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Abstracts-2012

In Spring 2012, the Scieneering program welcomed 53 new students to the program, 31 of whom conducted research in the 10-week summer (2012) program. This page introduces you to these students and their exciting summer research projects.

 

    Kwaku Akom
Student: Kwaku Akom (Electrical Engineering)
Mentor: James Ivory (Communications)
Project Title: Reinforcing Anti-Violence Attitudes through Exposure to Violent Entertainment Media

Abstract: Previous studies involving violent entertainment media have shown that violence in the media may have negative effect on an individual’s emotions and behavior. It has been proven that exposure to violence through movies and video games leads to increased aggression. However, no research study has explored the positive effects of violence in the media itself. Our study aims to address the question of whether anti-violence attitudes towards real world violence can be reinforced through video media that is violent in nature. We hope that the findings from this study will promote interventions that encourage anti-violence attitudes to real-life media by changing the emotional responses to entertainment. Participants are being recruited from an undergraduate summer class and via flyers on different places on campus and at local businesses around campus.  The study is ongoing and we are planning on recruiting approximately 45-60 adult participants who will be compensated with $10 cash per experiment session.  The study is ongoing, but we have found possible effects of the violent video stimuli to include desensitization, increased aggression, Trauma/disturbance to participants and also, long-term effects are unlikely. All our participants are at least 18 years old.


 

    Austin Allen summer 2012
Student: Austin Allen (Mechanical Engineering)
Mentor: Amrinder Nain (Mechanical Engineering) and Bahareh Behkam (Mechanical Engineering)
Project Title: Investigation of the strength of adhesion of rat myoblasts to a 3D nanofibrous scaffold in a microfluidic device

Abstract: Cell adhesion to the extracellular matrix (ECM) is a complex process which plays a significant role in cell motility, migration, and differentiation. Current methods of studying cell adhesion include use of microfluidic devices, spinning disks, and parallel plates. These methods involve culturing cells on 2D flat substrates followed by shear flow measurements. Current estimate of adhesion strength vary between 300 and 700 dyne/cm2, which is correlated directly with adhesion area. 2D adhesion strength provides only a partial glimpse in overall cell behavior;  in vivo cell adhesion takes place along the ECM, which is a 3D environment. We hypothesize this to dramatically alter the adhesion strength.   To study this, we are developing a hybrid method which uses a microfluidic device, within which cells are seeded on a 3D fibrous scaffold fabricated using our previously reported STEP (Spinneret based Tunable Engineered Parameters) technique. Fluid is passed through the channel at controlled volumetric flow rates. We are then able to calculate the shear stress at the wall of the channel. Our preliminary results have indicated the feasibility of the compound device (live cell-scaffold and microfluidic channel), with cells surviving for extended periods of time. This study is envisioned to aid in development of accurate hybrid cell culturing systems.


 

    Bryce Allen summer 2012
Student: Bryce Allen (Biological Sciences)
Mentor: Konark Mukherjee (Biological Sciences)
Project Title: Role of CASK in neurodevelopment

Abstract: CASK (Calcium/Calmodulin-Dependant Serine Protein Kinase) is a MAGUK (Membrane Associated Guanylate Kinase) protein present at various cell-cell junctions including neuronal synapse.  Mutations in CASK gene are known to cause X-linked mental retardation (XLMR) and other neurodevelopmental disorders.  Since a complete knockout of CASK is lethal, a hypomorph line of mice expressing 30% CASK was analyzed. In this study, we evaluated gross morphology, histopathology, and motor activity of hypomorph mice to better understand the roles of CASK in neurodevelopment.  We obtained twelve mice that have the first coding exon of the CASK gene flanked by loxP sites (CHF).  Force plate activmeter was used to monitor motor activity in CHF mice and their wild-type (WT) siblings. Whole brains were evaluated by comparing the size of cerebellum, brain length, and number of folia in cerebellum by using ImageJ software. Microscopic evaluation of brain tissue sections was determined using hemotoxylin & eosin staining methods.  This mouse line showed a significant decrease in the size of the cerebellum and the number of cerebellar folia, consistent with findings of cerebellar hypoplasia in human disease states. However, no significant decrease in motor activity was observed.  These results have led to a better understanding of the functions of CASK and its importance as a synaptic protein for normal neurodevelopment.


 

    Barber and Hitchcock summer 2012

Student: Hannah Barber (Biological Sciences) (left)
Mentor: Andre Muelenaer (Carilion Clinic) and Alfred Wicks (Mechanical Engineering)
Project Title: Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome: Current Paradigms and Novel Technology for Treatment

 

Abstract: Cells, the building blocks of life, are capable to efficiently perform specific functions such as sensing, motility, self-healing, and communication. The challenge we face is to harness these nature-perfected abilities and use them for our own benefit. We aim to exploit the sophisticated and robust machinery of bacteria for actuation, sensing, communication, and control of a new class of micron-scale robotic systems called BacteriaBots. A BacteriaBot is a bio-hybrid swimming microrobot fabricated by interfacing an ensemble of live, engineered Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria with a micro-robot body. Mobile networks of BacteriaBots can be utilized as intelligent, reconfigurable, and adaptable networks to address challenges in sensing, and transport and delivery of cargo at reduced length scales. In this work, we explore a novel quorum sensing-based method to regulate motility in BacteriaBots. AI-2 was synthesized and introduced in the experimental environment at known concentrations to quantify enhanced motility of E. coli strain MG1655 as a function of AI-2 concentration. Chemotaxis swim plate assay showed a halo diameter increase however, microscopy tracking and flagella staining did not show an increase in the swimming speed or the flagella count in presence of AI-2. In conclusion, our results indicate that presence of AI-2 leads to an enhanced chemotactic response but it does not enhance the motility speed.


 

    Karli Brittain summer 2012
Student: Karli Brittain (Electrical Engineering)
Mentor: Rafael Davalos (Biomedical Engineering and Sciences) and Eva Schmelz (HNFE)
Project Title: Analyzing the Effect of Drug Treatment on Cancer Cells using cDEP

Abstract: Contactless dielectrophoresis (cDEP) is an emerging technique utilized for the analysis of cancer cells and determining the frequency at which they experience no dielectrophoretic force (crossover frequency). This crossover frequency serves the purpose of distinguishing the cancer type and its progressed stage. Since cells each have a unique crossover frequency, treatment of cancer can be adjusted based on its stage instead of an attempt to treat even early stages with the same dosage of drugs as a later stage. In examining the effect of a series of drugs on a mouse ovarian surface epithelium (MOSE) cell line, we see a change in the cell’s membrane which also changes its crossover frequency. In using cDEP to determine the crossover frequency of MOSE cells, we can more easily determine the best drug and dosage to distribute.


