2016-2020 BioNetworks Research

2020 BioNetworks Research

Jessica photo

Lone Star College
Biomedical Engineering

Jessica (in Joff Silberg’s Lab) studied the computational design of the adeno-associated virus (AAV), a non-pathogenic virus used in gene therapy. However, AAV’s small size limits how much genetic cargo it can package, only packaging 4.7kb of single-stranded DNA. Consequently, this virus cannot be used to treat diseases wherein the defective genes exceed 4.7 kb. To address this problem, chimeras of AAV2’s packaging protein, Rep, were computationally designed with homologs from other AAVs and non-AAV viruses. These studies were also performed to guide Rep chimera design and profile regions of Rep that are amenable to mutation without compromising protein stability. Chimeric proteins designed in this research will be synthesized in the lab and their packaging properties will be studied. Combined with experimental work, this study will calibrate the relationship between structural disruptions within Rep and DNA packaging activity.

Samuel photo

Santa Fe College

Sam (in Rosa Uribe's lab) studied the influence of the gene hoxb5b on enteric nervous system formation. He used transgenic zebrafish containing a dominant repressor for hoxb5b, which shuts down gene expression downstream of hoxb5b. His grad mentor performed the wet lab work and sent him confocal images of the zebrafish for analysis. Sam worked to develop apipeline to quantitatively analyze these images. To do this, he used IMARIS software and R programming. The final product was an efficient image analysis pipeline designed to quantify the number and localization of enteric neurons in each zebrafish.

Annelise photo

Rice University
Environmental Science

Annelise (in Joff Silberg’s lab) helped to construct a bioinformatics pipeline to identify bacterial two component sensing system (TCSs) proteins in metagenome assembled genomes (MAGs) sampled from an abandoned gold mine. TCSs serve as links between the external environment around bacteria and internal gene expression within the cell. Thus, they have been implicated in many environmentally relevant processes like carbon or nitrogen cycling, but the extent to which they are involved in environmental processes is not yet fully understood. Therefore, she searched for TCS proteins in the MAGs, which will be compared with geochemical data from the mine, to better understand the connections between TCSs, bacterial regulatory networks, and environmental processes.

Rodrigo photo

Rice University

Rodrigo (in Rosa Uribe’s lab) focused on understanding the biomolecular mechanisms behind neuroblastoma (NB). This malignancy is the most fatal extracranial cancer in childhood, and it is believed to be caused by a failure in neural crest cells (NCCs) to acquire specific fates during embryonic development. Rodrigo’s research leverages bioinformatic and molecular work to identify novel genes involved in NB progression that could potentially serve as therapeutic targets against this disease. The Uribe Lab uses zebrafish as a model and takes advantage of its external development and transparent properties to study the biological processes that drive NCC development and NB.

Sunniva photo

San Jacinto College

Sunniva (in Joff Silberg's lab) studied Ferredoxin complex crystal structures. She and her mentor focused on studying the residues in the crystals. They used PDBePISA a website that works closely with PDB to determine the number of bonds within each structure, along with the interface area, delta G, and many other aspects of each crystal structure. Sunniva used the data gathered and compared various components of the crystals together to determine any patterns. She later made graphs of the data to better represent their findings. They hope the finding will help in future and current ferredoxin research.

Gagan photo

San Jacinto College
Natural Science

Rejina (in Natasha Kirienko’s lab) researched clinical strains from pediatric fibrosis patients that exhibit resistance to meropenem. Meropenem is a carbapenem; beta-lactam antibiotics that are reserved for highly drug resistant bacteria such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Rejina performed bioinformatic analysis using SPAdes (genome assembly), breseq (genome alignment), and Prokka (genome annotation) to investigate the genetic basis of meropenem resistance in P. aeruginosa. Analyses indicate that P. aeruginosa utilizes several different mechanisms to adapt to meropenem.

Jennifer photo

Lone Star College

Jennifer (in Natasha Kirienko's lab) helped to show the conservation of the pathway of the cellular surveillance mechanism to mitochondrial damage. Kirienko’s lab have previously found that defense against Pseudomonas aeruginosa requires a conserved mitochondrial surveillance pathway. This pathway is regulated by ESRE (Ethanol and Stress Response Element) motif, which is induced by various mitochondrial insults. By studying the mechanisms involved in the regulation of the ESRE network can help to understand how the mitochondria can be protected to mitigate damage and restore normal cellular processes. Mitochondria regulate many critical biochemical processes. Jennifer’s project used online bioinformatic tools to establish the conservation of the ESRE motif across phylogeny by performing binding site analysis. This analysis can be used to perform analysis of motif presence on genes that belong to other mitochondrial stress pathways. Establishing the conservation provides researchers with confidence that upon elucidation of the regulators of the mitochondrial stress response, they can help prevent mitochondrial dysfunction in humans and help prevent diseases related to mitochondrial damage.

