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Lena Barrett

Department: Chemical and Biological Engineering
Faculty Adviser: Stanislav Y. Shvartsman
Year of Study: G6
Undergraduate School: Lehigh University
Undergraduate Major: Chemical Engineering and Business Information Systems

Personal Bio

I grew up in Newark, DE, close to the University of Delaware.

I entered research to learn how to create novel and useful knowledge. I dabbled in materials, catalysis, and DNA sequencing research as an undergraduate.

I will be going into consulting after I graduate, so I love learning about business and especially business psychology.

Fun Fact

I was a bartender and ID checker/bouncer at Princeton's graduate student bar (DBar).

Research Pitch

I study developmental biology in one of the most common and amazing animal models: the fruit fly! Specifically, I characterize the branching pattern of larval tracheal terminal cells. Although just one cell, a terminal cell has many branches (or projections), which travel far away from the nucleus in many directions to supply oxygen.

Fruit flies permit easy and fast genetic manipulations (i.e. "knocking out" a gene's function) which are frequently relevant for understanding human disease pathogenesis. For my research, tracheal terminal cells' branched morphology is analogous to the branching pattern of capillaries, so research findings are relevant for understanding diseases featuring capillary dysfunction (such as cardiovascular and neurodegenerative disorders).

Although I may graduate before/during this summer, I am looking for undergraduates who are interested in helping me analyze microscope images of terminal cells, with a start date of anytime. Involvement can be as "easy" as tracing the cells' branching pattern in microscope images to as "hard" as creating simulated cells based on experimental data. For my current workflow, I use ImageJ/Fiji software (which is one of the most commonly used programs for processing and analyzing scientific data, particularly microscope images) and MATLAB (which is a programming language used by many engineers and scientists and often required in engineering courses). Other non-computational tasks I perform include fly culture and microscopy, including confocal microscopy.

Plans for Summer 2022

Not available to participate in Summer ReMatch+ program.

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