The daily rotation of the Earth causes the 24 hour light-dark cycle, and this is arguably the Earth's most ancient evolutionary pressure. Since it's been around for so long, it is unsurprising that almost all life on Earth exhibits some sort of adaptation to this cycle in the form of circadian rhythms. In mammals, the central driver of these rhythms consists of a biochemical feedback loop. This loop is able to synchronize with the 24 hour light-dark cycle, and cause physiological and behavioral changes. But how does the circadian clock actually do this?
Astounding evidence for invisible 'dark' matter has been found from many different experimental studies. Although all studies indicate that there is a dominant presence of non-luminous matter in the universe (about 22% of the total with 5 times more dark matter than normal matter), its identity and its 'direct' detection has not yet been achieved. Dark matter in the form of massive, weakly interacting particles (WIMPs) could be detected through their collisions with target materials. This requires detectors to be extremely sensitive and therefore, very difficult to build. This research discusses some of the techniques and challenges to detecting dark matter.
Ozone destruction is an ongoing process that is not completely understood. We know that ozone destruction can occur by exposure to free radicals, such as atomic bromine, iodine, and chlorine by their molecular counterparts and UV light. Recognition of the sources of these molecules is critical to our understanding of these processes. Our research focuses on the halogen chemistry in the environment that may contribute to ozone destruction in the Arctic region, thus providing a basis on which to develop novel approaches to reverse ozone depletion.
Biliary atresia (BA) is a pediatric liver disease that, if left untreated, will eventually result in liver failure. The cause of BA remains unknown, but there is evidence that BA may arise from increased expression of Hedgehog (Hh), a gene important for organ development. Gene expression can be altered, in good and bad ways, by the addition of certain chemical groups to DNA. One example of this is a process called methylation, which is also important for organ development and can lead to disease if deregulated. In this study, we investigated how DNA methylation affects Hh gene expression using zebrafish mutants that have liver defects as experimental models.
Living systems produce a variety of composite materials, ranging from the nano- to the macro-scale, by integrating inorganic (hard) matter within the organic (soft) cellular world of biology. The resulting highly organized bioinorganic structures exhibit excellent physical and chemical properties that often surpass those of artificial materials produced by synthetic methods employed in the laboratory. Understanding biogenic magnetic nanoparticle formation can lead to the effective use of these particles in nanomedicine for the diagnosis and treatment of disease. In this study, we will explore the biological construction mechanisms of two such nanoparticles and present examples of biomimetic magnetic nanoparticles in targeted drug delivery and cancer treatment.
This ongoing longitudinal study focuses on understanding elementary teachers' (K-5) perception of STEM education as a result of their experience in a professional development workshop with follow up support in their classrooms. Preliminary findings show that initially the majority of teachers had a somewhat skewed view of STEM with most not clear on how they were to apply this in their classrooms. Furthermore, teachers had difficulty in understanding the NGSS standards and their relationship to the current curriculum that they are required to implement. However classroom observations noted the increased use of strategies for integrating science and engineering.
Alcoholism is the third leading cause of preventable death in the United States. Currently, we know that alcohol interferes with the brain's communication pathway, and can derail healthy brain function. Our current research focuses on the role of specific molecules called purinergic receptors on the surface of a specialized brain cell called microglia. In combination with our current findings, our future studies will focus on how these purinergic receptors work in microglia, and how they may contribute to our understanding of how alcohol effects brain function.
Honey is a mixture that consists mainly of simple sugars and water but much of what we enjoy about the flavor of honey is the result of components that are present in small amounts. Minor components can be used to identify and characterize honeys. Local mostly polyfloral honeys from the Philadelphia area are being examined to determine similarities and differences. Geographic and seasonal variations in the characteristics of the honey are of interest to the researchers. The honeys are examined using a variety of techniques such as gas chromatography/mass spectrometry and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy.
Airport baggage scanners can use X-ray technology to both determine the shape of the objects inside a bag and also to determine what kind of material is inside the bag. In order to do this, one method requires you to know almost everything about the X-ray system. Our research focused on creating a model for an X-ray system so that explosive materials can be detected more easily.
Little research has been done on the toxicity of leaves in Pine Barrens in NJ. Our research entailed examining a sample of leaves using brine shrimp bioassays to determine cytotoxic levels.
Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is a genetic disease that causes severe, progressive muscle weakness and death of muscle cells. There is no effective treatment. At the cellular level, many processes go awry in DMD, including those that synthesize proteins. Specifically, a protein manufacturing compartment called the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is affected. By using genetically modified mice, we have investigated the impact of the ER malfunction on DMD. Through our research, we have the potential to find drugs to treat DMD patients.