Allison photo

Rice University

Allison (in Natasha Kirienko's lab) performed a bioinformatic analysis on a network of genes that underlie sensitivity to mitochondrial damage. This gene network, developed to be a personalized treatment tool to predict if a cancer will respond well to mitochondrial-damaging therapeutics, was created after screening ~600 genes commonly mutated in cancer using the model organism C. elegans. To gain insight into the gene network, she used a variety of tools to perform Enrichment Analysis on the gene lists, comparing them to the C. elegans genome as well as to the genes initially screened. This reveals what processes and pathways are implicated in mitochondrial sensitivity and what cell processes are necessary for normal mitochondrial function.

Anh photo

Houston Community College

Anh (in Joff Silberg's lab) discovered the potential cross reactivity of flavodoxin (Fld) and ferredoxin (Fd) electron carriers with partner oxidoreductases. Iron-sulfur proteins, Ferredoxins (Fds), are one of the major family of electron carriers that are common in all domains of life. Interestingly, there is a functionally similar protein with organic cofactor, flavin mononucleotide, called Flavodoxins (Flds) that are able to replace Fds under iron-limiting condition and oxidative stress. While Fds were shown to couple with more than 180 oxidoreductases, only around 20 Flds partners are known. By using a combination of bioinformatic approaches, she visualized the relationship among Flds from genomes containing Fd partners by sequence similarity networks (SSNs) and created phylogenetic trees to analyze the organism groups which contain Fds, Flds, and partner proteins.

2019 BioNetworks Research


Fort Valley State University
Plant Science Biotechnology

Bre (in Bonnie Bartel's lab) studied how iron toxicity affects pexophagy and plant health in Arabidopsis thaliana. She used normal and excess amounts of iron to elucidate peroxisome proliferation, induced or repressed levels of pexophagy, and lateral root growth within the plant. She performed PCR assays to view the presence of mutant genes in Arabidopsis that are responsible for inducing pexophagy and used confocal microscopy to visualize peroxisomes in the cells of the roots, cotyledon, and hypocotyl. This study will allow a further insight on the physical and morphological characteristics on peroxisomes during stress induced environments.

COHEN photo

Rice University

Katherine (in James Chappell's lab) helped to characterize a wider set of genetic tools for Streptomyces. This bacterium offers a variety of interesting production capabilities through a complex system of secondary metabolites and gene clusters. Most notably, Streptomyces naturally produces a wide variety of antibiotics. In particular, Katherine’s project aimed to provide a set of inducible promoters with a wide dynamic range that can be used to better control and characterize Streptomyces. These promoters can act like dials to synthetically turn up gene expression, providing researchers the opportunity to maximize specific gene expression without overexerting the bacterium.


University of Mary Hardin-Baylor

Emily (in Bonnie Bartel's lab) contributed to the elucidation of inheritance patterns for mutations in the gene encoding peroxin PEX4, a ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme, by analyzing suppressor-mutant phenotypes using previously isolated suppressors of the pex4-1mutant. By sequencing genomic DNA isolated from phenotypically significant lines, she hoped to validate her observations and test for linkage of a uba1 mutation to suppression phenotypes in various crosses.

Jessica photo

San Jacinto College

Jessica (in Joff Silberg's lab) evaluated the binding interaction between engineered ferredoxins and corn ferredoxin-NADP reductase (FNR). Ferredoxins, which are a class of iron-sulfur protein clusters, function as protein electron carriers (PECs) in the cell. These electron carriers transfer electrons to partner proteins based on their binding affinities to these specific biomolecules. The transfer of electrons is used to create protein switches which are useful for building bioelectronics devices and living sensors. To see how well non-natural ferredoxins interact with FNR, purification of both proteins is required to be able to describe the functionality of the engineered ferredoxin in vitro analysis.


