Mentor Search_Summer 2021 Projects

Christiana Care Health Systems

Topic — Cancer Research

Topic — Cardiovascular Research

Topic — Diabetes & Metabolic Research

Topic — Family & Community Medicine Research

Topic — HIV/AIDS Research

Topic — Infectious Disease Research

Topic — Neuroscience Research

Topic — OB/GYN Research

Topic — Oral & Maxillofacial Research

Topic — Orthopedic Research

Topic — Women's Health

Topic — Value Insitute

Population Health, Program Evaluation, Health Equity/Social Determinants of Health,Health Systems Engineering

Delaware State University

Michael Gitcho — Neurodegeneration

Medial temporal lobe staging of pathological TDP-43 reduces network connectivity in Alzheimer’s disease
Our research focuses on TDP-43, the major pathological protein in frontotemporal dementia and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. TDP-43 pathology is also present in ~50% of those with Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Phenotypically mimicking AD, a newly classified disorder called limbic-predominant age-related TDP-43 encephalopathy (LATE) accounts for 30-50% of dementia cases in those older than 80 years of age previously considered as AD. With over 30 million people worldwide are currently diagnosed with AD, up to half are also likely to have TDP-43 proteinopathy. Therefore, understanding mechanisms associated with the pathogenesis of TDP-43 in AD could lead to the development of therapeutics.
As a Summer Scholar you will have an opportunity to learn animal behavior, histology, biochemistry, and cell culture techniques in order to gain a better understanding of the pathogenesis of frontotemporal dementia, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, and other TDP-43 proteinopathies.


Alberta Aryee — Effect of enzyme supplementation in improving digestion and disease management

During this guided study, students will review relevant literature and perform experimentation on the effect of digestive enzymes supplementation in ameliorating maldigestion, which may plausibly alleviate the signs and symptoms of certain gastrointestinal disorders.
Student activities:Literature review, experimentation, data collection and analysis and manuscript preparation.


Harbinder Singh Dhillon — Neural functionality and handedness development

During development, carefully orchestrated asymmetric cell divisions during the very early stages of embryogenesis lay the foundations of the x-, y- and z- axes of body plan, including functional laterality of the cerebral halves. Disruption of typical asymmetry has been correlated with a wide range of pathologies ranging from cancer to brain disorders. Approximately 1 in ~20,000 individuals are known to display situs inversus totalis in which there is reversal of visceral asymmetry of the lateral axis as well as reversal of functional cerebral asymmetry. Disruption of asymmetry is linked to various neurological disorders like dyslexia, autism and schizophrenia. We have developed a 2-neuron C. elegans model to study the genes and molecular correlates of neural asymmetry.
The summer scholar will be familarized with the C. elegans model, molecular genetics, imaging and RNAseq analyses.


Miki Li — Drug screening system using C. elegans neurodegener disease and infectious disease models

C. elegans is a model organism serving as a proxy for understanding human health and diseases. The nematode has been used in drug discovery projects with the aim of understanding human health problems and finding means of cures and prevention. In this project, the scholars will conduct a drug screening to improve the symptoms of C. elegans neurodegenerative disease model and infectious disease model strains. A high-throughput screening instrument is available in my lab and will be utilized in this project.
Student activites: C. elegans culture and observation, High-throughput drug screening, Data collection and evaluation


Mohammad A Khan — Mid-Infrared Spectroscopy for Exhaled Breath Analysis

Exhaled human breath analysis or breathonomics is a noninvasive approach to profile chemical composition for early detection and diagnosis of several diseases. Exhaled breath is mainly composed of nitrogen, oxygen and carbon dioxide and inert gases, but also contains trace amount of organic compounds, saturated and unsaturated hydrocarbons, that are potentially biosignatures of specific disease, e.g. lung cancer. Volatile organic compounds (VoCs) are generated into the body by inhalation from the environment. Exogenous VoCs are inhaled and absorbed through the lung or absorbed through the skin, generated or metabolized by the cells biochemical process. However, VoCs metabolized endogenously can travel through the bloodstream and dispersed into the lungs where it is exhausted from the body. In this research we focus on three aspects of exhaled breath analysis, (i) develop mechanical lung model and functions of lungs with volume and pressure profiles and interactions (origin, pathway and reaction) of VoCs with lung (epithelial) cells, (ii) develop computational techniques, e.g. machine learning to understand spectroscopic profiles of chemical in lung and generate predictive transport models overtime of healthy and non-healthy individuals, and, (iii) design and develop mid-infrared laser based systems to accurately profile VoCs in the 5- 11 um spectral range. The overall goal of this project is to investigate the state-of-the-art in research on health bio-sensing early disease diagnosis.
Student activities: Laser-based sensor development, experimentation for sensitive detection of Volatile Organic Compounds, computational data driven techniques to integrate spectroscopy and exhaled breath chemical profiles


Hwan Kim — Parkinson's disease therapeutic development

A form of post-translational modifications, SUMOylation of target proteins has recently been implicated in Parkinson’s disease pathology. Our recent results using mouse models suggest that the overexpression of SUMO conjugase, Ubc9 protects dopaminergic axon tips in the striatum and cell bodies in the SN from the known PD-inducing reagent (MPTP) that results in Parkinsonian symptoms. Our recent results support that SENPs can be regulatory targets to prevent the deSUMOylation process that may be a part of protein aggregation and neuronal death pathway. Particularly, we identified that both SENP1 and 3 were significantly upregulated by MPP+ induced toxicity and SENP3 was also upregulated by the preformed fibrils (PFF) of a-synuclein-mediated toxicity. However, the MPTP induced toxicity does not recapitulate the typical protein aggregation-mediated PD pathology. Therefore, we adopt the recently established method using the preformed fibril (PFF) of a-synuclein for mimicking protein aggregation-mediated PD pathology. We test the hypothesis that blocking deSUMOylating enzymes, SENP1 or 3 prevents PFF-mediated toxicity in dopaminergic neurons. Using SENP1 RNAi or dominant negative, or chemical inhibitors, we will assess the target validation of SENP1 or 3 inhibition to enhance protein stability/solubility and to prevent PFF-induced protein mis-folding and aggregation. In addition, we will assess SENP expression in the SN from human PD midbrains, compared with age- and gender-matched healthy controls. In parallel, we will assess the proteomics shifts in SUMOylation and SENPs in PFF-injected mouse brains using mass spectrometry. This study will provide new strategies for protecting dopaminergic neurons from protein aggregation-mediated toxicity that leads to Parkinson’s disease.
Student activities include: Cell culture and handling Parkinson's disease mouse models, participates in wet research activities including Western blots, immunohistochemistry, and protein assays, etc.


