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SURF: Announcements of Opportunity

Below are Announcements of Opportunity posted by Caltech faculty and JPL technical staff for the SURF program. Additional AOs for the Amgen Scholars program can be found here.

Specific GROWTH projects being offerred for summer 2017 can be found here.

Students pursuing opportunities at JPL must be U.S. citizens or U.S. permanent residents.

Each AO indicates whether or not it is open to non-Caltech students. If an AO is NOT open to non-Caltech students, please DO NOT contact the mentor.

Announcements of Opportunity are posted as they are received. Please check back regularly for new AO submissions! Remember: This is just one way that you can go about identifying a suitable project and/or mentor.

Announcements for external summer programs are listed here.

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Project:  Design of a Force Sensor Device to Quantify Mechanical Response in Plant Cells and Tissues.
Disciplines:  Bioengineering, Biophysics
Mentor:  Elliot Meyerowitz, Professor - Biology and Biological Engineering Div, (BBE), meyerow@caltech.edu
AO Contact:  Pauline Durand-Smet, pdurand@caltech.edu
Background:  How organisms achieve their specific forms and alter their growth patterns in response to environmental signals have been subjects of investigation for decades. Specific cell and tissue form is essential to support many biological functions. During development, the creation of different shapes fundamentally requires the integration of genetic, biochemical and physical mechanisms. The role of cellular and tissue mechanics is especially apparent in organisms that feature cells surrounded by a rigid wall, which represents the largest diversity of organisms on earth(bacteria,fungi,plants). In plant,cells are under internal turgor pressure from the uptake of water generating forces that are balanced by the cell wall. As this pressure is isotropic, the shapes of plant cells mainly depend on the structure and geometry of their walls. Many insights into the mechanisms of morphogenesis have been gained from genetic, biochemical and molecular studies. Since morphogenesis is also a physical and mechanical process, a full understanding of morphogenesis process will require integrating biochemical and molecular studies together with physical and mechanical approaches.
Our lab already developed a device to stretch or compress plant cells and tissues. What is lacking is a quantification of the level of force and mechanical stresses the plant tissues and plant cells experience when stretched or compressed.
Description:  The goal of the project will be to adapt the device in order to quantify the mechanical forces that are involved during the stretching and compression of plant cells and tissues.
This will highly contribute to a project in which aims understanding how mechanical forces influence cellular mechanisms(such as microtubules re-organization and calcium signaling) in a context of plant growth and morphogenesis.
More specifically the student will design, test and calibrate the device. The student will learn some basics on plants culture and plant cells culture. The student will also learn how to prepare sample for microscopy and how to use a state of the art confocal microscope. The development of this device for microscope observation and force quantification will be of great interest for the highly interdisciplinary research we would like to pursue in the lab.
References:  http://science.sciencemag.org/content/322/5908/1650
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0960982214002735
https://elifesciences.org/content/3/e01967
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006349514010741
Student Requirements:  Background suggested in:
Mechanics or Physics or Engineering
Other background accepted but not required: Biology
Programs:  This AO can be done under the following programs:

  Program    Available To
       SURF    Caltech students only 

Click on a program name for program info and application requirements.


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