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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University March 8, 2004 | Vol. 33 No. 25
Navigating New Waters

Trevor Adler, here on the Constellation, combined his history and maritime interests to research the raising of ships.
PHOTO BY HPS/WILL KIRK (except where indicated)

PURA grants launch 41 undergraduates into a sea of research projects

In its 11-year existence, the Provost's Undergraduate Research Awards program has given 483 students grants approaching $1 million to follow their curiosity, thanks to funding primarily from the Hodson Trust.

With Hodson support, the university is able to offer its undergraduates two opportunities each year to apply for stipends to conduct independent research during the summer or fall. It's a commitment that the university feels is central to its mission, said Steven Knapp, university provost and senior vice president for academic affairs.

"Since its beginnings, Johns Hopkins has always emphasized the value of learning through discovery, and this program is an important opportunity for undergraduates to work in this tradition with our best and most creative faculty at the forefront of their fields," Knapp said.

Forty-one students from the schools of Arts and Sciences, Engineering and Nursing and from Peabody will present their work from 3 to 6 p.m. on Thursday, March 11, in the Glass Pavilion at Homewood. The entire Hopkins community is invited to the event, which begins with an informal poster session allowing students to display and talk about their projects. At 4:15 p.m., PURA recipient Katherine McDonough and others will a perform a piece by Jean Baptiste Leclerc, a writer/politician/composer during the French Revolution and the focus of McDonough's project.

An awards ceremony hosted by Knapp will begin at 4:30 p.m. and will be followed by a reception. As part of the ceremony, guests will hear a preview of recipient Daniel Davis' historically based opera, which will premiere at Peabody.

By design, PURA grants are driven by students' interests and cover a wide range of topics. The 2003 projects are no exception. A sampling follows.


Raising ships

In his PURA proposal, Trevor Adler put it this way: "From maritime historians to oceanographers, from sailors to sea-loving landlubbers, and from adults to children, the subject of sunken ships, their discovery and their raising are subjects that excite many a reader." And especially Adler, a senior history major who grew up on New York's Long Island.

In a course on the Civil War taught by Michael Johnson, Adler became interested in the several U.S. and Confederate ships that were sunk and then raised, and he became intrigued not only by the methods used but also by the motivations behind raising them.

So last summer, Adler spent six weeks at the Munson Institute of Mystic Seaport in Mystic, Conn., home to the largest maritime library in the United States, with some 65,000 volumes and more than 700,000 manuscripts.

It was here that Adler found detailed correspondence on the efforts to raise three ships, two English and one Swedish. What Adler learned is that the motivations to raise the ships didn't necessarily stem from financial considerations.

The Mary Rose, an English warship named for King Henry VIII's sister, was the king's favorite war vessel. It sank during an engagement with the French in 1545, but not because it was damaged in the battle. Essentially, the ship was turned too quickly and heeled over, taking on water and sinking, all within sight of land and the Portsmouth Harbor, where King Henry himself watched.

"It was a ship that really meant something to the king," said Adler. And that was the main reason crews tried to raise it, which they did by attaching ropes to the sunken ship from two other ships at low tide, in hopes of floating it free. It didn't work. In fact, of the three ships that Adler studied, all raising efforts failed. "It was almost pathetic to try to raise ships of this size, loaded with cannon, with pulleys and the tides," Adler said. "But they tried."

Michael Johnson, whose class had piqued Adler's interest in the subject of raising ships, said about his work, "He's extremely thoughtful. He's creative and imaginative, and he's extremely disciplined. I think his research skills are superb."

Adler, whose sponsor was John Russell-Wood, hopes to attend law school and study maritime law.
— Glenn Small


Historical shadow

HISTORICAL SHADOW: Ashley Horton examined the life of Marie-Anne Lavoisier, the little-known wife of Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier, the father of modern chemistry.

Marie-Anne Lavoisier has gone down in history as her husband's wife. But senior Ashley Horton believes Marie-Anne may be important beyond her relation to Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier, the father of modern chemistry. Horton, who is majoring in public health studies, used her PURA to piece together a portrait of Marie-Anne Lavoisier apart from her husband.

Lawrence Principe, Horton's sponsor and a professor in the Krieger School's Department of History of Science and Technology, said of Lavoisier, "She's not just an attachment to her husband. She is a fascinating individual in her own right, and that is what Ashley is trying to bring out."

Horton has learned that Marie-Anne was not only key to Antoine-Laurent's work but was also a societal and political figure in 18th-century France. "I'm interested in the role she played in Lavoisier's work and to what extent she was important in his relations with English science," said Horton. "He spoke [English] very poorly, and read it very poorly, so any important treatises she translated into French."

