• Formative Assessment: Documenting Motor Vehicle Crashes and Local Perceptions with the Hualapai Tribe to Inform Injury Prevention Recommendations

      Mahal, Zeenat (The University of Arizona., 2020)
      Background: This research was designed to understand factors influencing Motor Vehicle Crashes (MVCs) on or near the Hualapai Tribe’s reservation in northwestern Arizona. The goal is to enable the Tribe to develop and implement a locally relevant MVC intervention program. The specific aims were to: i) compile and analyze 2010-2016 MVC data from Hualapai and federal sources to assess distributions of frequency, rates, high risk-locales, causes, days, times, age and sex of the drivers, in addition to assessing related conditions; ii) document local perceptions of environmental, social, and behavioral barriers to safe driving practices, and knowledge of MVC risk factors and existing tribal laws; and iii) provide evidence-based recommendations using the results from quantitative and qualitative data analyses. Approach/Methods: The research process applied a Community-Based Participatory Research approach and mixed methods using: a) secondary data analyses of records from six tribal programs and Indian Health Service (IHS), and b) qualitative analyses of data from two focus groups and field documents. Sensitivity analyses were conducted of IHS and Tribal Driving Under the Influence (DUI) data, using the 2010 U.S. Census as the denominator after adjusting for an undercount of up to 25%. Descriptive statistics, Fisher’s Exact Test, and linear and logistic regressions were used to examine significance. MVCs per 10 miles per year were estimated for State Route 66 and Diamond Bar Road/Grand Canyon West on or near the reservation due to higher numbers of crashes. Statistical process control charts, especially g-charts monitoring time between events, were plotted to examine the stability in the number of MVCs over time for each road. NVivo11Pro© was used to code and analyze the focus group data, guided by both inductive and deductive theories. Results: Driver’s seatbelt use in the Hualapai community increased from 2010 to 2012 (p < .0005), and reported DUIs decreased from 2010 to 2016 (p = .027). Similarly, car/booster seat use improved from 2014 to 2015 (p < .0005). Two hundred and fifty (N = 250) MVC-related injuries were registered at IHS facilities for Hualapai community members between 2006 and 2015. The highest rate, 22.4%, was observed in 15- to 24-year-olds, followed by 21.6% in 55- to 64-year-olds. For several combinations of numerators and denominators, sensitivity analysis of the IHS data shows a clear disparity between the Tribe’s MVC rate compared to the 2008 U.S. rate of 771.4 nonfatal injuries per 100,000 persons and the national goal for Healthy People 2020 (694.3 nonfatal injuries/100,000 persons). The major themes emerged from qualitative analyses of the focus groups were: i) unsafe traffic infrastructures, ii) DUI, iii) repeated DUI offenders driving on the reservation, and iv) a perception of lenient tribal traffic laws and enforcement on the reservation. Using study results, five Public Service Announcements were co-developed to inspire community-members to continue the trends noted from 2010-2016 and be aware of continued risks. Conclusions: MVCs are a multidimensional issue needing communitywide awareness of the range of risk factors. An intervention that addresses human and structural risks requires an alliance of tribal programs and external partners (e.g., IHS, university, federal, and state). Recommendations: Local recommendations include providing school- and institution-based education about alcohol/alcoholism and DUI consequences, and ongoing culturally and locally relevant communitywide education through the local newsletter and radio station.
    • Synthesis and Application of Tunable Mo2 and W2 Tetraguanidinate Paddlewheel Complexes

      Humphries, Matthew (The University of Arizona., 2019)
      Super-electron-donor dimolybdenum and ditungsten tetraguanidinate paddlewheel complexes have proven to be the strongest reducing agents known. Strong single and double electron donors can be used for applications from H2 production to difficult organic transformations like C–Cl bond cleavage and crosscoupling reactions. The goal of this research was to develop accessible syntheses of the ligands and complexes, to investigate high impact applications of the Mo2 and W2 analogues, and to explore new complexes in hopes to tune their reactivity and solubility. Preparation and handling of the super-base, bicyclic guanidinate ligands and complexes have prevented extensive investigations of their applications. New reproducible syntheses for HTEhpp and W2(TEhpp)4Cl2 were developed. Interaction of the paddlewheel complex Mo2(TEhpp)4 and low concentrations of acetic acid were studied using cyclic voltammetry. Experiments show the electron deficient vacant dimetal axial site and the electron rich guanidinate core work together similar to frustrated pairs. Acetic acid protonates the guanidinate while simultaneously coordinating to the metal center. This newly discovered synergistic bonding decreases the electron donor ability of the complex preventing catalysis for the production of H2. By tuning the dimetal center to a more electron rich, 3rd row transition metal, W2(TEhpp)4, the reduction of H+ to H2 is now favored and is catalytic. Computations were used to explore the nature of these interactions. In addition to H2 production, a mechanistic study of C–Cl bond cleavage in dichloromethane by Mo2(TEhpp)4 shows a novel singlet-to-triplet crossover at the transition state. This work shows the potential for this class of complexes to 19 perform electron transfers via multiple mechanisms (e.g. atom transfer and electron transfer). Upwards of 25 new dimetal tetraguanidinate paddlewheel complexes were explored computationally for their electron donor ability. Some of the ligands have synthetic precedent. These and many others will hopefully be part of the next generation of super-electron-donor complexes.
    • Novel Host Targets in Respiratory Viral Illnesses