Rice University

Samantha (in Caleb Bashor's lab) researched in synthetic biology to engineer a tunable phosphorylation pathway to induce transcription. She worked in DNA cloning and inserting gene sequences into plasmids to create the components of the pathway, such as the kinase and substrate, which would interact based on phosphorylation to ultimately express a reporter gene in a mammalian cell.

Gagan photo

Lone Star College

Gagan (in Peter Lwigale’s lab) worked on a project involved in elucidating the mechanisms involved in differentiation of neural crest stem cells into ocular tissues. The goal of his project was to study the role of Wnt signaling pathway during development of the corneal endothelium. His project involved microinjection of pharmacological inhibitors into ocular tissues of developing chick embryos, histology, immunohistochemistry, and fluorescent imaging to visualize and analyze differences in morphogenesis of ocular tissues.

ALAIN photo

Houston Community College & Pomona College

Alain (in Isaac Hilton’s lab) researched the field of epigenetics and transcription regulation. He engineered a cell line with dox-on dCas-9 line effectors. To achieve that, he created a plasmid with synthetic sequences and knocked-in using Cas-9. He used PCR to amplify DNA constructs and then used Gibson assembly to join them together into a plasmid. The assembled plasmids were amplified using E. Coli, and then transfected and selected into human cells to verify trans-gene delivery.

ANH photo

Houston Community College

Lina (in Natasha Kirienko's lab) focused on creating gene network that can be used to identify cancer mutation with increased sensitivity to mitochondrial damaging drugs. By using NCI-60 panel database, she selected suspected genes and silenced them using E.Coli HT1115 with RNAi on our model organism, C. elegant. After two days of incubating at 25oC, she used Sodium Selenite, a low-level mitocan, to induce worms’ mitophagy and visualize them for 24 hours. She performed analysis on survival rates of knockdown worms by comparing them to controlled vectors. By doing this, her lab hoped to detect gene mutations that are susceptible to mitocan and capable of driving cells to apoptosis, developing selective treatment for cancer patients.

THI photo

San Jacinto College

Nga (in Yousif Shamoo's lab) studied the experimentally evolved isolates of Francisella to identify mutations conferring antibiotic resistance. Her project focused on the evolution of Francisella tularensis LVS, a serious pathogenic bacteria, to 2 antibiotics: Doxycycline and Ciprofloxacin. She performed the Minimum Inhibitory Concentration (MIC) test, isolated genomic DNA and analyzed whole-genome sequencing data of the resistant end-point isolates to elucidate the genetic changes responsible for resistance.

MAURO photo

Lone Star College

Mauro (in Han Xiao's lab) researched creating a bi-specific antibody through modification by using a technique called pClick. pClick is a proximity-based reaction that modifies specific lysine of the Fc region of an antibody.

JIM photo

Rice University
Biochemistry & Cell Biology

Jim (in Jane Tao’s lab) worked to purify the Orsay virus, hoping to uncover its underlying protein structure. His work involved culturing the virus in its C. elegans host, using physical and chemical means to separate the virus from surrounding host proteins, and obtaining a high-resolution image at the atomic level through electron microscopy. By structuring the Orsay virus, he hopes to characterize a promising tool for studying eukaryotic responses to viral infection.

SYED photo

Rice University
Natural Sciences

Syed (in Michael Diehl’s lab) worked within the field of synthetic biology. He worked with plasmids that are made by, first, designing them in plasmid editing software, and then assembling them in the lab. These plasmids are then placed into cells for a variety of experiments and purposes. Within the Diehl lab specifically, they are developing biological circuits with the hopes of measuring intracellular lipid signalling processes initiated and carried out by membrane phosphoinositide phospholipids. Many of the results in the lab come through the use of fluorescent microscopy and flow cytometry. His work in the lab included cloning, transfection, plasmid and primer development, and designing gene circuits.

