Friday, August 10, 2012

Week 6

The final week!  Wow!  When I consider from where we started and where we now are in our research, I can definately say that we have come a long way!  We gave our Powerpoint presentations and printed our posters yesterday.   The posters are now hanging in their places in preparation for the presentations later today.  Sitting here with the rest of my 2012 RET group, I hear each one say how s/he has enjoyed this summer RET experience beyond what they ever expected.  We especially loved the way we dived into science content learning and immediately began our research projects.  This has been the best professional development any of us has ever participated in.  We all look forward to implementing our lessons with our classes and coming back during the year to share what we have done and, of course, to visit with all our friends here at the Photonics Lab at Boston University.  What a great summer we have had!  Thank you Mike, Cynthia, and Helen and all who so graciously took us into their projects.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Week 5

     This week we began more data analysis for the NSF AIR SP-IRIS.  Once this was done, we set to work to incubate our chips with viruses and were able to analyze the data from this experiment by Wednesday.  We ran the tests using the USBIOantibodies78B and 05E.  We were hopeful that these antibodies worked.  As indicated in the graph below, it appeared that there was some binding of viruses, but once George viewed our data, he pointed out that if viruses were attaching to our chips, the chips would be covered fairly evenly with the particles.  Instead, we got areas of heavy particle binding and some with little binding.  This can only indicate that there is unspecific binding, i.e., other matter is binding to the spot and not just virus particles.
   We hope to get one more experiment in before the end of next week.  This week got busy with working on our Powerpoint presentations and our final poster.  During these final weeks, there is much to get done.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Week 4

     This has been a very busy week for Stephanie and I.  We began the week by applying the antibodies to to our microchips using the spotting machine, the apparatus that can be programed to deposit nano-drops of a solution onto a microchip  We later viewed our chips under the low magnification IRIS and the high magnification IRIS to make sure the antibodies took.  Unfortunately, only one type of antibody is sticking.  The rest of Monday was spent learning how to analyze data from the new NSF Air IRIS.
     Tuesday morning found us in the clean lab, finishing up our disk projects.  Below is a diagram that details how the process works:  We first exposed our template to UV light which then
transferred the pattern to the disk.  Second, we added photoresist to the disk which adhered to areas where the UV light shined.  Next, we added a nano-sized layer of titanium and gold and finally washed the disk in acetone which removed the gold and titanium which was not attached to photoresist.  What was left was our design, in gold, on the disk.
     Also on Tuesday morning, before the clean lab, we incubated the virus we are trying to capture onto our chips.  By the afternoon, we imaged them and learned that the antibodies are not catching the virus; back to the drawing board, of sorts, for us.
     The rest of the week has found us in the sitting area of the 7th floor of the Photonics Center, analyzing data for the NSF Air.  Our work proved exactly what was suspected: the machine is changing depth perception slightly enough to affect usage.  The crew (Alexander and Jacob) will work on this so we can continue.
     Friday will put us in the classroom of the Summer Challenge classes in the morning, demonstrating the IRIS machines.  After this, we get to join our Cohort teachers to discuss topics in pedagogy.   All the facets of our work this summer have been worthwhile experiences.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Week 3 trailer

This is week 3 and Stephanie, my lab partner, and I have been busy learning how to operate the new NSF Air imaging machine while preparing our video clip of what what our research entails.  Watch the preview above to get an idea of how exciting our research experience at the Boston University Photonics Lab has been so far.

Our final movie can been seen below, or go access the link listed under the video to get the entire story.  Enjoy!



Friday, July 13, 2012

Week 2

It's week two and Stephanie, my lab partner, and I are loving the work we are doing at the Boston University Photonics Center.  This is a picture of Stephanie.  She is a great partner to work with.  She really knows her stuff!

We began this week by using the Hi-Mag IRIS machine to capture images of the spots of antibodies on the chips we created last week.  We figured out the parameters of maneuvering the chip in order to locate the spots.  This is actually more difficult than it appears.  It feels great to have accomplished this step.  On Tuesday, our "BBLunch" session with Prof. Ruane was very informative, showing us the path researchers take in order to publish their work.  Wednesday began with a lab meeting, our first.  I was surprised to see how many students are researching in this lab.  We had only met or seen about four up to this point. There is an entire crew working here.  They are a fun group.  On Thursday we got to purify some virus samples using dialysis with the hope that this process will improve their binding to antibodies.  I am about to go down to the lab now to continue working on the chips we made this morning.

   So why, exactly, are we doing all this?  Our lab group, George, Carlos, Alexander (to name a few) is trying to develop a sensor machine that identifies specific viruses.  The system they have developed works but the challenge we are working on is to find an antibody that grabs the H1N1 virus we are using in the research.  This is a trial and error process in which we change the type of antibody and the procedure for preparing the viruses for this process.  Stephanie and I have spent time in the lab with George processing the viral solutions and placing the "spots" of antibodies on the chips. That's me preparing one of our chips.  Our controls for spotting viruses has been that we use several antibodies or no antibodies for each chip and compare the virus attachment for each type of spot  We measure the virus attachment by looking at the images of each spot, looking for virus particles.  We have not yet used the newest machine, the NSF Air, but once we do, we will compare the images taken on the Air to the data gathered from the High-Mag bench-top imaging machine.  For me, the lab procedures have been new but I have some great teachers (Stephanie, George, Carlos, and now Alexander).  That's me and George at the spotting machine.