(10u) Fundamental Studies at the Interface: Specific Vs Non-Specific Bio-Interactions

Authors: 
Sorci, M., Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Research Interests:

Nanoscale bio-recognition is an essential requirement in many biological processes (e.g. enzyme-subtract interaction, immune response, and signaling pathways). Although our knowledge of the molecular and structural basis of these interactions is limited, scientists have found a way to apply these interactions to several applications like affinity chromatography, bio-sensors, and drug delivery.

My Ph.D. work focused on affinity membranes for bio-separations. It centered around the development (selection of ligands, modification of membranes) and testing (batch and dynamic adsorption experiments, modeling, estimation of binding capacity, dissociation and kinetic constants, effect of ionic strength and flux) of affinity membranes for the purification of different classes of biomolecules: monoclonal antibodies, lectins and MBP-fusion proteins.

During my post-doctoral studies and more recently as a Research Associate, I have continued to work on several projects with the common focus of protein-protein interactions, from separation to aggregation. The poster will give an overview of the research conducted in the following topics: (i) the specificity of nuclear transport; (ii) insights into the lytic mechanism of antimicrobial peptide using supported lipid bilayer to mimic bacterial membranes; (iii) the use of AFM in force mode to measure the binding forces between different split-protein partners; (iv) biophysical characterization of amyloid aggregates, from dimers to fibrils; (v) charged membranes for the separation of proteins with similar molecular weight and charge; (vi) characterization of brush polymers.

I have broadened my background as a chemical engineer, integrating it with a variety of bio-tools (e.g. AFM, QCM-D, SPR, etc.). I plan to continue my career maintaining this interdisciplinary approach in studying protein-protein recognition both as basic science (e.g. better understanding of biological mechanisms) and applied science (e.g. developing bio-sensors).

Teaching Interests:

Teaching is an essential component of a professor's duties. From a research training perspective, an interdisciplinary approach has enabled me to develop a broad knowledge base and implement different viewpoints and strategies to solve problems. My goal is to equip students with a strong foundation in fundamental concepts and encourage their ability to apply their knowledge to creative solutions.

I have collaborated on Graduate Level (Chemical Engineering) Classes while at RPI: (i) downstream processing in biochemical engineering; (ii) molecular separation and recovery processes; (iii) intro advanced membrane concepts; (iv) advanced fluid mechanics. Responsibilities included lectures preparation and/or presentation. I was also the teaching assistant.

I have been a teaching assistant for Undergraduate Level (Chemical Engineering) classes during my Ph.D.: (i) mass transfer and chemical reactor; (ii) fluid-dynamics and heat transfer. Responsibilities included office hours, test grading, lecture presentation.

I have mentored several students during their research projects: created projects suitable for undergraduate students, demonstrated laboratory techniques, guided them through data analysis, report writing, and decision making.

My education has provided me with the necessary foundation to teach a variety of â??coreâ? chemical engineering courses. In particular, I would enjoy teaching mass and heat transport and developing a course closer to my research, based on biomolecular interactions.