 

    Burks Harring Preib summer 2012
Student: William Burks (Mechanical Engineering) (right)
Mentor: Alexander Leonessa (Mechanical Engineering)
Project Title: Electromagnetic stimulation of intrinsic vocal fold muscles involved in sound vocalization, respiration, and airway protection in patients with unilateral vocal fold paralysis

Abstract: Every year, millions of Americans suffer from vocal cord paralysis, one of the main causes of dysphagia, sound vocalization reduction and respiration complications. Using electromagnetic stimulation, the nerves controlling the muscles surrounding the vocal folds can be stimulated.  The muscles provide adequate tension or relaxation to the folds, allowing the patient to regain vocal fold function. The electromagnetic stimulation uses two solenoids: a primary coil outside of the neck and a secondary micro-coil implanted near the nerve controlling the vocal folds.  A current runs through the primary coil generating a magnetic field, and producing a voltage in the micro-coil.  Our progress has been centered around designing and testing various solenoids while focusing on achieving the necessary output to stimulate the nerves.  In order to maximize the output, we adjusted the coil dimensions, and varied the number of turns, wire gauge, as well as core permeability.  Each coil was tested using controlled wave types and frequencies, with an added resistance and capacitance to the secondary coil in order to generate the desired output.  The projected goal is to stimulate the desired nerves in the neck controlling the muscles surrounding the vocal folds allowing the patient to improve phonation and decrease dysphagia.


 

    vtip guys summer 2012
Student: Robert Burnham (Biochemistry) (far right)
Mentor: John Geikler (Virginia Tech Intellectual Properties)
Project Title: Tech Transfer: A Review of the University Intellectual Property Protection

Abstract: In many US universities, the transition of research from laboratory data into usable goods, products, and services in the marketplace is supported by a tech transfer group or intellectual property office.  Virginia Tech’s tech transfer process is managed by Virginia Tech Intellectual Properties, Inc. (VTIP). To gain a better understanding of the operation of university tech transfer groups or intellectual property offices, the invention analysis, intellectual property protection, and licensing process at VTIP was reviewed on a case by case basis with a focus on the initial stages of the patenting process (invention disclosure and evaluation).   The majority of the reviewed inventions were focused in the life sciences (cancer diagnostics/therapeutics, pharmaceuticals, genetics, and biomass processing).  Also included were inventions in electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, and industrial chemistry.  Research was conducted using patent databases, including the USPTO’s PAIR and freepatentsonline.com, in addition to SEC records, FTC rulings, investor resources, inventor interviews, and outside consultation.  Drawing from these individual cases, a broad outline of the IP and tech transfer process was then created and specific examples are provided at each stage of the progression.


 

    Meghan Canter summer 2012
Student: Meghan Canter (Biological Sciences)
Mentor: Bahareh Behkam (Mechanical Engineering) and Birgit Scharf (Biological Sciences)
Project Title: Quorum Sensing Based Actuation Regulation For Bacteria-Powered MicroRobots (BacteriaBots)

Abstract: Cells, the building blocks of life, are capable to efficiently perform specific functions such as sensing, motility, self-healing, and communication. The challenge we face is to harness these nature-perfected abilities and use them for our own benefit. We aim to exploit the sophisticated and robust machinery of bacteria for actuation, sensing, communication, and control of a new class of micron-scale robotic systems called BacteriaBots. A BacteriaBot is a bio-hybrid swimming microrobot fabricated by interfacing an ensemble of live, engineered Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria with a micro-robot body. Mobile networks of BacteriaBots can be utilized as intelligent, reconfigurable, and adaptable networks to address challenges in sensing, and transport and delivery of cargo at reduced length scales. In this work, we explore a novel quorum sensing-based method to regulate motility in BacteriaBots. AI-2 was synthesized and introduced in the experimental environment at known concentrations to quantify enhanced motility of E. coli strain MG1655 as a function of AI-2 concentration. Chemotaxis swim plate assay showed a halo diameter increase however, microscopy tracking and flagella staining did not show an increase in the swimming speed or the flagella count in presence of AI-2. In conclusion, our results indicate that presence of AI-2 leads to an enhanced chemotactic response but it does not enhance the motility speed.


 

    Paul Caron summer 2012
Student: Paul Caron (Biological Sciences and Spanish)
Mentor: Rafael Davalos (School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences)
Project Title: Continuous Sorting of Particles Using Multilayer Contactless Dielectrophoresis

Abstract: Contactless dielectrophoresis (cDEP) is a new technique for the sorting of cells or particles which excludes the actual contact between the electrodes and sample.  Instead, the electrodes are placed in fluidic channels to induce an electric field needed to control the particle flow. This avoids any contamination or heating of the sample.  Based on the differences in size and electric properties of the particles the multilayer poly dimethylsiloxane (PDMS) devices use cDEP to separate the particles.  The fluid electrode channels are placed directly on top of the main fluid channel separated only by a thin membrane (20μm-100μm) of PDMS.  As a relatively inexpensive model, these devices can be used frequently with consistent results.  Furthermore, the separation of particles with different electric signatures can lead to the isolation and detection of cancerous cells; a substantial benefit to detecting cancer in early stages.  The goal is to separate different particles consistently and group similar particles using cDEP in a multilayer device.


 

    vtip guys summer 2012
Student: John Fenninger (Industrial and Systems Engineering) (2nd from right)
Mentor: Michael Miller (VTIP) and John Geikler (VTIP)
Project Title: Transferring Intellectual Property to Industry: Commercializing Research and Inventions through Virginia Tech Intellectual Properties

 Abstract: The purpose of my work at Virginia Tech Intellectual Properties (VTIP) was to help identify technologies and inventions conceived at Virginia Tech that have commercialization and licensing potential. VTIP receives invention disclosures on a weekly basis, and I assisted in conducting prior art searches, analyzing related markets and industries, and creating licensing strategies for various inventions. The majority of the inventions I researched came from the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department and the School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences at Virginia Tech, as well as the School of Architecture, with invention topics ranging from advanced computed tomography scanners to nanofiber scaffolds in cellular biology. One particular project that I spent significant time on related to the development of a new educational toy and how to best market the toy through manufacturers, designers and distributors. As a result of my work at VTIP, I was exposed to the legal and business side of university research and the technology transfer process.