LEO photo

Rice University

Leo (in Michael Diehl’s lab) helped design synthetic protein circuits for the detection of phosphoinositides in mammalian cells. It will allow the lab to develop a robust tumor model researchers can use to gain a better understanding at the underlying connection between cancerous behavior and lipid signaling networks. He learned how to perform recombinant DNA procedures such as plasmid design and construction, PCR techniques, and assessment of cell toxicity by designing my own series of assays. Since they are going to be having mammalian cells expressing foreign protein receptors, they need a way to have the system be able to express a specific amount of the protein sensors at any given time and degrade them at any given time to make sure the cell doesn't experience any detrimental effects from protein aggregation. To achieve this, they will be developing a library of promoters and degrons that can be tuned to achieve very specific cycles of protein expression and degradation. To optimize this system, he worked on developing an image processing program as well as quantitative models to keep track of cell proliferation, and will supplement this data with cell apoptosis assays to understand the threshold of protein expression at which our mammalian cells can express the sensors with high fidelity without damaging the cells

2018 BioNetworks Research


Houston Community College

Nooruldeen (in Caleb Bashor's lab) researched the field of synthetic biology, the field that allows for gene engineering and gene circuitry. His summer project involved working on inserting single gene circuit into mammalian cells such as HEK cells or Hela cells. The method used to construct the gene circuit involves multiple steps. The process begins by amplifying and cutting the needed DNA fragments via polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and restriction digest. Then, ligating the DNA part with a plasmid or another DNA part. Lastly, amplifying the ligated parts within E. coli and inserting the plasmid (vector + insert) into mammalian cells. The goal of the research is to engineer cell-based therapeutics capable of sensing and responding to their living environments. Cell-based therapeutics can be used as the next pillar of medicine treating diseases such as cancer.

ANDREA photo

Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey
Biotechnology Engineering

Andrea (in Bonnie Bartel's lab) studied pexophagy in Arabidopsis thaliana. She used the autophagy inducing condition of nitrogen starvation to evaluate different peroxin and autophagy mutants. She performed immunoblotting in these mutants to identify stabilization of peroxisomal proteins to determine the impact of the mutations on pexophagy. This study will allow a further insight on a molecular level of the organelle recycling in plants and could lead into possible applications on agriculture.

JORDAN photo

Tarrant County College

Jordan (in Han Xiao's lab) studied the potential evolutionary advantage of proteins with an expanded genetic code beyond the 20 natural amino acids. This is done using a TAG mutant and incorporating an aminoacyl-tRNA Synthetase pair to code for the unnatural amino acid. He used this method to incorporate Boron containing unnatural amino acids to specific sites to form a Boron-Oxygen conjugate with nearby residues. Through this bond he studied how to increase thermal stability of the Beta-Lactamase enzyme with an expanded genetic code.

TANAYA photo

The Gregory School

Tanaya (in Joff Silberg's lab) worked on creating permutations of the protein adenylate kinase to express in E. coli. Her project involved inserting the protein into a vector, with primers that she created. She transformed the DNA into E. coli, to see how the protein variants would affect the E. coli’s functionality.

MIGUEL photo

Houston Community College

Miguel (in Peter Lwigale's lab) worked to find out what the chemokine ligand, CXCL12, had to do in the development of the cornea. For his project, he tested various corneas from chick and quail models by doing immunohistochemical staining to see where CXCL12 was present. In addition to staining for CXCL12 in wild types, Miguel also checked knockdown models to see if there were any aberrant phenotypes due to the absence of CXCL12.

YULISA photo

Houston Community College

Yulisa (in Lauren Stadler’s lab) characterized a constitutively expressed gas gene reporter in E. coli via the spiking of cells hosting the methyl halide transferase gene across liquid salt medium, sterilized activated sludge, and activated sludge. In addition, conducted standard curves across above mentioned environments. In parallel, created an integration vector POSIP-KO-CmR via Gibson assembly for use in an engineered recipient E. coli strain.

LARS photo

Texas Tech University

Lars (in Aryeh Warmflash’s lab) studied the differentiation patterns of embryonic stem cells to neural fates. His project involved developing live cell reporters for the ectodermal transcription factors Pax6 and Six1. These reporters can be used in the future to compare fixed cell antibody staining to real time transcription levels in order to identify previously unobservable developmental patterns.

JORDY photo

University of Houston

Jordy (in Daniel Wagner's lab) studied the different manipulations of Cas9, which is used to manipulate genes in DNA. His project focused on tagging Cas9 mRNA with a degron tag to destabilize the protein, decrease the half-life of Cas9 and promote homology dependent repair. This would lead to knock in genes which would be useful to model human diseases. He used zebrafish and their advantages including their fast development and optical development to screen for the specific manipulations of degCas9.


University of St. Thomas

Jennifer (in Xue (Sherry) Gao's lab) worked on isolating Ustiloxin B from the fungus Aspergillus flavus. Ustiloxin B is a ribosomally synthesized and post-translationally modified peptide that has been demonstrated to exhibit antimitotic activity and prevent the formation of microtubules. Her project involved obtaining an extract from the fungi and using HP-LC and LC-MS to purify the compound.


