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.
Friday was SDSU’s annual Student Research Symposium (SRS) where grads and undergrads from across the campus present their latest research/works. It’s always a great opportunity to see the broad range of excellent research on display.
The Harrison lab was very well represented with posters from Cat, Arrion, Madee & Adrian, Jessica, Davis, and Muhand & Paola!
It was great to see all the interest in the work that the students are doing, and the new potential for collaborations that came from all the discussions with other researchers.
Last week (Oct. 13-17, 2019) part of the Harrison Lab took a trip up to Palm Springs to present some of their research at the annual SciX conference. SciX is a great conference for the group, both as it is just the right size to have a lot of great science presented and not be overly packed, and also because it serves at the annual meeting for the AES Electrophoresis Society (Chris is currently VP of the society).
So this meeting provided us with a great opportunity to present our latest research, and to catch up with colleagues from other universities and to learn from them. Jessica, Adrian, and Madee each presented posters on Sunday, during the opening mixer, and in Monday’s AES poster session. Arrion presented her poster on Wednesday, in the environmental analysis section. And Chris gave a talk on CE separations in one of the Tuesday AES oral sessions.
All in all it was a great time, and capped off by the SciX Wednesday night Gala “A Night at the Oscars”, where everyone was dressed to kill, and Madee got the dancing started in style.
Chris also coordinated a Sunday morning SciX bicycle ride, which is something far too few conferences have on their schedules.
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.
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.
On Saturday (March 23rd) SDSU held its annual Science Sampler; a showcase of fun science activities for families to experience. This year our lab was part of the event!
We wanted to demonstrate some simple analytical devices that can do some rather accurate measurements. So we prepared some paper based microfluidic devices. These were made from chromatography paper, and each arm was loaded with increasing amounts of base, and an indicator dye at the end. The paper was sealed with clear masking tape, and one arm dipped into an acidic solution. Capillary action and chemistry does the rest. In a few minutes you have a rough titration of the acid!
Below is a slideshow of our device being used to titration a 0.5M solution of a weak acid. The titrant wells are filled with increasing concentration of KOH, and the indicator zones have phenolphthalein. Each zone required only 3 micro liters of solution!
For a somewhat less quantitative, but more visually appealing (and kid pleasing) titration the phenolphthalein can be replaced with universal indicator.
We’re pleased to announce that Dr. Harrison has been elected to serve as the Vice President of the American Electrophoresis Society. During his two term Dr. Harrison aims to help grow the membership of the society, and improve its educational outreach.