Applied Research Innovations in Science and Engineering (ARISE)
ARISE 2017 Colloquium Venue 3: RH 205
Lab: Developmental Genomics Lab
Faculty: Prof. Chris Rushlow
Mentors: Shao-Kuei Huang & Patrice Delaney
Time: 10:30 am – 10:40 am
Zelda (Zld) is a master transcription factor regulating gene expression during Drosophila embryogenesis. It has been shown that zld is also expressed in the larval imaginal discs and the brain and nervous system. To understand how zld gene transcription is controlled in different tissues, we chose several putative enhancer fragments to test their activity. Fly lines with a reporter gene driven by a single fragment were generated. Using probes against the reporter gene for in situ hybridization, we will reveal any expression pattern driven by these fragments. Reporter gene expression that matches any part of the zld pattern indicates that we have identified specific enhancers, which will be further examined to better understand the regulation of Zld throughout development.
Bipedalism is one of the key adaptations that distinguish humans from other animals. Whether humans evolved from an ape-like quadrupedal knuckle-walking ancestor or a more generalized arboreal monkey-like one remains under considerable debate. African apes (chimpanzees, bonobos, and gorillas) share numerous morphologies of the distal radius (lower forearm) purported to reflect their unique knuckle-walking adaptation, but it is unclear whether these traits could be equally explained by other aspects of their locomotor repertoire such as vertical climbing and suspension. The purpose of this project is to test the hypothesis that the distal radius of African apes reflects an adaptation to terrestrial knuckle-walking. To test this hypothesis, we will collect shape data from digital three-dimensional models of the distal radius in multiple species of monkeys and apes that engage in varying forms of arboreal and terrestrial locomotion, climbing, and suspension. Our hypothesis would be falsified if any of the individual African ape species clusters with non-knuckle-walking species. We will then reevaluate the distal radius morphology of fossil hominins (e.g., ‘Lucy’) to make inferences about the locomotor behavior that preceded bipedalism. The results of this study will have implications for better understanding the evolution of human bipedalism and form-function relationships in living anthropoid primates.
In humans and other animals, chromosomes are organized and packaged inside a small nucleus. Proper packaging of DNA is required for normal gene expression, and is disrupted in disease. This project investigates how an evolutionarily conserved protein complex, called “condensin” binds to and compacts chromosomes. The students will perform molecular cloning and bacterially express small portions of condensin proteins that are capable of making physical interactions with basic chromosomal proteins. These recombinant proteins will be used to determine and test the function of structural features behind condensin interaction with chromosomes.
Strokes are the leading cause of adult disability worldwide affecting over 800,000 individuals a year in the US. Even though recent trends have shown a decline in the number of deaths, there has been an alarming increase in the number of young stroke patients. These patients often suffer from hemiparesis, which is characterized by weakness of the affected hand, making activities of daily living (ADL) exceedingly difficult. Rehabilitation is necessary to prevent chronic effects of hemiparesis. Current practices include physiotherapists performing physical and occupational therapy where the therapist manually guides the patient’s hand motion to increase mobility. While it is effective, the high costs and time consuming nature discourages patient’s involvement and prevents complete recovery. We are developing a novel, low-cost, and portable hand rehab technology, which enables patients to practice therapy at home to facilitate complete recovery. This work will document the design, prototyping, and usability study of the hand rehabilitation device.
Lab: Bio Inferfacial Engineering and Diagnostics Group
Faculty: Prof. Rastislav Levicky
Mentor: Eshan Treasurer
Time: 10:50 am – 11:10 am
Synthetic nucleic acid mimics provide opportunity for redesigning the specificity and affinity of hybridization with natural DNA or RNA. Such redesign is of great interest for diagnostic applications where it can enhance the desired signal against a background of competing interactions. The current project intends to study the thermodynamics of RNA binding with morpholino, an uncharged nucleic acid mimic, in order to determine if it can be described by a two-state process. The study aids the further determination of thermodynamic characteristics of the system which can lead to more convenient and predictive models for RNA-morpholino hybridization.
Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) is the most aggressive and lethal form of breast cancer. Advances in the adjuvant treatment of breast cancer have not had a favorable effect on IBC patient survival rates because the underlying mechanisms which allow IBC to be so aggressively metastatic are still under study. Evidence indicates that cancer cells with stem cell-like properties, termed ‘cancer stem cells’ (CSCs), play a major role in the aggression of IBC. In vivo, CSCs reside in a distinct microenvironment, the “CSC niche”, in which a diverse array of mechanical/biophysical environmental factors contributes to the overall control of CSC phenotypes. Hence, this research examines how the distinct adaptive biomechanical attributes of IBC-CSCs, the so-called “mechanophenotype”, such as cell stiffness, actin cytoskeleton (CSK) structure, and force contribute to the CSCs’ tendencies toward tumorigeneses and metastases. Furthermore, our proposed research will specifically explore the role of the mechanotransductive regulatory networks involving Rho GTPase, actomyosin CSK and nuclear Hippo/YAP signaling in regulating the IBC to CSC. Understanding the unique role of the CSC mechanophenotype in IBC progression will enable the engineering of novel mechano-regulation platforms that would encode specific biomechanical cues to control IBC’s stiffness, morphology, actomyosin CSK structures, and tensions. This added control will, in turn, modulate IBC’s aggressiveness via its CSC subpopulation. Such a research is urgently needed for future therapeutic approaches to IBC.
Flow reactors, especially microreactors, surpass traditional batch systems, for example a flask, due to its advantage of fast kinetics information acquisition and precise control over the reaction condition. However, the fast heat transfer property of a flow reactor also makes it difficult establishing a temperature gradient across the reactor. Temperature annealing technique is widely used in chemical synthesis, especially important for the synthesis of nanoparticles. This project focuses on the designing and modeling of a flow reactor which is capable of changing temperature gradually, which will make temperature annealing process accessible in a flow reactor. Fast fabrication of the reactor using 3D printing technology will significantly reduce the testing cycle. The result of this project will broaden the horizon of the flow reactor application.
Mentor: Sai Prasanth Krishnamoorthy, Ashwin Raj Kumar
Time: 11:30 am – 11:40 am
Traditionally, robots are controlled by one master computer to perform specific task(s). However, communication through a network of linked robots to perform specific tasks collectively is an underdeveloped area of research. This communication between robots can reduce the amount of time that a certain task–such as picking up an item–might take. Linking the robot’s databases could allow the robots to communicate with other robots to perform the tasks without direct communication between the master computer and each of the robots. In this experiment, our goal is to use one code from a master computer to control a network of robots. This will involve robotic interaction so that robots notify each other to efficiently run a task. For example, if one robot is commanded to pick up a soda can 5 ft away from it, it will notify any robots that are closer to the soda can to perform the task. This “teamwork” objective is not only time-saving but a step further to Artificial intelligence.
Nylon is one of the most prevalent textiles used in the world. Its uses range from the clothing to kitchen cookware. However, the production of nylon requires an immense amount of energy obtained from fossil fuels, and thus, harmful to the environment. The project involves the modification of solar cells in order to obtain the necessary energy for the chemical reaction that produces a component of nylon to take place. To achieve maximum efficiency, clean cuts of the solar cells are crucial because they allow for the most surface area per cut. Each solar cell is then placed in a combination of series and parallel circuits in order to provide the necessary voltage and current for the desired chemical reaction