      Zhou, Xu (The University of Arizona., 2019)
      Rhinovirus (RV) and influenza virus infections are the leading causes of airway tract problems that lead to cold and flu and exacerbated asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and other respiratory illnesses. This dissertational study investigated the effects of host factors in these viral infections. Chapter 2 and chapter 3 are related research about rhinovirus, and chapter 4 is research about influenza virus. Human rhinovirus (RV) is the major cause of common cold and it also plays a significant role in asthma and asthma exacerbation. Airway epithelium is the primary site of RV infection and production. In contrast, monocytic cells (e.g., monocytes and macrophages) are believed to be non-permissive for RV replication. Instead, RV has been shown to modulate inflammatory gene expressions in these cells via a replication-independent mechanism. However, Johnston et al. firstly reported a low-grade productive replication of RV9 in monocytes and also showed the RV16 replication in monocytes in following studies. In the present study, we generated the epithelial cell- monocyte coculture system. RV16 (a major-group RV) replication was found to be significantly enhanced in monocytes when co-cultivated with airway epithelial cells. This effect appeared to be mediated by secretory components from epithelial cells, which stimulated RV16 replication and significantly elevated the expression of a number of proinflammatory cytokines. The lack of such effect with RV1A, a minor-group RV that enters the cell by a different receptor, suggests that ICAM1, the receptor for major-group RVs, may be involved. Conditioned media from epithelial cells significantly increased ICAM1 expression in monocytes. Consistently, ICAM1 overexpression and ICAM1 knockdown enhanced and blocked RV production, confirming the role of ICAM1 in this process. In addition, we isolated secretory components from the epithelial conditioned medium and further determined their function. Alpha-Heremans Schmid Glycoprotein (AHSG) is the top matched secretory protein to induce the ICAM1 expression. High AHSG expression is closely related to asthma in mice models and human patients. Thus, we demonstrated that airway epithelial cells direct significant RV16 replication in monocytic cells via an ICAM1-dependent mechanism. This is the first time we demonstrated that AHSG expression is related to asthma. Influenza virus is the major cause of influenza (or the flu). Pandemic flu killed tens of millions of people and seasonal flu yearly outbreak also caused severe illness and hundreds of thousands of deaths. Current options for preventing or treating influenza are either limited (e.g., vaccine) or becoming ineffective due to the emergence of drug resistant strains (e.g., M2 blockers). Thus, new treatments for influenza viral infection are urgently needed. Host targets are relatively stable, so the drugs have high barrier when they are targeting on the host factors. To develop drugs targeting the host, it is important to understand the influenza related pathway in the host cells. In the present study, we generated an influenza infectious model on human airway epithelial cells, which are primary sites for the virus’ infections. We serendipitously found that a small-molecule inhibitor (AG1478), previously used for epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) inhibition, demonstrated a potent and broad-spectrum activity against influenza. Surprisingly, the antiviral effect of AG1478 was not mediated by its EGFR inhibitory activity, as influenza was insensitive to EGFR blockade by other EGFR inhibitors or by the knockdown using a small interference RNA against EGFR. Additionally, interferons are the major anti-viral proteins in the cells, its effect has to be considered when we research on the anti-viral activity. A knockout approach using Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR) further demonstrated that this antiviral activity was also interferon independent. AG1478 was found to target on Golgi-specific brefeldin A-resistance guanine nucleotide exchange factor 1- ADP ribosylation factor 1 (GBF1-ARF1). AG1478 reversibly inhibit GBF1 activity and disrupted its Golgi-cytoplasmic trafficking. Compared to the two existing GBF1 inhibitors, AG1478 demonstrated lower cellular toxicity and better preservation of Golgi structure, suggesting its antiviral activity may not originate from a non-specific disruption of intracellular vesicle trafficking regulated by GBF1. GBF1 was found to interact with a specific set of viral proteins including M1, NP and PA. AG1478-elicited spatial alternation of GBF1 distribution disrupted these interactions. Because host factors are more genetically stable than viral proteins, host-targeting antivirals might have a higher genetic barrier to drug resistance than direct-acting antivirals. In conclusion, the host factors are crucial for these respiratory viral illnesses, and drugs targeting host factors are a new direction for treating infectious illnesses. 1) For rhinovirus, we demonstrate that epithelial secretions, especially AHSG, direct robust RV replication in monocytes via significantly increased ICAM1. This new information will advance our understanding of the interaction between airway epithelium and inflammatory cells in the context of RV infection and RV-induced disease exacerbation. Blocking ICAM1 or decreasing AHSG expression will be a new direction in treating rhinovirus infections. This finding will open a new venue for the study of RV infection in airway disease and its exacerbation. 2) For influenza virus, through a serendipitous finding, we have discovered a potent and broad-spectrum anti-influenza drug candidate-AG1478. Its antiviral activity is mediated by targeting GBF1.The treatment of AG1478 disrupted this interaction and potentially impaired vRNP transport leading to markedly decreased IAV production. It is a new direction to develop the drugs targeting GBF1. Further development on this candidate target will lead to novel anti-influenza therapy.
    • Combined Model Approach to the Problem of Ranking

      Lee, Alexander S. (The University of Arizona., 2019)
      Ranking can be defined in many ways and has been applied in many areas. Over the past years, many research studies have been conducted on ranking methods for decision-making. The issue is that results pertaining to ranking entities are based only on one method, which can be subjective and prone to biases. As a result, results vary from method to method. To resolve this issue, a combined model approach is proposed, in which multiple methods are taken into account. The goals of the combined model are to rank entities more objectively and obtain more reliable results. The combined model has both qualitative and quantitative elements, where the qualitative element is the ranking and clustering, while the quantitative element is comprised of the scores. Since ranking is based on the scores of the entities, it takes into account the distribution of scores. In some scenarios, closely ranked entities can have similar scores, while in other scenarios, their scores can be relatively different even though they are ranked close to one another. The score distribution leads to clustering analysis, where entities are divided into clusters based on the spread of the scores. Hence, the combined model takes into account not only the ranks but also the scores of the entities. The proposed combined model is applied to three areas for this dissertation research. The first is identifying and ranking road hotspots and predicting the number of traffic crashes in road segments using the Empirical Bayesian (EB) enhanced by the Proportion Discordance Ratio (PDR) metric. The effectiveness of the Enhanced EB method is tested and demonstrated through a case study that is conducted in one of the major highways in Phoenix, Arizona. The second is ranking major US metropolitan areas in traffic congestion using unsupervised learning based on the Normalized Scoring Method (NSM), Principal Component Analysis (PCA), and the PDR similarity matrix. In 2015, TomTom ranked Tucson as the 21st most congested metropolitan area in the US, and the unsupervised learning combined model is applied to assess TomTom’s traffic congestion ranking of the metropolitan areas in order to determine if Tucson is highly congested based on the proposed model. The third is ranking and assessing the Hall of Fame (HOF) worthiness of retired Major League Baseball players based on their performance statistics through supervised learning based on Support Vector Machines (SVM) and Neural Networks (NN). Players are considered for the HOF through a voting procedure, where voters are comprised of members of the media, but there is a possibility of voting bias that can favor or go against certain players. Results from all three scenarios show that the proposed combined models are more reliable and can more objectively rank entities in order to correct biases based on previous methodologies.
    • Double Exposure, Dispossession, and Farmer Resistance in the Cornfields of Chiapas, Mexico

