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Improving Biochemical Production in Escherichia coli through Nutrient Limitation

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Escherichia coli is a bacterium that is used widely in metabolic engineering due to its ability to grow at a fast rate and to be cultured easily. E. coli can be engineered to produce many valuable chemicals, including biofuels and

Escherichia coli is a bacterium that is used widely in metabolic engineering due to its ability to grow at a fast rate and to be cultured easily. E. coli can be engineered to produce many valuable chemicals, including biofuels and L-Phenylalanine—a precursor to many pharmaceuticals. Significant cell growth occurs in parallel to the biosynthesis of the desired biofuel or biochemical product, and limits product concentrations and yields. Stopping cell growth can improve chemical production since more resources will go toward chemical production than toward biomass. The goal of the project is to test different methods of controlling microbial uptake of nutrients, specifically phosphate, to dynamically limit cell growth and improve biochemical production of E. coli, and the research has the potential to promote public health, sustainability, and environment. This can be achieved by targeting phosphate transporter genes using CRISPRi and CRISPR, and they will limit the uptake of phosphate by targeting the phosphate transporter genes in DNA, which will stop transcriptions of the genes. In the experiment, NST74∆crr∆pykAF, a L-Phe overproducer, was used as the base strain, and the pitA phosphate transporter gene was targeted in the CRISPRi and CRISPR systems with the strain with other phosphate transporters knocked out. The tested CRISPRi and CRISPR mechanisms did not stop cell growth or improved L-Phe production. Further research will be conducted to determine the problem of the system. In addition, the CRISPRi and CRISPR systems that target multiple phosphate transporter genes will be tested in the future as well as the other method of stopping transcriptions of the phosphate transporter genes, which is called a tunable toggle switch mechanism.

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Date Created
2018-05

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Backend Construction of a Web Service

Description

A growing number of stylists \u2014 cosmetologists \u2014 are finding it harder to afford the basic necessities such as rent. However, the ever-increasing presence of smartphones and the increasing need for on-demand services like Uber and Uber Eats creates a

A growing number of stylists \u2014 cosmetologists \u2014 are finding it harder to afford the basic necessities such as rent. However, the ever-increasing presence of smartphones and the increasing need for on-demand services like Uber and Uber Eats creates a unique opportunity for stylists \u2014 Clippr. Clippr is an application that aims to connect individual stylists directly to their customers. The application gives stylists a platform to create and display their own prices, services, and portfolio. Customers get the benefit of finding a stylist that suits them and booking instantly. This project outlines the backend for the Clippr application. It goes over the framework, REST API, and various functionalities of the application. Additionally, the project also covers the work that is still needed to successfully launch the application.

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2017-05

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Engineering a Co-culture System for Co-utilization of Lignocellulose-derived Sugars for Improved Biomass Conversion

Description

The inability of a single strain of bacteria to simultaneously and completely consume multiple sugars, such as glucose and xylose, hinder industrial microbial processes for ethanol and lactate production. To overcome this limitation, I am engineering an E. coli co-culture

The inability of a single strain of bacteria to simultaneously and completely consume multiple sugars, such as glucose and xylose, hinder industrial microbial processes for ethanol and lactate production. To overcome this limitation, I am engineering an E. coli co-culture system consisting of two ‘specialists'. One has the ability to only consume xylose and the other only glucose. This allows for co-utilization of lignocellulose-derived sugars so both sugars are completely consumed, residence time is reduced and lactate and ethanol titers are maximized.

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2017-05

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Modulating the Heat Shock Response in E. coli to Optimize Membrane Protein Expression

Description

Membrane proteins are essential for cell survival and show potential as pharmacological and therapeutic targets in the field of nanobiotechnology.[1,2] In spite of their promise in these fields, research surrounding membrane proteins lags since their over-expression often leads to cell

Membrane proteins are essential for cell survival and show potential as pharmacological and therapeutic targets in the field of nanobiotechnology.[1,2] In spite of their promise in these fields, research surrounding membrane proteins lags since their over-expression often leads to cell toxicity and death.[3,4] It was hypothesized that membrane protein expression could be regulated and optimized by modifying the heat shock response of Escherichia coli (E. coli). To test this hypothesis, the membrane protein expression pathway was reprogrammed using gene-blocks that were antisense to vital membrane protein DNA and RNA binding-site sequences and included an IbpA-σ32 heat shock promoter. Anti-PBAD and anti-HtdR gene-blocks were designed to have antisense sequences to the DNA of the arabinose PBAD promotor and Haloterrigena turkmenica deltarhodopsin (HtdR) transmembrane protein respectively. These sequences were then employed to be cloned into a pMM102 vector and grown in NEB-5α E. coli cells.

