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Integrative Science and Engineering Center

CoRPs Fellows

ISE CoRPs launched in 2018. Each year the program supports around 10 undergraduate summer research fellows working with 15 or more faculty mentors.

2022 Research Fellows

Major: Biology (Spring 2024)

Mentors: Yvonne Sun and Mrigendra Rajput

Project Title: Immune Signaling by Macrophages in Response to Intracellular Pathogens

Project Summary: Viral infections have the potential to completely overwhelm the body if appropriate measures by the immune system are not taken. Under the mentorship of Dr. Rajput and Dr. Sun, my research this summer focused on the influence of propionate (a metabolic byproduct of gut microbiota with putative health effects) on intestinal epithelium cells infected with coronavirus (OC 43). By studying the cytopathic effects of HCT-8 cells exposed to different concentrations of propionate, we were able to gain a better understanding of how the metabolism of our gut microbiota can modulate our immune functions, something that can potentially lead to the development of new treatment options for coronaviruses, including COVID-19. 

Note: My original research project is titled Immune Signaling by Macrophages in Response to Intracellular Pathogens, but we ended up not using macrophages and instead using HCT-8 cells instead.


Major: Chemical Engineering (Spring 2023)

Mentors: Soubantika Palchoudhury, Erick Vasquez, and Madhuri Kango-Singh

Project Title: Bio-inspired nanogels for novel drug delivery and hyperthermia

Project Summary: My project investigated using nanogels for drug delivery and hyperthermia. Under Dr. Soubantika Palchoudhury, Dr. Erick S. Vasquez, and Dr. Madhuri Kango-Singh’s supervision, hydrogels were embedded with nanoparticles, and gel properties were studied using a variety of experiments. Nanogels are a great opportunity for the future of medicine because they allow for a controlled release of drugs at a specific area of the body while reducing inflammation to surrounding tissues. There is still a lot of research to be done with nano-bio interactions since most nanoparticle experiments are still in-vitro; this project will only encourage more work.


Major: Chemistry (Spring 2025)

Mentors: Angela Mammana and Gregory Carroll

Project Title: Investigating UV light-induced DNA modification for germicide applications

Project Summary: My project is on the effects of UV irradiation with Hg and UVC LED lamps on the spectroscopic signals of DNA. In germicidal processes, pathogens are irradiated with UVC light, which destroys their DNA, thus providing better air purification.  Commercial systems use Hg lamps; however, in healthcare environments there is a growing desire to switch to LED-based systems. Spectroscopic analysis of DNA irradiation with specific wavelengths of light provides insights into the molecular basis of germicidal processes. Additionally, the use of fluorescence is a new possible indicator for cell death. This project increased my understanding of UV irradiation on DNA and the analysis of spectrophotometric data as well as the molecular mechanism of UV germicide. 


Major: Pre-medicine (Spring 2025)

Mentor: Justin Biffinger

Project Title: Inducing Secretion of Hydrolases from a Strain of Aureobasidium for Degrading Polymer Coatings and Plastics

Project Summary: Plastic polymer coatings, specifically polyester and polyether polyurethane, are harmful to communities and the environment, creating a need for expedited decomposition. The investigation of the fungus Aureobasidium. sp. W12 accelerates the creation of a more sustainable environment through the control of its degradation processes. The project focuses on what mechanism the organism Aureobasidium. sp. W12 uses to metabolize plastics. I work on the isolation, characterization, and identification of secreted hydrolases for control of plastic polymer biodegradation.


Major: Biochemistry (Spring 2025)

Mentors: Amit Singh and Muhammad Usman

Project Title: Genetics of Dorso-ventral patterning in Drosophila eye

Project Summary: Organogenesis requires axial patterning for the transition of a monolayer of cells to an adult organ. It involves the delineation of Anterior-Posterior (AP), Dorso-Ventral (DV), Proximo-Distal (PD) axes. Drosophila melanogaster is a great model to study this process because the genes and pathways are highly conserved to humans. During eye development, the DV axis is the first to form and any deviations during this process results in developmental birth defects. We have previously identified defective proventriculus (dve), a transcription factor as a dorsal selector gene that regulates wingless during eye development. Morphogens like wingless (wg), hedgehog (hh) and decapentaplegic (dpp) also play an important role during eye development. The Hh pathway is highly conserved in mammals and has a role in growth and development. According to our hypothesis, dve interacts with Hedgehog signaling pathway during eye development and may have a role in eye vs. head fate specification. Using Drosophila eye as a model, we study the interaction between dve and hh to understand the role of Hh signaling. We have used the GAL4-UAS bipartite system to modulate Hh signaling in the dve domain. We will be presenting the results from our initial studies. This study will further our understanding of patterning defects and the basis of genetic birth defects in the eye.