      Bellante, Laurel (The University of Arizona., 2019)
      This dissertation focuses on the livelihoods and environments of small-scale commercial corn farmers in Chiapas, Mexico. I document processes of double exposure, dispossession, and farmer resistance using theories from agrarian studies, political ecology, and vulnerability studies. I draw on the double exposure schematic to examine corn farmers’ experiences of and responses to the dual challenges of neoliberalism and global environmental change. Grounded in an agrarian political ecology approach, this research provides nuanced evidence of how different factors of double exposure intersect and compound one another. Through in-depth, ethnographic work in corn-farming communities, I demonstrate how current challenges of double exposure are interconnected with historical and ongoing processes of dispossession and environmental degradation. I draw attention to several understudied dimensions of double exposure in the case of Mexican corn farmers, including: 1) the legacy of environmental degradation associated with Green Revolution modes of production and its implications for current vulnerabilities to ongoing environmental change; 2) the impact of the privatization and corporatization of Mexico’s seeds, inputs, and agricultural extension services; 3) the barriers to increasing the adaptive capacity and sustainability of farm systems within Mexico’s context of neoliberal food governance; and 4) the ways in which the crisis of double exposure can open possibilities for a double movement to emerge characterized by farmer-led, agro-ecological transformations.
    • I. Causes of Multiple Diffusing Populations of Fluorescently Labeled Probes in Lipid Membranes II. Evaluation of Phospholipid Membranes Incorporating the Polymerizable Lipid Bis-Denpc (16, 16) and Suitability as Ultra-Stable Platforms for Ion Channel Based Sensors

      Smith, Christopher M. (The University of Arizona., 2019)
      This dissertation is composed of two major projects, though some capabilities and findings from the first project were applied to the second. Project I focuses on advancements made in the understanding of the chemical interactions of a number of commonly used fluorescently labeled phospholipid probes. These probes are used for a variety of studies, including labeling of cellular or artificial membranes, examining transport and communication between different membranes, and determining membrane fluidity. Understanding the chemical behavior and interactions of these probes in membranes can be key for the proper interpretation of experimental data. Utilizing fluorescent recovery after photobleaching (FRAP), in combination with other spectroscopic techniques, multiple diffusing populations of commonly used probes in various artificial lipid membrane formats were identified, as were the causes for these populations. This allows for a fuller description of the fluidity of lipid membranes. These findings are the focus of Chapters 3 and 4 while the hardware developed that enabled critical measurements is the focus of Chapter 2. Project II focuses on addressing key limitations in developing ion channel (IC) based biosensors utilizing artificial lipid membranes. Among these limitations are the weak mechanical, chemical, and electrical stabilities of artificial lipid bilayers due to the weak noncovalent interactions involved in the membrane. To address these limitations, the polymerizable lipid bis-dienoyl phosphatidylcholine (bis-DenPC(16, 16)) was characterized for its ability to form ultra-stable membranes suitable for IC based sensors using the model IC gramicidin A (gA). Special attention was given to determining the membrane fluidity given the requirement of gA that two subunits must laterally diffuse to converge and dimerize to form a conductive pore. These studies are the focus of Chapters 5 and 6.
    • Methods for Managing Stimulated Brillouin Scattering in Narrow Linewidth Fiber Raman Amplifiers

      Nagel, James (The University of Arizona., 2019)
      Optical fiber amplifiers and lasers are becoming increasingly important for applications ranging from telecommunications, industrial manufacturing, remote sensing, and medicine because of their robustness and advantages in beam quality, energy efficiency, size, and weight over traditional solid state laser designs. But while technological advances in rare-earth doped active fibers have allowed for power scaling of such devices comparable to other solid state lasers, their spectral coverage has remained primarily limited to three discrete wavelength bands centered near 1.06, 1.55, and 2.0 µm where Yb3+, Er3+, and Tm3+ ions, respectively, exhibit optical gain. To meet increasing demands outside of the three commercially available spectral windows, alternatives have been proposed including fibers doped with additional rare-earth active ions and devices based on optical nonlinear frequency conversion. Fiber Raman amplifiers (FRAs) are one such technology that have recently received considerable attention. Unlike doped active fibers that rely on specific atomic transitions, FRAs provide gain through stimulated Raman scattering effects originating from wavelength independent resonant molecular vibrations of an optically transparent material. Consequently, FRAs can operate at wavelengths across much of the near and shortwave infrared spectrum where silicate-glass-based optical fibers have their lowest attenuation. Despite their advantage in increased spectral coverage, power scaling of FRAs remains particularly challenging due to the relatively low gain of silicate-glass fibers and the onset of parasitic nonlinearities including stimulated Brillouin scattering (SBS), especially when narrow linewidth spectral purity is required. Therefore, it is the aim of this dissertation to discuss FRA technology as it pertains to achieving high-power laser devices. Fundamental physics and material considerations are examined for increasing Raman gain within fibers and amplifier architectures are discussed including constraints in laser output power due to component limitations. The physics of SBS within optical fibers is thoroughly reviewed leading into a detailed discussion of several techniques that can be used for managing the formation of SBS in FRA devices. These include Raman gain fibers employing selective transverse doping profiles for tailoring the fiber acoustic waveguide properties, the use of cascaded fibers within the amplifier gain stage, and methods for suppressing SBS by introducing variations in waveguide parameters along the longitudinal direction of the gain fiber.
    • Mechanisms that Promote Adhesion Defects and Genomic Instability to Produce Invasive Prostate Cancer

