My research is: Structural Differentiation of Common Bacteria using Impedance Spectroscopy. In this project, we are using an interdigitated electrode sensor manufactured through the process of microfluidics to detect electric signals in common bacteria. The goal of this project is to create an optimal and cost-effective microbial sensor that will be used for the direct investigation of the electrical properties and behavior of bacteria cells. The sensor is to measure the real and imaginary impedance components of thin-film bacterial suspensions in the time domain. The resultant resistance and reactance changes that occur in real time appear to be characteristic of the cell wall composition that differentiates gram positive and gram-negative bacteria. We are currently producing numerous sensors and testing the sensors with E.Coli, S. aureus, P. aerugenosa and K. pneumoniae for consistency.
This project will address a wide range of concepts that will lead to the creation of an optimal microbial sensor for rapid bacterial and biomarker detection. Two major objectives are drawn from this work. First, to determine a method of printing durable silver electrodes on ordinary borosilicate glass microscope slides. This would allow for the measurement of the electrical properties of the bacterial suspension and also allow the optical measurements of the suspension without the need of separate and tandem systems. Thus, the bacteria cultures could be dispensed onto the microscope slide by using a pipette, measured and eventually analyzed through the use of a optical microscopy. Second, a quantitative evaluation of the real and imaginary components of bacteria cultures can determine the differences in the cell composition of a gram positive or gram negative bacteria which exhibit distinct electrical signatures.
I am learning more about my field of biomedical engineering and how concepts of biology are applied with engineering principles. I am learning the processes in microfluidics used to produce sensors on materials such as borosilicate glass, silicon and so on. Also, I am gaining a wide range of knowledge in microbiology and how bacteria interact with substrates such as the sensor. Engineering involves a lot of software such as MATLAB. MATLAB is one of the softwares that I am using to process these signals. I think the challenging part of my research will be gaining the theoretical background needed to apply and explain these processes to persons without a technical background. This program will challenge me to learn a lot of skills that in my field that I typically won’t learn in a classroom setting during a regular academic semester.
Through this program, we get to attend workshops ranging from proposal writing skills workshops to ethics workshops. The workshop that I liked the most was the leadership academy. The leadership academy involved a lot of interactive and engaging activities. I have been throughout a lot of leadership training in academics and I am passionate about developing leaders in my field and on campus. The leadership academy was thought-provoking. Although, all the workshops were deep and thought provoking but the leadership academy was my favorite. Skill development is essential to me this summer as I am preparing for graduate school and the workforce and these skills will be vital for me to get competitive edge.