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TIGER: EREA 2016-2018

Introduction

An important objective of the Transformational Initiative for Graduate Education and Research (TIGER) program of the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez (UPRM) is to support outstanding graduate students to participate in summer internships at US universities and national laboratories.

On this section you will find the research outcomes of all the Extramural Research Experience Award (EREA) participants:

2016

  • Claudia I. Roig - R. Ken Williams Radiogenic Isotope Geosciences Laboratory, Department of Geology and Geophysics, Texas A&M University
  • Carlos R. Romero Peñaloza - Bioelectromechanical Systems Laboratory, Department of Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics, Virginia Tech 
  • Jean C. Caraballo - University of Wisconsin-Madison 
  • Jeromy G. López - University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center ​

2017 

  • Ángel L. Jiménez-Arroyo, St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center - US. Geological Survey
  • Rachid Darbali-Zamora, Sandia National Laboratory, Albuquerque, New Mexico

2018

  • Zoelie Rivera-Ocasio - Department of Plant Science, Penn State University, University Park Campus, PA

  • Kevin I. Vélez-Rosado - Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

  • Melvin Lugo Alvarez - Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, New Mexico

  • Rachid Darbali-Zamora - Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, New Mexico

EREA Projects

On this section you will find the research outcomes of the first four Extramural Research Experience Award (EREA) participants from 2016:

Claudia I. Roig - R. Ken Williams Radiogenic Isotope Geosciences Laboratory, Department of Geology and Geophysics, Texas A&M University
Jeromy G. López - University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center ​
Jean C. Caraballo - University of Wisconsin-Madison  
Carlos R. Romero Peñaloza - Bioelectromechanical Systems Laboratory, Department of Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics, Virginia Tech 

Fellow: Claudia I. Roig
Title: Age and tectonic significance of the Elk Hill Volcanic Complex, central Appalachian Piedmont, Virginia
Project description: U-Pb geochronology and whole-rock geochemistry of Inner Piedmont plutonic rocks, Virginia. Primary goal was to determine the crystallization ages of three important units and to characterize the geochemical variations within the Inner Piedmont, for the purpose of defining the tectonic and geochemical evolution of this important sector of the southern Appalachian orogen.
Laboratory: R. Ken Williams Radiogenic Isotope Geosciences Laboratory, Department of Geology and Geophysics, Texas A&M University


Fellow: Jeromy G. López
Title: Expression of Vinculin at Focal Adhesions in Response to Cyclical Loading of a Substrate in MCF10A Cells
Project Description: Our research is focused on understanding the mechanotransduction response of different non-cancerous cells and how they compare to that of tumorigenic cells in order to determine if changes in the behavior of vinculin may be a factor contributing to the cell transformation. We tested MCF10A normal mammary epithelial cells in custom PDMS substrates using a CellScale MechanoCulture FX. Tensile testing was conducted inside an incubator and cells were seeded overnight to allow them to attach to the wells. The wells were coated with 0.1% gelatin to aid in cell adhesion but without activating the integrins or with 0.01% Collagen I to allow integrin activation. Only the bottom of the wells was covered to avoid cells proliferating in the walls of each well for consistency. In a parallel set of experiments, the cells were pulsed (BrdU) to study their proliferation rate and a scratch assay to quantify their motility. As we were also interested in the physiology and molecular biology of these cells, immunofluorescence labeling was performed to verify the localization of the focal adhesion (FA) points and the localization of Vinculin and the MyosinIIB and Actin complex distribution.
Laboratory: University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center


Fellow: Jean C. Caraballo
Title: Synthesis of a Cysteine-Terminal Β-Peptide for Functionalization of Polysaccharide-Based Polyelectrolyte Multilayer Surfaces
Project Description: Fungal infections such as candidiasis, caused by the Candida species, represent a worldwide heath concern. Polyelectrolyte multilayers of chitosan and heparin have shown promise in limiting the growth of fungus on the surface of medical devices even as biofilms, the more resistant form of these fungi. β-peptides emulate the conformation and antimicrobial activity of the natural host defense peptides of the immunological system without the inherent limitations of AMPs. They are stable at physiological conditions and resistant to proteases. Therefore, we propose the functionalization of a polyelectrolyte multilayer of chitosan and heparin with a β-peptide.
Laboratory: University of Wisconsin-Madison


Fellow: Carlos R. Romero Peñaloza
Title: Development of a Microfluidic Platform for the study of Blood-Brain-Barrier (BBB) transport induced by the electro-permeabilization of a monolayer of brain cells on chip.
Project Description: A double layer microfluidic device was designed and manufactured in order to measure the permeability of a human endothelial cells monolayer to molecules larger than 500 Da. This cell monolayer will also be exposed to pulse electric fields (PEFs) to compare the normal and disrupted transport across the layer. The biggest obstacle in delivering effective treatments for Central Nervous System disorders to brain tissue is penetrating this endothelial cell layer that make 75-80% of the contribution to barrier function of the BBB.
Laboratory: Bioelectromechanical Systems Laboratory, Department of Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics, Virginia Tech 

On this section you will find the research outcomes of the  Extramural Research Experience Award (EREA) participants from 2017:

