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Department of

Physics

Summer 2013 Student Research

Summer 2013 Research Student Testimonials

This summer I had an incredible experience researching with Dr. Anderson's lab. Throughout my freshman year I was searching for a major I would enjoy and once I went to a physics meeting I knew I found it. In order to be sure biophysics was the major for me, I decided to get involved with research. Dr. Anderson allowed me to join her team and I cannot thank her enough because I learned so much. I learned how to extract many different lengths of DNA from E. coli cells, how to figure out if the DNA is circular or linear by running gels, how to capture videos on a confocal microscope, how to find the concentration of DNA, how to use the autoclave and centrifuge, how to stain DNA, and one of the most valuable things I took away from my experience was learning what research actually entailed. I found that I really enjoy researching and I plan on continuing my research for as long as I can.

-Stephanie Gorczyca, Biophysics, ‘16

This past spring semester I found out about the Biophysics research Dr. Anderson was conducting on actin and I decided I wanted to join in. I then applied for a SURE grant and began working in her lab in June. Since then we have been working to develop and optimize protocols for polymerizing and labeling proteins called actin. We are conducting research in order to build a better understanding of the properties of actin networks. I have learned about the actin protein itself, optical tweezers which will be utilized to determine network properties, and LabVIEW which is a program that is used to control electric components of our experiments. I plan on continuing research in Dr. Anderson's lab throughout the rest of my undergraduate career at USD.

-Savanna Blair, Biophysics, Electrical Engineering, ‘15

The research I did this summer [with Dr. Severn] involves signal deconvolution of a velocity distribution from Krypton plasma data which is affected by both Doppler broadening and pressure broadening.  The process of deconvolution is really the same process which is used in order to remove the blur from a blurry picture; if one knows the shape of the blur, the original image can be reconstructed.  .... However, deconvolution is considered an ill-posed problem in that it is essentially as “difficult” as balancing two bowling balls on top of each other.  That is to say, it works perfectly in ideal situations, but in practice any small deviations from exact numbers (such as those from rounding) can lead to large errors.  This is where a process called regularization is used in order to make these small deviations more tractable, at the cost of introducing a small amount of error in the process.  Regularization … and the deconvolution itself was [determined] computationally via a program I wrote for the research.  This research was very interesting for me because since I am also studying in Computer Science, I was able to use knowledge from both of my majors in order to work on this problem.  During the course of the research, I learned tons of things; at the start all I knew was what deconvolution was, but nothing about all the details behind it.  I also got the chance to see what experimental work was like outside of the classroom, so to speak.  Overall, I really enjoyed the research.

-Christopher Yip, Physics, Computer Science, ‘14

After I was accepted to USD I was emailed an application to join the Pre-Undergraduate Research Experience (PURE). The Office of Undergraduate Research accepted me into the program to work with Dr. Rae Anderson after I had repeatedly stressed my love for biology and physics. As soon as I started working in Dr. Anderson’s lab I fell in love with doing research. Savanna Blair and I worked together attempting to polymerize actin into single filaments and analyzing the physical properties of said actin.  Throughout our work I learned a myriad of things: the properties of actin and its role in cell, the properties of piezoelectric materials and their function, programming in LabVIEW, etc.  As I begin my undergraduate career, I look forward to the further research I will conduct in Dr. Anderson’s lab in the future.

-Jonathon Collom Valdivia, Biophysics, ‘17

I had the good fortune of working with Dr. Sheehan this summer on his quest to break the second law of thermodynamics. I was primarily involved in the development of two numerical simulations which sought to predict the behavior of a number of theoretical devices, as well as general construction of experimental apparatus. The results are promising and it is expected that a publication will result directly from my work, much to my excitement. Through this experience I have gained knowledge of monte carlo simulation, which is a modern and powerful tool for simulating physical systems, and will no doubt come in handy whatever path I choose in the future. Dr. Sheehan's mentorship has made me a more capable scientist, and I am quite grateful for it.

-Timothy Welsh, Physics, Electrical Engineering, ‘14