Recently Thomas Fudge, the science reporter for KPBS got in touch with us about the research that Jessica is doing for her NASA funded research project. He was interested to learn about how we are going about developing the means to search for chemical traces of past life on Mars, or other planets.
So we were happy to have Thomas and his videographer/photographer Matthew Bowler come by and record materials for their feature on work.
Our NASA funded research looking for ways to detect chemical traces of past life has gained interest once again. The SDSU NewCenter wrote up a nice piece on the work that Jessica, and now Karen, have been undertaking on this project. The work is also featured on the College of Sciences web page.
It’s great to see the hard work of our research team getting the recognition that they deserve.
We’re very proud that Jessica Torres’ research project was featured in the annual compilation of SDSU Research Highlights.
Jessica was awarded a prestigious NASA Fellowship award which will support her research efforts throughout her pursuit of her doctoral degree. Jessica’s project focuses on developing new approaches to searching for chemical traces of past life on rocks on other bodies in our solar system. The challenging project will further enable NASA’s goals of exploring and understanding the conditions for how life can arise in the Universe, and if life has existed elsewhere.
Thanks to our friends at NASA/JPL we now have a new, powerful, instrument for the lab. Peter Willis’ group kindly donated an older CE-LIF instrument that they were no longer using to us. The instrument will greatly enhance our lab’s capability to do sensitive detection, opening up more avenues of research.
Congratulations to Jessica on starting an internship at JPL/NASA this week!
Jessica will be working with Dr. Peter Willis to help optimize, and improve CE techniques for the detection of chemical signatures of life. The overarching goal of this work is develop, and hopefully deploy, microfluidic devices on probes to other planets or moons, in order to search for the chemical signatures of past or present life on those worlds.
We will certainly miss having Jessica in the lab for the next 10+ weeks, but it’s a great opportunity for her, and she will bring back some new techniques and knowledge to share with our lab.
Congratulations to Cat who joins Madee in the IMDS scholars program. The program is designed to aid underrepresented groups successfully enter Ph.D. programs in the sciences. We’re very excited to have two students in the lab who are so deserving of this opportunity, and we look forward to seeing their progress in the lab, and into their graduate careers.
We’re very happy to announce that SDSU’s Summer Undergraduate Research Program selected Cat’s summer research project as one of the few to be funded this year. The program provides a salary for Cat, as well as some funds for the research supplies that she will need to complete her project.
The goal of the work that Cat will be undertaking is to develop a ssDNA aptamer that will be capable of binding selectively to nicotine. It’s a big challenge, but she’s up to the task, and this should greatly help our THS analysis project.
The end of the spring semester is always an interesting time. On one hand, there is the palpable relief of having completed another academic year, and to have the renewed freedom to explore more in the lab. On the other hand, many of the lab members graduate in the spring, so it’s a time to bid them farewell.
This semester we’re somewhat fortunate in that the only student to graduate is Ricko. Congratulations to you on all your hard work to get to this point!
Along with Ricko’s graduation a number of new students are joining the lab over the course of the summer (some right away, others after a short break). So check out the group members page to see who’s new, and who’s still working with us.
This past week was the 35th annual meeting of the Microscale Separations and Bioanalysis conference. This is one of the best meetings for the Harrison lab, as it hits on all the topics that we are interested in, and brings together the top experts in the field from around the world.
At the conference Chris gave a talk about our development of a dynamic EOF reversal process. Jessica presented a poster about her new capillary coating and its impact on the separation of small molecules and proteins. Both presentations were really well received, and great feedback was given on how both projects can continue to move forward.
All in all, it was a great few days of seeing friends and their research, and getting inspired for new projects to undertake now that we are back. Plus we got new coffee mugs!
The Harrison Lab has begun a new direction of research in collaboration with other faculty on campus. The group has joined a team of researchers investigating the impacts of thirdhand smoke on individuals.
Thirdhand smoke is something we’ve all experienced, but likely haven’t thought much about. Have you ever gone into a room/building and known right away that someone, at some time, had smoked in there? That’s thirdhand smoke (THS), the residue left behind from smoking – whereas secondhand smoke is the smoke in the air around a smoker.
The Harrison lab, as part of project funded by the Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program (TRDRP) is working to develop a personal, portable, disposable, device that can provide a semi-quantitative measure of THS residue on a surface. The idea is to develop a device that can be used by anyone to get a rough measure the THS expose. This tool, combined with more detailed analysis of THS compounds and their health risks, will provide individuals with the ability to easily assess the potential risk to themselves, and their family, when in a THS contaminated environment.
The students leading this undertaking are Jessica Torres, Cat Law, and Arrion Vivas.