Marie-Anne Lavoisier also helped smuggle research to her husband during his imprisonment in Revolutionary France and, after his execution, led a public and political attack against the government when it confiscated her property.

But since she has always been a historical shadow, Horton had to learn archival tricks and search widely for information, visiting museums and archives from Wilmington, Del., to Paris. "It's always a problem when you're searching for someone in the shadows," she said.

Horton, who plans to go into laboratory research when she graduates, became interested in Marie-Anne Lavoisier when she took a class called Lives in Science taught by Daniel Todes.

Her PURA research, she said, has allowed her to move away from her background in lab research and molecular biology. "It's given me a more well-rounded education," she said. "I've taken a lot of chemistry, and it is really nice to see the humanities side of it."

She also has learned the technological advantages enjoyed by modern researchers and scientists. "Learning more about the history of science has given me a real appreciation of where science is now and the whole progression of it," she said.

Horton plans eventually to write a short biography about Marie-Anne Lavoisier. "I think it would be a bestseller," Principe said.
— Jessica Valdez


STD testing for women

SDT TESTING FOR WOMEN: Megan O'Brien Gold, right, and sponsor Phyllis Sharps at the Wald Community Nursing Center at the House of Ruth, site of her PURA project.

Nursing student Megan O'Brien Gold's project involved 21 women at the House of Ruth, a shelter for female victims of domestic violence. It is one of several sites that houses a Wald Community Nursing Center run by School of Nursing faculty and students. Gold works there as part of the school's community outreach program.

All women who come to the House of Ruth are seen initially at the center to familiarize them with its nursing services, which currently include screening for sexually transmitted diseases through cervical swab, if a woman requests it. Knowing that previous research has linked abusive relationships with increased rates of STDs among women, Gold explored changing the protocol for screening for gonorrhea and chlamydia, the most frequently reported infectious diseases among men and women.

"Women with undiagnosed and untreated infection are at risk for significant gynecologic problems and increased risk of HIV transmission," Gold said. "Many of the women we see at the clinic are not receiving medical attention. Ideally, every one of them should be offered urine screening for gonorrhea and chlamydia."

Armed with her PURA, Gold set out to determine two things: the prevalence of gonorrhea and chlamydia among women at the shelter, and the acceptability of universal urine screening. The results of Gold's project were just as she expected. One woman of the 21 tested positive for chlamydia, or roughly 5 percent of the study sample, slightly more than the average of 3 percent for female Baltimore residents ages 18 to 35. "I wasn't expecting it to be more, but the results are enough. Now we have the data we need to validate the implementation of universal screening," Gold said.

In addition, Gold reports that the women were very willing and interested in participating and were favorable to the urine-testing method of screening. "The urine test is not expensive, and it's noninvasive," she said, noting that treatment for these diseases is far more costly than the cost of urine screening.

Gold's faculty sponsor, Phyllis Sharps, is pleased with the project. "The results of Megan's research have the potential to change nursing practice in our clinic," said Sharps, associate professor and director of the school's master's program. "This could lead to implementing a quicker, less expensive and accurate method for screening for STDs and to improving health outcomes for the women who come to the House of Ruth."
— Ming Tai


Music in 18th-century France

MUSIC IN 18TH-CENTURY FRANCE: Katherine McDonough, right, worked with sponsor Susan Weiss on a project that took her to Paris for six weeks of research.

Regulations imposed by the Republican government during the French Revolution affected many aspects of France's 18th-century life. The government's attempt to regulate the music of that period is the focus of research conducted by sophomore Katherine McDonough, a history and French major in the Krieger School. Thanks to her PURA, McDonough spent six weeks of her summer in Paris in the music and manuscript divisions of the Bibliotéque Nationale de France and the Archives Nationales.

McDonough's attention to French Revolutionary music began with a chance encounter. While visiting the Oberlin Conservatory during high school, she had picked up a book that focused on just this subject. At Johns Hopkins, she honed her research skills and continued to build her knowledge of the French Revolutionary period. In the fall of 2002, she enrolled in a course called From the Court to the Boulevard: French Theatre and Opera, taught by Nicole Asquith.

Her final paper in that class focused on an essay written in 1796 by Jean-Baptiste Leclerc, a member of the Convention during the Revolution. In his essay, Leclerc, a lesser-known composer, called for the government to develop a canon of French national music and to censor the existing music performance system.

