REU student profile: Claire Korpela

Claire Korpela is a rising senior at the University of Wyoming studying chemistry and molecular biology. She spent the summer at Johns Hopkins University working in the chemical and biomolecular engineering laboratory of Honggang Cui. Claire was part of Johns Hopkins Institute for NanoBioTechnology’s Research Experience for Undergraduates.

Claire Korpela

Claire Korpela

Her research project involved creating a peptide chain that targets to cancer cells and combining it with an anti-cancer drug. Claire’s career goal is to become an oncologist. She decided to write her own blog post on her experience at JHU, which follows:

The naked eye is only so good for seeing small objects. This summer I had the opportunity to work with chemotherapeutic 1D nanostructures, a task that my naked eye was not well equipped for.


Nanotubes (Cui Lab)

When I was first told that the nanotubes I had formed from individual drug-peptide monomers has self-assembled into highly ordered and complex structures, I had a difficult time wrapping my mind around what that meant. Just the idea of nanotechnology astounded me. How could something so small have such a large impact on society and the future of technology and medicine? It was something I needed to see to believe.

After looking at my sample using transmission electron microscopy (TEM), I was taken aback by the image that was before me. It certainly wouldn’t be classified as beautiful or interesting to most people looking at it, but to me it was. Seeing how my molecule aggregated on its own into nanotubes that can weave around itself to form a stable gel gave me an even better understanding of just how important nanotechnology can be in the fight against cancer.


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