Qi Lu — Nanoparticle-Membrane Interactions and Their Effects on Biological Cells

We will be analyzing fluorescent spectra data obtained in the past with different sizes of gold or silver nanoparticles on various composition of lipid bilayer. The analysis will focus on the fluorescence shifts and peak shape change induced on a lipid probe Laurdan upon the adsorption or integration of gold nanoparticles on lipid membranes. We intend to identify the key factors that determine nanoparticle-membrane interactions. Three hypotheses will be tested in this proposed project: (1) Can nanoparticles be used to change the membrane fluidity thus a potential pathway to the treatment metastatic cancer? (2) Can the membrane charge be used for targeted recognition of cancer cells by nanoparticles? (3) Can the pore-forming capability possessed by nanoparticles be used to destroy cancer cells? The novelty of the proposed research lies at the possibility of using nanoparticle-membrane interaction for targeted recognition of cancer cells and then using the pore-forming capability of nanoparticles to destroy cancer cells. Nanoparticles here serve as both targeting and therapeutic agents.
Study the fluorescent spectra from probes; analyze the spectra in relation to the probe environment; identify signature pattern shifts for nanoparticle impact on lipid membranes.


Yuriy Markushin — Development of a Sensitive COVID-19 Lateral Flow Antibody Test

COVID-19, a highly infectious disease, has evolved into a pandemic. The testing method utilizes to identify this illness is the lateral flow assay technology. Lateral flow assay strips are used to detect analytes from different mediums such as blood, urine, or saliva. Thus, the test strips with higher sensitivity are very important. Furthermore, samples can be combined utilizing the pooling approach. In essence, samples to be combined and tested for the same analyte. In short, sensitive tests would allow for diluted samples to be tested efficiently without wasting materials.
For this experiment, COVID-19 IgG and IgM antibodies are the compounds, or analytes, that will be analyzed. The COVID-19 antibody sample will be diluted to develop a series of dilution. Next step will be deposition of the working solution in the Lateral Flow Assay strip sample pad. Afterwards, the test strips will be scanned by the ESEQuant LR3 Lateral Flow Assay reader and analyzed for the presence of IgG and IgM antibodies. Additionally, the Lateral Flow Assay for detection of the HCG ( Human Chorionic Gonadotropin) hormone will be employed as well.


Brian McNaughton — Evolved RNA Recognition Motifs for Therapeutic and Gene Editing Applications

One goal of this research is to evolve RNA Recognition Motifs (RRMs) that bind TAR-derived RNA hairpins, and the incorporation of these new RRM-RNA pairs into the CRISPR/Cas-Inspired RNA Targeting System (“CIRTS”) platform multiple. Orthogonal RRM-RNA pairs will enable multiplexed mRNA targeting. A second goal of this research is to evaluate the affinity and selectivity of RRMs we have evolved to bind pre-miR-21, an established RNA therapeutic target.


Karl Miletti — CD44 functional expression in triple negative breast cancer cells.

This project involves the transfection of several triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) cells with CD44-ICD deletion mutant plasmid vectors to assess the potential cell signaling function of CD44 in these cells.
Research activities: cell culturing, transfection of cells, Western blotting, cell viability assays, literature reading, data analysis, bioinformatics.


Nemours A.I. DuPont

Nemours Mentor — Research Projects to be Determined

You will be contacted if selected to discuss possible projects.


University of Delaware

Amber Krauchunas — Characterizing mutants from a forward genetic screen for mutations that cause sterility

Forward genetics can be a powerful tool to identify new genes that are important for a biological process. Recently, we conducted a mutagenesis screen in C. elegans to identify mutations that disrupt fertility. Several candidate mutants were selected and stored along with a population of sibling worms. The goal of the project is to determine which of the candidate mutants can be successfully maintained while reproducing the phenotype of interest from one generation to the next. For mutations that meet this criteria, we will carry out phenotypic analysis to determine whether the sterility is due to defects in gamete formation, gamete function, or the somatic gonad.
Students will learn to maintain C. elegans strains, including using phenotypic observations to identify and maintain sterile mutants. Students will use DIC and fluorescent imaging of C. elegans mutants to observe gonad morphology and determine the presence/absence of gametes. Students will also carry out some genetic crosses.


Jeremy Bird — RNA Biology and Transcription

Exploring the biological functions of Non-canonical RNA cap structures
My lab is interested in a newly discovered form of RNA modification, specifically capping of the RNAs with primary metabolites such as NAD(H). We are trying to work out how these metabolite caps affect the function of a given RNA molecule. In Escherichia coli and other bacteria, one of the most highly NAD(H)-capped RNAs detected are encoded by the RNAI gene found on the replication of origin of a number of different plasmid DNAs. For this project, the student will look at the effect of NAD(H)-capping of the RNAI RNA on the stability/function of the RNA itself, as well as how capping may affect maintenance/replication of the plasmid in bacteria.
The summer scholar will be responsible for their own research project. This project entails a number of microbiological and biochemical methods, which my lab will teach them. It will require learning proper sterile technique while handling micro-organsims, plasmid transformation, bacterial physiology, PCR, cloning, gel electrophoresis, RNA extraction and Northern blotting.


Shawn Polson — Connecting Genotype to Phenotype in microbial host-virus systems

Our lab investigates the community ecology and dynamics of microbes and the viruses that infect them. In collaboration with other labs we have been working on new approaches for collecting viral phenotypic and integrating it with the metagenomic analyses we do to understand viral genotypes. A variety of projects under these themes would be available covering various stages of the research ranging from collection of phenotypic data to bioinformatics analysis of metagenomics data.
If university reopens to undergraduate research lab-based activities may be available, however the projects will likely be largely bioinformatic in nature to accommodate remote access. Laboratory based projects might involve microbial virus culturing, microscopic characterization/enumeration, or performing experiments to determine or validate viral phenotypes. Bioinformatics projects might include analysis of genomic and metagenomic data, integration of these data with viral laboratory data, or development/testing of new software for analysis of these data.


Esther E. Biswas-Fiss — Genotype-phenotype correlation in inherited visual disease

Despite being the leading cause of debilitating visual impairment in individuals over the age of 65, no targeted therapy or treatments exists for atrophic (dry) Age Related Macular Degeneration MD because the drivers of the disease remain poorly defined. The complex etiological pathway of AMD is not yet fully understood, but there is a clear genetic influence on disease risk. A high proportion of rare ABCA4 variants predicted to be damaging are identified in patients diagnosed with late-stage AMD. Further studies are required to understand the functional link between ABCA4 variation and AMD are required to more clearly understand the pathophysiology of this disease and establish a genetic marker for AMD. We have developed approaches to bridge the knowledge obtained from genetic testing with structural and biochemical consequences of variants in the ABCA4 gene in patients diagnosed with inherited retinal dystrophies. We utilize these approaches to accurately predict the functionality of variants of unknown significance and understand the molecular mechanisms that underlie the pathophysiology of ABCA4-linked disease. Undergraduate researchers in this laboratory will have an opportunity to explore the consequences of genetic variation in ABCA4 using a variety of in silico and in vitro approaches, including bioinformatic and recombinant DNA based tools.