 

    Emily Gibson summer 2012
Student: Emily Gibson (Environmental Science)
Mentor: Andrea Dietrich (Civil and Environmental Engineering)
Project Title: The Investigation of Iron Present in Dairy Cow Drinking Water throughout Virginia

Abstract: This project will research the solubility and bioavailability of iron in groundwater supplied to dairy cows throughout Virginia.  Dairy cows consume 20-30 gallons of water a day and their drinking water can be a major source of iron in their diet. Many farmers pump groundwater from wells for their livestock, which generally contains bio-available ferrous iron. However, when the water sits stagnant in water troughs, the iron can oxidize to ferric iron, which is less soluble and less bioavailable.  The longer the ferrous groundwater stands in the dairy cow’s drinking trough, the less nutrients the cow will consume as the ferric iron precipitates and thereby causes a nutrient depletion in the cow’s diet. In turn, the amount of bio-available soluble iron that results in the milk of the livestock can ultimately affect the nutritional needs of calves and people who consume the milk.    Water samples will be collected and tested from dairy cow farms in almost every county in Virginia. This survey will allow for a better understanding of the varying concentrations of iron present in dairy cow drinking water throughout the state and show the variability throughout different regions.


 

    Burks Harring Preib summer 2012
Student: Kyle Harring (Biology) (left)
Mentor: Alexander Leonessa (Mechanical Engineering) and Andre Muelenaer (Carilion Clinic)
Project Title: Electromagnetic stimulation of intrinsic vocal fold muscles involved in sound vocalization, respiration, and airway protection in patients with unilateral vocal fold paralysis

Abstract: Every year, millions of Americans suffer from vocal cord paralysis, one of the main causes of dysphagia, sound vocalization reduction and respiration complications. Using electromagnetic stimulation, the nerves controlling the muscles surrounding the vocal folds can be stimulated.  The muscles provide adequate tension or relaxation to the folds, allowing the patient to regain vocal fold function. The electromagnetic stimulation uses two solenoids: a primary coil outside of the neck and a secondary micro-coil implanted near the nerve controlling the vocal folds.  A current runs through the primary coil generating a magnetic field, and producing a voltage in the micro-coil.  Our progress has been centered around designing and testing various solenoids while focusing on achieving the necessary output to stimulate the nerves.  In order to maximize the output, we adjusted the coil dimensions, and varied the number of turns, wire gauge, as well as core permeability.  Each coil was tested using controlled wave types and frequencies, with an added resistance and capacitance to the secondary coil in order to generate the desired output.  The projected goal is to stimulate the desired nerves in the neck controlling the muscles surrounding the vocal folds allowing the patient to improve phonation and decrease dysphagia.


 

    Lynn Harvey summer 2012
Student: Lynn Harvey (Aerospace Engineering)
Mentor: Rolf Mueller (Mechanical Engineering) and Anupum Gupta (Mechanical Engineering)
Project Title: Bats and Tomography: Optimizing Non-destructive CT Imaging of Museum Specimens

Abstract: Bats use sound waves at ultrasonic frequencies to navigate and hunt. The nose-leaves and ears of bats help shape these outgoing and incoming sounds. We are interested in exploring how these structures affect emitting and receiving of sound. To study these structures x-ray micro computed tomography (CT) was used to make high resolution 3-D models. However, there are remaining scanning issues that must be addressed. First is that soft tissues have poor contrast. This obstacle can be overcome by the use of a contrast agent. However many contrast agents tend to stain, and finding a non-destructive contrast agent is critical to examining museum specimens. Another problem is the shifting that occurs during scanning due to drying out of specimens that adversely affects model accuracy. To address these problems we searched for suitable contrast agents, such as potassium iodide, and mechanical supports, such as Styrofoam, shaving cream, mineral oil, and tested their effects on non-museum specimens and on the scans. The promising solution is a combination of contrast agent (potassium iodide) and shaving foam. In the future we hope to explore this solution in depth and apply it to museum specimens.


 

    Barber and Hitchcock summer 2012
Student: Stephanie Hitchcock (Biology) (right)
Mentor: Alfred Wicks (Mechanical Engineering)
Project Title: Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome: Current Paradigms and Novel Technology for Treatment

Abstract: Cells, the building blocks of life, are capable to efficiently perform specific functions such as sensing, motility, self-healing, and communication. The challenge we face is to harness these nature-perfected abilities and use them for our own benefit. We aim to exploit the sophisticated and robust machinery of bacteria for actuation, sensing, communication, and control of a new class of micron-scale robotic systems called BacteriaBots. A BacteriaBot is a bio-hybrid swimming microrobot fabricated by interfacing an ensemble of live, engineered Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria with a micro-robot body. Mobile networks of BacteriaBots can be utilized as intelligent, reconfigurable, and adaptable networks to address challenges in sensing, and transport and delivery of cargo at reduced length scales. In this work, we explore a novel quorum sensing-based method to regulate motility in BacteriaBots. AI-2 was synthesized and introduced in the experimental environment at known concentrations to quantify enhanced motility of E. coli strain MG1655 as a function of AI-2 concentration. Chemotaxis swim plate assay showed a halo diameter increase however, microscopy tracking and flagella staining did not show an increase in the swimming speed or the flagella count in presence of AI-2. In conclusion, our results indicate that presence of AI-2 leads to an enhanced chemotactic response but it does not enhance the motility speed.


 

    Carrie Hughes summer 2012
Student: Carolyn Hughes (Chemistry and Biochemistry)
Mentor: Amrinder Nain (Mechanical Engineering)
Project Title: Fused Nanofiber Scaffolds as Force Measurement Probes for Breast Cancer Cell Lines

Abstract: Understanding the role of mechanical forces in cancer cell behavior is important for enhancing fundamental knowledge of physical stimuli on cancer invasiveness and metastasis. Current state-of-the-art platforms to study these forces involve culturing cells on 2D surfaces, which do not accurately mimic the native cell environment. In this study, using our previously-reported spinneret based tunable engineered parameters (STEP) technique, we are able to fabricate a 3D environment mimicking native tissue mechanics and topography, which is used to measure the forces exerted by individual migratory cells.  Fibers are deposited in double layers in a cross-hatch pattern and fused at the intersections, thus forming nanonets of different diameter fibers (200 and 500 nm) which deflect when pulled by cells.   Wild type breast cancer E0771 cells along with genetically altered E0771 cells deflect these fibers during migration, and beam theory is used to calculate the force required to cause that deflection.  Preliminary results show that wild type E0771 cell lines exert an average force of 7.5 picoNewton (pN) while the altered E0771 cells exhibit 1.5 pN, indicating that genetic modifications weakened cell migration force by fivefold.  Our current and future studies are aimed at investigating the role of cytoskeleton components (actin stress fibers, nucleus, and focal adhesion complexes) causing the differences in cellular force generation.


