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Development of Frequency Selective Surfaces for RF Interrogator Design

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The honors thesis presented in this document describes an extension to an electrical engineering capstone project whose scope is to develop the receiver electronics for an RF interrogator. The RF interrogator functions by detecting the change in resonant frequency

The honors thesis presented in this document describes an extension to an electrical engineering capstone project whose scope is to develop the receiver electronics for an RF interrogator. The RF interrogator functions by detecting the change in resonant frequency of (i.e, frequency of maximum backscatter from) a target resulting from an environmental input. The general idea of this honors project was to design three frequency selective surfaces that would act as surrogate backscattering or reflecting targets that each contains a distinct frequency response. Using 3-D electromagnetic simulation software, three surrogate targets exhibiting bandpass frequency responses at distinct frequencies were designed and presented in this thesis.

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2021-05

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Modification of electron transfer proteins in the Chlamydomonas reinhardtii chloroplast for alternative fuel development

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There is a critical need for the development of clean and efficient energy sources. Hydrogen is being explored as a viable alternative to fuels in current use, many of which have limited availability and detrimental byproducts. Biological photo-production of H2

There is a critical need for the development of clean and efficient energy sources. Hydrogen is being explored as a viable alternative to fuels in current use, many of which have limited availability and detrimental byproducts. Biological photo-production of H2 could provide a potential energy source directly manufactured from water and sunlight. As a part of the photosynthetic electron transport chain (PETC) of the green algae Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, water is split via Photosystem II (PSII) and the electrons flow through a series of electron transfer cofactors in cytochrome b6f, plastocyanin and Photosystem I (PSI). The terminal electron acceptor of PSI is ferredoxin, from which electrons may be used to reduce NADP+ for metabolic purposes. Concomitant production of a H+ gradient allows production of energy for the cell. Under certain conditions and using the endogenous hydrogenase, excess protons and electrons from ferredoxin may be converted to molecular hydrogen. In this work it is demonstrated both that certain mutations near the quinone electron transfer cofactor in PSI can speed up electron transfer through the PETC, and also that a native [FeFe]-hydrogenase can be expressed in the C. reinhardtii chloroplast. Taken together, these research findings form the foundation for the design of a PSI-hydrogenase fusion for the direct and continuous photo-production of hydrogen in vivo.

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2013

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Exploring the regulation of the telomerase reaction cycle through unique protein, DNA, and RNA interactions

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Telomerase is a unique reverse transcriptase that has evolved specifically to extend the single stranded DNA at the 3' ends of chromosomes. To achieve this, telomerase uses a small section of its integral RNA subunit (TR) to reiteratively copy a

Telomerase is a unique reverse transcriptase that has evolved specifically to extend the single stranded DNA at the 3' ends of chromosomes. To achieve this, telomerase uses a small section of its integral RNA subunit (TR) to reiteratively copy a short, canonically 6-nt, sequence repeatedly in a processive manner using a complex and currently poorly understood mechanism of template translocation to stop nucleotide addition, regenerate its template, and then synthesize a new repeat. In this study, several novel interactions between the telomerase protein and RNA components along with the DNA substrate are identified and characterized which come together to allow active telomerase repeat addition. First, this study shows that the sequence of the RNA/DNA duplex holds a unique, single nucleotide signal which pauses DNA synthesis at the end of the canonical template sequence. Further characterization of this sequence dependent pause signal reveals that the template sequence alone can produce telomerase products with the characteristic 6-nt pattern, but also works cooperatively with another RNA structural element for proper template boundary definition. Finally, mutational analysis is used on several regions of the protein and RNA components of telomerase to identify crucial determinates of telomerase assembly and processive repeat synthesis. Together, these results shed new light on how telomerase coordinates its complex catalytic cycle.

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2014

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An investigation of the interaction of DNA with selected peptides and proteins

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The communication of genetic material with biomolecules has been a major interest in cancer biology research for decades. Among its different levels of involvement, DNA is known to be a target of several antitumor agents. Additionally, tissue specific interaction between

The communication of genetic material with biomolecules has been a major interest in cancer biology research for decades. Among its different levels of involvement, DNA is known to be a target of several antitumor agents. Additionally, tissue specific interaction between macromolecules such as proteins and structurally important regions of DNA has been reported to define the onset of certain types of cancers.

Illustrated in Chapter 1 is the general history of research on the interaction of DNA and anticancer drugs, most importantly different congener of bleomycin (BLM). Additionally, several synthetic analogues of bleomycin, including the structural components and functionalities, are discussed.

Chapter 2 describes a new approach to study the double-strand DNA lesion caused by antitumor drug bleomycin. The hairpin DNA library used in this study displays numerous cleavage sites demonstrating the versatility of bleomycin interaction with DNA. Interestingly, some of those cleavage sites suggest a novel mechanism of bleomycin interaction, which has not been reported before.

