Brendan Wirtz

Lithium-ion batteries are a prominent energy storage technology with widespread applications in electronics and electric vehicles. Using Li-ion batteries in electric vehicles is especially attractive to decrease reliance on fossil fuels for transportation, but slow charge times dissuade consumers from purchasing them. A barrier to faster charging is a phenomena that occurs at high charge rates at the graphite electrode called lithium plating, which reduces the amount of energy the battery stores after charge and in extreme cases can short the battery. Being able to detect the occurrence of lithium plating without having to disassemble the battery is of great interest for application in electric vehicles that will make extreme fast charging more feasible. My SURF project will assess the capabilities of a lithium plating detection technique that uses only voltage and time data. Using this technique, I will study extreme fast charging and determine how fast Li-ion batteries can […]

Jasmine Cisneros

The field of metabolic engineering has expanded to utilize plants as an expression host in the biotechnology industry and current research. Transcription factors (TFs) are one of the many intriguing components in the plants metabolic pathways as they regulate the expression of the enzymes involved. While TFs are integral for control of gene expression, most TFs in plant systems are not characterized regarding their upregulation (activation) or downregulation (repression) of gene expression. In unpublished work my group has screened a library of 400 transcription factors from A. thaliana with a fraction displaying trans-activating patterns stronger than VP16, a commonly used strong trans-activation domain (TAD) from the herpes simplex virus. My goal for this project is to characterize the top 20 TFs of the previous work in their ability to activate gene expression according to their TAD. 1 I plan to apply these candidate TFs into published biological systems and hosts […]

Maria Pizzano

Butterflies are known for the remarkable patterns and colors of their wings. There are precisely arranged rows of microscopic single-cell scales across the wing surface. The color of scales can result from either the biosynthesis of pigments within the scale, or from structural coloration (sometimes both). Structural colors, such as iridescence, are of particular interest because they originate from the interaction of light with complex nanostructures that are found within or at the surface of each scale. A remarkable example of iridescence is seen on the wings of the Gulf Fritillary butterfly, Agraulis vanilla, where spots appear silver and almost reflective as a mirror. I am interested in how scale stacking contributes to overall reflectivity, and how actin contributes developmentally to the particular structure, and therefore iridescence, of a silver scale. I will be looking at Gulf Fritillary butterfly wings at the larval, pupal, and adult stages. My work will […]

Nare Janvelyan

Metalloporphyrins are found in various different organisms ranging from humans to plants. Metalloporphyrins consist of a porphyrin macrocycle with a coordinated metal atom at their center. They are part of many biological systems such as chlorophyll, vitamin B12, cytochrome P-450, and hemoglobin. Synthetic metalloporphyrins are used as commercial dyes and catalysts in the design of solar cells, molecular electronics, and supramolecular building blocks. The metalloporphyrins interaction with light plays a critical role in many systems therefore it is important to characterize the molecules interactions with light. The goal of my research project is to investigate the molecules interaction with light by studying the ionization of the ground and excited state using a femtosecond laser to conduct a pump-probe experiment. Metalloporphyrins of various metal centers and substituent groups on the porphyrin macrocycle will be studied in order to find how each variable affects the ionization process and excited state dynamics.

Alex Yang Lu

My research this summer focuses on battling Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM), the most common and malignant type of brain tumor. Despite invasive surgical resection and pharmaceutical therapy, patients with GBM have a mean survival time of 12-15 months following diagnosis, making GBM among the most aggressive of human cancers. Tumors growth is dependent upon vascularization through the formation of new capillaries from pre-existing blood vessels, a process called angiogenesis. Numerous cytokines and growth factors have been shown to regulate angiogenesis while modulating cell invasion, growth and differentiation; however, these mechanisms remain poorly defined. GBM cells have the ability to become endothelial cells (ECs) that contribute to abnormal tumor vasculature. I will examine specific molecular targets to investigate the following: are GBM-derived ECs more resistant to apoptosis than host-derived ECs? Does this result in increased aggressiveness of tumors that have the potential to generate GBM-derived ECs?

Nadir Bilici

Cadmium Telluride (CdTe) is an alternative semiconductor to silicon for photovoltaic applications. Its advantageous physical properties allow it to absorb an equal amount of light with a fraction of silicons thickness; this means lower material costs. However, lack of fundamental research renders this material less efficient than silicon. Recent attempts at reducing manufacturing costs of CdTe solar cells investigate solution deposited nanocrystal (NC) films, i.e.semiconductor ink. During solar cell fabrication, CdTe films must be exposed to CdCl2 and heated to improve device performance. My research will investigate the effect of CdCl2 on heated CdTe NCs films. I will first synthesize solution-stable CdTe NCs (i.e. ink), then modify the NC surface with CdCl2. Next, I will fabricate CdTe layers by heating solution-deposited CdTe NCs and evaluate the films electrical and optical properties. Ultimately, I strive to discover which deposition and CdCl2 parameters lead to the best film performances for solar cells.

Akash Dixit

Dark matter is ubiquitous in this universe yet has not been detected directly. The leading candidate particles for dark matter are Weakly Interacting Massive Particles (WIMPs). The Cryogenic Dark Matter Search utilizes measurement of ionization and phonons in order to discriminate between background particles and rare WIMP interactions. Achieving complete charge collection by the ionization readout is challenging due to trapping within the low temperature Germanium detectors. The charge transport experiment will provide great insight into the phenomenon of charge trapping and this information will have wide implications in low temperature semiconductor physics. Examining the trapping curves will also allow us to better understand the charge collection mechanism for the CDMS detectors. With this information we can more accurately distinguish between background particles and rare WIMP interactions, eventually leading to the detection of dark matter.

Thamine Dalichaouch

The objective of this work is to study electric field noise from metallic surfaces at low frequencies observed in ultra-low temperature ion traps. This source of noise has been a major issue for ion trapping experiments because it heats up the cold ions several orders of magnitude faster than what was expected. This heating is a serious problem and hinders progress in the use of ions, as dependably controllable qubits, toward a scalable quantum computer. The expected benefits from this research is the determination of the frequency scaling of this anomalous heating, which will shed light on the origin of this noise and, in turn, on ways to mitigate it.

Christopher Hansen

Dengue (DENV) is a mosquito-borne viral illness that is endemic to many areas around the world, including Central and South America, Africa, and Southeast Asia, and affects approximately 300 million people per year. The current gold standard in vitro assay uses cell lines such as Vero or BHK that are not natural targets for DENV and lack several important co-receptors and FcRs that modulate DENV infections. My project will test cell lines that express the major co-receptors involved in DENV infection and will develop a new, robust, high-throughput in vitro assay that will provide a better tool for studying the natural course of DENV infection and could be used for vaccine and treatment studies.

Jonathan Ho

A particularly notable obstacle to the adoption of robotics in the everyday household is the difficulty of teaching robots to execute new tasks in unforeseen environments–this is currently a task only approachable by those with plenty of time and technical expertise. I am working on a system that aims to make teaching robots as simple as providing human demonstrations. It will use ideas from artificial intelligence to enable robots to generalize demonstrations to new situations and learn from failures as they interact with the world. My work will focus on deformable objects, such as rope and cloth, which are among the most difficult for robots to reason about and manipulate.