Chemical and Cellular Frontiers

Recorded five-minute video presentations for the Undergraduate Scholarly Showcase in Category A: Chemical and Cellular Frontiers, Projects A-01 through A-03.

A-01: Creation of Bimetallic Nanoparticles and the Potential Uses in Medical Environments

Marcus Santoro, Biochemistry
Project Advisor: Noe Alvarez
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The medical field is constantly expanding with new ways to treat all kinds of issues. Some techniques are more widely known than others, and one that is not as commonly known is the use of nanoparticles. These nanoparticles have shown promise in areas such as biosensing, catalysis, and drug delivery. Bimetallic nanoparticles smaller size provide a large surface area that can produce more effective catalytic properties. The Alvarez lab focuses on the creation of nanoparticles, as well as studying the efficiency of these particles in different environments. The synthesis of these particles can be a time consuming process, and having an extra hand to help create these particles can allow for more time being spent on testing the efficacy of them. The outcome of this research will help increase our knowledge on the most effective nanoparticles and how we can incorporate them in the field of medicine.

A-02: Crafting the Sun's Defense: A Formulation Towards Effective Natural Sunscreen

Elise Armile, Biochemistry
Project Advisor: Daniel Waddell
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According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), sunscreens are nonprescription drugs that "affect the structure or function of the body by absorbing, reflecting, or scattering the harmful, burning rays of the sun, thereby altering the normal physiological response to solar radiation."  The label of a sunscreen bottle offers phrases such as "broad spectrum" and "SPF."  Broad spectrum sunscreens protect the skin from UVA and UVB rays by building a chemical layer that absorbs and reflects the UV radiation while the Sun Protection Factor (SPF) correlates to the level of sunburn protection that the sunscreen delivers.     My research centers around formulating a natural sunscreen made to be simple, non-irritating, but protective against UVA and UVB rays.  Natural sunscreen has become a more popular topic and rising trend due to a larger consumer movement towards "reef safe", "mineral", and plant-based products.  The attraction of products made from naturally derived materials has grown due to social media.      After researching formulations, ingredients, and their benefits, I hope to formulate a broad-spectrum, water-less, natural sunscreen with SPF 40+.  This will be my first time formulating a natural sunscreen, so I look to form a new understanding of sunscreen formulation and gain more knowledge about the differences between natural sunscreens and "chemical sunscreens" (sunscreens containing avobenzone, octocrylene, octinoxate, and oxybenzone).  The outcome of the work will help further my technical innovation in cosmetic science.

A-03: The Role of ADP-ribosylation and its Reversal by ARH1 in the DNA Damage Response

Ian Campbell, Biochemistry
Project Advisor: In-Kwon Kim
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The pathway for DNA damage response is important to maintain the genomic integrity in humans. Without the repair mechanism, mutated DNA can produce proteins that do not function properly leading to cancer or other conditions. ADP-ribosylation is a reversible post-translational modification (PTM) that involves the addition of one or more ADP-ribose units to target proteins. ADP-ribosylation regulates a wide array of cellular signaling pathways, including DNA damage response. Uncontrolled accumulation of ADP-ribose is cytotoxic, leading to cell death, and therefore dynamic regulation of ADP-ribosylation by ADP-ribosyl-acceptor hydrolases is essential. ARH1 (ADP-ribosyl-acceptor hydrolase 1) is a metalloenzyme that removes the arginine-specific ADP-ribosylations from a modified protein. The goal of my research is to understand its specific interaction with ADP-ribosylated proteins in relation to the DNA damage response. As the first step, using a series of chromatographic steps, I successfully purified recombinant proteins involved in this cycle of ADP-ribosylation by overexpressing them in E. coli and then characterized them.