McDonough studied the writings and musical composition of Leclerc while in France and plans to continue searching for reviews of his work and evidence that he may have written more. "Since this project is in the field of music, my 10 years of classical piano and violin training will prove extremely useful," she said.

McDonough worked closely on this project with Susan Weiss, a musicologist at Peabody.

"It is rare to find a student interested in the history of the impact of political theory on culture, one gifted enough to be able to read and digest documents in a foreign tongue, and have the proficiency to understand the technical language of music theory and composition," Weiss said. "Katie's work will become a model for others interested in doing interdisciplinary research."
— Kirsten Lavin


The artistic autistic

THE ARTISTIC AUTISTIC: Vandna Jerath and sponsor Tristan Davies look at the Web site Jerath developed to showcase the creative works of autistic people.

On paper, junior Vandna Jerath's major and minor, neuroscience and Writing Seminars, are at opposite ends of the academic spectrum. But the two disparate disciplines meet online at the junior's newly created Web site, Autism Netverse: A Literary Journey for the Autistic Mind,

Jerath's PURA project provides an artistic forum for people with autism who often find it easier to express themselves through writing and visual arts than through the spoken word. Visitors will find poetry, sketches, paintings and photographs by people of all ages.

She was inspired to seek a PURA grant to launch Autism Netverse after conducting research in summer 2002 near her hometown of Martinez, Ga., with neuroscientist Manuel Casanova, then of the Medical College of Georgia, now of the University of Louisville, where he holds the Gottfried and Gisela Kolb Endowed Chair in Psychiatry. Her assignment was to compile an anthology of poetry by highly functioning autistic individuals.

She found the project rewarding and wanted to take it further by persuading journals and nonprofit groups to dedicate sections of their publications to the creative works of autistic people, but didn't have any luck in the endeavor. Jerath, who also conducts autism research with Stewart Mostofsky at the Kennedy Krieger Institute, didn't want to wait any longer for others to decide her idea had merit. Thanks to PURA, Jerath was able to strike out on her own and create Autism Netverse.

"I realized that I didn't need a degree to make an impact on the autistic community," said Jerath, who intends to pursue a career in medicine. "The provost grant provided me with this opportunity. If I hadn't explored the concept behind the Web site, someone else surely would have in the future."

On the Remarks page of Autism Netverse, Casanova explains that Jerath's Web site "encourages those suffering from autism to write and publish their poetry electronically. After seeking and failing to find other media outlets for this art form, she received grant support to fill this niche herself. Her effort is audacious, akin to building an airplane while flying it."

Jerath said the project took a little while to get off the ground. With guidance from her PURA adviser, Tristan Davies, a senior lecturer in the Writing Seminars, Jerath was soon in touch with Patricia Kramer and Web designer Megan Van Wagoner of the university's Office of Design and Publications and also had secured a domain name through the university. Seeking writers and artists, she sent out letters to physicians and researchers, and after some watchful waiting, ultimately received 30 submissions from as far away as India.

"Vandna is an exceptional person," said Kramer, director of Design and Publications. "Her passion and dedication to her endeavor are impressive. Her genuine enthusiasm is catching, and we caught it. If this is our next generation, we don't have anything to worry about."

In addition to consultations with Kramer and her staff and with Davies, Jerath is working with Doug Basford of the Writing Seminars, who has provided additional insight on the poetic submissions, she said. "Analyzing the works may provide clues about the thought process of individuals with the condition."

Davies said he thinks "the idea can't really lose. It will be of interest to the general public for the obvious reasons. There might even be some interesting writing that gets found there. It's a glimpse into this very confusing world. Certainly, it's got to be a tool for parents [of an autistic child] who are struggling with this, by providing hope that there's something that their child might connect to. Finally, it shows the perfect union of three things: the humanities, scientific research and technology. It's a Web site that might really make a difference."
— Amy Cowles


Earthworms and infiltration

EARTHWORMS AND INFILTRATION: Scott Pitz spent the summer in the field learning about the effects of management processes and seasonal changes on farmland.

Scott Pitz used his PURA grant to study earthworms. Pitz set out last summer to research how different soil management practices and earthworms affect farmland infiltration.

"There are different earthworm communities in different fields," he said. "I wanted to see if the different earthworm communities would affect infiltration."

Through fieldwork at the USA-ARS Farming System Project in Beltsville, Md., he learned that worms and infiltration are affected by management processes and seasonal changes.

"We kind of showed again that management affects the earthworms, and earthworm burrows drastically affect infiltration," he said. Land use — till or no-till farming — influences the size and species of earthworms present in fields, which in turn affects earthworms' impact on soil and infiltration.

