Nature of Research
Results 1 - 10 of 82 matches
Investigating Neural Stem Cell Regulation in the Zebrafish Brain
Rolf Karlstrom, University of Massachusetts-Amherst
By now we have all heard about adult neural Stem Cells (nSCs) and the great promise they hold for treating neurological diseases, especially neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's Disease or Alzheimer's Disease. We'll talk more about these cells in the course. In order to be useful in treating human disease, we must first learn what controls nSC division (proliferation), and what controls the types of neurons and glia that are produced (differentiation). Many labs around the world are working hard on these problems using a variety of lab animals; from worms to flies to fish to rodents to humans (using human induced Pluripotent Stem (iPS) cells). In this course we will take advantage of the experimentally accessible larval zebrafish to perform experiments designed to learn more about the regulation of nSCs and neurogenesis, the process of making new neurons and glial cells needed to make a functioning vertebrate brain.Why are new neurons (and glia, never forget glia) produced in the adult brain? One obvious answer is that this adult neurogenesis helps maintain the brain as it ages (e.g. replacing cells that die). While this may be true to some degree, especially for glial cells, we know that most cells in the brain simply aren't replaced when they die (a fact highlighted in neurodegenerative diseases) and it is not simple to replace functional neuronal connections. A relatively new idea is that new neurons and glia may be generated in parts of the brain as a normal part of the brains ability to function to guide behavior and respond to the environment. In this course students will learn about the regulation of stem cell proliferation and differentiation and we expore the idea that the generation of new neurons is part of normal brain function, helping zebrafish larvae to maintain internal physiology (homeostasis) in response to a changing environment. Students will become familiar with zebrafish embryonic and larval development, will design and implement experimental treatments of larvare, dissect larval brains, perform a chemical reaction to fluorescently mark proliferating cells, image larval brains using a fluorescent microscope, and count proliferating cells.
Random gene mutagenesis for gene identification linked to prodigiosin production in Serratia marcescens
Verena Carvalho, University of Massachusetts-Amherst
This lab course is designed to provide course-based undergraduate research experiences. You will learn how to prepare, execute, and interpret your own experiments. While all of you will conduct the same techniques in the course, each of you will create their own sets of mutant strains and study different features of your bacterium. We will study Serratia marcescens, an opportunistic, nosocomial pathogen, and is particularly linked to catheter-associated bacteremia, urinary tract infections, and wound infections. It is responsible for 1.4% of hospital-acquired infection cases in the United States. These bacteria are commonly found in the respiratory and urinary tracts of hospitalized adults, and in the gastrointestinal systems of children. Many strains of S. marcescens have a bright red colony color (a tripyrrole pigment called prodigiosin), while pigment production is often temperature-dependent. Prodigiosin is a secondary metabolite, and its expression is thought to be related to phosphate limitation. It was also identified as a natural bioactive substance with high potential for antibiotic and anti-cancer applications. It currently receives renewed attention for its wide range of potential applications, including activities as antimalarial, antifungal, immunosuppressant, and antibiotic agents. It is also prominently known for its capacity to trigger apoptosis of malignant cancer cells, and high activity against stationary phase Borrelia burgdorferi, the causative agent of Lyme disease, has been demonstrated. Given its diverse effects, the exact mechanisms are currently not elucidated, and may be highly complex, including phosphatase inhibition, copper mediated cleavage of double stranded DNA, or disrupting the pH gradient through transmembrane transport of H+ and Cl- ions. Clearly, prodigiosin is a highly promising drug candidate, and is currently in preclinical phase study for pancreatic cancer treatment. In this course, we will use the transposon Tn5 to generate random mutations in the chromosome of Serratia marcescens. The transposon will be provided by a plasmid hosted in a donor E. coli strain, and transferred into your test bacterium via conjugation. We will then first select for successfully transposed mutants by testing for antibiotic resistance, and screen for your mutants that are altered in their pigment production. To identify the gene where the mutation has happened, we will remove the chromosomal DNA from the mutant strains, perform restriction enzyme digest, and generate self-circulating DNA. These plasmids are transformed into an E. coli strain that can replicate the fragment of genomic DNA that contains the transposon, and we can sequence the insertion site with the transposon DNA as anchor. In summary, in this course you will gain hands-on experience with modern genetic and biotechnological techniques, you will gain insights into bioinformatics and into working with public databases, which are all essential skills in modern microbiological research.