 

    Alex Jones summer 2012
Student: Alex Jones (Psychology)
Mentor: Douglas Holmes (Engineering Science and Mechanics)
Project Title: Soft/Hard Transitions in Adaptable Materials

Abstract: Rapidly altering a material’s properties will have numerous applications in advanced, adaptable materials ranging from medical equipment, to automobiles, to self strengthening structures. Utilizing the classical problem of jamming, where particles can no longer move or compress and effectively become a solid material, we can make a soft structure hard by changing its modulus in response to an applied stress. Polyvinylsiloxane (PVS) rubbers, with cavities separated by a thin film, are filled with a high concentration of spherical particles. Applying a uniform pressure to the film will compresses the particles to a jammed state, and we will measure the change in modulus through this jamming transition. Initial qualitative results indicate the feasibility of these soft-hard structures, though a more detailed study will allow us to controllably and rapidly change the stiffness of a soft structure.


 

    Min Kang summer 2012
Student: Min Sung Kang (Biochemistry)
Mentor: Chang Lu (Chemical Engineering)
Project Title: Delivery of molecules in chinese hamster ovary cells using alternating current and direct current electroporation

Abstract: Purpose of this experiment is to compare the results of electroporation using alternating current (AC) and direct current (DC).  Electroporation is a tool for delivery of small molecules and genes in the cells by creating pores in the cell membrane with an electric current. In this study, different electric field intensities (200V~700V) were utilized while performing electroporation with alternating current and direct current. Transfection efficiency, cell viability, and transfection yield were calculated at the end of the experiment for comparison. Our results reveal that transfection efficiency decreases in Direct current when electric field intensities are increased. But transfection efficiency increases in Alternating current as electric intensity increases. These results can be later used for more efficient gene transfection in gene-therapy applications.


 

    AhRam Kim summer 2012
Student: AhRam Kim (Mechanical Engineering)
Mentor: Bahareh Behkam (Mechanical Engineering)
Project Title: Controlling Biofilm Formation of Candida Albicans on Medical Implant Materials Using Nanofiber Texture

Abstract: Biofilms tend to be significantly less responsive to antibiotics and antimicrobial stressors, compared with planktonic bacteria. There is a compelling need for new anti-biofilm biomaterials to effectively delay biofilm formation of microorganisms on biomedical surfaces. This work aims at developing a bio-inspired antifouling design framework based on topographical cues. Model surfaces with well-defined surface topographies were manufactured by deposition of highly aligned polystyrene (PS) nano-fibers (diameter: 300 nm - 900 nm and average edge-to-edge spacing: 2000 nm - 3000 nm) on flat PS, polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA), and polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) surfaces. Flat and nanofiber-textured surfaces are exposed to the suspension of Candida albicans SC5314 in the Center for Disease Control (CDC) biofilm reactor (80 RPM, 37°C). After one day, cells were detached from all surfaces and counted using serial dilutions and plating. Our experiments demonstrate that fibers with average diameter of 400 nm reduce the number of adhered cells by 26% for PS substrate. The data reveals presence of an antifouling design space in which fibrous topographical features reduces number of cells present on the PS, PMMA and PTFE surfaces. To the best of our knowledge, this work is the first report of delaying biofilm formation of pathogenic yeast with only topographical modification of the surface.


 

    vtip guys summer 2012
Student: William Ryan Klima (Electrical Engineering) (2nd from left)
Mentor: John Geikler (VTIP)
Project Title: An Introduction to Tech Transfer: Assessment, Protection, and Licensing

Abstract: My research this summer was focused on an introduction to tech transfer. Tech transfer consists of three main categories, an assessment of a technology, the protection of said technology, and the licensing of said technology.  One of the first projects that I worked on at VTIP was a technology on fingerprint scanning. This was a perfect introduction because the technology was fairly easy to comprehend and the market is well documented. I assessed the technology by performing prior art searches, creating a contact list, conducting an inventor interview, and using market research databases to find additional companies and determine market potential. The latest technology I worked on was for a novel sensory stimulation device. This project was focused on the licensing section of tech transfer. In addition, this technology was a more difficult project due to ambiguity in market potential and its field of use. The market for the technology was relatively small and poorly documented. I performed licensing evaluation by making a list of companies that are involved with similar or competing technologies, providing relevant information of the companies, calculating their profit margins, calculating a royalty rate based off of those profit margins, and calculating the total sales figures.


 

    Megan Lewis summer 2012
Student: Megan Lewis (Biochemistry)
Mentor: Amrinder Nain (Mechanical Engineering)
Project Title: Combined Effects of BMP-2 and Fiber Stiffness on C2C12 Differentiation

Abstract: The ability to control cell differentiation has vast potential in the field of reconstructive medicine. Cell differentiation is dependent upon both biochemical and biophysical cues. Current strategies of cell culture on 2D platforms necessarily fail to capture the entire set of biophysical cues a cell encounters in a native 3D environment. This study uses nanofibers to more accurately replicate the 3D fibrous environment of the extracellular matrix (ECM). Using this platform, the combined effects of chemical (BMP-2) and physical (fiber beam stiffness, N/m) stimuli on differentiation are investigated. C2C12 myoblasts were cultured on mechanistically tunable suspended fiber scaffolds (diameter: 300-800nm, length: 4 mm) in DMEM or DMEM supplemented with BMP-2 for a week and stained with fluorescent antibodies indicative of muscle or bone growth.  Preliminary results on 500 nm fiber scaffolds and flat glass indicate muscle formation was halted when treated with BMP-2, whereas untreated cells developed multinucleated myotubes.  These results demonstrate the cell’s ability to sense both the composition and structure of its surroundings. Current and future studies are aimed at determining the critical minimum chemical concentrations and lowest biophysical stiffness scaffolds required to induce muscle, bone and osteoblast differentiation.  