Zhenghan Qi — Language Development in Children with and without ASD

Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) show highly variable language skills. The overarching question of this project is what cognitive and neural factors underlie the individual differences in language skills in ASD. We investigate the roles of learning and memory, social cognition, and prediction in language learning. Combining behavioral and safe brain imaging techniques, we aim to study the preserved and impaired learning mechanisms in children with ASD.
The Summer Scholar will assist behavioral data collection both through Zoom and/or in-person. The Summer Scholar will also learn how to administer and score standardized assessments, how to use a database, how to facilitate neuroimaging data collection. We expect the Summer Scholar to also participate in the lab meetings and contribute to data coding and basic analysis.
For the list of our current projects, please visit:


Behnam Abasht — Genetic basis of degenerative muscle diseases in chickens

My current research is broadly concerned with degenerative muscle diseases in chickens. Using a combination of methods, including genome and transcriptome sequencing (DNA- and RNA-seq), metabolomics, histology, electron microscopy, and genome-wide association studies, my lab investigates and aims to identify factors causing degenerative muscle diseases in modern broiler chickens. My lab also develops bioinformatics tools to facilitate genome-wide investigation of regulatory mutations, epigenetic modifications and genomic imprinting.
Depending on the student interests, they can do research in bioinformatics data analysis or conduct lab work. Bioinformatics projects involve with analyzing genome and transcriptome sequencing data. Lab projects involve with histological analysis of the muscle and pancreas specimens, PCR, quantification of serum metabolites.


Elisa Arch — Customized Passive-Dynamic Ankle-Foot Orthoses to Optimize Patient Outcomes

When people walk, their ankle joints help to hold them upright and move them forward. Ankle braces are often given to people who have had a stroke to help their ankle joints work properly. We think that ankle braces customized to meet the needs of each individual person will help them walk better. We have also developed a prescription model that tells us how to customize these ankle braces to address different levels of impairments experienced by people post-stroke such as decreased ability to move the ankle joint and weakened calf muscles. The purpose of this study to compare the effectiveness of traditionally-prescribed standard of care ankle braces to our customized ankle braces. To accomplish this goal, we will first measure each person’s ability to move his/her ankle joint and the strength of his/her calf muscles. We will then customize and manufacture an ankle brace for each person based on this information. We will then measure how each person walks in the ankle brace customized just for them immediately after fitting of the brace, two weeks later, and then four weeks later.
The Summer Scholar(s) joining this project will be actively involved in collecting the human subjects data for this study. These data collections will include working with individuals post-stroke, collecting motion capture data, and collecting data needed to customize the ankle foot-orthosis. The summer scholar(s) will be actively involved in processing and analyzing the collected data as well.


Roghayeh Barmaki — Computer Science, Human-Computer Interaction, Data Science, Virtual Reality

Come and join us working on the novel use of advanced technologies in machine learning, virtual and augmented reality in high-impact, invaluable applications in education and healthcare.
This year, was not like any other year, and all of us have learned a lot more about the values of remote learning and therapy in the global pandemic era. In the HCI lab, we are using hard-core machine learning tools to solve problems in healthcare, particularly on physiotherapy, healthy decision making, and educating these concepts using gamification and immersive technology.
The summer scholar will participate if weekly meetings with the mentors, conduct literature reviews, observe user studies (upon lifting the COVID restrictions, and the possibility of conducting studies), develop programs, and engage in scholarly writing.


Rahmat Beheshti — Data science and artificial intelligence

We have several projects that involve creating machine learning models for studying various health problems, primarily related to obesity and diabetes. Our projects study ways to improve prevention, control, and treatment interventions in the above domains. We use different types of data including electronic health records, wearable devices, and imaging datasets.
The type and level of involvement would be flexible, but generally include joining one of our ongoing projects, performing a literature review, helping the team to run the experiments, and manuscript preparation.


Amy Biddle — The gut microbiome of horses

How do populations of bacteria, protozoans, fungi, and parasites interact and impact the health of horses? The Biddle Lab has several projects underway to investigate the organisms that live inside the horse, their roles in digestion and impact on the health of the horse.
Students will be working on ongoing projects focusing on one group of organisms that reside in the horse gut: bacteria, protozoa, fungi, or nematodes.
This could involve collecting samples, isolation, growth experiments and/or sequence analysis.


Bruce Boman — Elucidating biological rules that maintain tissue organization and, when dysregulated, lead to cancer

Multicellular life evolved on earth about 600 million years ago [1], but how multicellular organisms develop and maintain organization of their tissues is still a mystery. The goal of this research project is to use mathematical modeling to discover mechanisms that explain how the organization of cells in adult tissues is maintained. Two key biological processes are involved in tissue organization: i) branching morphogenesis and ii) crypt fission. The structure of many tissues (e.g. lung, breast, kidney and vasculature) consists of branched organized tubular systems that arise through the process of “branching morphogenesis." On the other hand, the organization of intestinal tissues is maintained by crypt fission, which is branching morphogenesis in reverse. Both of these processes are essential to embryonic development, normal tissue homeostasis, and wound healing. However, branching morphogenesis and crypt fission, when dysregulated, can lead to tissue disorganization and cancer development. By modeling the spatial and temporal asymmetries of cell division, we are beginning to understand the mathematical laws and biological rules that control branching morphogenesis and crypt fission. We encourage undergraduate students to join our research team during the summer to participate in this project at UD’s Center for Applications of Mathematics in Medicine.
The research activities the Summer Scholar will be involved in are mathematical modeling, computational biology, and investigation of the scientific literature.


Kathleen Brewer-Smyth — Adverse childhood experiences (ACE), abuse in adulthood, and related neurobiology of behavioral health and aging

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are urgent public health problems with serious long-term neurobiological consequences. This can result in epigenetic changes and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis dysregulation of the stress hormone cortisol that can persist throughout life and increase risky behaviors (violence, substance use). It is not known if HPA axis dysregulation can be rehabilitated in adults or if improvements decrease risky behaviors. Our data suggest that longer time participating in homeless shelter programs is related to healthier salivary cortisol and decreased risky behavior in females. A larger sample is critical to answer these questions and control for related variables.
We hypothesize that that epigenetic age acceleration (EAA), low AM cortisol and diurnal cortisol slope (DCS) associated with ACEs can improve with supportive community programs; and steeper DCS predicts decreased risky behavior in adult women. Aim 1: Define relationships between ACEs, risky behaviors, and salivary cortisol among adult women. Aim 2: Determine if greater length of time in community programs (TC) (i.e. Sunday Breakfast Mission (SBM)) predicts higher AM cortisol, steeper DCS and decreased risky behavior. Aim 3: Evaluate relationships between EAA, TC, cortisol and risky behaviors.
This innovative study will provide pilot data for longitudinal research evaluating if HPA axis dysregulation, behaviors, and EAA can improve by participating in community programs; if risky behaviors decrease as HPA regulation improves; and how community programs may contribute to these outcomes in adult female ACEs victims. Should this research reveal that greater time in community programs predict HPA axis regulation, decreased EAA, and decreased risky behaviors, this research evidence will support cost effective rehabilitation using existing community programs to prevent serious inter-related problems of female ACEs victims that greatly impact public health.
Some local travel is required. Must have transportation.


Thomas Buckley — Concussion Research

The goal of the concussion research program is to better understand the short and long term consequences of concussions and repetitive head trauma on neurological health. The primary project will involve performing clinical neurological tests on current and former rugby players across the lifespan. The lab will also continue testing current UD student-athletes both prior to participation and following a concussion.
If in-person research is available, the UG student researcher will;
1) after being trained, perform clinical neurological tests
2) after being trained, perform lab set-up, calibration, and break-down
3) Assist with research administration tasks
4) Attend, in-person or virtual, weekly lab meetings which include external researchers to learn more about the research process.


