Governor’s Science & Technology Champions Academy: Nanorobotics & Nanopore Technology

From July 25–30, 2021, I spent my week at Southern Methodist University (SMU) for the 2021 Governor’s Science & Technology Champions Academy. Sponsored by the Texas Workforce Commission and on a $2,000 grant, I researched alongside Texas’ premier science and engineering researchers. I was invited to this Academy because I placed 2nd in the Cellular and Molecular Biology category at the Texas Regeneron Science and Engineering Fair as well as the Austin Energy Regional Science Fair for my project that identified novel diagnostic biomarkers in Rheumatoid Arthritis using bioinformatics (read my previous blog post about this research here). Through working with the brightest young science and engineering talent in the state and as a champion of the Science and Engineering Fair, I particularly explored the field of nanopore technology and nanorobotics at the BAST Lab at SMU. The Biological, Actuation, Sensing, and Transport Laboratory, also known as the BAST Lab researches at the intersection of small-scale robotics, transport phenomena, and single-molecule biophysics in order to develop nanorobotics and nanopore tech and apply it towards targeted drug delivery, diagnosis of cancers and virus, and next-generation DNA sequencing.

During my stay at SMU, I learned how to assemble nanopores, test their effectiveness at DNA and protein sequencing, and learn how to troubleshoot when the pores grew too big or became clogged. From 3D printing our own teflon flow cells to presenting to other champions, directors, parents, and PIs, I learned a lot!

We started off my learning basics about nanopore technologies from the lab PI, Dr. MinJun Kim to then working hands-on in the lab with two Ph.D. candidates, Mr. Jugal Saharia and Mr. Matthew Odonohue.

Here is the final presentation that we gave, detailing the biology/mathematics/physics of solid-state nanopores, the experimental protocol detailing how we used them in the lab, and applications of these technologies in the industry.

We also took various group pictures in the lab, in addition to the action shots in the presentation! Here are a few of them:



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Paridhi Latawa

Pari is a student at MIT in Cambridge, MA, interested in CS & Biology