Pitz sampled corn plots in three cropping systems: a synthetic no-till, a synthetic till and an organic system. He used two processes to evaluate how well the soil absorbed water: sprinkle infiltration (which simulates moderate rainfall) and ponded infiltration (which simulates heavy rain).

He also evaluated the impact on earthworms.

"Earthworms basically are the most important soil invertebrates," he said. Their burrowing habits are key to soil infiltration and can help reduce run-off and pesticide leakage into surface water sources. But tilling disrupts earthworm communities by destroying their burrow, he said.

Pitz's effort was part of a larger project conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which is looking at how agricultural practices in the mid-Atlantic can be sustainable. His project adviser, Katalin Szlavecz, a senior lecturer in Earth and Planetary Sciences, is studying invertebrate communities on these fields.

Pitz had done lab research with Szlavecz, but this was his first time dealing with the inconsistencies of fieldwork. "It's not cut and dry; it's not a chem lab where there's a set number of variables," he said.

Szlavecz said that Pitz's PURA gave him an opportunity that most undergraduates lack. "I think the students here don't get a lot of field exposure," Szlavecz said. "Now he likes fieldwork better than lab work."
— Jessica Valdez


Egyptian dig

EGYPTIAN DIG: Kathelene Knight spent winter break working at Professor Betsy Bryan's excavation of the Precinct of the Goddess Mut in Luxor, Egypt.

Kathelene Knight's PURA funded her second winter break at Professor Betsy Bryan's annual excavation of the Precinct of the Goddess Mut in Luxor, Egypt, where she contributed to the ongoing work to determine what the temple and its surrounding area looked like long ago.

Knight said her work in Luxor barely scratched the surface of all there is to be uncovered at the site. Yet the two large granaries found within Knight's excavation trenches south of the temple's sacred lake are important finds, according to Bryan, the Alexander Badawy Professor of Egyptian Art and Archaeology and chair of the Near Eastern Studies Department.

"These storage facilities are among the largest found in Egypt," said Bryan, who is Knight's faculty sponsor. "The two in Katie's squares, one of which was already known to us but the other not, have been beautifully defined as a result of Katie's work."

In January 2003, Knight was a second set of hands for graduate students as they worked their squares, generally doing anything and everything to pitch in and learn more about the archaeological techniques used by Bryan and company. That hands-on experience was invaluable this year when Knight's role was to direct work in two trenches — first in a square that had been opened last year and then in a new square. While taking nonstop notes on her site's progress, Knight directed a crew of local workers led by "gufti" Mahmoud Abady who was trained in archaeology in the Egyptian town of Guft.

"He's known on site as 'Super Gufti,' and I'm sure there was no mistake in pairing the two of us," Knight said. "He can spot mud brick from 3 centimeters before it would come up, and we're talking about spotting dirt inside dirt."

The two granaries unearthed by Knight and her team were typically used to make beer and bread for religious offerings and personnel rations. While the area south of the sacred lake was industrial and probably partly residential, the specific area directed by Knight turned out to be entirely industrial, Bryan said. Because the mission of the excavation is to investigate the New Kingdom, Knight was working to define occupation in her square for that period of time, 1550-1069 B.C. She received guidance from both Bryan and Violaine Chauvet, a graduate student and field director at the site.

"Katie did a remarkably fine job overseeing the excavation," Bryan said. "Katie kept on top of the architecture emerging and documented her trench extremely carefully. She participated in developing excavation strategies to better define the emerging granaries and retaining walls, and she has created a plan to aid in our prediction of the volume of grain stored in the round silos."

Because she is a resident adviser at Homewood, Knight had to leave Egypt before the end of winter break to return to Baltimore for additional training. She was unable to complete all her drawings and was therefore assisted by Chauvet. Her help was just one example of the close-knit ties between those working the site, Knight said.

"Dr. Bryan and Violaine were making the rounds constantly. I could count on them to be in my square a few times during the day advising me what to do, what I should be looking out for," Knight said. "It's really a familial learning experience."

Knight, a junior, is already incorporating her study of the New Kingdom into a master's thesis through the Humanities Honors program. She's concentrating on the role of royal women in the New Kingdom and aims to graduate in spring 2005 with bachelor's degrees in both anthropology and Near Eastern studies as well as a B.A./M.A. in the humanities. Her plan is to complete her thesis during next year's winter break, so it's unlikely Knight will be back in Egypt then. But she hopes to attend field school in Peru this summer with the assistance of a second PURA grant.