 

    David Marshall summer 2012
Student: David Marshall (Biological Sciences)
Mentor: Amanda Morris (Chemistry)
Project Title: Metal Organic Frameworks as Catalysts for the Reduction of CO2 into a Viable Energy Source

Abstract: The finite supply of fossil fuels and the possible environmental impact of such energy sources has garnered the scientific community’s attention for the development of alternative, overall carbon-neutral fuel sources. The sun provides enough energy every hour to power the earth for a year. However, two of the remaining challenges that limit the utilization of solar energy are the development of cheap and efficient solar harvesting materials and advances in energy storage technology to overcome the intermittent nature of the sun. My research utilizes metal organic frameworks to catalyze the reduction of CO2 into products that may serve as a viable source of energy. I have synthesized metal organic frameworks as thin films on conductive fluorine doped tin oxide glass slides. I have studied the electrochemistry of the thin films by utilizing cyclic voltammetry techniques in which the thin films are exposed to an electrolyte solution purged with CO2. I have found one particular metal organic framework, CPO-27-Co, to be catalytic and reduce CO2. The next step in my research is to identify what the CO2 is being reduced into. Ideally the product would be something such as methane, which could be harvested and utilized as an energy source.


 

    Jacob Mason summer 2012
Student: Jacob Mason (Engineering Science and Mechanics)
Mentor: Bahareh Behkam (Mechanical Engineering) and Stephen Melville (Microbiology)
Project Title: Viscosity measurement techniques for agar surfaces using analysis of the motion dynamics of charged microspheres in a uniform electric field

Abstract: This project aims at elucidating the mechanism of gilding motility in the disease causing bacteria, Clostridium perfringens. We have previously measured the motility speed of C. perfringens on the agar gel surface using optical microscopy, but we are unable to exactly quantify all the forces involved in its locomotion due to lack of experimental data for viscous forces between the C. perfringens and the underlying agar surface. Knowledge of the dynamic viscosity coefficient is essential for calculating this drag force. However, the aqueous layer atop agar surfaces is only a few microns thick; making standard viscosity measurement techniques unfeasible. In this work, we have developed an apparatus for measurement of the viscosity of the aqueous film on the agar surface.  A uniform 210 Vm-1 electric field applied to negatively charged 2.19 µm diameter polystyrene microspheres with COOH surface groups creates a quantifiable and reproducible force. At this force value, microspheres move at a constant terminal velocity indicating a balance between the electrostatic force and the drag force applied on the microsphere. The velocity and the electrostatic force data can then be used to calculate the drag force and the viscosity of the aqueous film.  This value will be critical in future bacterial motility analysis.


 

    Daniel Neighbors summer 2012
Student: Daniel Neighbors (Biological Systems Engineering)
Mentor: Glenda Gillaspy (Biochemistry)
Project Title: The identification and analyses of a high cellulose Arabidopsis thaliana mutant

Abstract: The objective of this research was to identify mutant Arabidopsis plants with an increased cellulose concentration.  Cellulose can be broken down into monomers of glucose and then fermented to ethanol for biofuel use; therefore, a plant with elevated cellulose may help increase biofuel production efficiency.  A genomic-scale modeling of Arabidopsis, called AraGEM, was used, in silico, to identify Gene Candidate 1 (gc1) as a loss-of-function candidate for increasing cellulose concentration. Homozygous gc1 mutants were subjected to Updegraff cellulose quantification method and were found to have significantly elevated cellulose per dry mass. These findings could offer an improvement in biofuel production as well as a new strategy for bio-engineering.


 

    Stefanie Pagano summer 2012
Student: Stefanie Pagano (Biological Systems Engineering)
Mentor: Rebecca Splan (Animal Sciences)
Project Title: The Effect of Resveratrol on Skeletal Muscle miRNA Profiles in Obese Mares

Abstract: Resveratrol is a natural polyphenol found in various fruits and particularly in the skin of red grapes. Its beneficial effects on obesity and metabolic dysfunction have been well documented, but little is known about the regulatory processes of resveratrol on skeletal muscle metabolism.  One potential mechanism may involve regulation of miRNA, or small non-coding nucleotides involved in gene silencing. In this study, the effect of resveratrol on miRNA expression pattern signatures will be studied in the skeletal muscle of obese mares. Mares were allocated to resveratrol (n=5; 5.5 grams) or placebo (n=5) supplementation over three consecutive estrous cycles and were matched by age (8.8 ± 2.5 vs. 10.0 ± 1.6, respectively) and body condition score (7.5 ± 0.2 vs. 7.6 ± 0.2, respectively) prior to treatment. Muscle biopsies were taken from the gluteus medius prior to and at the end of the treatment period. Using a miRNA profiler kit and quantative PCR, the investigators will explore differences in genome-wide miRNA expression patterns between treatment groups pre- and post-supplementation. Differences in miRNA profiles could shed new light on resveratrol’s regulatory role in skeletal muscle metabolism and identify potential biomarkers and therapeutic targets related to metabolic dysfunction.


 

    Solange Paredes summer 2012
Student: Solange Paredes (Animal and Poultry Sciences and Biological Sciences)
Mentor: Rafael Davalos (Biomedical Engineering and Sciences) and Yong Woo Lee (Biomedical Engineering and Sciences)
Project Title: Blood-brain Barrier Disruption with Pulsed Electric Fields

Abstract: The blood-brain barrier (BBB) is lined with endothelial cells that are closely joined by tight junction proteins. The tight junction proteins create a highly selective barrier in terms of allowing certain molecules to transport through the blood into the brain. Drug treatment of intracranial tumors is difficult due to the impermeable characteristic of the BBB. We hypothesize that pulsed electric fields (PEF) will create transient openings in the BBB. Physically disrupting the integrity of the cell monolayer using PEF does not emit heat or kill the cells therefore the cells are able to fully recover. To investigate the effectiveness of PEF to transiently disrupt the BBB, we performed permeability assays and analyzed the distribution of ZO-1 throughout the BBB with immunofluorescence staining. The permeability assay assesses the ability of molecules to pass through the disrupted BBB. Immunofluorescence staining provides evidence to visually show how PEF affects tight junction protein expression and also quantitatively compare the expression between control and PEF-treated groups through imaging software. Together, these data will allow us to determine how PEF affects the BBB.