Major: Biology and Religious Studies (Spring 2024)

Mentors: Amit Singh and Muhammad Usman

Project Title: i-TRACE RNA interference- based reporter system to distinguish spatiotemporal gene expression in real time versus lineage cells in Drosophila

Project Summary: In all cells, dynamic gene expression along the spatiotemporal axis proves to be vital in any organism’s development. These changes are responsible for cellular responses to stimuli as well as execution of sequential developmental programs. This execution is highly regulated and highly specific. In the development of the Drosophila eye, multiple genes are expressed at various times in order to regulate target genes. The interest of this project is to is to analyze the exact positions of this dynamic expression of certain genes involved in the fruit fly’s eye development. The i- TRACE (RNAi Technique for Real- time And Clonal Expression) system is being used to observe the small yet active changes in expression patterns. The Gal4/UAS, FLP/FRT, RNAi and fluorescent reporters are used in combination with the i-TRACE system to assess gene expression. Real time expression that is Gal4 mediated is observed in the presence of a red fluorescent protein known as RFP. Similarly, any lineage cells are marked by the presence of green fluorescent protein, or GFP, which functions independently of Gal4. Finally, GFP-RNAi expression, which is Gal4 mediated, exists in cells that have either currently or recently expressed the gene. Because of this, observations in minute changes in expression are able to be observed as marked by a loss of GFP. Here, we present the expression data of some of the genes that play an important role during Drosophila eye development.


Major: Chemical Engineering (Spring 2024)

Mentors: Russell (Kirk) Pirlo and Bui

Project Title: Investigation of Cancel cell motility with fluidic channel hydrogel tissue chip models and additive manufacturing thereof

Project Summary: My project entails designing microfluidic tissue-chips that can be used to study the behavior of brain cancer cells. Brain cancer remains one of the most invasive and incurable cancers due to lack of substantial information on cell sprouting, migration, and how they communicate with each other. Through the production of the microfluidic tissue-chips, new experiments can be conducted to gather more information on said processes to create more efficient routes of treatment.


Major: Mathematics and Psychology (Fall 2023)

Mentors: Robert Lowe, Erick Vasquez, Paul Kladitis, and Christopher Cooley

Project Title: Soft Piezoelectric Composites: Tailoring Microstructure to Optimize Macroscale Electro-Mechanical Performance

Project Summary: Hyper-Elastic models provide a tool for displaying the stress-strain relationship of  elastic materials, like rubber.  This relationship is an important for design engineers, that use many of these newly found parameters for application design.  By developing a methodology to fit these models accurately and efficiently, other projects in our lab can progress. We are developing a script that will fit inputted data to a variety of  models, while providing the unknown parameters, error values, and plots.    The script is designed such that someone with no formal background in the subject can run it and acquire useful results.  The list of models fit is Ogden, Lopez-Paimes, Gent, Yeoh, Mooney-Rivlin, and Neo-Hookean.


Major: Biology and Psychology (Spring 2023)

Mentors: Madhuri Kango-Singh and Vijayan Asari

Project Title: Tracing invasive tumor cells in Drosophila tumor models

Project Summary: Some of the most common mutations found in patients with colorectal cancer are loss of function of tumor-suppressing APC and p53 and activation of oncogenic Ras genes. To understand the expression of each mutated gene on tumorigenesis, ‘one-’, ‘two-’, and ‘three-hit’ models were made to establish how combinations of genetic alterations promote intestinal tumor growth and understand the progression of tumor formation in these models. This study will help us identify the potential combinations that cause metastatic tumors for further studies.


Major: Biology (Spring 2024)

Mentors: Loan Bui, Erick Asquez and Soubantika Palchoudhury

Project Title: Bio-based Magnetic Nanocomposite for Targeting Breast Cancer Migration

Project Summary: Cancer is the second leading cause of death, and by 2025, there are predicted to be 20 million cases per year. Typical treatments have a slew of limitations, impacting the lives and comfort of patients. There is a desperate need for new cancer treatment research, notably in the realm of nanotechnology. Our research aims to address this issue by fabricating magnetic nanoparticles that will be used as novel drug delivery systems and serve as targeting/therapeutic models. Our nanoparticle system may reduce breast cancer cell migration, promising to benefit the treatment for cancer patients.


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... I did gain so much from my experiences this summer and would absolutely recommend (CoRPS) to anyone else wanting to try research.

Recent Student Researcher