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Department of

Physics and Biophysics

Summer 2014 Student Research


Summer 2014 Research Student Testimonials

Summer 2014 Phys Research Students

Warren Mardoum, Savanna Blair, Robert Fitzpatrick

Savanna Blair, Biophysics '16

I have now been working in Dr. Rae Anderson’s research lab for over a year. This has been my first experience working in a lab and I have accomplished several things. Summer 2013 I worked to consistently develop samples of actin networks and to attach microspheres to individual filaments. Fall semester 2013 I worked on creating samples of two-color actin networks and began collecting data on non-linear bead displacement experiments. Over the spring semester I continued working on non-linear bead displacement experiments, collecting data and doing some analysis for our March APS meeting poster. I was fortunate enough to receive another SURE grant this last summer to continue my research. The grand picture of conducting this research is to build a better understanding of the properties of actin networks. This last summer I worked to understand the differences between freshly purified actin and actin that had been stored frozen. I also learned how to use image analysis software and MATLAB to gather valuable statistics about the actin networks used in our force studies. I have gained various technical skills. I have had learned several valuable things about working in a research lab, and I will continue to work with this lab for the rest of my undergraduate career.


Stephanie Gorczyca, Biophysics '16

This past summer I continued my research with Dr. Rae Anderson's lab, which I started last summer. I decided to get involved in research to determine if I actually wanted to be a biophysics major and I have found a passion for biophysics through research because I continue to learn new things and make more advances in my project by staying involved throughout the year. I have been investigating the crowding effects on the diffusion of DNA by taking at least 100 videos of each length (11-115 Kilobase pairs) and topology (linear and circular) of DNA in different percentages (0-40%) of four crowders (long dextran, short dextran, PEG, and Ficoll).This summer I also completed many preps of extracting and purifying DNA in order to increase the variety of DNA samples in the lab and I ran many gels to determine the topology and concentration of each sample. Matlab is an important program used to track the DNA molecules in the videos to determine how the molecules are diffusing in different crowding environments so I began learning how to use Matlab as well. This past spring I was awarded the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation Beckman Scholars Award, which provides me with research training, mentoring, and the opportunity to improve my skills. I am so grateful to receive such a prestigious award, which has supported my research goals allowing me to continue my research.


Robert Fitzpatrick, Biophysics '18

My name is Robert Fitzpatrick and I am a freshman with an intended Biophysics major. This summer I was able to be apart of the Pre-Undergraduate Research Experience (PURE) and do some amazing research in Dr. Rae Anderson's biophysics lab. In my research I was looking at getting quantitate data about proteins in muscle cells. I learned a lot about the science but what I really gained was knowledge about what research really is, problem solving skills , and how to work in a research team. The experience was amazing and I am glad to say that i will be continuing this research over the next semester.

Warren Mardoum, Physics '15

Warren Mardoum is a Physics Major at USD, graduating in 2015. He was drawn to Physics and Biophysics by their depth, complexity and challenge, as well as their relevance to modern technology. Warren plans to apply to graduate programs in bioengineering and nanotechnology. He's interested in genetic engineering and nanotech entrepreneurship, as well as neuroscience, computer programming, outdoor recreation, and martial arts. At the Anderson lab, he uses the confocal microscope to gather and process data from crowded DNA, measuring the how the DNA's length, structure, and environment affect its diffusion coefficient.