Cytidine methylation has generally been found to decrease site-specific cleavage of DNA by BLM, possibly due to structural change and subsequent reduced bleomycin-mediated recognition of DNA. As illustrated in Chapter 3, three hairpin DNAs known to be strongly bound by bleomycin, and their methylated counterparts, were used to study the dynamics of bleomycin-induced degradation of DNAs in cancer cells. Interestingly, cytidine methylation on one of the DNAs has also shown a major shift in the intensity of bleomycin induced double-strand DNA cleavage pattern, which is known to be a more potent form of bleomycin induced cleavages.

DNA secondary structures are known to play important roles in gene regulation. Chapter 4 demonstrates a structural change of the BCL2 promoter element as a result of its dynamic interaction with the individual domains of hnRNP LL, which is essential to facilitate the transcription of BCL2. Furthermore, an in vitro protein synthesis technique has been employed to study the dynamic interaction between protein domains and the i-motif DNA within the promoter element. Several constructs were made involving replacement of a single amino acid with a fluorescent analogue, and these were used to study FRET between domain 1 and the i-motif, the later of which harbored a fluorescent acceptor nucleotide analogue.

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2014

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Characterization of the electron acceptors of the type-I photosynthetic reaction center of Heliobacterium modesticaldum

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The heliobacterial reaction center (HbRC) is widely considered the simplest and most primitive photosynthetic reaction center (RC) still in existence. Despite the simplicity of the HbRC, many aspects of the electron transfer mechanism remain unknown or under debate. Improving our

The heliobacterial reaction center (HbRC) is widely considered the simplest and most primitive photosynthetic reaction center (RC) still in existence. Despite the simplicity of the HbRC, many aspects of the electron transfer mechanism remain unknown or under debate. Improving our understanding of the structure and function of the HbRC is important in determining its role in the evolution of photosynthetic RCs. In this work, the function and properties of the iron-sulfur cluster FX and quinones of the HbRC were investigated, as these are the characteristic terminal electron acceptors used by Type-I and Type-II RCs, respectively. In Chapter 3, I develop a system to directly detect quinone double reduction activity using reverse-phase high pressure liquid chromatography (RP-HPLC), showing that Photosystem I (PSI) can reduce PQ to PQH2. In Chapter 4, I use RP-HPLC to characterize the HbRC, showing a surprisingly small antenna size and confirming the presence of menaquinone (MQ) in the isolated HbRC. The terminal electron acceptor FX was characterized spectroscopically and electrochemically in Chapter 5. I used three new systems to reduce FX in the HbRC, using EPR to confirm a S=3/2 ground-state for the reduced cluster. The midpoint potential of FX determined through thin film voltammetry was -372 mV, showing the cluster is much less reducing than previously expected. In Chapter 7, I show light-driven reduction of menaquinone in heliobacterial membrane samples using only mild chemical reductants. Finally, I discuss the evolutionary implications of these findings in Chapter 7.

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2012

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Flexible Fractal-Inspired Metamaterial for Head Imaging at 3 T MRI

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The ability of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to image any part of the human body without the effects of harmful radiation such as in CAT and PET scans established MRI as a clinical mainstay for a variety of different ailments

The ability of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to image any part of the human body without the effects of harmful radiation such as in CAT and PET scans established MRI as a clinical mainstay for a variety of different ailments and maladies. Short wavelengths accompany the high frequencies present in high-field MRI, and are on the same scale as the human body at a static magnetic field strength of 3 T (128 MHz). As a result of these shorter wavelengths, standing wave effects are produced in the MR bore where the patient is located. These standing waves generate bright and dark spots in the resulting MR image, which correspond to irregular regions of high and low clarity. Coil loading is also an inevitable byproduct of subject positioning inside the bore, which decreases the signal that the region of interest (ROI) receives for the same input power. Several remedies have been proposed in the literature to remedy the standing wave effect, including the placement of high permittivity dielectric pads (HPDPs) near the ROI. Despite the success of HPDPs at smoothing out image brightness, these pads are traditionally bulky and take up a large spatial volume inside the already small MR bore. In recent years, artificial periodic structures known as metamaterials have been designed to exhibit specific electromagnetic effects when placed inside the bore. Although typically thinner than HPDPs, many metamaterials in the literature are rigid and cannot conform to the shape of the patient, and some are still too bulky for practical use in clinical settings. The well-known antenna engineering concept of fractalization, or the introduction of self-similar patterns, may be introduced to the metamaterial to display a specific resonance curve as well as increase the metamaterial’s intrinsic capacitance. Proposed in this paper is a flexible fractal-inspired metamaterial for application in 3 T MR head imaging. To demonstrate the advantages of this flexibility, two different metamaterial configurations are compared to determine which produces a higher localized signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) and average signal measured in the image: in the first configuration, the metamaterial is kept rigid underneath a human head phantom to represent metamaterials in the literature (single-sided placement); and in the second, the metamaterial is wrapped around the phantom to utilize its flexibility (double-sided placement). The double-sided metamaterial setup was found to produce an increase in normalized SNR of over 5% increase in five of six chosen ROIs when compared to no metamaterial use and showed a 10.14% increase in the total average signal compared to the single-sided configuration.

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2022-05