William Chain — Polonovski-Pavarov Reactions in Organic Synthesis

We are generating new nitrogen-containing small molecules for use toward the synthesis of biologically active natural products. We are focused toward the development of new anti-cancer agents and our new reaction development will allow us to generate new and exciting molecules toward these efforts.
Summer scholars will learn to conduct chemical reactions in an organic chemistry research laboratory, purify and analyze the resultant products, and plan future experiments. Summer scholars will be trained to search scientific literature and present their research findings in a professional environment.


Lauren Covington — Sleep health in disadvantaged families

The purpose of this study is to (1) Assess the feasibility of recruiting disadvantaged caregiver-child dyads in the Delaware and Philadelphia communities (2) Describe sleep health (duration, regularity, timing) in disadvantaged children using objective sleep measurement and (3) Describe child’s sleep in relation to caregiver factors (employment, education and marital status, presence of mental health symptoms, sleep duration and sleep behaviors) and sleep environment factors (household crowding, room or bed sharing, bedroom lighting and temperature).
The scholar will aid in recruitment, data collection, data management, equipment distribution, and IRB amendment submissions (as needed). The scholar may also help with literature reviews, data analysis and abstract/manuscript preparation.


Emily Day — Nanomedicine

Various projects are available in the Day Lab to develop nanoparticles for high precision therapy of cancer, bone marrow failure disorders, and pregnancy complications. Our studies fall in three main realms of nanomedicine: (1) photothermal therapy, (2) gene regulation, and (3) biomimetic cargo delivery. Projects are available in all three realms, and students will be directly paired with a graduate student and/or postdoctoral mentor to synthesize, characterize, and evaluate the nanoparticles they develop. If necessary, some projects or portions of projects can be handled remotely, for example by having the student focus on data analysis, figure preparation, or other tasks that do not require in-person presence.
Research activities may include: nanoparticle synthesis and characterization, in vitro testing, data analysis, literature evaluation, figure preparation, and more.
Twitter: @TheDayLab


Mary Dozier — Assessing intervention effects on behavior and biology among infants, children, and parents

We are conducting randomized clinical trials to assess the efficacy of early parenting interventions, and we examine effects on brain and behavioral development among infants, adolescents, and parents. We assess brain structure and functioning through magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), stress regulation through the production of a steroid hormone cortisol and through autonomic nervous system (ANS) regulation, as well as DNA methylation and behavioral functioning.
Students could be involved in helping to scan infants or adolescents and in processing brain images, in helping to collect salivary or hair cortisol samples and preparing samples for assay, or in helping collect ANS data with infants and parents.


Melinda Duncan — Mechanisms controlling ocular fibrosis

We are studying the mechanisms by which fibrosis of lens epithelial cells is induced following cataract surgery and are exploring how drugs that block these mechanisms could be useful to block the pathogenesis of this disease.
The lab uses mouse models of cataract surgery to determine the genes important for disease pathogenesis. This research will involve histological techniques such as tissue sectioning and immunostaining, and may also include quantitation of RNA levels.


Dawn Elliott — Biomechanics of tendon, meniscus, and intervertebral disc

Tears of the knee meniscus, tendon, and intervertebral disc are common injuries and a cause of disability.  It is currently unknown how tears form and grow and how they affect surrounding tissue.  We are seeking summer student to assist in testing these tissues.
Student will participate in dissection, MRI, image analysis, mechanical testing, biochemistry, image segmentation, programming.


Velia Fowler — Cell Biology and Imaging

Cytoskeletal reorganization during formation of red blood cells.
The final stage of formation of mammalian red blood cells (RBCs) requires the erythroblast to expel its nucleus to create pliable cells that can squeeze through small capillaries to deliver oxygen and remove carbon dioxide from tissues during their passage through the circulation. The process of nuclear expulsion requires a series of morphological events including cell polarization and nuclear relocation to one side of the cell, followed by dynamic cell blebbing, as well as organelle and membrane protein sorting to retain the organelles and future RBC proteins, while expelling the nucleus. The summer scholar will learn how to grow erythroblast cell cultures and determine the locations of cytoskeletal structures (microtubules, intermediate filaments, actin filaments) by fluorescence microscopy to gain insights into how cytoskeletal reorganization creates forces for nuclear expulsion.
Student will experience: Mammalian cell cultures of primary erythroblasts, Immunostaining of cytoskeletal proteins, Fluorescence microscopy, Image analysis and quantification.


Joseph Fox — Research and Computation in Bioorthogonal Chemistry

Research in the Fox group centers on the development of new types of chemical reactions, the application of these new reactions to the synthesis of naturally occurring and designed molecules with biological function, and in the use of design concepts in organic synthesis for applications in biology and materials science.


Deni Galileo — Glioblastoma Stem Cell Research

Student will work on some ongoing aspect of current research involving the characterization of human glioblastoma stem cells and their motility and ability to form brain tumors in an in vivo chick embryo brain tumor model system or brain slice cultures. Student should be willing to undertake a senior thesis.
Student will learn to culture human brain tumor cells, immunostain cells for particular cellular marker proteins, and perform cell motility assays. Student will learn microscopy techniques including confocal microscopy. Student may also be involved in characterization of experimental brain tumors in the chick embryo model system or brain slice culture system.


Jason Gleghorn — Projects in regenerative medicine

The Gleghorn Lab is an interdisciplinary research group that is focused on understanding how cells assemble into functional tissues. We develop and use microfluidic and microfabrication technologies to determine how cells behave and communicate within multicellular populations to form complex 3D tissues and organs. In particular, we use developing organs, microfabricated 3D organotypic culture models, quantitative analysis, and computational methods to investigate the biophysical forces and chemical signals that drive tissue growth, homeostasis, and disease. Our work integrates fundamental engineering, molecular, cell, and developmental biology, and materials science to delineate cellular behaviors and interactions at the cellular, tissue, and organ length scales. The long-term goals of this research are to develop techniques to engineer physiologically relevant 3D culture systems with well-defined structure, flows, and cell-cell interactions to study tissue-scale biology and disease. These techniques in combination with what we learn in our studies of the native cellular behaviors and interactions in the embryo will be used to define new therapeutic approaches for regenerative medicine.
The summer scholar will be engaged in all aspects of research from literature review, conduct experiments, data analysis, and presentation of research findings.
Twitter: @GleghornLab , Instagram: GleghornLab


Roberta M Golinkoff — Child's Play, Learning and Development

Our lab studies child development, generally relating to language development, early math skills, and learning from play and media.
Interns help with everything from scheduling families to come into the lab, to helping run the studies, and code and enter the data. Tasks also vary depending on our interns' interests. Some interns will also be trained on coding children's behaviors, like where little babies are looking on a screen or how preschoolers construct legos. We also have a weekly lab meeting where we read and discuss recent research articles.


