Two graduate students will present their research at the first Beckman Graduate Student Seminar of the spring 2023 semester: Justine Paul, materials science and engineering; and Simran Singh, evolution, ecology, and behavior.
The hybrid seminar will take place at noon on Wednesday, Jan. 18 in 1005 Beckman and on Zoom. Lunch will be provided to in-person attendees.
Register in advance to attend.
Autonomous patterning of structure, properties, and function in thermosetting polymers
Inspired by reaction-diffusion systems in nature, this work seeks to harness the rapid reaction-thermal transport during frontal ring opening metathesis polymerization, or FROMP, to drive the emergence of spatially varying material patterns and tailor properties during the fabrication of engineering polymers. Guided by numerical analysis, we exploit the frontal instabilities that arise during FROMP of two cyclic olefin monomers with three different Ruthenium centered catalysts. Tuning of the reaction kinetics and thermal transport enables internal feedback control over thermal gradients to spontaneously pattern chemical, optical, and mechanical properties of the resulting polymers. Systematic variation of comonomer loading and selection of catalyst leads to materials with complex layered microstructures and unique functionality. Moreover, we envision that more sophisticated spatiotemporal control of reaction-transport driven fronts may enable further fine-tuning of the pattern development and evolution inaccessible by traditional manufacturing approaches.
Justine Paul is a fifth-year Ph.D. student in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering in Professor Nancy Sottos’ research group. Her research focuses on the development of new manufacturing techniques that aim to fabricate functional materials utilizing a rapid, energy efficient polymerization process. Paul received a Beckman Institute Graduate Fellowship in 2020 and in 2021 she received the Material Science and Engineering Annual Innovation Award for Outstanding Ph.D. Thesis. She received her bachelor’s degree in bioengineering from Syracuse University in 2018 with a minor in engineering and computer science management. Outside of the lab, Justine enjoys spending time outdoors, golfing, running, working out, reading, cooking, and gardening.
Mapping the auditory cortex in the mouse
Contemporary brain mapping seeks to integrate non-invasive magnetic resonance imaging with invasive anatomy to identify robust structure-function relationships capable of accounting for individual variation to guide basic research as well as diagnostic clinical evaluations of brain organization and health. Current MRI templates are approximations of the original architectonic maps produced by the Vogt-Vogt School of Anatomy, including Brodmann’s famous cytoarchitecture. Unfortunately, these pioneering anatomical maps and the last 50 years of tract-tracing studies are qualitative evaluations of organization and connectivity, making comparisons to quantitative MRI datasets relatively unreliable. However, auditory fields of the cerebral cortex have been shown to exhibit differential myelination in humans using MRI and nonhuman primates using histology, suggesting myelin may act as a structural biomarker of specific functional areas in the brain. Furthermore, the advent of supervised deep learning enables the quantification of Brodmann’s cytoarchitecture along with anatomical tract-tracing to produce an absolute estimate of brain connectivity that can be directly compared with MRI datasets. Our results corroborate and extend previous observations of the differential myelination that characterizes distinct auditory fields of the mammalian cerebral cortex in histology and MRI. In addition, we present our ongoing work to develop an absolute tractography by showing the efficacy of supervised deep learning to map the distribution of tracer-labeled neurons in low resolution 2D images, as well as the number and morphometrics of single-cells in high resolution 3D image volumes. Specifically, we mapped the distribution of tracer-labeled neurons in cortical auditory fields of the cat following thalamic injections, and report on our progress to quantify regional cytoarchitecture. Together, these results provide proof of concept for an absolute tractography of cortical circuits and the development of next generation brain mapping. Future work will validate the efficiency of and expand upon the number of anatomical biomarkers that delineate auditory cortex in the mouse, ultimately towards applications in humans.
Simran Singh is a second-year Ph.D. student in the Department of Evolution, Ecology, and Behavior. She is working in Dan Miller’s lab. She was awarded the Nadine Barrie Smith Memorial Fellowship in 2022 by the Beckman Institute. Her work is about identifying non-invasive biomarkers of auditory fields within the mammalian cerebral cortex by co-registering quantitative histological maps to MRI maps. She will help her lab to develop a deep learning algorithm, which she will use to quantify myelin and cells for each auditory field, ultimately to produce a quantitative histological map of the auditory cortex. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Health Sciences and Biology from the University of Western Ontario in May 2020.
Learn more about Beckman's Graduate Student Seminar Series.
Read Q&As with student researchers on Beckman's Student Researcher Spotlight page.