 

    Elizabeth Pickering summer 2012
Student: Elizabeth Pickering (Aerospace Engineering)
Mentor: Stephen Melville (Biological Sciences)
Project Title: MATLAB/MicrobeTracker Analysis of Fluorescent Type IV Pili Protein Localization in Clostridium perfringens and Bacillus subtilus

Abstract: Clostridium perfringens is a pathogenic, Gram-positive bacteria that causes a range of diseases in people and animals, including gas gangrene and food poisoning.  C. perfringens has genes that code for proteins homologous to Type IV pili (TFP) proteins. Experiments were conducted to learn how PilT, the retraction ATPase motor, associates with PilB and PilB2, the extension ATPase motors, and where those proteins move within the cell.  Images of fluorescently-tagged PilB, PilB2, and PilT in wildtype C. perfringens, PilB and PilT mutants, and Bacillus subtilis, a bacteria lacking any TFP proteins except the inserted, tagged PilT were obtained.  MicrobeTracker was used to analyze length of the cells, and SpotFinder was used to detect and count fluorescent spots and their positions with respect to the cell poles.  The PilB proteins localized to the poles and center of the cells, as did PilT.  PilB failed to localize to the poles in the PilT mutant, though PilT localized normally in B. subtilis and the PilB mutants.  Cell length was consistent in all strains with the exception of cells in which the cell division protein FtsZ was inhibited.  In conclusion, PilT appears to play a role in the localization of PilB.


 

    Burks Harring Preib summer 2012
Student: Madison Preib (HNFE) (center, back)
Mentor: Alexander Leonessa (Mechanical Engineering)
Project Title: Electromagnetic stimulation of intrinsic vocal fold muscles involved in sound vocalization, respiration, and airway protection in patients with unilateral vocal fold paralysis

Abstract: Every year, millions of Americans suffer from vocal cord paralysis, one of the main causes of dysphagia, sound vocalization reduction and respiration complications. Using electromagnetic stimulation, the nerves controlling the muscles surrounding the vocal folds can be stimulated.  The muscles provide adequate tension or relaxation to the folds, allowing the patient to regain vocal fold function. The electromagnetic stimulation uses two solenoids: a primary coil outside of the neck and a secondary micro-coil implanted near the nerve controlling the vocal folds.  A current runs through the primary coil generating a magnetic field, and producing a voltage in the micro-coil.  Our progress has been centered around designing and testing various solenoids while focusing on achieving the necessary output to stimulate the nerves.  In order to maximize the output, we adjusted the coil dimensions, and varied the number of turns, wire gauge, as well as core permeability.  Each coil was tested using controlled wave types and frequencies, with an added resistance and capacitance to the secondary coil in order to generate the desired output.  The projected goal is to stimulate the desired nerves in the neck controlling the muscles surrounding the vocal folds allowing the patient to improve phonation and decrease dysphagia.


 

    Jo Restaino summer 2012
Student: Josephine Restaino (Biological Sciences)
Mentor: Rafael Davalos (School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences)
Project Title: MRI-based Planning of Irreversible Electroporation Treatment in a Canine Patient with Brain Cancer

Abstract: Therapeutic Irreversible electroporation (IRE) is a non-thermal ablation technique that uses pulsed electric fields to kill cancer cells through the creation of nano-scale defects within their plasma membrane.  IRE does not affect major nerve and blood vessel architecture, which makes it a desirable treatment for inoperable tumors located in close proximity to these sensitive structures.  However, because IRE focally ablates all tissue subjected to a critical electric field threshold, patient-specific treatment planning must be conducted a priori in order to maximize tumor destruction while minimizing damage to the surrounding healthy cells.  Treatment planning is a critical multi-step process that is needed to ensure complete tumor coverage.  First, a segmentation of the main tissue components from the patient’s MRI is performed in each slice. Then a three-dimensional reconstruction of the tumor and surrounding tissues are generated from the segmentation.  This allows for a volumetric mesh to be created that is compatible with numerical modeling software. With these simulations we can visualize electric field distribution and use them for optimization of electrode placement and determining IRE pulse parameters prior to surgery.  Improved pretreatment planning leads to a more successful procedure and thus an overall better treatment for the patient.


 

    Karan Singh summer 2012
Student: Karandeep Singh (Biology)
Mentor: Padma Rajagopalan (Chemical Engineering)
Project Title: The effects of bovine hemoglobin supplementation on primary hepatocyte function

Abstract: The performance of primary hepatocytes in in-vitro cell cultures is limited by oxygen availability. Hemoglobin supplementation to cell culture media has been shown to increase oxygen solubility. In this study, different concentrations of bovine hemoglobin were supplemented to hepatocyte culture media and the effects on primary hepatocyte function were investigated. Two essential functions of the liver, albumin production and urea production, were measured over 10 day culture periods. Cultures supplemented with 20mg/mL hemoglobin exhibited stable urea and albumin production over time.


 

    Danielle Smalls summer 2012
Student: Danielle Smalls (Industrial and Systems Engineering)
Mentor: Michael Evans (Education) and Tiffany Drape (Education)
Project Title: Informal Learning: What are They Talking About? Understanding the Transfer of STEM Concepts to Social Media

Abstract: Research has demonstrated that interests in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) are initially fostered during middle school years. Inquiry-driven curricula based on loosely-structured problems and semi-structured design challenges have shown to engage youth in STEM. Moreover, social media (blogs, social networks, and video sharing sites) provide students a platform to extend informal learning experiences. Consequently, the purpose of this qualitative study is to answer two questions: 1.) How are middle school students in Southwest Virginia using Edmodo, a social networking site for youth, to craft ideas about science and engineering? 2.) Are these students using Edmodo to expand their understanding the concepts learned in an afterschool STEM Club? Our goal is to better understand how students interact via a computer-mediated communication interface (Edmodo) to see if they are leveraging for its intended purpose, to further knowledge of scientific and engineering principles related to heat transfer. Methods used to analyze the data include the separation and grouping of topics discussed on the chat feature of Edmodo. Given minimal prompting, the students in the STEM Club used the social media website for personal and academic interests. Students progressed from just “hanging out” to “geeking out,” which precipitates learning.


 

    Doug Smith summer 2012
Student: Douglas Smith (Psychology)
Mentor: Anthony Cate (Psychology) and Chris North (Computer Science)
Project Title: Spatial memory and semantic knowledge for kinesthetic learning in large-scale interactive displays

Abstract: As large-scale interactive displays become more commonplace, user performance hinges on how efficiently users can acquire information from these settings, both spatially and semantically. Research shows that physically larger virtual displays improve cognitive performance on spatial tasks through kinesthetic learning. However, it is unclear whether kinesthetic learning uniquely enhances spatial memory compared to semantic learning. The objective of this study is to examine the relationship between spatial memory and semantic knowledge when exposed to a large display and a smaller desktop interface. Participants will explore each display actively by reading through 200 bits of information, from which they will be asked questions on a subsequent memory test. Responses to the memory test include semantic knowledge of the correct term from a given statement, spatial memory of where the term is on the display, and confidence levels. In accord with past research, the theory is that larger displays will allow the participants to organize spatial information more efficiently as opposed to a small display, where kinesthetic movement is restrained to minimal activity. This study will have implications for both spatial memory and wayfinding in large-scale immersive displays.