Karin Silbernagel — Clinical research on improving treatment for patients with tendon injuries

The Delaware Tendon Research Group is an interdisciplinary team focused on improving treatment outcomes for tendon injuries. Our approach is to evaluate tendon health and recovery by quantifying tendon composition, structure, mechanical properties, along with patient’s impairments and symptoms. This allows us to develop a better understanding of the factors that affect healing so that tailored treatment can be developed. The close connection between our Tendon Research Group and the Delaware Physical Therapy Clinic enables conceptual ideas generated in the clinic to be explored in our research and in turn implemented in clinical practice.
Current studies include:
A prospective clinical trial comparing the effect of exercise as treatment for Achilles tendinopathy, between men and women. Recovery will be evaluated using outcome measures for tendon structure (US imaging) and mechanical properties (continuous shear wave elastography), along with validated measures of muscle tendon function and symptoms.
A randomized clinical trial evaluating the impact of activity modification during rehabilitation on recovery from patellar tendinopathy in active individuals.
Twitter: udtendongroup , Instagram: udtendongroup


Catherine Grimes — Chemical Biology and Immune Responses

Come study how your body senses and responds to bacteria. Our lab has made fundamental discoveries into the proteins the body uses to do this using our background in carbohydrate chemistry. We also explore mechanisms to treat diseases such as Crohn’s Disease.
A number of projects ranging from protein biochemistry to carbohydrate chemistry are available. Learn total synthesis of Peptidoglycans to expression of leucine rich repeat receptors. All undergraduates are mentored by Dr Grimes and a senior graduate student.


Jocelyn Hafer — Development of methods for real world gait analysis

The long-term goal of this research is to develop, validate, and disseminate methods that researchers and clinicians can use to measure gait biomechanics in the real world. This work will develop non-black-box methods to obtain meaningful measures of gait from wearable inertial sensors outside of the laboratory setting. Currently, this project is focused on 1) developing methods that allow for accurate calculation of gait outcomes independent of the variations in sensor placement that may occur when individuals place sensors themselves without researcher involvement and 2) developing algorithms to automatically identify gait activities from unobserved data collections.
Learn how to use biomechanics research software to analyze data from camera-based motion capture and wearable inertial measurement units. Assist graduate students with data collections for gait studies, process and analyze gait data.


Amira Idris — Developing Prescriptible Vibration Therapy For Pain

Summer scholars will conduct research that will involve literature reviews, which will be applied to the real world as a physical product and applicable therapy for pain.
Student will conduct in-depth research on published scientific work on vibration therapy for pain and uses finding to propose an intervention plan for vibration therapy for rehabilitation
- If the time should allow, Summer Scholar will work with a mentor to develop a prototype device that will be applied to the intervention plan.


Aimee Jaramillo-Lambert — Determine the interaction between TOP-2 and chromosome remodeling proteins in C. elegans meiosis

Our lab is interested in how cells ensure that the correct number of chromosomes is passed on to the next generation. Cells with the wrong number of chromosomes can lead to cancer, sterility and infertility, and birth defects. This project will examine the role of an enzyme called topoisomerase II in meiotic chromosome segregation and how it interacts with other components, mainly chromosome remodeling enzymes, to determine the amount of chromosome compaction needed to accurately segregate chromosomes during meiosis.
The summer scholar will work with the model organism C. elegans to investigate sex differences in chromosome structure and segregation during meiosis. The research activities will include genetic crosses, gene knockdown through RNA interference, embryonic viability assays, and microscopy.


Lisa Jaremka — Minfulness and romantic relationship quality

Identifying scalable interventions that improve relationship quality, thereby improving disease outcomes, is an essential public health goal. Mindfulness interventions, which encourage attention towards and acceptance of current experiences, are a promising target for improving relationship quality. The overarching aim of this proposal is to experimentally test whether a mindfulness intervention improves relationship quality, assessed via both subjective and objective measures, relative to an active control comparison. We focus specifically on mindfulness and romantic relationship quality in this exploratory R21 because this focus builds on a well-established link between romantic relationships and disease outcomes. Romantic couples from the community will be randomly assigned to one of two arms: mindfulness vs. active control. Both interventions will be completed on a smart-phone for 14 days using identical intervention activities as our existing published research. After the 14-day period, couples will attend a lab visit and provide subjective and objective relationship quality data. Although multiple high impact theoretical papers have underscored the need to examine the effect of a mindfulness intervention on relationship quality, empirical work in this area is sparse. This lack of research is surprising given that poor quality relationships robustly increase risk for morbidity and accelerated mortality. This innovative study is the first step towards testing a mindfulness intervention as a means to improving relationship quality.
A research assistant would help with data collection, which would involve running couples through their scheduled procedures, preparing for study visits, and then wrapping up after the visit is over.


Curtis Johnson — Magnetic Resonance Elastography of the Brain

MRE is an imaging technique used to measure mechanical properties of brain tissue in vivo. Mechanical properties, such as stiffness, are related to brain structure, function, and health. This project is in developing or applying MRE methods for use in a variety of applications in neuroscience, neurology, or neurosurgery.
The student will participate in MRI imaging,human subjects testing, data collection, image processing and sample preparation.
Twitter: @MechNeuroLab


John R Jungck — Epithelial Cell Division, Viral Capsids, and Radiolarian Morphospace

Three projects: 3D Nanotomography, 4D Printing & Self-Assembly, Image Analysis
My research involves the use of graph theory and computational geometry to explore basic questions in biology such as how can we make inferences about mechanisms of cell division by analyzing polygonal tessellations of embryonic tissues from multiple organisms: fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster), flour beetles (Tenebrio molitor), and a model plant (Arabidopsis thaliana). We have developed software entitled Ka-me: A Voroni Image Analyzer for investigating these patterns. Also, I am interested in the intracellular mechanisms driving the formation of extracellular structures. This work involves 3D nanotomography of radiolarian tests and digital dissection of the images. Thirdly, we have successfully designed self-assembling models of icosahedral viral capsids. We need to develop better design principles for generating different types of viral capsids.
For the first two projects, the students will be primarily analyzing published images with 2D and 3D image analysis software: Ka-me, Image J (Fiji), and Amira as well as doing statistical analysis of their resuls with the stats package: JMP. For the viral capsid work, students will be using 3D visualization software and CAD-CAM software to design self-assembling capsomeres that will be 3D printed.


Ethna Boyd — Vibrio genetics

Osmotic stress response mechanisms and their regulation among marine heterotrophic bacteria are poorly understood. We investigate the role of compatible solute metabolism and transport and new insights that can be gained from studying marine bacteria belonging to the family Vibrionaceae.


Will Kenkel — Impacts of Birth Mode on Social Behavior

In this study, we are using the monogamous prairie vole to examine how differences in hormones levels at birth brought on by cesarean delivery impact long-term neurodevelopmental outcomes in offspring. We are particularly interested in studying the behaviors which are regulated in adulthood by the same set of hormones that are impacted at delivery by birth mode, namely social and emotional behaviors. The prairie vole is equipped with a range of human-like social behaviors, including attachment, caregiving, and consolation, all of which may be impacted by changes in hormone regulation.
Students participating in this research will help conduct and analyze tests of prairie vole social behavior, potentially including tests of: pair-bonding, alloparental caregiving, and/or communication. Opportunities will also be present for work preparing and analyzing brain tissue.