Rice University

Stephanie (in James Chappell's lab) focused on developing an innovative strategy for the high-throughput generation of trans-acting RNA regulator libraries. Specifically, Stephanie, developed a single-plasmid STAR (MV21) that can be used as a regulator in bacteria by binding a STAR antisense to target RNA to prevent the formation of terminator hairpins, thus allowing for the expression of GFP. Her future aim for the project is to utilize MV21 in emulsion PCR to generate random STAR libraries in a single-tube reaction.

ANGELA photo

San Jacinto Community College
Chemical Engineering

Angela (in Joff Silberg’s lab) compared the genetic circuit expression of green fluorescent protein (GFP) and the production of methyl halide gas using methyl halide transferase (MHT) in Escherichia Coli. Measurements of GFP were detected by using a microplate reader and compared to the level of methyl halides that are produced by an identical concentration of MHT using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. Comparing the two signals could provide a new tool to measure genetic circuit expression where low-level expression is experienced.

ANNA photo

University of Maryland - Baltimore County

Anna (in Adrienne Correa’s lab) studied changes in microbial communities in coral throughout the bleaching process. Specifically, her project was centered on identifying Symbiodinium clades, a photosymbiont found in coral tissues, and comparing Symbiodinium in hospite to expelled Symbiodinium. DNA extractions from coral tissue samples and Symbiodinium pellets were performed and followed by PCR and RFLP to identify clades. Overall, Anna’s project provided insight into the flexibility of coral-algal symbiosis and the role of Symbiodinium in coral acclimatization.

KELLY photo

Rice University

Kelly (in Natasha Kirienko’s lab) identified metabolic pathways that mediate siderophore production and biofilm formation in multidrug-resistant pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Despite evidence of an inter-regulatory relationship between these two virulence factors, little is known about the specific genetic determinants that control their production. She identified 8 arginine biosynthetic mutant P. aeruginosa strains that exhibited altered biofilms and varied production of pyoverdine, the pathogen’s major siderophore. She worked to elucidate which products of the arginine biosynthesis pathway are required for one or both factors.

2017 BioNetworks Research


Houston Community College

Jackeline (in Lauren Stadler and Joff Silberg's Labs) worked on engineering the broad-host-range plasmid, pBHR1, to contain the gas reporting biosensor, Methyl Halide Transferase (MHT). The biosensor measures the conjugative transfer of the broad-host-range plasmid with antibiotic resistance genes in the gram-negative bacteria E. coli and Pseudomonas putida through methyl halide gas production. This study can one day be applied to monitor the horizontal gene transfer of ARG's among microbes found in water and wastewater.

KELLY photo

University of California, Berkeley
Computer Science

Kelly (in Matt Bennett's Lab) focused on engineering many variations of genetic dual-feedback oscillators in E. coli to better understand how the architecture of such oscillators affects their stability and robustness. We are constructing the fluorescent protein oscillators under the control of orthogonal hybrid dual-regulated promoters and varying protein degradations systems, plasmid copy number, and ribosome binding site strengths. We will be analyzing how running the oscillators in parallel in a strain while varying inducer concentrations along with the mentioned genetic parameters will affect their oscillatory behaviors. We will be using microplate fluorometry and microfluidic devices under fluorescence microscopy to analyze the oscillator’s period, amplitude and shape. Because oscillators only function properly under a very specific parameter space, understanding the oscillatory behavior under these parameters will allow us to better understand natural circadian oscillators and to predict and tune synthetic genetic oscillators to be robust and meet biological design specifications.


University of Notre Dame
Chemical Engineering

Tristen (in Ramon Gonzalez's Lab) worked on co-culturing Methylomicrobium buryatense 5GB1 methanotrophic bacteria, which was engineered to produce lactate from a methane or methanol carbon source, with another bacteria to further process the product. His project involved inserting different genes that produce fluorescent proteins, including dTomato and RFP, into E. coli, in order to then transfer the DNA laterally to the methanotroph for visual distinguishability.

GIA photo

Rice University

Gia (in Daniel Wagner's Lab) studied the role of seryl-tRNA synthetase (SARS) in vascular development in zebrafish by creating a fluorescent construct of SARS and observing its subcellular localization. Although SARS has a well-characterized canonical role in protein synthesis, it has an addition non-canonical role in mediating blood vessel development that may involve nuclear localization.