Ángel L. Jiménez-Arroyo - St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center - US. Geological Survey
Rachid Darbali-Zamora - Sandia National Laboratory, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Fellow: Ángel L. Jiménez-Arroyo
Title: Sr/Ca-SST Reconstructions from Caribbean Modern and Fossil Holocene Corals
Project description: The project consisted of obtaining Sr/Ca ratios from modern and fossil corals from Dominican Republic. The primary objective was to utilize this information to reconstruct the sea surface temperature (SST) during the Holocene ages to see if there were fluctuations in climate variations and compare them with recent SST. 
Laboratory: St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center - US. Geological Survey


Fellow: Rachid Darbali-Zamora 
Title:Development of an EPS and ADC Subsystem for the Optimization of Power Management in Small Satellites 
Project description: The proposed project hopes to work on both distribution grid integration of photovoltaic and on photovoltaic performance modeling. This includes analyzing potential interactions between photovoltaic variability and distribution system controls. This also includes capturing time-dependent aspects of power flow for daily changes in load side demand and photovoltaic power output. This project is separated into software and hardware components. 
Laboratory: Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, New Mexico


On this section you will find the research outcomes of the  Extramural Research Experience Award (EREA) participants from 2018:

Zoelie Rivera-Ocasio - Department of Plant Science, Penn State University, University Park Campus, PA
Kevin I. Vélez-Rosado - Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
Melvin Lugo Alvarez - Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Rachid Darbali-Zamora - Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Fellow: Zoelie Rivera-Ocasio
Title: Potential cover crops for banana (Musa spp, AAA) and their short-term effects on soil biological parameters
Project description: In Puerto Rico, there is an urgent need to identify alternative farming techniques to achieve agricultural sustainability and food security. Banana farmers in Puerto Rico need to adopt alternative strategies to protect the soil, while improving its fertility. My thesis project consists of evaluating the following plants species as cover crops in a banana field: Heterotis rotundifolia (Mantilla), Spagneticola trilobata (Wedelia) and Geophila repens (Geophila). During 9 weeks of summer, I worked at the Soil Fertility Laboratory in Penn State University. This internship was conducted to complete two objects for my thesis project in soil science: (1) Evaluate the effects of three plant species as cover crops on the size and composition of  microbial community in soil trough phospholipid fatty acids (PLFA) analysis, and (2) Characterize in a qualitative and quantitative analysis the soil organic matter functional groups between cover crops with mid-infrared spectroscopy.
Laboratory: Department of Plant Science, Penn State University, University Park Campus, PA


Fellow: Kevin I. Vélez-Rosado
Title: Taxonomy, Phylogeny and Sexual Dimorphism of Allodesmus spp. (Pinnipedia: Desmatophocidae) from the Middle Miocene Altamira Shale and Round Mountain Silt, California
Project description: The purposes of my project are to 1) identify to the lowest taxonomic level the remains of a fossil pinniped at the NHMLA, and 2) obtain, for the first time, anatomical quantitative data of a large collection of specimens of Allodesmus spp., in order to obtain statistical information that can be used to distinguished sexual dimorphism within this genus. The EREA program allowed me to spent the past Summer working with the laboratory work component of my thesis project, leading to fulfill and complete my master degree in the expected graduation time.
Laboratory: Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County


Fellow: Melvin Lugo Alvarez
Title: Sensitivity Analysis of the Cloud Field Methodology 
Project description: During this summer I had the opportunity of being selected as a summer intern in the Distributed Energy Technologies division of Sandia National Labs in Albuquerque, New Mexico, position which I held for 10 weeks.  During my internship I performed research regarding the modeling of the impact of variable cloud cover on solar energy production. This was done using the cloud field methodology developed at Sandia. This methodology consists of a computational model in which a single irradiance measurement is used to create comparable synthetic irradiances and distributes them over a pre-determined geographical area.  This reduces research costs as only one sensor is needed to model the effects of multiple photovoltaic systems on the electric grid.  I was able to work hand in hand with the creator of the cloud field methodology, Dr. Matthew Lave, to perform a sensitivity analysis and improve the methodology. The sensitivity analysis showed that computing time and cost can be reduced with a new implementation, which will help to build more accurate models regarding the impact of high-penetration photovoltaic energy on the electrical grid.
Laboratory: Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, New Mexico


Fellow: Rachid Darbali-Zamora 
Title: Validation of a Real-Time Power Hardware-in-the-Loop Distribution Circuit Simulations with Renewable Energy Sources 
Project description: The advantage of integrated Real-Time (RT) Power Hardware-in-the-Loop (PHIL) power simulations is that the dynamic power behavior of physical devices is represented in large power simulations.  One scenario of interest is voltage regulation of distribution circuits using distributed energy resources, such as photovoltaic (PV) inverters.
Laboratory: Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Sponsor

The Transformational Initiative for Graduate Education and Research (TIGER), is sponsord by US Department of Education, Title V, Part B, Promoting Postbaccalaureate Opportunities for Hispanic Americans (PPOHA) Program (#P031M140035).

 Note: Created by Alessandra Otero & edited by Hilda Teresa Ayala.