REU student profile: Alexa Wnorowski

Alexa Wnorowski

Alexa Wnorowski

Alexa Wnorowski is a rising senior in Biological Engineering studying at Cornell University. Her summer REU at Johns Hopkins University involved studying the blood brain barrier in the materials science and engineering laboratory of Peter Searson. Searson directs the Institute for NanoBioTechnology that hosts the Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU).

“The goal is to figure out how to move drugs across this tight junction of cells that protects the brain,” Alexa explained. Alexa used a four-channel microfluidic device fabricated in the Searson lab.

“Each channel has a slightly different shear stress because it has a slightly different height,” she explained. “We seed a culture of cells at the bottom of the channel and let them grow so that they are confluent. Then we run media through the device and we see how the different shear stresses affects proliferation of the cells.”

Although she conducted research before, Alexa said she had never worked with microfluidic devices before. She said to gain a broader perspective on research, it’s important to work in several different laboratories. “Every lab is run in different ways and have very different atmospheres, “ she said. “This experience has shown me how research in conducted in different labs.”

Alexa’s goal is to earn a PhD in biomedical engineering.

For all press inquiries regarding INBT, its faculty and programs, contact Mary Spiro, mspiro@jhu.edu or 410-516-4802.

 

Nanobio film festival projects posted to YouTube

Each summer, I teach a course through Johns Hopkins Institute for NanoBioTechnology for our training grant students in science communication. The course, Science Communication for Scientists and Engineers: Video News Release (EN.670.609), teaches students methods for communicating their research to a nontechnical audience. Topics covered include conveying your research in 60 seconds, scripting, story boarding and video camera filming and techniques.

inbt-abstractMartin Rietveld, INBT’s web and animation director, and the staff at the Digital Media Center on the Homewood campus, also play an integral part in this short summer workshop. The class meets four times for lecture and discussion, where they are shown many science videos and discuss case studies on what works in communicating technical information to a lay audience. They visit the DMC and INBT’s animation studio. The student groups then have approximately five weeks to work independently on their projects. At the end of the course, students show their completed videos at the INBT film festival.

This year the film festival was held on July 23 with nearly 50 people in attendance. We had 12 filmmakers split into three groups of four students.  The topics and teams and resulting videos follow. Enjoy!

Cancer

Ivie Aifuwa, chemical and biomolecular engineering, Denis Wirtz Lab

Moriah Knight, materials science, Peter Searson Lab

Christopher Saeui, biomedical engineering, Kevin Yarema Lab

Zinnia Xu, biomedical engineering, Peter Searson Lab

Lab-on-a-Chip Technology

Prasenjit Bose, physics, Daniel Reich Lab

Sarah Friedrich, biomedical engineering, Jeff Wang Lab

Erin Gallagher, materials science and engineering, Peter Searson Lab

Yu Shi, physics, Daniel Reich Lab

In Vitro Models for Testing Drug Delivery

Max Bogorad, materials science and engineering, Peter Searson Lab

Alex Komin. materials science and engineering, Peter Searson Lab

Luisa Russell, materials science and engineering, Peter Searson Lab

Bin Sheng Wong, chemical and biomolecular engineering, Konstantinos Konstantopoulos Lab

For all press inquiries regarding INBT, its faculty and programs, contact Mary Spiro, mspiro@jhu.edu or 410-516-4802.

 

 

 

REU student profile: Rebecca Majewski

DNA, the genetic sequence that tells cells what proteins to manufacture, typically resides inside the nucleus of a cell, but not always. Rebecca Majewski is studying the uptake of DNA into cell nuclei using a different polymer chains. Rebecca is a rising senior in BioMolecular Engineering from the Milwaukee School of Engineering and is working as a summer intern in the Johns Hopkins Institute for Nanobiotechnology’s REU program.

“We are interested in how much of the DNA with the polyplex can get into the nucleus,” she said, but explains that DNA associated outside of the nucleus can cause false higher measurements.

Rebecca Majewski. Photo by Mary Spiro

Rebecca Majewski. Photo by Mary Spiro

Rebecca is washing the cells with the nuclei to get rid of DNA outside the nucleus and then comparing the measurement of uptake of the DNA by the cell versus the measurement of the uptake of DNA by the nucleus.