Jennifer Kubota — Impression Formation Social Neuroscience

The Impression Formation Social Neuroscience Lab ( investigates how we form impressions of people. The lab uses both neuroscience and behavioral research methods. Students will work on related research topics. In addition to projects related to stereotyping and prejudice, this summer we will also explore how humans and non-human AI agents interact within a team.
The student’s responsibilities will include: (1) creating stimuli, (2) collecting data, (3) cleaning and analyzing data, (4) programming studies, and (5) other miscellaneous tasks.


Salil Lachke — Characterization of gene expression in the ocular lens

The project will to characterize mouse gene knockouts on the morphological and molecular levels. The work can involve analysis of data (microarray, RNA-seq, etc.) that is already collected in case the project has to be fully online.
The student will: Learn to section mouse tissues, learn immunostaining, learn molecular techniques, PCR, running gels, genotyping, etc., learn microscopy and learn cell culture.


Chi Keung Lam — Assessing the cardiotoxicity of chemotherapy

Cardiotoxicity, such as reduced cardiac function and induction of arrhythmia, is a major cause for drug withdrawal in the market. Furthermore, the application of promising treatment can be limited by black box warning with adverse cardiovascular complication. Classic examples are anthracycline and tyrosine kinase inhibitors, which are commonly used in cancer therapy. My lab is interested in identifying the cardiac-specific mechanisms induced by those agents. It will allow us to develop strategy to prevent the adverse side effects in the heart but retain the cancer killing property.
Participants will learn how to handle induced pluripotent stem cells and differentiate them into functional cardiac cells. They will use these cells to perform drug testing. Depending on the situation, participants may be involved in animal testing.


Michele Lobo — Early Problem-solving in Children with Neuromotor Delays

This project will involve analysis of video data from a multi-sire randomized controlled trial of an early intervention program aimed at advancing motor and cognitive development. The program was delivered to infants and toddlers who had motor delays. It focused on sitting and play with objects in ways to advance early exploration and learning. The study has a number of outcome measures but this project will focus on identifying the ways children engaged with different sets of standardized toys to see how children learn to problem-solve about what the toys could do. This type of exploration and learning is important as it forms the foundation for future skills such as tool use.
Scholars will work closely with our team to learn to code and analyze the video data. They will review and discuss the literature related to development, play, and learning. Scholars will also be provided opportunities to learn about and engage in all of the projects happening in the lab, including projects related to wearable technologies aimed at improving play and daily activity performance. Scholars will be provided opportunities to assist with ongoing data collections (with through teleconferencing or in-person, dependent upon Covid).


Jared Medina — Using brain imaging and behavioral to understand how the brain represents the body

Our lab uses brain imaging, cognitive neuropsychological research (testing brain-damaged individuals), and experiments with other populations (college students, amputees, synesthetes) to understand how the brain represents the body, broadly defined. Topics include neural plasticity, multisensory integration, understanding deficits in body perception (ranging from deficits in sensation and localization to disorders of body ownership and agency), mirror-touch and grapheme-color synesthesia, phantom limb phenomena, body illusions (including the mirror box and Pinocchio illusions) and other topics. Techniques include structural and functional neuroimaging (including multi-voxel pattern analysis and representational similarity analysis), cognitive neuropsychological research with brain-damaged individuals, and statistical analysis of data from a variety of populations.
Collecting and analyzing behavioral data from brain-damaged individuals, amputees, synesthetes, and college students. Collecting and analyzing structural and functional neuroimaging data. Reading the current literature and designing potential experiments on these topics.


Jeff Mugridge — Expression and purification of RNA modifying enzymes

RNA molecules in the cell are decorated with chemical modifications that impact the control of gene expression. The enzymes that read, write, and erase these modifications are important for controlling RNA function and are linked to human diseases ranging from cancers to neurodegenerative disorders. Our lab studies the basic chemical, structural, and molecular mechanisms of different RNA modifying enzymes to understand at the atomic-level how these enzymes target RNA for modification and how this impacts RNA function and human disease.
INBRE Summer Scholars will undertake projects to clone, express, and purify an RNA modifying enzyme for biochemical and structural studies. They will learn and carry out techniques including molecular cloning, PCR, bacterial protein over expression, and protein purification using affinity, ion-exchange, and size-exclusion chormatography. Time permitting, biochemical and/or structural assays may be attempted.


Anja Nohe — Skeletal Regulation

Stem cell differentiation into ostoblasts, osteoclasts and chondrocytes.
My laboratory is interested in understanding the molecular mechanism of stem cell differentiation. We utilize stem cells isolated from patients undergoing hip surgery at Christiana care. Once isolated we will determine key mechanisms of differentiation into osteoblasts, osteoclasts and chondrocytes.
The student will: isolate stem cells, culture the cells and differentiate them into osteoblasts, osteoclasts and chondrocytes.


Justin Parreno — Bioengineering of Articular Cartilage to Study Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis (OA) is an irreversible, debilitating, and chronic disease. Current OA treatments are either surgical with poor long-term reparative outcomes or primarily aimed at reducing pain. Thus, there is a need to develop new OA treatments. However, current animal models are costly and examining potential therapies can be time consuming. Therefore, we have developed a platform to generate microscale cartilage organoids. In this project, we will examine if these organoids can be used as a model to recapitulate osteoarthritis progression. We will expose organoids to inflammatory cytokines and examine the response using real-time PCR, Western blotting, and high-to-super resolution fluorescent confocal microscopy. The responses will be benchmarked against known in vivo Osteoarthritis markers. Our goal is then to use this system in a high-throughput screen of pharmacological agents to identify novel therapeutics that could prevent Osteoarthritis progression.
The summer scholar will work closely with the laboratory PI and students to perform assays to validate this new osteoarthritis model. The scholar will also participate in processing and critical analysis of data.


Darcy Reisman — Recovery of walking after stroke

In our lab we study learning mechanisms underlying relearning to walk after stroke along with investigating rehab interventions that improve post-stroke walking recovery. In terms of interventions, we are addressing/considering factors including physical capacity, self-efficacy, biopsychosocial factors and social and physical environmental factors.
Student activities: Assisting with clinical and laboratory testing of persons post-stroke, assisting with clinical interventions with persons post-stroke, assisting with data analysis from motion capture systems and clinical testing, participating in all lab meetings and journal clubs.


Laurie Ruggiero — Technology-based Approaches to Promote Healthy Eating and Regular Physical Activity.

Various projects will be available that involve the development, implementation, and evaluation of technology-based health promotion interventions, such as an educational exergame tailored for older adults and a 3-D avatar-based virtual environment to promote healthy eating and physical activity.
The summer scholar may have the opportunity to participate in research activities from conducting literature searches, to assisting in the development of technology-based interventions, to assisting in the implementation of pilot studies examining technology-based healthh promotion interventions in various settings.


Gilberto Schleiniger — Continuous, discrete and agent-based models of tissue organization and dynamics

Mathematical models of tissue organization and dynamics are sought in order to predict stable equilibrium or steady-state behavior of healthy tissues, and how different perturbations to the normal tissue conditions lead to unhealthy and disorganized states via instability and other mechanisms. The ultimate goal is to use the models to understand how to restore stable steady-states through counter measures to other parts of the system.
A Summer Scholar can improve on existing models, advance different models, do a mathematical analysis of the models, and simulate the behavior of the modeled systems using either Matlab or Netlogo simulations. Stochastic models are also a possibility; this would be new models that would allow for the Scholar to learn about stochastic modeling, as well as how to analyze such models.