      Wang, Mengdie (The University of Arizona., 2019)
      Localized prostate cancer (PCa) display instabilities in both tissue homeostasis and genome. Normal human prostate epithelium consists of two cell layers. Basal cells localize outsize the glands, adherent to extracellular matrix (ECM) through integrins, and providing contextual cues for ordered repopulation of the luminal cell layer. To date, histological and cytological differentiation of prostate tissue are the primary cues used clinically to diagnose prostate cancer. Prostate cancer arises from high-grade prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia (HG-PIN). Early HG-PIN and localized prostate cancer are characterized by loss of basal cell layer, luminal layer expansion, enlarged nuclei/nucleoli, and large-scale genomic instability while lacking recurrent specific driver mutations. Yet, the molecular bases for how the instabilities arise that result in loss of tissue architecture and large-scale genomic alterations during cancer is unknown. In this study, we explored the mechanisms promoting instabilities in tissue homeostasis through adhesion defects and genomic instability during prostate cancer initiation and progression. A model summarizing this study is provided below (Figure 0 1). In normal prostate glands, β4 integrin and its variant β4E, which heterodimerize with α6 integrin, function in forming strong cell-ECM adhesion structures to maintain homeostasis of normal prostate tissue architecture. During prostate cancer initiation and progression, α6β4 and basal cells are lost early, generating instability in tissue homeostasis and loss of tissue architecture. Meanwhile, the major microtubule organizing centers in the cell, called centrosomes, were significantly lost during localized prostate cancer progression. Centrosome number is critical in maintaining a stable genome in normal cells. Loss of centrosome generated large-scale genomic instabilities in non-tumorigenic cells and transformed them to display invasive PCa phenotype in vitro and in vivo. Together, defects in α6β4 integrin mediated adhesions generate instability in tissue homeostasis and centrosome loss give rise to an unstable genome. These instabilities promote the formation of invasive prostate cancer. A model for the study is summarized below in Figure 0 1. Integrin α6β4 and α6β1 are essential, dynamic adhesion receptors for laminin 332 found on epithelial cells. Integrin α6β4 is required for formation of strong cell-ECM adhesion structures and induced migration, which are coordinated by regions of the β4C cytoplasmic domain. Integrin β4E, a unique splice variant of β4, expressed in normal tissue, contains a cytoplasmic domain of 231 amino acids with a unique 114 amino acids sequence instead of β4C’s canonical 1089 amino acids. We determined the distribution of α6β4E protein within normal human glandular epithelium and its regulation and effect on cellular biophysical properties. We found α6β4E was localized within a subset of luminal cells. α6β4E expression was induced by 3D hanging drop culture conditions. Induced expression of β4E by a doxycycline inducible system activated Src. During induced migration, α6β4E expression was restricted to a subset of follower cells with increased cell-cell and cell-ECM resistance properties. α6β4E was present in ring-like patterns measuring ~ 1.75 x 0.72 microns containing actin and CD9 at a cell-ECM location. In contrast, α6β4C was found only within hemidesmosome-like structures containing BP180. We showed that Integrin α6β4E is an inducible, dynamic adhesion isoform in normal epithelial cells that can alter biophysical properties of cell-cell and cell-ECM interactions. HG-PIN markers include loss of α6β4 integrin or its ligand, laminin-332, and budding of tumor clusters into laminin-511 rich stroma. In a 3D culture condition, normal human, stable isogenic prostate epithelial cell lines formed spheroids representative as normal prostate glands, while the reduction of α6β4C integrin modeled the invasive budding phenotype in spheroids formed from. Normal cells continuously spin in 3D culture, forming multicellular spheroids containing an outer laminin-332 layer, basal cells, and luminal cells that secrete PSA. Basal cells were optimally positioned relative to the laminin-332 layer. α6β4C defective spheroids contained a discontinuous laminin-332 layer corresponding to regions of abnormal budding. The centrosome is the major microtubule-organizing center in cells and is crucial in defining mitotic spindle poles and forming cilia. To understand mechanisms of early molecular alterations that resulted large scale genomic instability independent of driver mutations, we investigated centrosome number alterations during localized prostate cancer progression. We established a method to quantify centrosomes at a single-cell level in different types of human tissue samples. Using this method, we found centrosome loss - which has not been described in human cancer - was associated with PCa progression. Centrosome alteration can be induced by microenvironment conditions like hypoxia. Non-transformed basal cells display centrosome loss under hypoxia condition, while non-transformed luminal cells or cancer cells had centrosome amplification under the same condition. Centrosome loss in non-tumorigenic prostate epithelial cells, generated either by a small molecule inhibitor or genetically knockout of the essential centrosomal gene Plk4, resulted in mitotic error, and gave rise to aneuploid and multinucleated progeny. In addition, centrosome loss produced invasive budding with luminal differentiation in the 3D model described above. Consistent with our integrin β4 study, centrosome loss disrupted β4 distribution, generating spheroids with β4 localized intracellular instead of outside with cell-ECM. Furthermore, both transient or chronic centrosome loss transformed prostate epithelial cells which produced highly proliferative and poorly differentiated invasive tumors in mice. Our findings suggest that centrosome loss could create a cellular crisis with oncogenic potential in prostate epithelial cells.
    • The Potential Exterior to Close-To-Touching Discs

      Tao, Yuan (The University of Arizona., 2019)
      There are many two-dimensional physical systems governed by potentials that satisfy the Laplace’s equation and Dirichlet boundary condition. An elegant approach is to set up the problem in the complex plane and use the freedom of conformal mappings to map the region and equation to different domains. In this paper, I focus on the problem of a uniform flow past two close-to-touching discs and the goal is to determine the potential and velocity field. The problem becomes very singular if the separation of the two discs gets smaller and it poses a challenge to both numerical and analytical solutions. Numerically, we come up with a new method that combines the method of images with conformal mappings and it performs better than all existing numerical methods in terms of efficiency and robustness. Analytically, we have a “limit solution” that matches the true solution uniformly and the “limit solution” is more accurate when the discs are closer. This solution also gives explicit relations between the behavior of the flow and the separation of the two discs.
    • Evaluating Mindful Eating Mobile Application in College Students

      Loui-Tang, Christy (The University of Arizona., 2019)
      Purpose: The purpose of this DNP project is to determine the efficacy of a mindful eating mobile application in decreasing unhealthy eating and binge eating habits, promoting healthy eating behaviors and increasing mindfulness during eating in college adult graduate students in the College of Nursing. Background: The collegiate population is known for developing unhealthy eating habits consisting of skipping meals, binge eating, and stress eating that can cause a negative impact in students’ health. Nurses have been identified at high risk for poor self-care, thus nursing students are an extremely vulnerable population. Mindful eating is an emerging practice that is effective in combatting eating disorders, binge eating symptoms, and weight loss. With the emergence of mobile health apps, and over 99% of college students utilizing health apps, a mindful eating mobile application intervention may be a solution in aiding students develop healthier eating habits. Methods: Following a review of mindful eating computer applications the Am I Hungry? mindful eating computer was chosen for its compatibility with mindful eating principles and ease of use. A baseline survey including demographics, mindful eating questionnaire (MEQ) and binge eating scale (BES) were given to participants prior to the introduction of the intervention. Participants utilized a mindful eating mobile application, Am I Hungry? for six weeks. Post-surveys were emailed at the end of six-week period assessing the MEQ and BES scores as well as questions evaluating frequency of use and perceived usefulness of the mobile app. Outcomes achieved: 38 students participated in the pre-survey and 24 students were retained completing the six-week intervention and responded to the post-survey. Surprisingly, 100% of all student participants BES scores >17 consistent with moderate binge eating behaviors and 54% student participants BES scores >27 consistent with severe binge eating behaviors. As anticipated there was inverse relationship between binge eating and mindful eating demonstrated by strong a negative correlation between BES and MEQ with R=-0.4519; R2=0.2042. Overall, participants’ mean MEQ scores increased from 2.75 to 2.84, while mean BES scores decreased from 28.21 to 25.54 following the six-week intervention. De-identified results were shared with participants and faculty to increase awareness of student risk for binge eating and the potential of employing mindful eating computer application to promote healthy eating. Conclusion: The mindful eating mobile application decreased binge eating habits in the students over a six-week period, and provided a small increase in overall mindful eating. Further investigations should include comparing outcomes to in-person mindful eating classes, studying differing health care student populations, longer term follow-up and identifying binge eating risk factors. Specifically methods have been shared with a junior nurse practitioner project investigator planning to replicate this study. Emphasizing the importance of self-care to nursing students has the potential to improve their self-care while exposing them to the potential of employing a mobile application to promote health.
    • Increased Testicular Cancer Education and Self-Examinations among Males at Spectrum Healthcare’s Mingus Mountain Clinic

