Ashley Valentina Schwartz is a current computational science Ph.D. student with a specialization in applied mathematics and developmental toxicology. She is under the primary advisement of Dr. Uduak George (SDSU Mathematics), secondary advisement of Dr. Pierre Baldi (UCI Computer Science), and in close collaboration with Dr. Karilyn Sant (SDSU Toxicology). She is an Association for Computing and Machinery Computational and Data Science Fellow under the special interest group for high-performance computing. Her research interests include using mathematical and computational tools to describe biological processes related to human health. She is passionate about environmental and developmental toxicology and dedicates her time to developing models to inform the way environmental pollutants affect human development.

Research Advisor(s)

Uduak George and Pierre Baldi

Research Abstract

Optimal embryonic development is essential for the health and longevity of an individual beyond the developmental stage. Any threat for developmental perturbation is a major concern for the risk of later life disease. Tris(4-cholophenyl)methanol (TCPMOH) is an environmental water contaminant of unknown origin. Although novel, it is highly persistent in the environment,
bioaccumulates in marine species, and has been found in human breast milk. This study investigates TCPMOH induced deformities during the developmental stage in the zebrafish (Danio rerio). We used differential equations, image analyses, curve fittings, network analysis, and laboratory experiments to quantify the implications of TCPMOH exposures. Zebrafish were exposed to 0.0, 0.1, 0.5, 1.0 or 5.0 μM TCPMOH and monitored during the developmental stage. Quantitative and qualitative data was gathered assessing deformities, mortality, nutrient usage, and fish length of each sample at every time point. We developed a novel differential equation model and found a nonlinear functional relationship between nutrient absorption and early fish growth. We developed network models using mathematical correlations and spectral decomposition analysis to analyze the relationship between TCPMOH induced deformities.
TCPMOH exposed samples experienced an increase in nutrient absorption rates and a decreased growth rate that has been captured by the differential equation model. Spectral decomposition analysis of the network models demonstrate the significant negative perturbation TCPMOH introduced to the developmental process. Using node importance analysis, we found yolk edema is highly associated with the onset of continual deformities and mortality. Repeatedly, we have found TCPMOH to have a statistically significant impact on nutrient availability in the zebrafish. With nutritional perturbation being associated with diseases such as cardiovascular and
metabolic, it is of utmost importance to continue the investigation of TCPMOH implications.

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