The Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies (CBIS) held a poster session of undergraduate research Dec. 4 in the CBIS atrium. Thirty undergraduates displayed the results of research projects jointly sponsored by the Institute and CBIS as part of an initiative launched in the fall semester, according to Deepak Vashishth, director of CBIS.
“By creating more opportunities for our undergraduate students to enter the labs of interdisciplinary researchers, the CBIS Undergraduate Research Project is offering an invaluable experience to our students,” said Vashishth. “The students who participate are matched with resident faculty, take part in research, and may even participate in peer-reviewed publications or conferences.”
Research projects represented a diverse cross section of the research portfolio within the center. Among the student research featured was work by: Josephine LoRicco, a junior working in the lab of George Makhatadze, chaired professor in the Biocomputation and Bioinformatics research constellation and professor of biological sciences. LoRicco presented her work on proteins found in human semen, which have been found to form amyloid fibrils and increase the infectivity of HIV by several orders of magnitude. Understanding the kinetics of fibril formation is a small step toward discovering a way to prevent the transmission of the HIV virus. LoRicco monitored the kinetics of fibril formation for a fragment of one such protein, SEM1(36-107), in the presence of varying concentrations of heparin.
Nadeem Kazi, a junior working in the lab of Deanna Thompson, associate professor of biomedical engineering. Kazi presented his work culturing adult mice neural stem cells from the subventricular zone as part of a research project to understand “an important regulator in the behavior of neural stem cells by facilitating neural cell generation and self-renewal.”
Katherine Mezic, a junior working in the lab of Blanca Barquera, associate professor of biological sciences. Mezic presented her work on a project seeking to establish the structure/function relationship of the sodium pumping enzyme NADH: quinone oxidoreductase, which is found in pathogenic bacteria such as Vibrio cholerae. The enzyme enables the bacteria to move, import nutrients, and extrude toxins and antibiotics, which in turn allows it to adapt to different environments and to spread disease. Mezic is contributing to work on cys-scanning mutagenesis, a powerful tool for determining the structure/function of the enzyme.