Sheau Ching Chai — Effects of peanut consumption on cardiovascular health and cognitive function

Participants will be asked to consume 2 oz. of peanut or no nuts daily for 12 weeks. Cardiovascular risk factors and memory performance will be assessed before and after the 12 weeks intervention.
Summer scholars will be trained to conduct in-person interviews, anthropometric measurements, data collection, and process human specimens.


Jaclyn Schwarz — Brain Immune Communication in Cognitive Disorders

Our lab has multiple projects, but I anticipate the student would help to understand the role of early-life immune activation on the development of neural circuits that control learning. Our long-term goal is to understand how immune activation (such as infections) early in life can be a risk factor for the development of neurodevelopmental disorders including schizophrenia, autism, and learning disorders.
The scholar will participate in animal behavior experiments.
The scholar will participate in benchwork, including immunohistochemistry and molecular biology techniques.
The scholar will participate in data analysis and statistical analyses.


Erica Selva — Analysis of Wnt-Wntless complex formation in Wnt signaling

The Wnt pathway is an evolutionarily conserved signal transduction pathway that play critical roles in organismal development, maintaining tissue homeostasis and when aberrant can cause human diseases, like cancer. This conserved signaling pathway is strictly regulated in both signal-producing and -receiving cells. Hence, gaining a detailed understanding of the molecular mechanisms that govern this crucial and enigmatic signaling pathway could lead to could lead to identification of therapeutics to treat diseases caused by aberrant Wnt signaling. Wnts, the signaling ligand of the pathway, are trafficked through the secretory pathway by a conserved multipass-transmembrane chaperone protein Wntless (Wls). Recent structural studies in the Selva laboratory have shown that a soluble form of Drosophila Wls, composed of the Wls large luminal loop, binds its cognate Drosophila Wnt, Wingless (Wg). Since this form of Wls lacks transmembrane domains is secreted and full-length Wls has been shown to escort Wg through the secretory pathway to the plasma membrane for release and downstream signaling, it is predicted that this soluble form of Wls should be secreted from the cell as a Wg-Wls complex when co-expressed. The goal of this project is to determine whether co-expression of Wg with a soluble form of Wls result in the secretion of Wg complexed with Wls in a conformation close to its in vivo native state in signal-producing cells, as Wls binds Wg/Wnt immediately following its biosynthesis and lipid modification in the endoplasmic reticulum. The goal of this project is to use co-immunoprecipitation to examine whether co-expression of soluble Wls and Wg in Drosophila cells exits as a complex within cells and in the media and if Wg lipidation is required for Wls-Wg complex formation. Results of these studies are anticipated to expand our understanding of Wg and Wls structure and function and pave the way for more in depth structural studies in the future.


Jennifer Semrau — Robotics and technology research in stroke survivors

The project will focus on the development of robotic and tablet-based measurement techniques for use in stroke survivors.
During this project, the student will be involved in the design of robotic/tablet tasks for use in stroke survivors, collection of human subject data, and gain experience in reading and analyzing the current scientific literature. Students will also learn scientific analysis techniques for human movement data and gain experience in scientific data presentation.


John Slater — Breast Cancer Metastasis

The Slater Lab fabricates tissue engineered constructs to better understand how cancer metastasis occurs. We focus on understanding how cancer cells spread through the body and what happens to them after they enter other organs and form new tumors, a process known as metastasis.
The student will learn how to fabricate tissue engineered constructs, how to culture human cancer cells, how to image and analyze these cancer cells, how to quantify data, and how to present the results both in written and oral form.
Twitter: @lab_slater


Jia Song — Developmental Biology

Our laboratory is interested in understanding how developmental processes are regulated by microRNAs (miRNAs). miRNAs are a group of small, non-coding RNAs that regulate gene expression by binding to their target transcripts to mediate translation silencing in animals.We examine how miRNAs regulate various developmental pathways to ensure proper development.
The Summer Scholar will participate in projects that aim to understand how cell cycle and embryonic structures are controlled and shaped within the developing embryo. The Scholar will use the sea urchin embryo as a model to examine post-transcriptional regulation, be familiar with handling sea urchin embryos, molecular cloning, RNA and protein biology.


Molly Sutherland — Cytochrome c biogenesis in prokaryotes

Research in the Sutherland lab focuses on understanding the molecular mechanisms of cytochrome c biogenesis in bacteria. What are cytochromes c? They are proteins found in nearly all organisms including humans, plants, bacteria and Archaea that function in diverse electron transport chains for cellular respiration and other critical functions. Why are cytochromes c unique? They require covalent attachment of heme to a conserved motif (CXXCH) to function. Heme attachment or biogenesis is not well understood, representing a fundamental biological question. There are three pathways called System I, System II and System III for cytochrome c biogenesis that have different mechanisms to transport heme and attach it to cytochrome c. Systems I and II are found primarily in prokaryotes (bacteria) and are studied in the Sutherland lab. The project will involve characterization of the proteins in Systems I or II to understand how heme is transported and attached to cytochrome c. If summer research is remote, project will involve homology and topology analysis of Systems I or II.
The Summer Scholar will learn basic microbiological and biochemical techniques. They will characterize protein variants (mutants) of proteins in System I or II using functional studies. If summer research is remote, project will involve homology and topology analysis of Systems I or II.


Jessica Tanis — Using the model system C. elegans to identify factors that impact Alzheimer's Disease progression

Alzheimer’s disease (AD), a progressive neurodegenerative disorder, is the most common cause of dementia, affecting an estimated 5.8 million individuals in the United States. Given the great personal, social, and economic burdens associated with AD, it is important to understand factors that contribute to pathogenesis in order to make a breakthrough in developing a treatment that will slow or cure this disease. The presence of extraneuronal beta-amyloid (Aß) plaques in individuals with AD, coupled with genetic evidence, support the hypothesis that Aß accumulation is a causative factor in development of the disease. Yet an understanding of the mechanism(s) by which Aß induces synaptic dysfunction and neuron death remains unclear. We are using a powerful C. elegans model of AD to identify factors that mitigate the harmful effects of Aß on cellular function. Transgenic expression of toxic human Aß1-42 in C. elegans results in time-dependent paralysis. Altered time to paralysis can be used as a readout to identify genes and pharmacological agents that influence Aß toxicity. We are creating an automated high-throughput screening and analysis system to identify factors that impact onset of Aß-induced paralysis.
The student will grow C. elegans and perform high-throughput paralysis assays on the Cellnsight CX7 high-content screening platform. Another aspect of the project will be to conduct deep learning image analysis of the data by training a convolutional neural network to predict mobile and paralyzed C. elegans.