      Merrick, Michael Fiorelli (The University of Arizona., 2019)
      Objective: The purpose of this DNP project was to assess current testicular cancer and testicular self-examination knowledge, provide education through informational handouts and evaluate learning to increase awareness of risk factors and signs/symptoms associated with testicular cancer (TC). Methods: A pre-test/post-test survey design was used. Males (n=10) were recruited from Spectrum Healthcare’s Mingus Mountain Clinic to participate in a 14 item pre-test and 19 item post-test survey on TC and TSE topics. Printed informational handouts (Appendix A) were obtained and consent granted from Men's Health (Appendix F) to provide participants a general overview of testicular cancer including risk factors, signs/symptoms and proper techniques to perform testicular self-examinations. Results: General TC knowledge increased among the ten participants who completed the pre-and post-test surveys. The mean score of correctly identified signs/symptoms of TC increased from 2.8 to 3.3, or a 15.1% increase. The mean score of correctly identified risk factors also increased from 2.6 to 3.5 or a 25.7% increase. After reviewing the informational handout, participants reported they were more likely to perform TSE with an average score of 8.1 on the 10 point Likert scale. Participants also felt they had a better understanding of TC risk factors with a mean score of 8.1 on the 10 point Likert scale. After reviewing the educational handout, participants strongly agreed that the information should be given during routine office visits with an average score of 9 out 10 on the Likert scale. Conclusion: The findings from this DNP project showed that there was a general knowledge deficit among the male participants regarding testicular cancer and testicular self-examinations. In addition, the results of this DNP project suggests that providing routine and easy to understand education will increase the general knowledge of TC and TSE. Further studies are needed to understand the different learning styles and educational materials required to reach different age groups.
    • Targeting Organic Anion Transporting Polypeptide 1A4 (Oatp1a4) for Effective Drug Delivery at the Blood-Brain Barrier

      Abdullahi, Wazir (The University of Arizona., 2019)
      Drug delivery to the central nervous system (CNS) is greatly limited by the blood-brain barrier (BBB). Physical and biochemical properties of the BBB have rendered treatment of CNS diseases extremely difficult. Targeting endogenous BBB transporters from the ATP-binding cassette (ABC) superfamily (i.e., P-glycoprotein (P-gp)) or from the solute carrier (SLC) family (i.e., organic anion transporting polypeptides (OATPs in humans; Oatps in rodents)) have been investigated as strategies that can improve blood-to-brain drug transport and optimize treatment of CNS diseases. Indeed, direct pharmacological inhibition of P-gp using small molecules or selective regulation by targeting intracellular signaling pathways has been extensively explored; however, these approaches have been largely unsuccessful due to toxicity concerns and unpredictable pharmacokinetics. Therefore, our laboratory has proposed that optimization of CNS drug delivery, particularly for treatment of diseases with hypoxia-reoxygenation (H/R) component such as ischemic stroke, can be achieved by targeting of endogenous BBB transporters that mediate blood-to-brain uptake of their substrates. We have focused our work on organic anion transporting polypeptide 1a4 (Oatp1a4), the primary drug transporting Oatp isoform at the BBB. Oatp1a4 has demonstrated blood-to-brain transport of drugs with neuroprotective properties such as 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase inhibitors (i.e., statins). Development of Oatp1a4 as a transporter target that can be exploited for improved treatment of neurological diseases requires a rigorous characterization of the “molecular machinery” that controls its functional expression at the BBB. Here, we show that activation of activin receptor-like kinase 1 (ALK1), a critical component of the transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) pathway, using the selective agonist Bone Morphogenetic Protein (BMP)-9 increases Oatp1a4 protein expression in rat brain microvessels in vivo. Additionally, we demonstrate that BMP-9 treatment increases blood-to-brain transport and brain exposure of established Oatp transport substrates (i.e., taurocholate, atorvastatin, pravastatin). Of particular significance, we have elucidated that BMP-9 activates the canonical TGF-β/ALK1 signaling pathway in brain microvessels as indicated by increased nuclear translocation of specific Smad proteins associated with signaling mediated by the ALK1 receptor (i.e., pSmad1/5/8). Furthermore, we report for the first time that an activated Smad protein complex comprised of phosphorylated Smad1/5/8 and Smad4 is formed following BMP-9 treatment and directly binds to the promoter of the Slco1a4 gene (i.e., the gene that encodes Oatp1a4). This signaling mechanism causes increased expression of Slco1a4 mRNA. Additionally, BMP-9 treatment did not alter expression of tight junction proteins (i.e., occludin, claudin-5) or paracellular “leak” of the vascular marker sucrose, indicating that targeting TGF-β/ALK1 signaling does not adversely affect BBB integrity. Overall, our work provides novel evidence that Oatp1a4 transport activity at the BBB is regulated by TGF-β/ALK1 signaling and indicates that this pathway can be targeted for control of CNS delivery of Oatp substrate drugs. Overall, our results point toward a unique opportunity to optimize drug delivery and improve pharmacotherapy for CNS diseases.
    • Examining the Role of Top-Down Signaling and Tegmental Activity in Nucleus Accumbens Dopamine Release