“We are interested in what DNA gets inserted into the nucleus because that is what is ultimately expressed. It is important to find out how much makes it to the final destination and then is expressed. The goal of this work is to test different polymer chains to see which one actually does the better job of getting the DNA into the nucleus,” she said.

Rebecca works alongside PhD students and postdoctoral fellows in the biomedical engineering lab of Jordan Green lab at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. She says she highly values the opportunity for a research experience through INBT’s REU because her undergraduate institution does not train graduate students.

For all press inquiries regarding INBT, its faculty and programs, contact Mary Spiro, mspiro@jhu.edu or 410-516-4802.

Three new science and engineering films to premiere at INBT fest

INBT’s Annual SCIENCE and ENGINEERING Film Fest is Wednesday, July 23 at 10:30 a.m. in Schaffer 3 at Johns Hopkins University Homewood campus. Students from the summer class Science Communication for Scientists and Engineers: Video News Releases will be presenting their final projects and be availablmovie_clapper_board_clip_art_23354e for question and answer about their video news releases.

Film topics this year include drug delivery, lab-on-a-chip technology and how cells become cancerous. Don’t miss this opportunity to see the students’ work up on the big screen!!!!!!! This event is open to the entire Johns Hopkins community. FREE.

Facebook event page here.

Check out a previous video made in this class:

REU student profile: Ian Reucroft

Sitting at what looks like a pottery wheeled turned on its side, Ian Reucroft is using a method called electrospinning to create a nano-scale polymer fiber embedded with a drug that encourages nerve growth. The strand is barely visible to the eye, but the resulting fibers resemble spider web.

Ian Reucroft, a rising junior in Biomedical Engineering at Rutgers University, is working in the medical school campus laboratory of Hai-Quan Mao, professor of materials sciences and engineering at Johns Hopkins University. He is part of Johns Hopkins Institute for NanoBioTechnology’s summer REU, or research experience for undergraduates program.

Ian Reucroft in the Mao lab. Photo by Mary Spiro.

Ian Reucroft in the Mao lab. Photo by Mary Spiro.

“We are developing a material to help regrow nerves, either in central or peripheral nervous systems,” said Ian. One method of doing that he explained is to make nanofibers and incorporating a drug into those fibers, drugs that promote neuronic growth or cell survival or various other beneficial qualities. The Mao lab is looking into a relatively new and not well-studied drug called Sunitinib that promotes neuronal survival.

“We make a solution of the component to make the fiber, which is this case is polylactic acid (PLA), and the drug, which I have to dissolve into the solution,” Ian said. Although the drug seems to remain stable in solution, one of the challenges Ian has faced has been improving the distribution of the drug along the fiber.

This is Ian’s first experience with electrospinning but not his first time conducting research. He plans to pursue a PhD in biomedical engineering and remain in academia.

For all press inquiries regarding INBT, its faculty and programs, contact Mary Spiro, mspiro@jhu.edu or 410-516-4802.

The IMEC blog and why you should read it

Every summer since 2009, Johns Hopkins Institute for NanoBioTechnology has been sending students to the lovely town of Leuven in Belgium to conduct 10 weeks of research at IMEC, that country’s leader in nanoelectronics fabrication and testing. The students, both undergraduates and pre-doctoral students, collaborate on projects coordinated by Hopkins and IMEC faculty.

The research program is co-funded by the National Science Foundation International Research Experience for Students (IRES) program, by INBT and by IMEC. Travel, housing and a stipend are covered for each student. They work hard during the week, but weekends are open for European travel, which they all take advantage of.

IMEC summer researchers from left, Matthew Gonzalez, Polly Ma, Rustin Golnabi and Eugene Yoon.

IMEC summer researchers from left, Matthew Gonzalez, Polly Ma, Rustin Golnabi and Eugene Yoon.

We ask the students to blog about their experiences there. Four students are currently working at IMEC for summer 2014. This year the blog has been pretty active, so we invite you to check it out. Find out what it is like to conduct research in a foreign country. Find out about Belgian beer. Experience their summer away vicariously through their writings and photos.

You can find the IMEC blog here.

For all press inquiries regarding INBT, its faculty and programs, contact Mary Spiro, mspiro@jhu.edu or 410-516-4802.

REU student profile: Sierra Atwater

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.”

Sierra Atwater

Sierra Atwater

“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.

For all press inquiries regarding INBT, its faculty and programs, contact Mary Spiro, mspiro@jhu.edu or 410-516-4802.

