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YPIE Scientist: Arriana Howell

Updated: Jun 1

Research: Assessing Mobility Enhancement in Drosophila Melanogaster with Autism-Related Genes Compared to a Control Group through Vitamin D Intervention

Awards: Somers Science Fair 2023


Autism Spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that impairs one's ability to communicate and interact with others. Symptoms of ASD range from delay in mobility, hyperactivity & impulsivity/repetitive behaviors​. Natural treatments like Vitamin D have been used for improving mobility in the elderly patients. With genetically modified fruit flies with the NOTCH1 gene, which is a gene closely linked to autism, there will be many trials testing how the fruit flies responded to Vitamin D. The fruit flies would be tested using a negative geotaxis assay, to find out if they have displayed any mobile improvements depending on their physical agility. The experiment will range over two fruit fly generations, first and second, to observe change in movements depending on their exposure to Vitamin D. Both groups are anticipated to display improvements in both speed and coordination. The newly bred fruit flies would hopefully show acceleration in speed by completing their assay in 4.3 seconds. The fruit flies that were originally fed vitamin D and honey would hopefully show an increase in speed, however, their results might not be as significant as those bred from them. This experiment can possibly confirm a positive link between vitamin D and improvements in mobility that can advance autism symptom treatments. Vitamin D will be able to undergo testing as a potential and suitable treatment for people with autism who experience difficulties with mobility.

About this Scientist:

Arriana Howell is a junior who is currently pursuing her IB Diploma at Yonkers High School. She plans to enter college as an anthropology major in the fall of 2025. After college she plans on enrolling in a PhD program and becoming a forensic anthropologist, in order to pursue her dream of studying human behavior and its connection to different crimes.

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