"As an undergraduate lucky enough to be at an institution like Hopkins, I have this wonderful opportunity, and it's really cool that I can take it," she said of her PURA experience. "It's an incredible opportunity that I'm totally thankful for."
— Amy Cowles


Mysterious inner-ear hair cells

MYSTERIOUS INNER-EAR HAIR CELLS: William Hsu, right, has been doing research with Alexander Spector for two years. He hopes to publish his PURA results.

William Hsu, a senior from Westlake Village, Calif., is playing an important role in solving the mysteries surrounding tiny hair cells in the inner ear that help humans distinguish between high-frequency sounds, an ability that is critical for understanding speech. The work could lead to a better understanding of age-related hearing loss and to the improvement of hearing aids.

Hsu has been working on the research under the supervision of Alexander Spector, an associate research professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, since his sophomore year. Last fall the BME major used a PURA to devote more time to the project, with the goal of publishing results in a peer-reviewed journal.

"William's educational path here was related to his research," said Spector, his PURA faculty sponsor. "I encouraged him to take classes relevant to this research. He's become more and more involved in the project, and now he has his own piece of it. I plan to submit his work to a scientific journal by the time of his graduation."

Spector directs a team of students who have been studying the outer hair cells of the cochlea, a snail-shaped, fluid-filled structure within the inner ear. Sound waves vibrate through the cochlear fluid and excite clusters of hair cells in the surrounding membrane. Inner hair cells pick up sounds and turn them into electrical signals that zip across nerve fibers to the brain. Mammals, including humans, also possess outer hair cells, whose purpose puzzled researchers for many years because these cells cannot send sound messages to the brain. In 1985, however, scientists learned that outer hair cells in the lab changed their length when subjected to an electric field. When these hair cells are within the cochlear membrane, this size-changing characteristic is believed to give them the ability to amplify certain sounds before the sounds are transmitted to the brain.

According to Hsu, "these outer hair cells help us discriminate different frequencies, and that's critical in understanding human speech. But these hair cells are delicate. As we age, they can deteriorate and become less sensitive, leading to hearing loss."

To address this problem, researchers need a better understanding of how outer hair cells do their work. Spector's team has been trying to solve some of the mysteries surrounding why the electrical activity of these cells seems to behave differently in the lab than within living tissue. As part of this project, Spector assigned Hsu to create mathematical models of the ionic channels in the outer hair cell membrane. These microscopic gatekeepers allow ions to move in or out of cells, changing the cell's overall electric potential. By varying the parameters of the computer model, Hsu is trying to find the combination that will resolve the cell's electrical activity paradox.

"Working with Dr. Spector has given me a different perspective on research," Hsu said. "When I came to Hopkins, I thought research involved sitting behind a lab bench, working with chemicals. I didn't know that research could involve creating computer models. I've learned that we can do experiments with them. We can play around with our models and see how well they predict what happens in the actual cells."
— Phil Sneiderman


Researching international justice

RESEARCHING INTERNATIONAL JUSTICE: Amanda Leese headed to The Hague, Netherlands, to observe trials in the International Criminal Tribunal.

Amanda Leese, a sophomore, spent three weeks last summer in The Hague, Netherlands, researching international justice by observing and interviewing those involved in trials in the International Criminal Tribunal.

The international relations major was there to observe the trial of Slobodan Milosevic, the former president of Yugoslavia, who is defending himself on charges of committing war crimes and other atrocities. At the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia, Leese was among each day's spectators watching through thick bulletproof glass while listening to testimony on headphones. Each member of the public was given a translating device, which could be set on the language of his or her choice, she said. Without the headphones, nothing could be heard through the thick glass, giving her a detached feeling, she said.

She was surprised, she said, that more people didn't observe the trial, which is still going on; with room for about 80 spectators, Leese said, there were usually just 15 to 20 people, not counting the press.

Although the most sensitive testimony was closed to the public, Leese heard hours of testimony from people describing firsthand the atrocities they had seen or endured, an experience she likened to "listening to Anne Frank read from her diary."

Leese, whose faculty sponsor was Siba Grovogui, is hoping to return to The Hague this summer to learn more.
— Glenn Small


Healthy heartbeat

HEALTHY HEARTBEAT: Bhuvan Srinivasan, right, with his PURA faculty sponsor, Andre Levchenko, and Carol Xiaoying Koh, who also works on the research team.

Bhuvan Srinivasan and Carol Xiaoying Koh are mapping the interaction of molecules within a cardiac cell, describing microscopic movements that could be critical for maintaining a healthy heartbeat. The two undergraduates, both biomedical engineering majors, have presented their findings at prestigious computational biology conferences and are now collaborating with their faculty supervisor on a paper for a scientific journal.