 

    vtip guys summer 2012
Student: Kevin Sprenger (Electrical Engineering) (far left)
Mentor: John Geikler (Virginia Tech Intellectual Properties)
Project Title: Patent Prosecution from a Technology Transfer Perspective

Abstract: The field of technology transfer is one that requires the understanding of a variety of different subjects as well as a strong professional and business acumen.  It represents the synergy of academic research, intellectual property law, and commercialization, and ideally enables a product to be transformed from a laboratory experiment to a household name.  Successful navigation through this process is often challenging due to the apparent conflict of motivations among the parties involved in the process.  This research provides an assessment of a real-world example which illustrates how this conflict affects the patent prosecution stage of the overall technology transfer process, where the term patent prosecution refers to the process of obtaining a patent from the United States Patent and Trademark Office.  A critical analysis of the scenario is presented, as well as some solutions to the problems and an analysis of how the different solution options affect each party involved in the process.  Finally, both a best case and a realistic recommendation is presented, from the perspective of the technology transfer office.


 

    Loran Steinberger summer 2012
Student: Loran Steinberger (Engineering Science and Mechanics- Biomechanics Option)
Mentor: Bahareh Behkam (Mechanical Engineering)
Project Title: Chemotaxis based sorting of micro-particles in a microfluidic assay

Abstract: Bacteria utilized as machines (biomotors) for the manipulation of micro/nanoscale structures could be developed as a cost-effective alternative to Scanning Tunneling Microscopy (STM) and Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) guided protocols. In this work, we have developed a micro-particle sorting method that relies on bacterial chemotaxis. Serratia marcescens were used to separate polystyrene micro-beads of diameter 6-7 µm having two distinct surface properties within a microfluidic platform. The bacteria were able to selectively attach to particles due to differences in surface chemistry created by poly-L-lysine (PLL) treatment. The microfluidic platform was fabricated in Polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) gel, and consisted of two circular 4 mm diameter compartments connected by a 100 µm wide channel, with a third circular compartment of 2 mm diameter halfway along the channel. One large compartment contained hydrogel releasing chemoattractant (casamino acid) via diffusion, while the other contained S. marcescens and attached micoroparticles. Using this method, preliminary results have indicated that 68% more PLL treated particles collected in the center 2 mm compartment near the chemoattractant source when compared with non-treated particles over a one hour time period.


 

    Sarah Steinke summer 2012
Student: Sarah Steinke (Biological Sciences)
Mentor: Raffaella De Vita (Engineering Science and Mechanics)
Project Title: Data Analysis for Determining Damage in Medial Collateral Ligaments

Abstract: Sprains of ligaments are very common injuries in sports. In sprains, damage of the ligamentous tissue is determined by different mechanical stimuli. This research project aims at characterizing the damage mechanisms in medial collateral ligaments (MCLs) caused by consecutive stretches. Toward this end, tensile tests were performed on rat medial collateral ligaments (MCLs) using a protocol previously established in our lab. Prior to testing, black ink speckles were created on the MCLs using an airbrush. The motion of these speckles was recorded, while loading the MCLs, using a high-speed video camera. The recorded images were then analyzed by employing point-tracking software (ProAnalyst®). The load data obtained by the tensile machine and displacement of the speckles on the MCLs were converted into mechanical data. These data were then analyzed to find threshold stretches that indicated the onset of mechanical damage. The long-term outcome of this study is to enhance current preventive and treatment strategies of knee ligament sprains.


 

    Clarissa Stiles summer 2012
Student: Clarissa Stiles (Psychology)
Mentor: Rolf Mueller (Mechanical Engineering) and Anupum Gupta (Mechanical Engineering)
Project Title: Bats and Tomography: Optimizing Non-destructive CT Imaging of Museum Specimens

Abstract: Bats use sound waves at ultrasonic frequencies to navigate and hunt. The nose-leaves and ears of bats help shape these outgoing and incoming sounds. We are interested in exploring how these structures affect emitting and receiving of sound. To study these structures x-ray micro computed tomography (CT) was used to make high resolution 3-D models. However, there are remaining scanning issues that must be addressed. First is that soft tissues have poor contrast. This obstacle can be overcome by the use of a contrast agent. However many contrast agents tend to stain, and finding a non-destructive contrast agent is critical to examining museum specimens. Another problem is the shifting that occurs during scanning due to drying out of specimens that adversely affects model accuracy. To address these problems we searched for suitable contrast agents, such as potassium iodide, and mechanical supports, such as Styrofoam, shaving cream, mineral oil, and tested their effects on non-museum specimens and on the scans. The promising solution is a combination of contrast agent (potassium iodide) and shaving foam. In the future we hope to explore this solution in depth and apply it to museum specimens.


 

    Nikki Szanyi summer 2012
Student: Nicole Szanyi (Biological Systems Engineering)
Mentor: David G. Schmale III (Plant Pathology, Physiology, and Weed Science)
Project Title: Understanding the Aerobiology of High Risk Plant Pathogens

Abstract: Release of Fusarium graminearum ascospores from perithecia  ABSTRACT: Aerobiology is the study of movement and transportation of organisms through the atmosphere.  The phases are preconditioning, takeoff and ascent, transport, descent and landing, and impact (Isard et al., 2005). Fusarium graminearum is a high risk plant pathogen carried through air’s turbulent boundary layer and infects crops with a disease known as Fusarium head blight.  Billions of dollars have been lost due to reduced crop quality and yield throughout the United States (Windels, 1999). This study focused on the preconditioning and take-off phases of F. graminearum.  By altering nutrient availability it will be determined if nutrient concentrations affect perithecia production and if the number of spores within perithecia are nutrient dependent. This was observed by varying the concentration of carrots in media.  Preliminary data indicates that perithecia production increased with nutrient availability.  Also shown was that the highest number of spores produced was on the highest concentration of media but varied at lower concentrations.  Aerial Surveillance  ABSTRACT: The Bumblebee is a quadcopter optimized for aerial videography and photography.  By mounting a camera underneath Bumblebee, it will be able to track autonomous aerial vehicles, used for aerial sampling, and to take high resolution photographs of crop fields to identify high risk pathogens.