Stable glycerol stocks of the pIbpA-antiPBAD and pIbpA-antiHtdR in BW25113 cells with either a pBLN200 or pHtdR200 plasmid were created. Then after inducing the cells with L-arabinose and 10mM all-trans retinal to allow for membrane protein expression, spectrophotometry was used to test the optical density of the cells at an absorbance of 600nm. Although general trends showed that the pHtdR200-pMM102 and pHtdR200-pIbpA cells had lower optical densities than the pBLN200 cells of all types, the results were determined to be statistically insignificant. Continuing, the pHtdR200 cells of all types showed a purple phenotype when spun down, as expected, while the cells with the pBLN200 plasmid had a colorless phenotype in pellet form. Further work will include cloning a GFP gene-block to test the ability of the anti-PBAD sequence in tuning the transcription of the GFP protein.

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2018-05

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Investigation of the effect of efflux pumps on the toxicity of phenol, 2-phenylethanol, and styrene to E. coli

Description

Depletion of fossil fuel resources has led to the investigation of alternate feedstocks for and methods of chemical synthesis, in particular the use of E. coli biocatalysts to produce fine commodity chemicals from renewable glucose sources. Production of phenol, 2-phenylethanol,

Depletion of fossil fuel resources has led to the investigation of alternate feedstocks for and methods of chemical synthesis, in particular the use of E. coli biocatalysts to produce fine commodity chemicals from renewable glucose sources. Production of phenol, 2-phenylethanol, and styrene was investigated, in particular the limitation in yield and accumulation that results from high product toxicity. This paper examines two methods of product toxicity mitigation: the use of efflux pumps and the separation of pathways which produce less toxic intermediates. A library of 43 efflux pumps from various organisms were screened for their potential to confer resistance to phenol, 2-phenylethanol, and styrene on an E. coli host. A pump sourced from P. putida was found to allow for increased host growth in the presence of styrene as compared to a cell with no efflux pump. The separation of styrene producing pathway was also investigated. Cells capable of performing the first and latter halves of the synthesis were allowed to grow separately and later combined in order to capitalize on the relatively lower toxicity of the intermediate, trans-cinnamate. The styrene production and yield from this separated set of cultures was compared to that resulting from the growth of cells containing the full set of styrene synthesis genes. Results from this experiment were inconclusive.

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2015-05

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A Stability Study of the MOF-5 Membrane

Description

Within recent years, metal-organic frameworks, or MOF’s, have gained a lot of attention in the materials research community. These micro-porous materials are constructed of a metal oxide core and organic linkers, and have a wide-variety of applications due to their

Within recent years, metal-organic frameworks, or MOF’s, have gained a lot of attention in the materials research community. These micro-porous materials are constructed of a metal oxide core and organic linkers, and have a wide-variety of applications due to their extensive material characteristic possibilities. The focus of this study is the MOF-5 material, specifically its chemical stability in air. The MOF-5 material has a large pore size of 8 Å, and aperture sizes of 15 and 12 Å. The pore size, pore functionality, and physically stable structure makes MOF-5 a desirable material. MOF-5 holds applications in gas/liquid separation, catalysis, and gas storage. The main problem with the MOF-5 material, however, is its instability in atmospheric air. This inherent instability is due to the water in air binding to the zinc-oxide core, effectively changing the material and its structure. Because of this material weakness, the MOF-5 material is difficult to be utilized in industrial applications. Through the research efforts proposed by this study, the stability of the MOF-5 powder and membrane were studied. MOF-5 powder and a MOF-5 membrane were synthesized and characterized using XRD analysis. In an attempt to improve the stability of MOF-5 in air, methyl groups were added to the organic linker in order to hinder the interaction of water with the Zn4O core. This was done by replacing the terepthalic acid organic linker with 2,5-dimethyl terephthalic acid in the powder and membrane synthesis steps. The methyl-modified MOF-5 powder was found to be stable after several days of exposure to air while the MOF-5 powder exhibited significant crystalline change. The methyl-modified membrane was found to be unstable when synthesized using the same procedure as the MOF-5 membrane.

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Date Created
2016-05

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Squeezing Out Electricity: Computer-Aided Design and Optimization of Electrodes of Solid Oxide Fuel Cells

Description

Solid oxide fuel cells have become a promising candidate in the development of high-density clean energy sources for the rapidly increasing demands in energy and global sustainability. In order to understand more about solid oxide fuel cells, the important ste

