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  • Publication
    Preliminary Evaluation of a Molecular Method for Pathotyping Phytophthora sojae
    ( 2024-05) Watson, Gregory M. ; Mueller, Daren ; Beattie, Gwyn ; Robertson, Alison
    Phytophthora sojae, which causes Phytophthora stem and root rot (PSRR) of soybean, is classified into pathotypes based on the interaction of its avirulence (Avr) genes with resistance to P. sojae (Rps) genes present in soybean. Effective management of P. sojae to minimize PSRR in fields under soybean production includes accurate pathotype identification to select soybean cultivars with appropriate Rps resistance. Currently, P. sojae pathotype is evaluated by inoculating the hypocotyls of soybean differentials, which each contain a single Rps gene, with the pathogen to test for virulence. There are various sets of differentials that differ in their genetic background, for example, a Harosoy or Williams background. The hypocotyl inoculation assay requires a significant amount of time and labor before the pathotype of P. sojae can be determined. Recently, a molecular assay that predicts pathotype based on discriminant mutations within seven Avr genes was published. The goal of this study was to evaluate the molecular assay to predict the virulence and thus pathotypes of a subset of isolates of P. sojae in the Robertson Lab collection. A total of 25 isolates from Iowa, Nebraska and Ohio that varied in pathotype were used. Four isolates that were used in the development of the molecular assay were used as checks. The objectives of the study were to: 1. Determine the pathotype of the isolates on Harosoy and Williams sets of differentials using the hypocotyl inoculation assay. 2. Compare the virulence of each isolate on differential lines in a Harosoy background compared to a Williams background. 3. Use the molecular assay to predict the pathotype of each isolate. 4. Compare the predicted pathotype with the pathotype of each isolate determined using the hypocotyl inoculation assay. For some isolates, virulence varied among the differential lines of Harosoy and Williams carrying the same Rps gene. In fact, the pathotype determined by hypocotyl inoculation assay of the Harosoy and Williams differential lines was identical for only 5 isolates. These data suggest that differentials of a specific Rps gene in distinct genetic backgrounds may actually reflect the activity of distinct Rps alleles or even a different Rps gene that may be tightly linked. While virulence was predicted correctly for some Avr genes of some isolates using the molecular assay, it was not correctly predicted for many others. Absence or presence of the amplicon in the molecular assay was not associated with the actual virulence or avirulence observed on the differentials. These results may reflect that Avr mutations present in the P. sojae isolates tested here differ from those occurring in the isolates used in the development of the molecular assay. Additional evaluation of the molecular assay is recommended before its widespread use for determining the pathotypes of P. sojae present in a population.
  • Publication
    The Effects of Exercise on the Prevention and Treatment for Cardiovascular Disease: An Overview
    ( 2024-05) Woodruff, Peter ; Lyons, Michael
    The many positive effects of exercise towards treating and preventing cardiovascular disease are well established. A review of the literature will yield a common theme of cardiovascular disease, what mechanisms cause the different types of cardiovascular disease, along with how prevalent cardiovascular disease is, and treatment options for it. An overview of the literature will also look at how exercise is used not only as a preventive measure but also as a current treatment and its usage in rehabilitation after a cardiovascular event has taken place. A focus will be on the three forms of cardiovascular diseases, which are hypertension, coronary artery disease, and congestive heart failure. Along with a review of the literature on how each different form of cardiovascular disease pertains in prevalence and response to physical activity as a possible therapeutic option in treatment.
  • Publication
    Robotic Process Automation: Concepts, Adoption and Research
    ( 2024-05) Zhong, Mohan ; Anthony ; Townsend, Anthony
    Robotic Process Automation (RPA) has emerged as a transformative technology, leveraging AI, computer vision, and other tools to automate business processes. This literature review delves into the evolution, definition, benefits, risks, adoption challenges, and future trends of RPA. Tracing its origins from automated GUI testing to its current state as a key enabler of digital transformation, the review explores RPA's impact on operational efficiency, integration advantages, and risk management benefits. It also addresses concerns related to security, privacy, ethics, and workforce implications. Furthermore, the review highlights emerging trends such as cloud-based RPA, RPA as a service, and low-code/no-code solutions, while identifying research challenges in measuring benefits, assessing adoption readiness, handling exceptions, and identifying critical success factors. By synthesizing insights from research articles, case studies, and industry reports, this review offers a comprehensive understanding of RPA's role in reshaping business processes and guiding future research directions.
  • Publication
    The Cambridge Declaration: Did We Solve the Question of Consciousness in Animals?
    ( 2024-05) Zartman, Jackson D. ; Bracha, Vlastislav
    How and why do humans, and potentially non-human organisms, experience consciousness? This question has been dubbed “the hard question of consciousness” and has been a topic of much debate among philosophers, psychologists, biologists, and practitioners of many more fields of study. The Cambridge Declaration states that consciousness definitively exists in non-human animals, these animals possessing the neurobiological substrates necessary for consciousness. However, there are issues with the declaration that suggest the provided proofs for their conclusion are not sufficient to make such a definitive statement. The Cambridge Declaration attempts to influence our perception of animals and our relationships with them, and despite the intended effects of the paper being noble and agreeable – implying that animals should be treated with more dignity and respect, to make us reevaluate the ways in which we interact with them – the declaration unfortunately fails to properly answer the hard question. In attempting to remove the question of consciousness from any philosophical influences and base it solely on observable physical qualia, they unfortunately fail to properly address the question in the first place. Neither the Cambridge Declaration nor its supporting research attempt to define consciousness in a consistent manner, and in fact even have conflicting conceptions of consciousness. Additionally, a unified or majorly agreed upon theory of consciousness has not yet been adopted by the scientific community. Due to these issues, the Cambridge Declaration should not be considered scientific doctrine, and should instead be disregarded, or perhaps amended, until such a time when a definitive answer to the hard question will, if ever, arise.
  • Publication
    Introduction to Prompt Engineering
    ( 2024-05) Xu, Changwen ; Bhattacharya, Sourabh
    Prompt engineering plays a pivotal role in optimizing the performance of natural language processing (NLP) models, such as GPT (Generative Pre-trained Transformer) models, by strategically designing inputs or prompts. This abstract explores the significance of prompt engineering in shaping the behavior of language models to produce desired outputs effectively. The concept of prompt engineering involves the deliberate crafting of prompts to elicit specific responses from NLP models like chatbots or language generators. By experimenting with the language, structure, and context of prompts, users can guide the model towards generating accurate, coherent, and contextually appropriate responses. Effective prompt engineering is essential for harnessing the capabilities of pre-trained models while mitigating potential biases or shortcomings. This iterative process involves refining prompts based on model behavior and desired outcomes, ultimately enhancing the interaction's productivity and alignment with users' goals. Through examples and discussions of challenges like bias mitigation and ethical considerations, this abstract sheds light on the practical applications and benefits of prompt engineering in improving NLP model performance.