Working in the lab of Andre Levchenko, an assistant professor in Biomedical Engineering, the two have been tracking within a detailed computer model the activity of molecules in a small region inside cardiac myocytes, the muscle cells that mediate contractions of the heart.

"The contraction of the myocytes is controlled by tiny sub-sections of the cell with a volume so small that you could count some of the molecules present there on one hand," Levchenko said. "But by modeling the interaction between single molecules in these areas, we think we can predict what's going to happen to the entire heart. What happens here sets off a chain reaction of events leading to heart contraction."

Levchenko is impressed by what the two undergraduates accomplished in assembling part of this model. "The level of work done by Bhuvan and Carol is close to that of very good graduate students," Levchenko said. "I've given them a little advice, but they've mostly run with it by themselves. They're exceptional students. I've sometimes come into the lab at 3 a.m. and found them working on the project."

Srinivasan has been working in Levchen-ko's lab for two years and used a PURA to devote additional time to the project last summer. Koh, who has been working in the lab for more than a year, is supported by a scholarship from the government of Singapore. The two students attended the same high school in Singapore but were not acquainted before they arrived at Johns Hopkins.

Over the past year, they worked on separate aspects of the research, then put their findings together. Koh has defined and spearheaded the project by gathering various information from the literature and coding it into the modeling software. Srinivasan assembled a computer model of the protein kinase A pathway, a communication route along which signals move between the outside and inside of the cell. The model can now describe molecular events arising from both signaling and cell contraction regulation. "Now we can ask, What if something happens to this pathway?" Levchenko said. "How would it affect the interaction of molecules within the cells, and how would this affect the contractions of the heart as a whole?"

In the fall, Srinivasan presented some of the team's work at the NIH Digital Biology Conference in Bethesda, Md., where the poster was singled out as a highlight of the meeting. Koh traveled to Washington University in St. Louis to present the research at the International Conference on Systems Biology, the premier event in the emerging scientific field. Both were surprised to discover that they were the rare undergraduate presenters, fielding questions from prominent full-time researchers, including some whose work they had studied.

Although Srinivasan is not scheduled to receive his bachelor's degree until May, he already has begun working toward his master's degree in biomedical engineering at Johns Hopkins. "It was definitely a big deal for me to come to America's first research university," said Srinivasan, a citizen of India whose family relocated to Singapore when he was in sixth grade. "It's been very easy to get involved in research here and to do something worthwhile — not just cleaning lab equipment. I liked working with Dr. Levchenko, and I wanted to stay as long as I could."
— Phil Sneiderman


A new microchip

A NEW MICROCHIP: Eric Simone, right, holds up the microchip he constructed under the supervision of Jeff Tza-Huei Wang. It has an innovative circular electrode design.

Eric Simone, a senior biomedical engineering major, has constructed a new type of microchip that can move and isolate DNA and protein molecules. He believes that by linking the chip with analysis equipment, a user could identify medical ailments, monitor a patient's health or detect viruses and other biohazards before they spread.

Simone fabricated and tested the chip in the lab of Jeff Tza-Huei Wang, an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. Wang had already produced a biosensor chip with electrodes embedded in a straight line. Under Wang's supervision, Simone devised a biosensor chip with an innovative circular electrode design, which performed more effectively in certain bio-analytical applications.

Results from Simone's work were included in a paper presented recently at the IEEE MEMS Conference. The undergraduate was listed as second author on the paper. "This chip gives us a new tool to look into biological questions," said Wang, who also is a faculty member of the Whitaker Biomedical Engineering Institute at Hopkins. "Eric can actually interact with and manipulate individual DNA molecules."

Simone joined Wang's lab team in January 2003 and used a PURA to spend much of last summer working on his project. "The chip has tiny wires, each about one-fifth the diameter of a human hair, embedded in a circular pattern," Simone said. "When it's connected to a power source, it allows us to generate an electric field that can transport molecules to a designated area for study."

The chips made by Wang and Simone take advantage of the natural negative charge possessed by DNA or a surface charge imposed on the molecules. A tiny drop of liquid containing the DNA is placed atop the chip. The electric field then guides the molecules to the designated area, where they can be analyzed under a microscope.

Simone was one of the first students to work in Wang's new lab, which focuses on microelectromechanical systems with biological applications. "It was fascinating," Simone said. "It was like discovering a whole new field of science."