Solid oxide fuel cells have become a promising candidate in the development of high-density clean energy sources for the rapidly increasing demands in energy and global sustainability. In order to understand more about solid oxide fuel cells, the important step is to understand how to model heterogeneous materials. Heterogeneous materials are abundant in nature and also created in various processes. The diverse properties exhibited by these materials result from their complex microstructures, which also make it hard to model the material. Microstructure modeling and reconstruction on a meso-scale level is needed in order to produce heterogeneous models without having to shave and image every slice of the physical material, which is a destructive and irreversible process. Yeong and Torquato [1] introduced a stochastic optimization technique that enables the generation of a model of the material with the use of correlation functions. Spatial correlation functions of each of the various phases within the heterogeneous structure are collected from a two-dimensional micrograph representing a slice of a solid oxide fuel cell through computational means. The assumption is that two-dimensional images contain key structural information representative of the associated full three-dimensional microstructure. The collected spatial correlation functions, a combination of one-point and two-point correlation functions are then outputted and are representative of the material. In the reconstruction process, the characteristic two-point correlation functions is then inputted through a series of computational modeling codes and software to generate a three-dimensional visual model that is statistically similar to that of the original two-dimensional micrograph. Furthermore, parameters of temperature cooling stages and number of pixel exchanges per temperature stage are utilized and altered accordingly to observe which parameters has a higher impact on the reconstruction results. Stochastic optimization techniques to produce three-dimensional visual models from two-dimensional micrographs are therefore a statistically reliable method to understanding heterogeneous materials.

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Date Created
2016-05

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Dimeric anthracene-based mechanophore particles for damage precursor detection in reinforced epoxy matrix composites

Description

The problem of catastrophic damage purveys in any material application, and minimizing its occurrence is paramount for general health and safety. We have successfully synthesized, characterized, and applied dimeric 9-anthracene carboxylic acid (Di-AC)-based mechanophores particles to form stress sensing epoxy

The problem of catastrophic damage purveys in any material application, and minimizing its occurrence is paramount for general health and safety. We have successfully synthesized, characterized, and applied dimeric 9-anthracene carboxylic acid (Di-AC)-based mechanophores particles to form stress sensing epoxy matrix composites. As Di-AC had never been previously applied as a mechanophore and thermosets are rarely studied in mechanochemistry, this created an alternative avenue for study in the field. Under an applied stress, the cyclooctane-rings in the Di-AC particles reverted back to their fluorescent anthracene form, which linearly enhanced the overall fluorescence of the composite in response to the applied strain. The fluorescent signal further allowed for stress sensing in the elastic region of the stress\u2014strain curve, which is considered to be a form of damage precursor detection. Overall, the incorporation of Di-AC to the epoxy matrix added much desired stress sensing and damage precursor detection capabilities with good retention of the material properties.

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Date Created
2016-05

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Materials Replacement for Solar Thermal Covers

Description

Based on theoretical calculations, a material that is highly transmissive below 3000 nm and opaque above 3000 nm is desired to replace glass covers for flat plate solar thermal systems. Additionally, a suitable replacement material needs to have a sufficiently

Based on theoretical calculations, a material that is highly transmissive below 3000 nm and opaque above 3000 nm is desired to replace glass covers for flat plate solar thermal systems. Additionally, a suitable replacement material needs to have a sufficiently high operating temperature in order to prevent the glazing from melting and warping in a solar system. Traditional solar thermal applications use conventional soda lime glass or low iron content glass to accomplish this; however, this project aims to investigate acrylic, polycarbonate, and FEP film as suitable alternatives for conventional solar glazings. While UV-Vis and FT-IR spectroscopy indicate that these polymer substitutes may not be ideal when used alone, when used in combination with coatings and additives, these materials may present an opportunity for a glazing replacement. A model representing a flat plate solar collector was developed to qualitatively analyze the various materials and their performance. Using gathered spectroscopy data, the model was developed for a multi-glazing system and it was found that polymer substitutes could perform better in certain system configurations. To complete the model, the model must be verified using empirical data and coatings and additives investigated for the purposes of achieving the desired materials optical specifications.

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2016-05

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Biological Alternative to Create Aromatic Esters Using Engineered Microorganisms as the Biocatalyst

Description

Four enzymes, ATF1, ATF2, ATF, and CAT, were screened to determine which would be most effective at catalyzing the formation of aromatic esters. The CAT enzyme successfully catalyzed the reaction to produce 2-phenethyl acetate using 20x more lysate to improve

Four enzymes, ATF1, ATF2, ATF, and CAT, were screened to determine which would be most effective at catalyzing the formation of aromatic esters. The CAT enzyme successfully catalyzed the reaction to produce 2-phenethyl acetate using 20x more lysate to improve the probability of enzyme presence in the lysate. The CAT enzyme was able to catalyze the reaction producing concentrations that increased by 62% every 12 hours. Enzymatic activity resulted in the production of 2.15 mg/L of 2-phenethyl acetate at 12 hours, 5.62 mg/L of 2-phenethyl acetate at 24 hours, and 15.12 mg/L of 2-phenethyl acetate at 48 hours.

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2016-05