      Hill, Daniel (The University of Arizona., 2019)
      The capacity to assess the value of future outcomes based on current context is critical for learning, adaptive decision making, and motivation. In the brain this requires the integration of many complex signals from multiple brain regions into a unitary value signal. Midbrain dopamine neurons are among the most notable neural substrates associated with outcome valuation and have been shown to be essential for economic decision making, motivation, and error-driven learning. The mechanisms by which complex behavioral and environmental stimuli are distilled down to value signals by dopamine neurons and their afferents remain incompletely understood. This work seeks to better understand the patterns of top-down input and local control that give rise to phasic dopamine release. To examine how cortical input influences phasic dopamine release, we used fast-scan cyclic voltammetry (FSCV) to measure dopamine release evoked by varying frequencies of electrical stimulation in the medial prefrontal cortex. We found that there is a non-linear response to frequency such that 20 Hz stimulation optimizes dopamine release in the nucleus accumbens (NAc) even when controlling for stimulus duration. These data suggest that specific frequencies of cortical activation preferentially activate dopamine neurons and may have implications for cortical control of dopamine release in circumstances when value encoding must be optimized (e.g., during cognitively demanding tasks involving working memory and attention). Though electrical and optogenetic stimulation are valuable tools for dissecting functional circuits, they modulate activity in ways that are not physiological and therefore, they cannot be used to assess how endogenous patterns of neural activity influence dopamine release. To address this, we developed a novel instrument capable of simultaneous measurement of dopamine release (FSCV) and neural activity (electrophysiology). This system was validated in vitro and in vivo to show reliable recovery of single-unit activity and local field oscillations while recording changes in phasic dopamine. The real-time correlation of these signals enables the investigation of patterns of activity that drive dopamine release and how dopamine entrains cell assemblies in downstream structures. Though the relationship between dopamine neuron activity and dopamine release is seemingly intuitive, technological limitations have limited the capacity to measure these signals simultaneously. To better understand how tegmental activity gives rise to changes in dopamine release, we implemented the instrument described above to record FSCV in the nucleus accumbens and single-unit activity in the VTA. As expected, we observed changes in firing rate of putative dopaminergic neurons associated with the onset of phasic dopamine release events. We also observed a number of non-dopaminergic neurons with reliable peri-event changes in firing. Although we expected the majority of non-dopaminergic cells to decrease their activity preceding dopamine release events, the majority increased, suggesting that local mechanisms other than disinhibition of dopamine neurons contribute to phasic dopamine release. We also anticipated that changes in firing rate of putative dopamine neurons would be directly correlated with release. Instead, the majority of dopamine neurons increased firing at the onset of dopamine release, returned to baseline, and then increased again at the peak of dopamine release. Taken together, these data suggest that the dopamine neuron activity is not perfectly correlated with dopamine release and that processing within the VTA and RMTg may involve an intricate network of non-dopaminergic neurons that facilitate dopamine cell activity and dopamine release.
    • Regulation of Antibody Responses against West Nile Virus by the Innate Signaling Adaptor MAVS

      O'Ketch, Marvin (The University of Arizona., 2019)
      The activation of pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) is a major regulatory checkpoint for the generation of adaptive immunity. Rig-I-like Receptors (RLRs) comprise a PRR family that includes the RNA helicases RIG-I and MDA-5, which recognize microbial RNA in the cytosol. RLR activation induces antiviral effector programs in infected cells and lead to the release of proinflammatory cytokines and interferons. RLRs are therefore important mediators of the innate immune response to many viral infections. However, the role of RLRs in the regulation of adaptive immunity is still poorly understood. Infection of mice deficient in MAVS, the essential signaling adaptor of RLRs, with West Nile Virus (WNV) results in a defective adaptive immune response. While this finding suggests a role for RLRs in the control of adaptive immunity to WNV, it is difficult to interpret due to high WNV titers in the absence of a MAVS-dependent innate immune response. In order to overcome this caveat, we have infected MAVSKO mice with a replication-incompetent mutant of WNV. Here, we report a defect in the neutralizing antibody response to WNV in the absence of MAVS despite the presence of normal WNV-specific antibody titers. This defect was accompanied by an increased number of Tfh cells and an enlarged germinal center (GC) B cell compartment in the draining lymph nodes. Our data show that the epitope specificity of the antibody response to WNV is unchanged in MAVSKO mice and instead implicate the presence of low avidity antibodies as the cause for the inefficient neutralization of WNV. Together, our findings suggest that RLR -dependent signals regulate humoral immunity to WNV infection.
    • Culturally Sensitive Education for Mental Health Providers Treating African American Adults with Major Depression

      Azode, Christian Maduabuchi (The University of Arizona., 2019)
      Background: African Americans (AAs) or Blacks in America are over-represented in groups or populations that are at risk for mental illness. About 20% of AAs are more likely to report serious psychological problems than their Caucasian counterparts. Urban AAs in the United States currently engage in medication therapy and psychotherapy for treatment resistant depression (TRD) however, they minimally engage in the use of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) as a treatment option. Significance: AAs may be limiting their treatment options by opting out of ECT for the treatment of TRD. Culture may play a role in the decision-making process for AAs seeking treatment for TRD. Purpose: The purpose of this quality improvement project (QI) was to explore cultural influences of health-related decision-making among AA adults. Upon determination of cultural factors that may impact AA health-related decision-making, a culturally sensitive education session was developed and offered to mental health (MH) providers who care for patients with TRD at a Phoenix, AZ, clinic. Methods: This is a descriptive study design. Cultural factors influencing health-related decision-making among AA adults in their selection of treatment modalities for severe depression were explored in this QI project. Aim 1: AA adults with TRD receiving care at an urban mental health clinic in Arizona were administered a self-administered questionnaire (SAQ) on how culture impacts treatment related decision making. Aim 2: Responses from the questionnaire were analyzed and compiled. Aim 3: A culturally sensitive education session was developed with a goal of educating Nurse Practitioners and Physicians at the Phoenix, AZ, clinic who care for AA adults with TRD. Analysis: Univariate descriptive statistics were utilized to analyze responses from the structured SAQ. Thematic commonalities were used to analyze six qualitative/open-ended questions to obtain a description of the categorical thematic responses. Implications for Nursing: Findings from this QI will offer contributions to the scientific nursing database and offer a resource to inform ECT providers on how culture impacts decision making among AA adults with TRD.
    • An Educational Intervention on the Benefits of Play in the Child Psychiatric Population

      Creekmore, Jeremy Wayne (The University of Arizona., 2019)
      The purpose of this DNP project is to assess staff knowledge pre- and post-education on the benefits of play to enhance self-soothing in the inpatient child psychiatric population. A one-group, pre-test/post-test designed was utilized to assess knowledge before and after evidence-based education on the benefits of play. A convenience sample was obtained from the Hawaii Chapter of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association (n=5). Participants indicated deficits concerning the benefits of play (ƒ=40%, n=2) as well as economic impact of childhood mental health care (ƒ=40%, n=2), indicating the need for further education on current evidence on the benefits of play.
    • A Society of Individuals: Worker Differentiation and Collective Behavior in Social Insects