 

 

 

LinkedIn Advice from the experts

INBT undergraduates attended a session, giving expert advice on how to build an effective profile and how to use LinkedIn for visibility, networking, and finding your next step.  The presenter discusses the latest features, and find connections you didn’t even know about. The presenter is Donna Vogel, MD, PhD, Professional Development Office (JHMI) Director and LinkedIn member since 2003.

 

In celebration of data

The Celebration of Data Symposium features a keynote talk by Denis Wirtz, Vice Provost for Research, Theophilus Halley Smoot Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and associate director of INBT. Speakers will be discussing how they have been using and leveraging data in their new lives. Topics will vary widely, from academic science, to the biotech industry, to work in the private and government sectors. The symposium will be held Friday, June 20 in Hackerman Hall B-17 (basement auditorium) from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. on the Homewood campus. This event is free and open to the Hopkins community.

Former PhD Shyam Khatau with Dens Wirtz. Photo by Will Kirk

Former PhD Shyam Khatau (left) with Dens Wirtz. Photo by Will Kirk

Agenda

  • 9:00 – 9:10 am Andrew Douglas Vice Dean for Faculty, WSE, Opening Remarks
  • 9:10 – 9:30 am Soichiro Yamada, PhD Associate Professor, UC Davis, To adhere or not to adhere: self-contact elimination by membrane fusion
  • 9:30 – 9:50 am Osi Esue, PhD, MBA Strategy Manager, Genentech, From single cells to the clinic: the roadmap of drug discovery and development
  • 9:50 – 10:10 am Daniele Gilkes, PhD, Assistant Research Professor, JHU Hypoxia and the ECM: drivers of tumor metastasis
  • 10:10 – 10:30 am Shyam Khatau, PhD, Senior Consultant, Navigant The secret life of a consultant
  • 10:30 – 11:00 am Coffee Break
  • 11:00 – 11:20 am Jerry S.H. Lee, PhD Health Sciences Director, NCI, Advancing Convergence and Innovation in Cancer Research
  • 11:20 – 11:40 am Tom Kole, MD, PhD Radiation Oncology Resident, Georgetown, Stereotactic Body Radiotherapy of Prostate Adenocarcinoma
  • 11:40 – 12 noon Owen McCarty, PhD Associate Professor, OHSU, Cytoskeletal remodeling of blood cells
  • 12 noon – 1 pm Lunch
  • 1:00 – 1:20 pm Steph Fraley, PhD BWF CASI Fellow, JHU, Digital Nucleic Acid Melting Analysis for Rapid Infectious Disease Diagnostics
  • 1:20 – 1:40 pm Brian Daniels, PhD Program Manager, Draper Laboratory, Design, development, and deployment
  • 1:40 – 2:00 pm Michelle Dawson, PhD Assistant Professor, Georgia Tech, Mechanosensitivity and the Rho/ROCK pathway
  • 2:00 – 2:20 pm Eva Lai, PhD Innovation Officer, JHU, Translational medicine in the DoD
  • 2:20 – 2:40 pm Coffee Break
  • 2:40 – 3:00 pm Konstantinos Konstantopoulos, PhD Professor and Chair, Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, JHU, The physical biology of cancer metastasis
  • 3:00 – 3:45 pm Denis Wirtz, PhD VP of Research, TH Smoot Professor of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, Oncology and Pathology, JHU, The measurement science of cell migration
  • 3:45 Owen McCarty, PhD Associate Professor, OHSU, Closing Remarks

 

 

INBT Seminar: the graduate school admissions process

The next professional development seminar hosted by Johns Hopkins Institute for NanoBioTechnology will be held Wednesday, June 18 at 10:30 a.m. in the Schaffer 3 Auditorium. The speaker is Maya Suraj, new Director of Graduate Admissions and Enrollment for Arts & Sciences and Engineering at the Homewood campus.

Maya Suraj

Maya Suraj

Prior to Hopkins, she was at the Illinois Institute of Technology, where she focused on streamlining the graduate process. This included making the graduate office proficient in credential evaluation, redesigning workflows, integrating technology and developing recruitment plans. Suraj will talk to the students about the graduate admissions process from cradle to grave, best practices and tips. A Q&A will follow.

This seminar is free and open to the Hopkins community, but an RSVP is required to Danielle Tiggle at dtiggle1@jhu.edu.