Considering the increased digital transformations resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, the constructed datasets from expert recommendations can be integrated within remote digital platforms that expand access to care for individuals living with sickle cell disease. Finally, the interactive analytics of integrated expert recommendations on sickle cell disease management can support individual and team expertise for effective community-based research and practice.« less
  3. The promotion of global sustainability within environmental science courses requires a paradigm switch from knowledge-based teaching to teaching that stimulates higher-order cognitive skills. Non-major undergraduate science courses, such as environmental science, promote critical thinking in students in order to improve the uptake of scientific information and develop the rational decision making used to make more informed decisions. Science, engineering, technology and mathematics (STEM) courses rely extensively on visuals in lectures, readings and homework to improve knowledge. However, undergraduate students do not automatically acquire visual literacy and a lack of intervention from instructors could be limiting academic success. In this study,more »a visual literacy intervention was developed and tested in the face-to-face (FTF) and online sections of an undergraduate non-major Introduction to Environmental Science course. The intervention was designed to test and improve visual literacy at three levels: (1) elementary—identifying values; (2) intermediate—identifying trends; and (3) advanced—using the data to make projections or conclusions. Students demonstrated a significant difference in their ability to answer elementary and advanced visual literacy questions in both course sections in the pre-test and post-test. Students in the face-to-face course had significantly higher exam scores and higher median assessment scores compared to sections without a visual literacy intervention. The online section did not show significant improvements in visual literacy or academic success due to a lack of reinforcement of visual literacy following the initial intervention. The visual literacy intervention shows promising results in improving student academic success and should be considered for implementation in other general education STEM courses.« less