      Leitner, Nicole Elise (The University of Arizona., 2019)
      Individuals are not identical. Organisms of the same species usually exhibit diverse phenotypes, a phenomenon that extends not only to physical characteristics but to behavior as well. Indeed, consistent differences in behavior across individuals are now well cited across the animal kingdom and have been shown to be an integral part of the ecology and evolution of an organism. Yet, the proximate, physiological mechanisms upon which natural selection might act to either favor or eliminate variation is often not known. Here, I use social insect division of labor – essentially an exaggerated form of behavioral variation in which nestmate workers specialize in different tasks – as a study system for exploring potential neural mechanisms of inter-individual behavioral variation. This investigation also led me to test and review one of the most widely accepted hypotheses for division of labor, the results of which provide new and important insights into how and why social insect workers choose different tasks. In my first chapter I explored variation among Temnothorax rugatulus ant workers in their peripheral sensory organs, a potentially important, but often overlooked, source of behavioral variation (or, in the context of social insects, task specialization). The idea for this study was based on the popular “response threshold” mechanism for division of labor, whereby workers become specialized in tasks because they vary in their response (often assumed to be ‘sensitivity’) to task-associated stimuli. Potentially, variation in worker sensory organs might influence a worker’s ability to detect such work-associated stimuli. Though workers showed considerable variation in the number of antennal sensory structures, this variation was not related to variation in worker behavior. This led to my second chapter, in which I directly tested the response threshold hypothesis in T. rugatulus ants. Here, I found no evidence for individual variation in response thresholds to three different putative task stimuli, calling into question the ubiquity of this mechanism as a general driver of social insect division of labor. To follow up on this idea, in my third chapter I performed a comprehensive review of the response threshold hypothesis in the social insect literature and found that the empirical evidence for it is not as strong as is commonly assumed. This chapter also provides guidelines for how to test response thresholds, with the goal of becoming a valuable reference work for those studying both social insects and self-organization in complex systems in general. My last chapter scaled up to the colony level. I explored plasticity and constraint in task reallocation by challenging colonies of T. rugatulus with different types of perturbations. By considering multiple types of tasks, this study provided novel insight into how the variety of tasks a colony performs are regulated quite differently. Here, I found that colonies were able to achieve considerable flexibility through the use of two different strategies. Which strategy the colony used was task-dependent. In addition, colonies appeared to have two types of reserve workers upon which to draw when task needs increased, dependent on task type.
    • Modern Contraceptive Use among Women in Sub-Saharan Africa: Individual, Interpersonal, and Healthcare System Indicators

      Asaolu, Ibitola (The University of Arizona., 2019)
      Background: Contraceptives promote maternal and child health by reducing the prevalence of: unintended pregnancies, unsafe abortions, maternal deaths, low birth weight infants, preterm birth, and infant mortality. Despite its benefits, the uptake of contraceptives among women of childbearing age remains low in sub-Saharan Africa. In sub-Saharan Africa, the prevalence of contraceptive use among women in a union is 28%. To advance maternal and child health in this region, it is imperative to identify various individual, interpersonal, cultural, and healthcare system factors that affect the adoption of modern contraceptives. Objective: This project assesses individual, interpersonal, and healthcare systems indicators of modern contraceptive use among women in sub-Saharan Africa. Methods: Quantitative insight into the determinants of modern contraceptive use was obtained through analyses of multiple Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) and Performance Monitoring and Accountability (PMA) 2020 data. The quantitative research studies were limited to women with a need for contraception, i.e. respondents who want to limit or space childbirth. Multivariable logistic regression models assessed the relationship between modern contraceptive use and: a) individual; b) interpersonal; and c) healthcare system factors. To further explore the barriers and facilitators of modern contraceptive use, this project employed focus group discussions and semi-structured interviews of healthcare providers in Calabar, Nigeria. Data from focus group discussions and interviews were analyzed using the thematic analysis approach. Results: The prevalence of modern contraceptives ranged from 7.8% in Gambia to 68.9% in Kenya among women. Several factors were positively associated with modern contraceptives use. Evidence from the DHS revealed that two domains of women’s empowerment—labor force participation and education—were most consistently associated with increased rates of modern contraceptive use. Results from analysis of the PMA2020 data identified four healthcare factors associated with women’s use of modern contraceptives. Health worker home-visits, adolescent reproductive health services, and polyclinic/hospitals were associated with modern contraceptive use in Ghana, Kenya, and Nigeria. Evidence from focus group discussions showed that women mostly used condoms, emergency contraceptives pills, fertility awareness (rhythm), and folkloric methods of contraception. In addition, myths about contraceptives prevented participants from using certain forms of modern contraception. For instance, participants cited that pills, injectables, and implants caused infertility and diseases among women who use these methods. Conclusion: Modern contraceptive use among sub-Saharan African women can be increased by promoting the health-worker visits, empowering women through education and labor force participation, and correcting myths about the side effects of modern contraceptives. By addressing individual, interpersonal, and healthcare correlates of contraceptive use, findings from this research can inform the design of comprehensive and more effective contraceptive interventions. Therefore, findings from this research can inform the design and implementation of interventions that acknowledge multiple correlates of contraceptive use.
    • Power and Subjectivity in English and American Literature