Core Competencies: Planning and carrying out investigations, Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering), Analyzing and interpreting data
Nature of Research: Wet Lab/Bench Research, Basic Research, Applied Research
Target Audience: Major, Upper Division
CURE Duration: A full term
Optimizing Pedal People
Annie Raymond, University of Massachusetts-Amherst
This course is an introduction to mathematical modeling. The main goal of the class is to learn how to translate large broadly-defined real-world problems into quantitative terms for interpretation, suggestions of improvement and future predictions. Since this is too broad of a topic for one semester, this class focuses on linear and integer programming. The course is centered around a research project that involves optimizing different aspects of the bike-powered trash-recycling-compost-collection service Pedal People.
CURE Duration: A full term
The Most Luminous Galaxies in the Universe
Min Yun, University of Massachusetts-Amherst
My research group has found about 30 most luminous galaxies known in the early universe by analyzing a large data set produced by the NASA/ESA Planck cosmology probe. The goals of this research class is for the students to learn about these galaxies and their importance, how they are identified, and ultimately discovering many more such galaxies yet to be discovered from the parent candidate list.
Using CRISPR/Cas9 technology to investigate the molecular genetic basis of root traits in plants
Dong Wang, University of Massachusetts-Amherst
This CURE brings authentic research on plant molecular biology to undergraduate students in an advanced lab course. The experimental design investigates plant genes controlling root traits utilizing CRISPR/Cas9 technology in transgenic hairy roots. By cloning and delivering CRISPR/Cas9 constructs, students will acquire powerful skills in molecular biology such as Golden Gate cloning. By combining fast-growing hairy roots (a versatile system suitable for multiple plant species) with candidate root genes, students can advance genotyping to phenotyping in one semester. The outcome is a hands-on experience of the power to genome modification beneficial to the students' future career.
Genetically transformed plants as a tool for gene expression analysis
Alice Cheung, University of Massachusetts-Amherst
This CURE is the entry level of a 5-7 semester intense research experience course for undergraduates. It focuses on determining the expression patterns of genes from a family of cell wall modifying enzymes. The purpose is to use gene expression information data to predict potential functions and generate genetic material towards functional studies. At the conclusion of this entry level CURE, students will learn the basic principles of gene regulation, genetic transformation and transgenic organisms (plants) as tools to study biology. It is the plan that a subset WILL CHOOSE to advance to the next level (through 1 summer and 1 or more semesters), and a subset might CHOOSE TO FURTHER advance to complete their undergraduate semesters, and one of two of whom might be RECRUITED TO continue in a 5th year MS program. This cohort of students doing research in the lab will be tasked towards completing the goal of functional studies. These students will serve as future peer mentors for the entry level CURE course and rising students in the lab.
Core Competencies: Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering), Planning and carrying out investigations, Analyzing and interpreting data
Nature of Research: Applied Research
Target Audience: Major, Non-major, Introductory
CURE Duration: A full term
Intelligent Mechatronics Research and Education - Autofocus
Xian Du, University of Massachusetts-Amherst
Technology today makes it a lot easier to take pictures and videos, but there still somethings that remain a challenge such as autofocus. In this course, you will learn about how autofocus systems in cameras work and how to use the autofocus for manufacturing and production inspection and tracking. As the students learn, they will participate in the modeling, design, fabrication, assembly, programming, and control of an autofocus prototype. They use their skills and knowledge in product design, transmission, 3D printing, optics, and programming in this project. They will evaluate and improve the prototype on moving targets with the TAs and graduate students in the Intelligent Sensing Lab. Ultimately, this course will provide mechanical engineering students with a meaningful undergraduate research experience for their future career, while providing instructor and graduate teaching assistants with more data in the ongoing intelligent mechatronics research projects.