Selection of proposals for the SCI-STAR (Student Training for Advising Research) Program for the 2017-2018 academic year was just finalized. We had a very competitive pool of applicants for the faculty committee to review.
Please join us in congratulating the graduate students who have been selected to participate in the 2017-18 SCI-STAR (Student Training for Advising Research) Program:
Madeleine Gomel (Bioengineering), "Improving the Lifespan of Bioprosthetic Heart Valves with PEGDAA-Based Coating" - Bioprosthetic aortic valve implants must be replaced every ~15 years due to failure from thrombosis, calcification, or inflammation, leading to multiple replacement surgeries and significant patient morbidity. My work aims to increase the lifespan of valve implants by investigating a thin hydrogel coating to shield the valve from these modes of failure. By increasing the lifespan of bioprosthetic valves, we hope to reduce the number of replacement surgeries and improve patients' overall quality of life.
Daniel Gonzales (Applied Physics), "Whole-brain imaging of spontaneous behavioral state transitions" - A central goal in neuroscience is to understand how the ensemble activity of the brain produces animal behaviors, such as sleep. In this study, we use fluorescence imaging to record the whole-brain activity of the microscopic roundworm, C. elegans. Monitoring the dynamics of the worm brain as these animals transition from "awake" into "sleep-like" states will provide insight into the fundamental rules that dictate animal behavior.
Jason Guo (Bioengineering), "Thiolated Poly(ε-caprolactone) Macromers for “Click” Conjugation of Biomolecules" - We will develop dual purpose poly(ε-caprolactone)-based macromers that serve as hydrogel crosslinkers and sites of biomolecule conjugation via alkyne-azide “click” chemistry. By exploiting the high selectivity of the alkyne-azide cycloaddition reaction, we aim to develop a “click” binding system for the conjugation of clinically relevant molecules to a wide variety of hydrogel systems used in tissue engineering and other fields.
Sarah Hewes (Bioengineering), "Coronary Artery Extruder" - Coronary heart disease can affect elderly people who lack vessels suitable for use in coronary artery bypass grafting, the preferred surgical treatment. There is a clear need for artificial small diameter vascular grafts. The development of a device to extrude a multi-layered hydrogel scaffold, pre-seeded with cells, will speed the development of cellularized, small diameter vascular grafts.
Sara Nizzero (Applied Physics), "Overcoming biological barriers in the post-nano era: unraveling multi-stage delivery vectors uptake by the liver" - In past decades much effort has been devoted to the development of drugs for the treatment of a variety of diseases, cancer first of all. However, because of their exogenous nature, most drugs administered are seen by the body as a threat, and as such have to overcome the body's own defense mechanisms before they can reach the tumor, what we collectively call biological barriers. Their effect is so dramatic that only a few percent of any injected drug is generally able to reach tumors. This is arguably the current limiting factor in cancer treatment efficacy in clinic, especially for metastasis. Physiologically structured like a sponge filled with macrophages, the liver is one of the major biological barriers to nanomedicine. The goal of our project is to investigate the mechanisms of nanoparticle uptake by the liver, with the greater aim of developing clinical strategies to inhibit liver uptake and thus increase tumor accumulation of administered drugs.
Sandhya Susarla (Materials Science and Nanoengineering), "Two-dimensional quaternary transition metal di-chalcogenide alloys" - Through this project, we would investigate the thermal and optical properties of two dimensional quaternary alloys (MoxW(1-x)SySe(1-y)) using spectrometric techniques. These properties would be used in future to build laser diodes and LED’s.
Dayne Swearer (Chemistry), "Earth-Abundant Mg nanoparticles for Plasmon Mediated Ammonia Production Through Nitride Phase Intermediates" - This project will look plasmonic nanoparticles as a platform for the synthesis of ammonia, a common fertilizer and major commodity in the chemical industry today. The overall goal is to utilize earth abundant Mg metal in the presence of commonly available precursors (nitrogen and water) and energy sources (sunlight) to produce ammonia sustainably.
Li Yang (Physics and Astronomy). "Strongly Interacting Ultracold Atoms in One Dimension" - Using advanced analytical and numerical techniques, as well as a theoretical framework developed in our group, I will study some mysterious aspects of the Dynamical Fermionization of a Spinor Quantum Gas. The relevant equations need to be derived and implemented in computer simulation. Data from the simulation will be analyzed, and possibly a more general theory of dynamical fermionization will be developed.
These graduate students submitted proposals for original research that they will conduct over the course of the 2017-18 academic year. They will recruit and mentor an undergraduate student who will be a collaborator in the research project. In addition, in partnership with the Doerr Institute for New Leaders, graduate students will participate in leader development training over the course of the year.