Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Traumatized DNA: How Exogenous Factors Effect Humans on a Molecular, Psychological, and Sociological Level.

Hello everyone and welcome to my capstone project on Traumatized DNA: How Exogenous Factors Effect Humans on a Molecular, Psychological, and Sociological Level. This will be an in depth look on how environmental factors, such as radiation, can damage the genetic coding of your DNA; but how does that involve psychology??? or even sociology??? Make sure to check out my project lecture to get a full, three discipline, view of environmental risk factors and your neurodevelopmental health.

                                                                                        Photo credit to: tigger.uic.edu

Make sure to check out my screen cast which gives you a brief look into to my lecture and more!!!
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Here is my full length lecture on Traumatized DNA: How Exogenous Factors Effect Humans on a Molecular, Psychological, and Sociological Level. Be sure to take a look!!!
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Also if you would like to look at some additional information on myself, such as how I came across the idea for my project, or why I chose those three particular disciplines out of so many possible disciplines, feel free to take a look at my project paper. Other points of interest in the paper is the explanation of how and why this project lecture truly encompasses interdisciplinary means.

Project Lecture Paper

The genetic code, the entirety of what makes up a human, is often discussed as a controversial topic with regards to the future. If you are a movie buff, then you can understand the fears underlying the movie “Gatica”. The movie depicts a futuristic tale of a Utopian society where children are no longer conceived by normal means, but through the process of genetic manipulation to achieve the best possible, or desired, offspring. This concept grievously portrays genetic discrimination, meaning that people would be judged solely upon the makeup and orientation of their molecular DNA. As evil as all this sounds, there is a light side to altering the genetic code. Think of infant sentenced to death by their own cellular machinery, talking of course of the cancerous tumor slowly eating its way towards his or her newly developed lungs. Now, what if a doctor told you that if the child’s DNA were altered in such a way that their immune system would now recognize the cancerous cells as foreign and fight back; would you allow it? Even if this question is outside the confines of reality it brings to light the importance of DNA, and how mutations within the code could be seen as good or bad. So, how do these genetic mutations effect our daily lives?
Now that I have caught your attention, I would like to tell you about my research project. The project itself will be an engaging “Ted Talk” using PowerPoint and audio software to engage the readers and immerse them into the world of DNA mutations. Using an interdisciplinary approach, I would like to address the research question, stated above, from three different disciplines; Sociology, Psychology, and Genetics, focusing more on the biomedical aspects of each discipline. These three disciplines are part of a larger group of fields that are encompassed through my major, Interdisciplinary Studies Biomedical Sciences. Besides the fields previously mentioned, Biomedical Sciences draws from all perspectives of medical science from anatomy to biology to chemistry to neurobiology and so on. For any major to be truly Interdisciplinary it is necessary to be able to integrate knowledge from each discipline to achieve a greater picture. For example, one can identify the anatomical location of the amygdala, the portion of the brain that is responsible for the fear response; However, without the psychological knowledge of how fear is rationalized it is impossible to approach the topic of human fear based solely off of anatomical knowledge alone. This notion is the same with my project; the picture would not be complete with just pulling information from one discipline. I could have just covered the genetics part and written a long scientific paper with graphs and tables on how gene expression changes with varying lifestyles, but the audience would not learn about how the genetics affects the psychology of the brain, or how the psychology of the brain intern has an effect on a person’s demeanor. So it is necessary to pull information from all three different, but related topics to get a well-rounded point of view; Thus allowing for the readers to make their own decisions on what they have learned.
The project will be undertaken like any other research project in regards to the research itself. I have used my library website, and the library itself, to extensively search through the countless databases and archives for information on my topic from all three different fields. I also made great use of the interlibrary loan system here at my school, where if there is an article that you need, and they don’t have it, they will get it for you.
As I stated above, the disciplines I will be drawing from are Genetics, Psychology, and Sociology. This was not an easy decision to get to, as I had originally wanted a few more disciplines including Neurobiology, Anatomy, and Molecular Biology. However, after great deliberation I narrowed the list down to the three most relevant to the question I am asking; How do genetic mutations effect our daily lives? It is a simple answer for genetics to provide seeing how the basis of any genetics book is DNA. Not just describing DNA, but going into how DNA is made and how there are a multitude of genes that code for more than a multitude of processes in the human body. It is honestly a miracle how humans work in the first place. Psychology was a bit harder to rationalize the question around. Once I was able to understand that a person’s behavior isn't a choice of heart, but rather a matter of the mind it all came together. The genetics of a person make up everything about them including their brain, so there for the psychology of their behavior would also intern, by conjunction, be effected by their genetics. There is where I found the connection from genetics to psychology. Then I realized that this interaction between the genetics and psychology would also have implications within our delicate society. For starters, our society does not like change; so any mutation, that was advantageous and viable to life, would be seen as different and treated negatively. Second, from the individual’s point of view, their DNA could have been negatively altered leaving their brains unable to cope with stress or other emotions that would otherwise be easy to cope with. There are just so many instances where the makeup of our DNA affects our daily lives.
More than the other interdisciplinary integration approaches, conceptualization has aided my research the most. “Conceptual integration seeks “to make meaning from different concepts that, on the surface, have no apparent connection or commonality” (Morrison, 2003, p. 1). I take that quote to mean that two disciplines may have a different view on a subject, but when those two views are “blended” together they intern make a new view. Throughout my research project I have kept this approach in my mind. For example, when “blending” genetics and psychology together I was made aware of a view that neither field would readily agree too or adhere to. I then took that new view and “blended” it together with sociology. This really made the whole picture of genetic manipulation come to life. Now, as an aspiring biomedical scientist, at first, my view on this project were extremely biased towards the realm of scientific logic. I took all that scientific jargon for an absolute, saying to myself that here could not be any other truths to this question. Through conceptualization I was able to overcome my bias and turn the scientific knowledge towards uncovering new ideas and theories on the matter at hand. Overall my entire knowledge base on the subject has increased exponentially, and it is my hope as my readers that you come away with the same sense of intellectual change as I have. I went from understanding how a single mutation in gene regulation of a protein could in turn cause that protein to misfold, which would then cause a cascade event of destruction of surrounding tissues and other cellular damages; to now understanding that that is not the whole picture. The damage that was caused by the misfolded protein could effect an area of brain cortices   associated with memory function or even the ability to speak. So you can get a small idea of the far reaching implications entwined with mutations within our genetic code.

I hope you have enjoyed my Interdisciplinary Studies Biomedical Sciences Capstone Project Lecture. Please feel free to leave comments with questions and comments!

Creative Commons License
Traumatized DNA: How Exogenous Factors Effect Humans on a Molecular, Psychological, and Sociological Level. by John Rollins is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

1 comment:

  1. I have learned so much from you this semester, Jack, and your work has really captured my interest. Given that I am an English professor by training, I think it really speaks to the success you have had here that I feel so much more informed about this topic, and so compelled to study it in more depth! Both your screencast and project videos are wonderful, since they not only provide clear research and good integration of the fields, but they showcase your intellectual curiosity and your enthusiasm for your work. I love the repetition in the screen cast of "I want to know..." I really get the sense of how much you enjoy this work! The paper could maybe highlight some of the research in more depth, but overall, this whole project is terrific, and I hope you will do more work in this vein and keep us all posted on where the journey takes you!