Success for Fairfield Engineering Students at ASEE Mid-Atlantic Conference

Success for Fairfield Engineering Students at ASEE Mid-Atlantic Conference

An Illustration of the Human Mismatch Repair Protein, MutSbeta and Mismatched DNA

Human Mismatch Repair Protein, MutSbeta and Mismatched DNA Illustration (Illustration by Ella Maru Studio)

Seven engineering students presented and won research poster awards at the virtual conference.

This past April, engineering students from Fairfield University’s School of Engineering attended the virtual ASEE Mid-Atlantic Spring 2021 Conference. During the conference, Jenna Madigan ’22, Jack Devlin ’22, Chizimuzo Chibuko ’22, Matthew Sideris '21, Julia Kiefer '21, Dawn Kubik '22, and Phonsvanh Keophannga '21 alongside assistant professor of biomedical engineering Isaac Macwan, PhD, and associate professor of mechanical engineering Sriharsha Srinivas Sundarram, PhD presented original research to an audience of engineering students, faculty, and leaders from across the country. 

The research posters they presented at the conference are based on two ongoing research projects with Dr. Macwan, about the interactions between mismatched DNA and human MutSBeta (DNA repair) protein, and the permeation of drug molecules through the blood-brain barrier. 

“The students spent close to seven months in modeling, simulating, and analyzing these systems and showcased their research projects representing Fairfield Engineering well. The students were praised for their noteworthy efforts towards research in biomedical engineering,” said Dr. Macwan.

Madigan and Devlin presented their research project “Understanding the Interactions Between a Human Mismatch Repair Protein, MutSbeta and a mismatched DNA," which addressed the interactions between DNA and mismatch repair protein. When this mismatch repair protein, MutSbeta, is absent, errors in DNA replication go unresolved and can lead to Lynch syndrome, which is a form of colorectal cancer.

Chibuko presented her research project “Computational Approach for Understanding the interactions Between Gabapentin and LAT1 – 35434." Her research aimed to illustrate how interactive forces help carry substrates through LAT1, which delivers amino acids and drugs through the blood-brain barrier. This research provides additional insight into the treatment of neurological diseases. Chibuko plans to also present her research at the Biomedical Engineering Society Conference in October and submit her study for publication.

Additionally, Sideris, Kiefer, Kubik, and Keophannga alongside Dr. Sundarram were awarded Best Design Award for their design project "Plastic Bottle Recycler." The main objective of their project was to design and fabricate a desktop plastic bottle recycler that converts plastic bottle into filaments, which can be used for making household objects such as chairs and brooms.

"The ASEE Middle Atlantic Virtual Conference was a new experience for me. There were many students presenting different ideas that I had never imagined so it was very interesting and informative. The conference gave me an opportunity to present my research to a wide range of people. I was able to share my ideas on a concept that doesn’t have sufficient literature," said Chibuko. 

From offering attendees a variety of networking opportunities to showing students the immense impact engineering professionals can have on the community, this year’s conference was certainly an experience these Fairfield students will never forget.

“My biggest takeaway from the ASEE conference was that even as undergraduates, many powerful advances in research and technology have been made,” said Madigan. “By sharing our findings at conferences like ASEE, confidence is instilled in us as we practice public speaking and networking on top of our research skills. It encourages me to pursue my career goals valiantly.” 

Fairfield School of Engineering

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