 

    Ashley Taylor summer 2012
Student: Ashley Taylor (Mechanical Engineering)
Mentor: Andre Muelenaer, M.D. (Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine) and Al Wicks (Mechanical Engineering)
Project Title: Using Accelerometers to Quantitatively Assess Infant General Movements for Early Detection and Intervention of Cerebral Palsy

Abstract: According to the National Institute of Health, nearly 800,000 persons suffer from Cerebral Palsy in the United States alone. While there is currently no cure for Cerebral Palsy, many physical therapies may be implemented to lessen the traumatic impact of this disease on a person’s life. Current diagnostic techniques are subjective and often inaccurate until a child reaches 4-5 years of age. By using micro-electromechanical accelerometers, the general movements of infants can be quantified.  Small transducers will be placed on the limbs of infants to assess the specific frequencies and phase displacement of an infant’s general movements.  Signal processing with high-speed data acquisition allows observation of specific “fidgety” and high-frequency motions, which can be undetected by the human eye. This research is focused on the development of a clinical tool to diagnose Cerebral Palsy in infants. While this sensor development is not a cure for Cerebral Palsy, it is potentially a step towards early diagnosis, which could ultimately lead to better lives for persons with Cerebral Palsy.


 

    Karishma Tolani summer 2012
Student: Karishma Tolani (Chemistry)
Mentor: Pablo Sobrado (Biochemistry) and Karina Kizjakina (Biochemistry)
Project Title: High throughput screening for inhibitors of Aspergillus fumigatus siderophore A and Aspergillus fumigatus UDP-Galactopyranose Mutase

Abstract: Aspergillus fumigatus (A. fumigatus) is a human pathogenic saprotrophic fungus that is typically found in soil and decaying organic matter. Infection by A. fumigatus is a significant health problem to immunocompromised individuals, such as patients in intensive care units, organ transplant recipients, and AIDS victims. A. fumigatus Siderophore A (Af SidA) is a flavin-dependent monooxygenase that catalyzes NADPH and oxygen dependent hydroxylation of ornithine to N5-hydroxyornithine in A. fumigatus biosynthesis. A. fumigatus UDP-Galactopyranose Mutase (Af UGM) is a flavoenzyme which catalyzes the isomerization to UDP-galactofuranose, a precursor of Galactofuranose which is essential in A. fumigatus virulence. It is essential for pathogenesis for A. fumigatus, and, therefore, is a validated drug target against A. fumigatus infections. Previously, in our group we developed a chromophore that mimics the NADPH substrate of Af SidA. It consisted of the ADP portion linked to TAMRA chromophore for Af SidA. A similar procedure was done for Af UGM and consisted of a UDP portion linked to TAMRA chromophore. These chromophores were shown to bind in the active site of the enzymes with a Kd value of 2.1 ± 0.2 µM and 2.6 ± 0.2 µM respectively. These chromophores were used to develop a fluorescence polarization-binding assay, which was optimized for high throughput screening of potential inhibitors of AfSidA and Af UGM. Here, we present the results of screening a library consisting of 2320 small molecule compounds.


 

    Dan Torre summer 2012
Student: Dan Torre (Environmental Science)
Mentor: Durrelle Scott IV (Biological Systems Engineering)
Project Title: Influence of Surrounding Environment on Net Ecosystem Metabolism

Abstract: The surrounding environment of a stream ecosystem plays an important role on the biological processes and reactions which effect water quality in streams. In order to study the variability of net ecosystem metabolism in different environments, several parameters were measured daily in five minute intervals. The parameters measured as part of the study include temperature, dissolved oxygen concentration, pH, Carbon Dioxide concentration, and conductivity. To test the influence of surrounding environments on stream metabolism, a set of sondes was deployed in agricultural, urban, and forested sites of Strouble’s Creek.  The data was collected using a Campbell’s scientific datalogger, taking measurements every ten seconds and averaging the values over five minute intervals. From the data collected, the diurnal patterns of dissolved oxygen concentration, temperature, and carbon dioxide concentration will be analyzed. These measurements will be used to calculate gross primary production, respiration and ultimately net ecosystem metabolism to conclude whether the system is autotrophic or heterotrophic, and what role surrounding environment plays on the site.


 

Student: Trevor White (Business Information Technology)
Mentor: Marcella Kelly (Wildlife Sciences)
Project Title: Testing Game Cameras for Effectiveness at Photographing Animals of Various Size

Abstract: While there are many remotely-triggered game cameras available, there is little information available concerning what animals are best detected by which models.  In this study, we analyzed past data from an ongoing study at the Mountain Lake Biological station (MLBS) and pitted 6 different camera models against each other. We analyzed past data from 20 camera stations from 2008 and 2009 that each had two opposing camera models. We categorized animals by size; counted total animals captured in each category; then calculated the trap rate per 100 nights.  This information was then used to choose three stations to place our six camera models. The cameras were arranged so that each camera had a chance to trigger when an animal walked by.  We used paired t-tests on past data to determine which cameras had significantly more photos of animals within each size category. We used ANOVA for our head-to-head trials to determine whether there were differences in number of photos or trapping rates of the camera models. Preliminarily, it appears that the Moultrie cameras with their traditional flash produce the best images.  However, they do not tend to detect everything that passes by in time to take a photo.  The Reconyx cameras do well at detection, but often produce blurry images due to the less intense LED flash.


 

    Lauren Withers summer 2012
Student: Lauren Withers (Biochemistry)
Mentor: Chang Lu (Chemical Engineering) and Despina Nelie Loufakis (Chemical Engineering)
Project Title: Electroporation of Chinese Hamster Ovary Cells using Microfluidic Devices

Abstract: The purpose of the research is to examine the affect of shear stress on electroporation. During electroporation, the cells are exposed to a direct current voltage while they pass through microfluidic devices of varying narrow lengths. This increases the permeability of the cell membrane allowing small molecules to pass though opened pores. Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells flowing with different flow rates experience different shear stresses. Propidium iodide (PI) and plasmid were used in order to enter the cell membrane through electroporation in separate experiments.  The cell viability was later determined using Sytox dye and PI respectively.  The research has shown that generally if we increase the electric field strength then a higher electroporation efficiency can be obtained and is accompanied by lower percentage of cell deaths. This knowledge can be applied to delivering other genes and drugs of similar sizes into cells.



 

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