Roberta Blaho '17, Biomedical Engineering; mentor Professor Christine Buffinton

Developed and tested a novel pipette aspiration technique for determining the mechanical material properties of the embryonic heart, characterizing how the properties change with developmental time and with perturbations such as abnormal pressure loading (chick model of hypoplastic left heart syndrome) and genetic mutations of the outflow tract (fgf8-deficient mouse model of 22q11 deletion syndrome). Knowledge of these properties is important for insight into the signaling and actuating mechanisms of the heart's adaptation to pressure load and for postnatal treatment and surgical repair of congenital heart defects. 

Student Reflection

The summer research at Bucknell was a great experience. I was able to get used to following regular work hours, while also gaining a vast amount of experience. Learning the pipette aspiration (PA) technique, perfecting the technique, and then working out how to apply PA to biological materials was informative and enlightening about the scientific procedure and design aspect of research. My favorite part was the ease with which I was able to run PA tests and analyses by the end of the summer. Upon returning to school for the academic year, I was thrilled to see that I remembered all I had done over the summer.