New Publication!

We are happy to announce that our work on using deep eutectic solvents has now been published in Analytical Chemistry: https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acs.analchem.2c03980 This work was done by Jessica Torres, a doctoral student in the lab, along with Karen Campos and undergraduate student currently in the lab.

Fluorescently labelling amino acids in DES

This work explores how one can do fluorescent labelling in deep eutectic solvents (DES). Our goal for this work is to apply DES to the analysis of amino acids in the search for evidence of past extraterrestrial life. But the implications of being able to do the direct labelling of analytes in a DES mean that those solvents could be useful in more sample preparation methods and still allow for the routine labelling reactions to be undertaken

HPLC 2022 Poster Award

Congratulations to Jessica and Karen for winning one of the HPLC 2022 Best Poster awards for their work on “Novel fluorescent labelling of amino acids for detection of past life via CE-LIF“.

Photo of the list of poster award winners.
Oops, we were back at the lab when the awards were announced

We are very excited that they were recognized for this work, particularly given it was a conference on column chromatography, and they are doing capillary electrophoresis based work. We hope to have the paper out for review and publication later this summer.

Harrison Lab Featured on KPBS

Jessica being interviewed by KPBS

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.

You can see, read, and/or listen to the feature here.

Publicity of our research

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.

SDSU 2021 Research Highlights

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.

Jessica and Chris

SRS 2020

Celebrating a succesful SRS

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!

Most, but not all the group in one place for a change.

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.

The Harrison Lab at SciX 2019

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).

Adrian presenting his cIEF poster to a fellow conferee.
Madee with her poster from her summer Brazil REU program.

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.

Arrion with her THS analysis poster.
Jessica presenting some of her non-JPL research.

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.

The lab members on the red carpet heading into the Gala.

Chris also coordinated a Sunday morning SciX bicycle ride, which is something far too few conferences have on their schedules.

Chris riding past one of the many wind turbine farms around Palm Springs.

Internship at JPL

Congratulations to Jessica on starting an internship at JPL/NASA this week!

Jessica’s new home for the next 10+ weeks.
Jessica Torres

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 Cat!

Catrin Law

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.

Microfluidics at SDSU’s Science Sampler

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.

Acid base titration on a paper device with universal indicator in the detection zones.