On March 23, I presented my project at the ACS national convention in Denver Colorado. It was an exciting experience to stand at my poster alongside many other nanomaterial research projects from around the nation. This year, I mostly had students come up to me to inquire about the nature of the research as it mends together multiple disciplines such as Biology and Chemistry. There was an overarching nanomaterial theme to many of the talks which I was able to attend during the rest of the weekend. This shows that my research relates to current cutting edge work which is a very good drive for excelling in the future. One talk in particular took the main principles of my project, examination of the nanomaterials’ interaction with proteins and enzymes to test their binding properties, and applied it to surface chemistry and different instrumental methods. From the seminar I also learned why some of my data looks strange; for one of the graphs the peak stretches in the opposite direction as if the substance is already glowing. This is because the instrument reads at that particular wavelength both the proteins that are bound and the ones that are unbound. As a result, it cuts out a portion of data as it cannot be examined with the UV-Vis instrumental method.
While at the convention I spoke to various distributors about their instruments and the big companies with multiple instruments suggested using the LC for analysis of the project in the future. LC stands for liquid chromatography and would allow for the separation of the materials, however LC only works well with small proteins and not with big molecules like protein so it would not be effective for my project.. As I used a known amount of material, it is possible to quantify my results through mathematical calculations. A professor whom I presented my project to recommended quantifying the proteins through use of electrophoresis. It goes to show that my project is very diverse and can be examined from multiple angles. There is so much more to learn about the project so even now I can see numerous possibilities and ways to enhance it further.
As of right now, I am researching theoretical applications of the Gaussian program on the oscillator strength and excitation energies of the chlortetracycline (CTC) and oxytetracycline (OTC)for a paper that we are attempting to submit. Through the Gaussian, I have been able to obtain the excitation energies and oscillator strengths for twenty different excited states. This is possible through Dr. Mojica’s use of a high end computer at a different institution in order to effectively run the theoretical data. These excited states should give an indication on the property changes of the molecule upon interaction with the proteins/enzymes.
On Friday February 27, I presented alongside Maximillian Baria and Dr. Mojica on our experiences in doing research and the mentor/mentee model at the Best Practices Conference at White Plains. The presentation was on Dr. Mojica’s model of using older more experienced students to help mentor the younger students in order to accomplish more work at a given time. It also gives the older students a way of becoming more involved. One thing I have learned in mentoring is that troubleshooting an instrument is the best way of learning the intricacies of the machine. This weekend will be the Dyson Society of Fellows and it will be here that the junior members will be presenting their posters. It will be their first presentation and I will be assisting them get through the general nervousness as well as help them in case there are any general questions.
My main project for the UGRI is now undergoing a constant revision process as I am still validating the data that I previously obtained. I will be presenting it for the first time this Sunday March 8 at the Dyson Society of Fellows. It is here that I hope to have my knowledge expanded upon by the audience in the form of thought provoking questions. Ideally, somebody will bring up a point that I can consider and expand my project on. This constructive criticism is the best way of improving my project and consider points that would have been overlooked by Dr. Mojica and myself. There is also the general preparation for the upcoming ACS presentation so I will need to work swiftly to create a poster in time for the ACS as this weekend will be an oral PowerPoint presentation.
So far, I have prepared different mass of nanomaterials (titanium oxide, silicon oxide, zinc oxide and aluminum oxide) ranging from 1 to 5 milligrams in multiples of four. This in total equates to eighty samples for analysis. With these eighty samples, I will determine the spectroscopic properties (absorbance and fluorescence) of the proteins (bovine serum albumin, human serum albumin, and hemoglobin) and enzyme (catalase). UV-Vis spectra consists of analyzing the absorbance of ground state to excited state of a molecule. This is complemented by fluorescence which analyzes the transition from the excited state to the ground state of the molecule. These two spectra indicate changes in the analytes which are the analyzed material. By comparing the samples against one another and the samples to a blank, we are able to analyze the changes in the proteins and enzymes and extrapolate answers based on the data. For this experiment we would look at the binding properties of the proteins and how strongly they bind to the nanomaterials. A high binding to the nanomaterials would indicate a high toxicity with the proteins and enzymes.
Currently, I am assisting a junior student in my research group doing research using the UV-Vis and fluorescence spectrophotometers. As a mentor, I have a better understanding of the materials and am also able to prepare myself for analyzing the eighty samples later on in the school year. I was also instructed to prepare the protocols for the use of instruments for future students. This has allowed for the creation of a procedure for data analysis that I, and other research students are able to follow in future experiments. So far, Paris Hanson has gotten the hang of running the instruments and at this point I simply supervise and assist her when the instrumentation acts up.
My research topic is on Toxicity studies of nanomaterials with proteins and enzymes. Nanomaterials are materials on the nanoscale with various applications in many modern day fields such as the environment and electronic sectors. In the experiment I will be mixing protein and enzyme solutions with nanomaterials . Some of the proteins to be used are bovine serum albumin, human serum albumin and hemoglobins while catalase will be used as enzymes. These proteins and enzymes are protein analogs and have been used as model for toxicity studies Nanomaterials are presently very common in our daily lives but unfortunately very little research is done on these materials. With this research, I am hoping to elucidate possible toxic effects of these materials. .
I am aiming to broaden my knowledge in chemical instrumention and the research process in this project. Although I have worked with Dr. Mojica since the latter half of freshman year, there is still much that I have to learn. We will be using spectroscopy (absorbance, fluorescence, dynamic light scattering and circular dichroism) to analyze the binding of the nanomaterials to proteins. By comparing the results of the binding to known information, we hope to be able to predict the possible toxicity and the mechanism behind the possible toxicity of the nanomaterials on proteins.
I would like to thank Dr. Mojica for the opportunity to work with him as a volunteer in research during my freshman year and all the resulting real world experience such as the numerous conferences we have attended. Also thankful for the opportunities he gave to me in terms of publications, I am very fortunate to have co-authored three articles in peer-reviewed journals. It is very seldom for a student at my level to have those numerous papers and I am very thankful for all the thrust and confidence he had given me. Although this will be the third year we have worked together, I am confident that there is still much to learn and am looking forward to the challenges we will encounter.