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Molecular Biology Bootcamp: Building a Kill Switch in Bacteria

This class taught the fundamental techniques of molecular biology (PCR, restriction digest, ligation, and transformation) by cloning a regulated version of the holin gene which can then be activated to destroy bacteria.

Week 1

This week we performed PCR and gel electrophoresis and discussed what kill switches are.

 

Week 2

This week we performed Gibson Assembly and bacterial transformation and discussed bacterial toxin/antitoxin systems.

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Counting Shrimp with Sonar

Ever wonder where shrimp come from? Shrimp farming is harder than you might think! Agriculture and aquaculture farmers need to understand how many plants and animals they are growing on land or in the water to make decisions on their farm. For aqua-farmers counting shrimp is a major challenge because their animals are grown in murky water and the farmers are blindfolded to how many shrimp they have. Minnowtech aims to help the farmers by counting their shrimp using sonar and the math behind their behavior, providing aqua-farmers with the information they need to manage their farm efficiently. In this seminar, Suzan Shahrestani of Minnowtech tells us how shrimp and other seafood get to your dinner plate, and how Minnowtech is striving to make that process easier for farmers.

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Computer Aided Drug Design: Taking an Idea to the Clinic

Computer-aided drug design (CADD) methods have made a significant impact on the discovery and development of new drugs for treating disease. Our speakers, Alexander MacKerell and Paul Shapiro, Professors of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, provided us with an an overview of CADD approaches and their applications in designing new drugs that target enzymes involved in cancer and inflammation.

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3D Bioprinting Made Easy

You may have heard of bioprinting, where cells and biomaterials can be printed to create custom organs and tissues. But did you know that bioprinting can be achieved through the same techniques used to get graphics printed on a t-shirt? This talk on bioprinting discusses unique strategies to bioprint at home!

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Healthy Harbor and Mr. Trash Wheel

What is a trash wheel? What role do they play in protecting Baltimore’s harbor and wildlife from pollution? Adam Lindquist, the director of Healthy Harbor, answered all of our questions about our trash-intercepting, googly-eyed neighbors and the rest of Healthy Harbor’s initiatives!

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Rethinking Meat to Feed 10 billion

Growing meat directly from plants, microbes, and animal cells will allow us to build a food system that is better for human, animal, and planetary health. However, catalyzing this paradigm shift is a vast, multidisciplinary effort that requires scientists and engineers from disciplines ranging from tissue engineering and synthetic biology to computational science and chemical engineering. Join The Good Food Institute’s Amy Huang to explore the state of alternative protein research with a focus on illuminating the research white spaces that need to be filled if we’re to power a transition away from industrialized animal agriculture.

Bio of the speaker: Amy Huang is the University Innovation Manager at The Good Food Institute. At GFI, Amy works with students and faculty around the world to turn universities into hubs for alternative protein research and education. In addition to working with scientists and engineers to address priority white spaces in plant-based and cultivated meat technologies, she focuses on bringing diverse stakeholders together through the formation of student groups, global scientific communities, and interdisciplinary research centers. Amy graduated from Harvard University with an AB in economics and global health.

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Making plastics from methane

Mango Materials is a San Francisco-based company that manufactures biodegradable materials using bacteria that feed on waste biogas (methane). The company’s end product is a naturally occurring polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) polymer that can biodegrade in many different environments. Since 2012, Mango has developed PHA that can be used to create textile fibers as a polyester replacement and that can be used to create injection molded packaging for the cosmetics industry.

This talk by Dr. Anne Schauer-Gimenez, Vice President of Customer Engagement and co-founder, discussed the journey from methane to end-product application, end-of-life biodegradability, and next steps for the company as it transitions to commercialization.

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Covid-19: Vaccines and Variants

Thanks to Dr. Nick Wohlgemuth, a virologist at St. Jude’s Children’s Research hospital, for a fantastic seminar on the epidemiology and natural history of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, what the emergence of variants means for the vaccines, and how to tell if someone is protected.

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Disruptive Innovations to Lower Healthcare Costs

In this seminar, Dr. Govind Rao of UMBC discussed manufacturing biologics on demand, novel approaches to detect Covid-19, and low-cost incubators for preemies with built-in sensors. Amazing developments, and we discuss how they can change the health care landscape!


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Biology Meets Art

We had a terrific seminar from Dr. Heidi Hehnly, a leader in exploring the interface between the cytoskeleton and cell membranes, and Dr. Boryana Rossa, an interdisciplinary artist, about their work in BioArt and their efforts to bring faculty and grad students together to share their research or look at it from the perspective of a different discipline.