Biosensors for industrial fermentation

Chem Eng - McNair horizontal 200px

Professor Irene Reizman

A variety of valuable chemical and pharmaceutical products, ranging from biofuels to enzymes and antibodies, are produced through fermentation. The results of a fermentation will depend both on the type of cells used and on their environment. In large-scale fermenters used in industry, cells may be exposed to variation in oxygen level, substrate concentration, and pH due to imperfect mixing. This can lead to variations in productivity, as well as formation of undesired side products. In addition to process-based strategies to overcome this problem (e.g. changes in agitation rate, aeration), genetic strategies can also be used to develop cells that are more robust to process variation. I am interested in developing cells that can sense process conditions and then respond appropriately through changes in metabolism to avoid side product formation. Projects in my group will be centered on development and testing of microbial biosensors to detect industrially relevant process parameters, such as dissolved oxygen, pH, nutrient limitation, and product concentration. Aspects of the project will involve both molecular biology (cloning, biosensor development) and bioprocess engineering (fermenter setup and control), based on student interest.

Gas-liquid microfluidic flows

Professor Kimberly H. Henthorn

An existing system has been developed to study bubble dynamics in gas-liquid microfluidic flows. This project will involve the characterization of transitional bubble and liquid profiles during bubble breakup periods, and may also include investigation into the effect of fluid rheology on pressure drop profiles in these systems. It is anticipated that students will have prior knowledge of fluid dynamics and physics.

Biodegradable drug delivery vehicles

Professor Scott J. McClellan

Biodegradable polymers can be used to encapsulate drugs that will subsequently be released inside of the body as the polymer degrades. Care must be taken in the preparation of the drug-loaded particles to ensure uniformity in size and shape, and in the amount of drug loaded. In this project, a student will work to create and characterize drug-loaded nanoparticles. Total characterization includes particle size analysis, quantification of drug loading, and complete release studies.

3D Printed Biomaterials

Professor David Henthorn

Our research group has been investigating ways to 3D print biomaterials for use in applications such as biosensors and tissue scaffolds. We are looking to build a multidisciplinary team, with interests ranging from material synthesis to programming of microcontrollers.

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