      Yescas, Cesar (The University of Arizona., 2019)
      The following identifies the areas of research and the two fundamental objectives of my dissertation. My first goal is to connect the concepts of biopower and governmentality (derived from Michel Foucault) in a reasonable and concise manner to the analysis of English and American literature. First, attaching the concept of biopower to literary analysis will help me address the fact that within the last few decades new theoretical perspectives have been developed about the relationship between sovereign power and how to produce and regulate life that should be applied to the comprehension of literature. Furthermore, employing the notion of governmentality (art of government) to analyze literature will permit me to utilize an intersecting and common vocabulary and approach whether I am relating works of literature as wide-ranging as Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Joseph Conrad, James Welch, D’Arcy McNickle, or Graham Swift to the prisms of ethical self-government or the government of states, economies, populations, and individuals. Finally, utilizing governmentality and biopower as concepts will provide me with a theoretical grid of intelligibility that allows me to link the analysis of literature to the study of socio-political and ethical phenomena in a way which does not bind them too closely together with a particular overarching narrative concerned with state-formation or the civilizing process. My second objective is to demonstrate that English and American literature confirm that the merging of life and politics through bio-power is rooted in an exclusionary and racist social cartography that can justify the murder of abject/disposable populations within indeterminate spaces of exception. The claim is that using this method to analyze literature will help me address that although Foucault’s formulation of biopower entails that sovereignty has distanced itself from discipline and its capacity to inflict death with a power to foster and distribute within a given territory higher value and utility to life, he also conceded that it can facilitate the murder of entire populations that do not substantiate the biological existence of the dominant racial community: “If genocide is indeed the dream of modern powers, . . . it is because power is situated and exercised at the level of life, the species, the race, and the large-scale phenomena of population” (Foucau1t, History of Sexuality 37). Furthermore, my assertion is that repositioning the logic of biopower within a geographical topography is important for the following reasons. First, it will permit me to confirm that English and American works of literature reveal that the model of sovereignty over life leads to the spatialization of abject populations by multivalent repressive state apparatuses and rebel war-machines that attempt to manage and subjugate them to the point of death. Second, identifying the exception as a topological figure in English and American literature will make obvious that the particular spatial materialization of the exception is the consequence of evolving and dynamic sets of techniques of power and not the consequence of preconceived classifications. Third, employing the exception as a topological figure in literary analysis will disclose how through unfixed and unlocalizable processes of human transformations the modern biopolitical state (in conjunction with forms of organizational accumulation involving dispossession and death) has produced disposable populations. As a final point, the proposition is that employing this theoretical framework will help me reveal that English and American literature clearly illustrate how cultural practices celebrating and perpetuating cruelty and indifference have always been major components of life for the wretched within the modern biopolitical nation-state. Deplorably, the implication is that utilizing this method to analyze literature will also corroborate that the political nomos of modernism is an idiosyncratic synthesis of aggression and quotidian necro-capitalist processes that are supported and constructed by the very individuals and communities the diabolical fusion of biopower and sovereignty seeks to annihilate. I plan to employ governmentality and biopower as concepts to analyze English and American literature in the following manner. In the introduction, I will explain how utilizing these two concepts will divulge why the manifestation of modern forms of sovereign power (within English and American literary texts) unyieldingly aspire to economically and politically repress abject human bodies and communities. In the first chapter, I will explore the destructive consequences rapid urbanization, industrialization, and the flow of predatory capital had on abject individuals and communities within the modern biopolitical state utilizing the following works from Charles Dickens and George Eliot: A Christmas Carol, Great Expectations, and Middlemarch. In the second chapter, I will examine the genocidal consequences of European imperial sovereignty within colonial contexts making use of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. In the third chapter, I will analyze a multiplicity of texts to substantiate that the modern bio-political nation-state (in combination with necrocapitalist modalities) sought the exploitation and destruction of dislocated and socially destabilized abject individuals and communities. In the fourth chapter, I will explore through the following works how individuals and communities confronting racial repression (within modern bio-political nation-states) have historically defied (threat) governmentality, rapacious capitalistic modalities, and the homicidal logic of biopower: Of Mice and Men (John Steinbeck), Winter in the Blood (James Welch), and The Surrounded (D’Arcy McKnickle). In conclusion, my objective is to examine a variety of literary texts employing an analytical framework focused on ‘power’ for these following reasons. First, employing this methodology will reinvigorate critical theory with a method of analysis that is keenly aware that the question of the subject must be approached historically and philosophically to contextualize and seriously address that subjectivity is not ahistorical and is dependent on social context. Additionally, it will make critical theorists accountable for disseminating to abject individuals and populations that their status as the living dead ensures that they will be enveloped in an unrelenting battle against iniquitous forms of sovereign (governmental) power that malevolently seek to instrumentalize their subjectivity and ensure their social, economic, political, and physical death.
    • Secure and Reliable Communications over Free-space Optical Channels

      Sun, Xiaole (The University of Arizona., 2019)
      Free-space optical (FSO) communication provides a promising alternative solution to the traditional radio frequency (RF) communications. Compared to the RF technology, there are many advantages of FSO communications, such as ultra-high bandwidth, license-free spectrum, low inter-channel interference, and energy-efficient transmission. The potential applications for FSO communication include the last-one-mile access link from the fiber-based backbone network, low earth orbit (LEO) satellite communications, high-altitude base station platforms or vehicles, deep-space communications, and in-building automation connections. As the FSO technology becomes mature and increasingly involved, the security and reliability requirements of such applications also become crucial. Regarding the security issues, although the FSO communication is inherently more secure than the RF counterpart due to high directivity of its line-of-sight (LOS) link, it can still suffer from optical wire-tapping attack. There are many different application schemes that an eavesdropper can still probe the FSO link. Traditionally, to protect the communication, many works have been done on encryption layer and upper network layer, such as computationally intensive cryptographic algorithms and message exchanging protocols. In recent years, physical-layer security (PLS) has been getting more attentions as it provides an extra layer of security against eavesdropping. The PLS schemes, in general can be categorized into two main categories: classical PLS and quantum key distribution (QKD) protocols. The classical PLS is based on the information theoretic security analysis, while the QKD security is guaranteed by the quantum mechanics laws. Both techniques have been studied for FSO channels. In the first half of this dissertation, we study the PLS in a LOS FSO channel using orbital angular momentum (OAM) multiplexing and show that higher secrecy capacity can be achieved using OAM multiplexing technology in the presence of atmospheric turbulence effects. Then, we proposed an adaptation scheme for QKD system over FSO channel with different QKD protocols, i.e. BB84 and decoy state protocols. By adapting the source brightness based on the channel condition, we optimized the secret key rate (SKR) of the QKD system. Furthermore, we proposed a multiple spatial modes-based QKD system with backpropagation method to increase the total SKR through parallel channels. Regarding the reliability of an optical communication system as well as information reconciliation for both PLS and QKD schemes, the forward error correction (FEC) becomes an essential technique to enable high-speed transmission. The FEC with low-density parity-check (LDPC) codes has been studied for decades from LDPC block codes to the most recent spatially-coupled (SC) LDPC codes. For FSO communications, due to the time-varying nature of FSO channels, the capability of rate adaptation is important to achieve a consistent reliable transmission. In the second half of this dissertation, we proposed unified FPGA-based architecture to implement both quasi-cyclic (QC) LDPC codes and SC-LDPC codes with rate adaptation capability. The performance is verified through FPGA emulation to show good error floor properties. To further validate the rate adaptation capability, we have built a spatial light modulator (SLM)-based FSO channel emulator to test the adaptive coding scheme. Furthermore, we have conducted a fiber-based experiment with our rate adaptative coding scheme to show that the proposed adaptive coding scheme can be also used in dynamic fiber-based networks.