After graduating, Simone hopes to continue his education in a biomedical engineering doctoral program.
— Phil Sneiderman


The 11th Annual PURA Ceremony: Check Out Their Results

To recognize the recipients of the 2003 Provost's Undergraduate Research Awards, an event will be held from 3 to 6 p.m. on Thursday in Homewood's Glass Pavilion.

A poster session in which students will have an opportunity to display the results of their research begins at 3 p.m. At 4:15 p.m., recipient Katharine McDonough and others will perform a piece by Jean Baptiste Leclerc, a writer/politician/composer during the French Revolution and the focus of McDonough's project.

At the 4:30 p.m. recognition ceremony hosted by Steven Knapp, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, Knapp will introduce the honorees, and Theodore Poehler, vice provost for research and chair of the selection committee, will present the students' certificates. Also on the agenda is a preview of Daniel Davis' historically based opera, which will premiere at Peabody.

The entire Johns Hopkins community is invited.



Trevor Adler, Sands Point, N.Y.
senior, history

"Historical Research of the Methods and Motivations for Raising Ships"
Sponsor: John Russell-Wood, professor, History, Krieger School of Arts and Sciences

Oluwakemi Ajide, Baltimore
sophomore, chemistry

"Dynamics of the Fusion Pore During Cell-Cell Fusion"
Sponsor: Eric Grote, assistant professor, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, School of Public Health

Tala Altalib, Baltimore
junior, undeclared

"Modulation of TNF-Alpha Expression in Human Chondrocytes and Synoviocytes by NSAIDs and Ginger Extract"
Sponsor: Carmelita Frondoza, associate professor, Orthopedic Surgery, School of Medicine

Heather Blair, Norfolk, Mass.
senior, public health studies

"Mapping the Prevalence of HIV Against That of Tuberculosis in Johannesburg, South Africa"
Sponsor: James Goodyear, associate director, History of Science and Technology, Krieger School of Arts and Sciences

Megan O'Brien Gold, Baltimore
senior, nursing

"Universal Urine Screening for Neisseria Gonorrhoeae and Chlamydia Trachomatis Among Battered Women"
Sponsor: Phyllis Sharps, associate professor and director of the master's program, School of Nursing

Ashley Horton, Spokane, Wash.
senior, public health studies

"Marie-Anne Lavoisier: A Woman of Scientific and Cultural Importance"
Sponsor: Lawrence Principe, professor, History of Science and Technology, Krieger School of Arts and Sciences

Brett Kutscher, Reading, Pa.
senior, computer enginering

"Fluorescence Recovery After Photobleaching Instrumentation" Sponsors: Doug Murphy, professor, Cell Biology, School of Medicine, and Pablo Iglesias, professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Whiting School of Engineering

George Lambrinos, Athens, Greece
junior, neuroscience

"The Role of Wallerian Degeneration in the Pathogenesis of Neuropathic Pain Following Peripheral Injury"
Sponsor: James Campbell, professor, Neurosurgery, School of Medicine

Adrea Lee, Andover, Mass.
senior, biology

"The Role of Fractalkine in the Pathogenis of HIV Dementia"
Sponsor: Carlos Pardo-Villamizar, assistant professor, Neurology, School of Medicine

Johnson Lee, Arcadia, Calif.
senior, biology

"Smooth Muscle Differentiation of Human Embryonic Stem Cells (hESCs)"
Sponsor: Yegappan Lakshmanan, assistant professor, Urology, School of Medicine

Amanda Leese, Amherst, N.H.
semior, international studies

"Human Rights Violators and the International Court of Justice: Contrasting the Barbarity of Crimes with the Dignity of Laws"
Sponsor: Siba Grovogui, associate professor, Political Science, Krieger School of Arts and Sciences

Daniel Loeser, Baldwin, N.Y.
senior, biomedical engineering

"A Miniaturized Contact Fluorescence Imaging System Incorporating True Contact and Solid-State Illumination"
Sponsor: Leslie Tung, associate professor, Biomedical Engineering, School of Medicine

Holly Martin, Houghton, Mich.
senior, international relations and German

"We Are What We Eat: U.S. Consumption Trends vs. Sustainable Protein Sources" Sponsors: Felicity Northcott, lecturer, and Sidney Mintz, professor emeritus, Anthropology, Krieger School of Arts and Sciences

Katherine McDonough, Roswell, Ga.
sophomore, history and French

"French Musicians and the Political World of the 1789 Revolution"
Sponsor: Susan Weiss, faculty, Peabody Institute

Paul Nerenberg, Los Angeles
senior, physics

"STILLMix — Surface Tension Impelled Low-Gravity Liquid Mixing Experiment"
Sponsor: Cila Herman, professor, Mechanical Engineering, Whiting School of Engineering

