A Summary of My High School Research
posted by: lmark
Hi Everyone, my name is Lesli Mark and I am a graduating senior of Saint Joseph’s High School class of 2011. For the past two years I have been a part of the independent science research class and have been researching in the field of surface chemistry under University of Notre Dame professor, Dr. Marya Lieberman. This summary may seem as though it lacks in detail, but if you check out the links I add in, you will find a more in-depth explanation from previous presentations or publications of my work.
I began my research in June 2009. I was given the project of determining which monolayer (APTES or TMAC) would hold DNA origami on a silicon chip surface without the origami folding over, which happened to be a sub-project of Dr. Lieberman’s graduate student Kyoung Nan Kim. By the end of the summer, I found that APTES and TMAC were both strong candidates for attaching DNA origami to a silicon chip, but that both monolayers were too strong, therefore causing the origami to fold. Even though I didn’t come to a conclusion with this project in particular, the work I put in during that summer was mainly to learn how to use the AFM (atomic force microscope) and how to properly execute certain procedures necessary for the project.
At the end of my first summer of research, I presented in a poster of my work in a symposium, check it out below and here (This is a google document, it may be difficult to read because the poster is so large. There is the option to download it as a PDF, from there one can zoom in to read the text.)
To give you some more background on this project, check out the voicethread powerpoint I made. Clicking the link below will take you to a version you can play (the first on that page.) This presentation also follows through the path of my Junior year research. It shows how Kyoung Nan Kim developed a successful variation of the DNA origami so that it would line up, without stacking on one another.
Going into the summer of 2010, I was given a whole new project. I was to determine the whether or not the chains of origami, that Kyoung Nan Kim perfected (the voicethread powerpoint explained this), were forming in solution or on the surface of the substrate (mica or silicon). To obtain results for this project, I conducted gel electrophoresis experiments. The gel would be able to separate different size/weight particles. I found through the experiments that the DNA origami forms chains in solution, the gel was able to separate the excess staple strands from single origami and from longer chains of origami. This powerpoint has some of the details on how I performed the experiments, it also has multiple images of the gels of my different experiments.
In most of my experiments, I used four controls: DNA ladder (separates into different bands, each indicating a different molecular weight), M13MP18 (the scaffolding viral DNA used in the DNA origami), helper/staple strands (the small DNA strands that hold the M13MP18 together in the DNA origami shape), and NK13 (NK stands for “Nan Kim,” this is one of her many variations of DNA origami, it is fully formed DNA origami that have no inclination to stack or form chains). By the end of Summer 2010, I finished my gel electrophoresis project, successfully discovering that DNA origami (NK 11 which is the origami that forms chains) forms chains in solution.
During my senior year my research slowed down a great deal. I became engrossed in the college admissions process and the weight of senior year school work. I was given a small project: to determine whether changes in surface temperature effects how DNA origami lays on the APTES monolayer.
Here is the rundown of the project. I found that there is a specific temperature where DNA origami no longer rolls or folds on itself when deposited on the APTES monolayer, but I was unable to determine the exact temperature.
The last two years of research have been great for me. I have learned so much about the field of DNA origami nanotechnology. As a result of my two years of hard work, I’ve been a co-author on two published papers and have received the Dineen Award and the Most Innovative Engineer Award at the Northern Indiana Regional Science and Engineering Fair.
I would like to thank Dr. Loughran for helping me get involved in science research and I would like to thank Dr. Lieberman and Kyoung Nan Kim for letting me be apart of the project and helping me become a better researcher.