St. Mary's University

Brandon (in Mike Gustin's Lab) used cloning methods, constructed Zcf2 expression plasmid and purified the protein via affinity chromatography. Constructed CRISPR Cas9 system to check the phenotype of a gst1Δ and gst3Δ strains to determine the role of glutathione conjugates in defense against sulfhydryl-reactive electrophiles such as sulfite, nitrite, and arsenite.

SARA photo

University of Houston, Clearlake

Sara (in Natasha Kirienko’s Lab) worked to utilize mitochondrial dysfunction in cancer therapeutics. Her research was done by knocking down tumor suppressor genes showing early activation of mitophagy in Caenorhabditis elegans to determine their susceptibility to various mitotoxins. Because cancer cells have an abundance of dysfunctional mitochondria, it can be hypothesized that they will also be susceptible to mitotoxins. Her future aims for the project are to test the same gene knockdowns in mammalian cell cultures.

IMNA photo

Lone Star Community College
Chemical Engineering

Imna Melendez (in Joff Silberg’s Lab) is working with Biosensors with memory. The overall goal is to reconstruct Biosensors that hold the GFP reporter gene and replace it with the gas reporter gene, MHT (Methyl Halide Transferase). This process is being conducted through PCR and Gibson assembly. These Biosensors with the MHT reporter gene will benefit in situations where fluorescence cannot be detected. Future projects consist of placing these microbes into soil to help learn how they work in soil and possibly help detect any environmental conditions that cause harm to plants.


San Jacinto College

Muhammad's research (in Zachary Ball's Lab) was to see if he could optimize conditions for copper (II) catalyzed C-N bonds forming reactions for peptides that previously gave poor modifications. Then, he tried to apply the optimized conditions to any sequence. The general technical approach were solid-state synthesis, HPLC purification, and analyzing data using MALDI.

TUYET photo

Lone Star College

Christelle (in Bonnie Bartel's Lab) studied a fatty acid transporter (PXA1) on an organelle peroxisome. The model plant Arabidopsis relies on fatty acid metabolism to fuel germination and early seedling growth, so mutations inPXA1 may lead to abolished growth. Christelle used a forward-genetic suppressor screen for enhanced growth of the pxa1-1 mutant to uncover potential interacting proteins or pathways of PXA1. This study will provide insights into peroxisome fatty acid metabolism and shed light on genetic therapies of a human disease x-linked adrenoleukodystrophy that is mainly caused by mutations in this fatty acid transporter.


Mary Hardin-Baylor
Cell Biology

Sarah (in Bonnie Bartel's Lab) worked on identifying and isolating *pex4-1* suppressor mutants in Arabidopsis thaliana to further our understanding of peroxisomal proteins and their functions. She genotyped previously isolated potential suppressor mutants and retested the morphological phenotype of these mutant suppressors. After confirming promising suppressors she began testing the molecular phenotype by performing western blots.

PETER photo

Rice University

Peter (in Francois St-Pierre’s Lab at BCM) worked to build a high-throughput platform for developing improved fluorescent proteins in S. cerevisiae. He, along with members of the St-Pierre Lab, is designing a pipeline that couples automated image analysis and cell selection with fluorescence microscopy to accelerate the process of fluorescent sensor improvement while improving specificity of selection for optical parameters beyond just brightness.

NOBLE photo

Rice University
Biochemistry and Cell Biology

Noble (in Joff Silberg’s Lab) studied Ferredoxin (Fd) proteins because not a lot of work has done in characterizing the biochemical and biophysical properties of these proteins. These proteins are crucial in various metabolic pathways in cells. From bilin synthesis, photosynthesis to glycolysis, these proteins play a crucial role in maintaining energy homeostasis. Functioning as redox proteins, Fd proteins mediate the transfer of electrons from acceptor to donor proteins. This study is done by transforming E. coli with Fd-expressing plasmids using the golden gate-DNA assembly, expressing chimeric Fd proteins in these cells, and purifying these cells for their proteins using chromatographic techniques (Q-sepharose DE52 anion exchange chromatography, High-Pressure Liquid Chromatography, and Reverse Phase Chromatography), as well as electrophoresis techniques. Purified samples are identified using circular dichroism, and studied using further using kinetic assays, potentiometry, and x-ray crystallography.

