Sierra Atwater just completed her freshman year as a biology major at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. She works in the chemical and biomolecular engineering laboratory of professor Denis Wirtz at Johns Hopkins University and is part of the Institute for NanoBioTechnology REU program. REU stands for Research Experience for Undergraduates and is a National Science Foundation funded program administered by INBT.
Sierra explained that the Wirtz group is “looking at cell motility and proliferation to see how different cancer cells move and what affects that movement.”
“I’ve been looking at cell division and cell density over a 16-hour period,” she added. “I have learned how to do a lot in this lab such as how to make 3D collagen gel matrices and how to make 2D gels, how to use T2000 microscopes and the confocal microscopes and how to do ELISAs,” which are enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays or tests use antibodies to detect substances.
Hasini Jayatilaka, PhD student in ChemBE, mentors Sierra. In addition, Sierra says she feels she can call upon the expertise of other students working in the Wirtz lab. This is her first research experience, and she says, the hardest thing so for has been just remembering how to do so many different techniques.
For more information about INBT’s summer REU program, visit this link.
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