Subcategory: STEM Research
Arnold Burger - Fisk University
Co-Author(s): Brian Nelms, Steven Damo, Lee E. Limbird, Steven Morgan, Qingxia Li, and Dina Myers Stroud, Fisk University, Nashville, TN
Fisk University has established the Center for Biological Signature and Sensing to conduct collaborative interdisciplinary research in the area of biological, chemical, and nuclear sensors for biological applications. The overarching theme is the development of novel biosensors to address a variety of biological testing needs. Center efforts are organized into three research subprojects that engage multidisciplinary teams of natural scientists partnering with mathematicians and computer scientists to develop or adapt new tools to solve high profile biological problems. Dopaminergic neurons are found throughout the animal kingdom and are responsible for fundamental biological functions such as motor control, cognitive function, and behavior. Little is known about the modulation and transcriptional regulation of these signaling components. Subproject 1 researchers are testing the hypothesis that the approach of combined transcriptional network analysis, microfluidics tools for sensing changes in response to added stimuli or genetic variation, and mathematical/ computational modeling will result in gaining valuable new knowledge and pose new research questions towards a better understanding of dopaminergic neuron function. Manganese is essential for numerous biological processes as a cofactor, structural stabilizer of protein structure, and messenger of signal transduction. By integrating biochemistry, polymer synthesis, and microfluidics, Subproject 2 researchers is developing a sensor to reveal the fundamental role of manganese in essential cellular processes and optimize this sensor for monitoring heavy metals in the environment. Traditional nuclear sensing devices employed in biological applications rely on detection technologies that are still performed with large, awkward scintillator and photomultiplier tube-based instrumentation. Subproject 3 is integrating nuclear, polymer chemistry, computation, and mathematical optimization to develop and utilize novel radiation sensors for biological applications. The Center for Biological Signature and Sensing serves as a research and education venue for transitioning under-represented minority Community College students to a four-year degree program at Fisk University with experiential learning that sustains participation as STEM majors and in STEM careers. Mentoring together with innovative learning modules, we assure a successful pathway of under-represented minority talent moving from Community College through the Ph.D, and thus serve as a model for national replication.
Funder Acknowledgement(s): This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. HRD-1547757. Any opinions, findings, interpretations, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of its authors and do not represent the views of the National Science Foundation.
Faculty Advisor: None Listed,