Timothy Vickery — Visual perception and statistical learning

We are conducting two separate lines of research on human visual perception that could use help from an INBRE scholar. In one line of research, we examine visual ""statistical learning"" -- a type of learning about statistics of the environment, which is ubiquitous and occurs without observers' intentions to learn. We are interested in how pre-existing knowledge impacts this type of learning, the neural basis of this learning, and what this sort of learning is used for in real-world perception and action.
In a separate line of research we are studying individual differences in perceptual grouping and visual illusions. Mid-level visual processes come after very basic visual processes (like detecting edges in an image) and higher-level processes such as object recognition. These processes help us understand the structure of the world (which pieces of the visual scene ""go together""). Despite their importance, these processes are still very poorly understood. Most knowledge of how perceptual organization works is in the form of ""cues"" or simple rules that determine, all else equal, how things go together (e.g., proximity, similarity, good continuation). In this project, we seek to taxonomize these rules -- determine, using individual differences, which rules share underlying mechanisms. We hope to expand our research in examination of neural individual differences in the coming months.
Both projects employ in-person behavioral experiments (including eye-tracking), online behavioral experiments, and neuroimaging (fMRI, and soon, EEG).
Summer students would conduct literature reviews, assist in coming up with ideas and refining experiments, learn programming (Python and/or Javascript) to help code experiments, run participants in the lab and/or online, and/or assist in neuroimaging procedures in person at University of Delaware's CBBI.


Mary P Watson — Organic Chemistry

Development of New Methods for Synthesis of Bioactive Molecules
The discovery of new bioactive molecules relies upon efficient access to target structures. Our lab develops new catalytic methods for organic synthesis, with the goal of providing new reactions that chemists in academia and industry will use to make valuable molecules from readily available starting materials.
Research activities will include synthesis, purification, and characterization of organic molecules using state-of-the-art techniques. Researchers will also perform optimization of new reactions. Techniques will include high-throughput experimentation; NMR and IR spectroscopy; mass spectrometry; liquid and supercritical fluid chromatography; and others.
Twitter: @MPWatsonLab


Anjana Bhat — Creative Movement as an intervention for children with autism

Our past research has shown the value of creative physical activities using music, dance, and yoga (Srinivasan et al., 2014, 2015, 2016a, 2016b). The broad objectives of this study are to evaluate the effects of creative movement and physical activity on the social and movement skills of children between 6 and 14 years of age. We will also examine changes in brain activity patterns following training. Students will have experience with data collections and/or data analysis.
Students will engage in lit review, data collection prep, intervention sessions with children, or data analysis in the lab.


Libbey Bowen — Analysis and Translation of Real-Time Behavior Data to Tailor Care Plans in Nursing Facilities

This project involves conceptualizing and analyzing already collected real-time sensor data from a wrist-worn device for up to a year and working with clinical focus groups to translate research findings into tailored care plans of long-term care residents that will improve health outcomes.
The mentee will work with the team to understand how subtle changes in walking behavior (e.g., gait, balance, patterns, other) may predict falls, urinary tract infections, delirium and write up the literature review and help with analysis. The mentee will help with clinical focus groups, potentially facilitating, but also utilizing transcribed interviews to help translate our findings back to the real-world long-term care setting to improve individual plans of care. Focus groups may be conducted over zoom due to COVID restrictions.


Wesley College

Malcolm D'Souza — Chemometric Analysis

Experimental study of the break-down of prodrug building blocks in polar protic and polar aprotic solvents.


Agashi P Nwogbaga — Health Fitness Empowerment of Delaware College Students Esp. During Covid- A Statistical Analysis

As educators, we often see our students arrive on campus in their freshmen semester as healthy and often skinny teenagers, sometimes even gangly teenagers. Then, we watch them gradually and helplessly grow and increase in girth with noticeable excess adipose accumulation. This situation sometimes gets to such an alarming proportion that makes mere walking from one class to another class a strenuous and highly exhausting exercise that leaves them graduating from college with heightened predisposition to future risks of cardiovascular complications. Now, are college students less physically active in college than they were in high school? What factors contribute to college students being physically inactive especially in the era of Covid? How can we empower Delaware young adults (especially College students) to be lifelong physically fit citizens? In this work, we will use suitable statistical strategies to investigate and find answers to these and related questions. We will also seek to identify some creative and innovative ways to begin to lay an enduring foundation for motivating college students and other members of the college community to become not just lifelong learners but also lifelong fit citizens of the community they may belong.
Guided by the mentor, the summer scholars will review and document relevant literature from trusted sources. Next, the summer scholars will help gather pertinent data from databases, surveys and/or other means under the close supervision of the mentor. Finally, using suitable mathematical and statistical strategies, the summer scholars will organize, analyze and prepare data for applicable presentation and dissemination.


Erin M Perchiniak — Increasing the course-based undergraduate research experiences in the STEM department at Wesley College

Based on data from a pilot CURE run at Wesley College this Fall in Cell Biology, this project aims to expand these opportunities not only within the cell course, but also to other STEM-related classes in the department.
Incorporating novel course based undergraduate research experiences into STEM courses has been shown to increase student interest and retention in STEM-related careers. A pilot CURE was recently run at Wesley College in a Cell Biology course. This project would seek to expand on this pilot project for the cell course as well as possible avenues to incorporate similar experiments in other courses as well. The summer scholar would assist in the design, testing, and writing of these CURE sessions.


Kevin Shuman — Effects of Artificial Sweeteners on Microbial Metabolism

Model bacteria commonly found in the digestive tract with be analyzed to determine if artificial sweeteners can be used as a carbon source or if they have any antimicrobial activity.
Students will use basic microbiology techniques to culture bacteria, measure their growth, and calculate growth rates. Students will conduct reviews of the scientific literature to help design experiments and learn how to interpret results. If virtual, more bioinformatic methods will be incorporated to analyze relevant data available through public data bases.


Derald Wentzien — Respiratory illness trends related to vaping

The purpose of this project is to analyze the relationship between e-cigarette usage and respiratory illnesses. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 34.3 million people (14%) were listed as current smokers in 2017. Over the last couple of decades, several attempts to design “safer” alternatives to traditional combustible cigarettes have been initiated with limited success. In 2018, more than 3.6 million US middle and high school students had used e-cigarettes in the last 30 days including 20.8 % of high school students and 4.9% of middle school students. ICD-10 codes related from respiratory illnesses for Delaware residents will be obtained from the CDC Wonder data base, respiratory illness rates will be calculated by gender, race, and age groups to determine if there has been an increase in rates that correspond to the increased use of e-cigarette products.
The Summer Scholar will obtain data from the CDC Wonder data base, clean the data as needed, construct age-adjusted respiratory illness rates by gender and race. The Summer Scholar will then construct line graphs for e-cigarette usage and age-adjusted respiratory illness rates and used to compare trends over time.


Wilmington VA Medical Center

Kristen Hyland — Vitamin D deficiency prevalence in VA Community Living Center

Vitamin D deficiency has been shown to be prevalent across nursing homes/long-term care facilities. Vitamin D deficiency is also correlated to increased falls and worsened dementia. It is possible that after 10 months of COVID precautions (decreasing opportunities to be outside) that the prevalence is higher than predicted and residents may benefit from aggressive replacement.
Student activities: Literature review/analysis
Chart reviews to collect data
Analysis of data (including basic statistical analysis) to compare results to published literature findings
Prepare findings into a paper for publication submission to a peer-reviewed journal.