Allan Olson, Brattleboro, Vt.
sophomore, civil engineering

"Network Modeling of Polycrystals"
Sponsor: Sanjay Arwade, assistant professor, Civil Engineering, Whiting School of Engineering

Jin Packard, Baltimore
senior, public health studies

"Mechanism of Vesicular Formation in Yeast Endocytosis"
Sponsor: Beverly Wendland, assistant professor, Biology, Krieger School of Arts and Sciences

Scott Pitz, Paoli, Pa.
senior, earth and planetary sciences

"How Do Earthworm Communities Affect the Hydrology of Agro-Ecosystems?"
Sponsor: Katalin Szlavecz, senior lecturer, Earth and Planetary Sciences, Krieger School of Arts and Sciences

Eric Simone, Anderson Township, Ohio
senior, biomedical engineering

"Fabrication of Micro DNA Biosensor Chip with Embedded Concentration Electrodes"
Sponsor: Jeff Tza-Huei Wang, assistant professor, Mechanical Engineering, Whiting School of Engineering

Bhuvan Srinivasan, Singapore
senior, biomedical engineering

"Comparison of Deterministic and Stochastic Models of the PKA Pathway"
Sponsor: Andre Levchenko, assistant professor, Biomedical Engineering, Whiting School of Engineering

Ankit Tejani, Kingston, Pa.
senior, biomedical engineering

"Use of Erythropoietin as a Novel Treatment in a Murine Model of Myocardial Infarctions"
Sponsor: Joshua Hare, associate professor, Biomedical Engineering, Whiting School of Engineering

Denise Terry, Fort Irwin, Calif.
junior, political science

"LIFE: A Photo Essay"
Sponsor: Deborah McGee Mifflin, lecturer, German, Krieger School of Arts and Sciences

Rebbeca Tesfai, Southfield, Mich.
senior, public health

"The Achievement of Immigrant Populations in Urban High Schools"
Sponsor: Stephen Plank, assistant professor, Sociology, Krieger School of Arts and Sciences

Anand Veeravagu, Grapevine, Texas
junior, biomedical engineering

"A Model for the Quantification and Analysis of Long-Range Spinal Cord Regeneration"
Sponsor: Lawrence Schramm, professor, Biomedical Engineering, School of Medicine

Simon Zaleski, Ellicott City, Md.
sophomore, piano performance

"Infusing New Beauty into Modern Music Using Ideas From the Past"
Sponsor: Webb Wiggins, faculty, Peabody Institute



Veronica Beaudry, Manchester, N.H.
senior, biology

"F1G1p: A Key Regulator of LACS (Low-Affinity Calcium Influx System) in Yeast"
Sponsor: Kyle W. Cunningham, associate professor, Biology, Krieger School of Arts and Sciences

Jeff Chang, San Jose, Calif.
senior, neuroscience

"The Role of IP3 Receptors in Visual Cortical Long-Term Depression"
Sponsor: Alfred Kirkwood, assistant professor, Neuroscience, School of Medicine

Raghu Chivukula, Wichita, Kan.
junior, neuroscience

"Neuroprotective Mechanisms in a Mouse Model of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)"
Sponsor: Katrin I. Andreasson, assistant professor, Neurology, School of Medicine

David Choi, Fairfax, Va.
senior, psychology

"Stiffness Analysis of an External Fixator System Using Graphic Modeling and Numerical Simulations"
Sponsor: Edmund Y.S. Chao, professor, Orthopedic Surgery, School of Medicine

Daniel Davis, Waxhaw, N.C.
senior/master's degree, history; senior, music composition

"If I Were a Voice, A Historically Based Opera on the Hutchinson Family"
Sponsor: Michael P. Johnson, professor, History, Krieger School of Arts and Sciences

Inga Gurevich, Fort Lee, N.J.
senior, neuroscience

"Optimal Parameters for Intrastriatal Transplantation in Parkinson's Disease"
Sponsor: Anirvan Ghosh, former professor, Neuroscience, School of Medicine

William Hsu, Westlake Village, Calif.
senior, biomedical engineering

"Modeling High Frequency Membrane Potentials in Cochlear Outer Hair Cells: Providing Insight Into Active Hearing"
Sponsor: Alexander Spector, associate research professor, Biomedical Engineering, Whiting School of Engineering

Vandna Jerath, Martinez, Ga.
junior, neuroscience

"Autism Netverse: A Literary Journey for the Autistic Mind"
Sponsor: Tristan Davies, senior


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