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Award for professor means better manipulation of DNA

female with white t-shirt
May 04, 2012

ASU faculty member Alexandra Ros, assistant professor in the department of chemistry and biochemistry, has earned a Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The CAREER program is NSF’s most prestigious recognition for young faculty. An award from this program supports the early career development activities of teacher-scholars who have shown themselves especially adept at integrating their research and teaching. It provides five-year grants to support their research and outreach activities.

Ros’s project is titled “DNA Analysis Based on Dielectrophoresis” and involves the separation and purification of large biomolecules like DNA. Separating a large variety of biomolecules is an essential component of research involving biomarker discovery, single cell analysis or even clinical diagnosis.

The separation and purification of novel macromolecular structures, such as artificial DNA nano-assemblies, also is essential for successful nano-technological applications, for example, in DNA computing, in photonic devices, or in targeted diagnostics.

Dielectrophoresis (DEP), the motion of polarizable particles in an inhomogeneous electric field, has been widely used as an active, non-destructive method for manipulation of micro- and even nanoscale objects. A molecule’s polarizability relates to the ease with which surrounding charges can be distorted by a nearby electric field.

“Our systematic studies will lay the foundation for novel analytical techniques based on dielectrophoretic transport and selection with applications in DNA nanotechnology, quality control of DNA-based vaccines, DNA methylation and hybridization studies,” explained Ros.

Ros’s project also involves a mentoring plan for female undergraduate and graduate chemistry students in ASU’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

The plan involves the encouragement and promotion of women, who are still underrepresented in chemistry at higher career stages. Included are individual mentoring activities as well as general activities for undergraduate women including research opportunities related to this project. Please contact professor Ros if you are interested in a summer research project.