Student Awarded the Class of 1902 Research Prize

Bhavana Mohanraj, a senior in Biomedical Engineering, has been awarded the Class of 1902 Research Prize. This prize, established by the Class of 1902, is awarded at Commencement to the senior in the School of Science or Engineering who has completed at least two semesters of undergraduate research and who presents the best research results culminating in a written report, submitted paper, or thesis. Bhavana's research is with Profs. Chrisey and Corr, and involves using electric-cell impedance sensing (ECIS) to determine the toxicity of various substances. It is a real-time cell-based detection system that quantifies changes in cell morphology and behavior on the electrode surface upon exposure to toxins. She has been looking into the toxicity of several nanomaterials, including silver and copper nanoparticles, and carbon nanotubes. As a result of toxic exposure, tight junctions between cells in the monolayer are disrupted and this is readily measured by ECIS. This work was presented at the Materials Research Society 2009 Fall meeting and at the Society for Biomaterials conference in Spring 2010. In the future work, she will be looking to quantify the toxicity of biological toxins, such as cholera, ricin, and bacillus perfringens toxin. The overall goal is to develop a function-based detection system for the a priori detection of synthetic pathogens.