2016 BioNetworks Research

ALYSSA photo

Baylor University

Alyssa (in Caroline Masiello and Joff Silberg's labs) focused on altering Rhizobium leguminosarum bacteria to produce a flavonoid sensor that will give us a sense of the intercellular communication happening between microbes in different soils. This communication will allow us to alter land management practices that could both reduce the damage done to the environment by harmful soil additives, such as fertilizers, and increase our crop production.

KEVIN photo

University of Mary Hardin-Baylor

Kevin (in Bonnie Bartel's lab) studied Ion2 suppressor mutants by performing a forward genetic screen meant to isolate Ion2 mutants that have recovered wild type phenotypes. This study is meant to uncover proteins that may be involved in pexophagy, the breakdown of peroxisomes, and could one day be used to further other peroisome-related research.


University of Texas at El Paso

Victoria (in Natasha Kirienko's lab) investigated the regulation of pyoverdine production in Pseudomonas aeruginosa using spectrophotometry, real-time quantitative RT-PCR, biofilm assays, and western blotting to identify important genes. She focused on studying the link between c-di-GMP synthesis and pyoverdine expression, hoping to uncover mechanisms by which this harmful virulence factor enables P. aeruginosa to cause damage to its host.


San Jacinto Community College

Kevin (in Jane Grande-Allen's lab) worked on developing an evolutionary map of glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) and proteoglycans from different species. Additionally, determining how specific GAGs interest with different biological pathways and combining those pathways into one. Lastly, generating different protein structures through the use of software and comparing how the structures relate crossed species and comparing that information to the difference in the protein sequence.


San Jacinto Community College

Mikaela (in Dan Wagner's lab) studied the causative factors behind DNA methylation. This involved observing the success rates and efficiencies of transgenesis using zebrafish as a eukaryotic model organism. This was carried out by injecting zebrafish embryos with, either, methylated or unmethylated plasmid DNA tagged with RFP and observing their integration and expression via fluorescent microscope.

DAVID photo

Houston Community College
Chemical Engineering

David (in Laura Segatori's lab) engineered split tetracycline-inducible transcriptional regulators developed by screening libraries encoding fragmented TetR and tTA. The split TetR/tTA variants can be used to create synthetic AND gates or monitor complex cellular processes, such as signaling and metabolic pathways or protein aggregation and solubility.

JACOB photo

Rice University
Evolutionary Biology

Jacob (in Joff Silberg’s lab) worked on splitting ferredoxins in order to better understand how their structure relates to their function since they are redox agents that could potentially be used to control energy pathways in cells. This project focuses on the Mastigocladus laminosus ferredoxin.

QUYEN photo

San Jacinto Community College
Chemical Engineering

Quyen (in Aryeh Warmflash's lab) explored the effect of constant stimulation as compared to pulses of Activin on endodermal differentiation from human embryonic stem cells. Her project involved antibody staining and live imaging of a fluorescent reporter for Sox17, an endodermal transcription.

BRIAN photo

Rice University

Brian (in Junghae Suh's lab) worked on engineering adeno-associated virus, a non-pathogenic virus widely used in gene therapy. His project involved investigating a recently discovered region of the virus that appears to be important for cellular transduction.

CARINA photo

Houston Community College

Carina (in Mike Gustin's lab) observed and analyzed the behavior of Candida albicans under the toxic stress of hypochlorite, hydrogen peroxide, and sulfite. She observed the adaptive ability of this possibly pathogenic microorganism and also explored possibilities of cross-protection occurring when the yeast cell is exposed to different chemicals using a cell growth assay.


University of Mary Hardin-Baylor

Catherine (in Bonnie Bartel’s lab) worked on identifying and isolating *pex4-1* suppressor mutants to aid in a deeper understanding of peroxisomal proteins and their functions. She also constructed a PEX22 gene sequence with a fluorescent protein that would allow for mapping of the peroxin within the cell.

YVETTE photo

Trinity University

Yvette (in Caroline Masiello’s lab) analyzed density and porosity of black carbon particles of different ages ranging from 86 years to a year old in order to see how these physical properties of the black carbon particles in soil change over time. Then the elemental composition and surface chemistry of those particles were measured to identify whether mineral or organic inputs are the primary cause of change in density and porosity. She ultimately hopes to learn what is most important when thinking about how black carbon particles move through the environment over time.

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