Welcome to deMello Group to perform your student projects. There are constantly open projects for bachelor and master students. You can either follow an ongoing research project or define a new project in discussion with a mentor in deMello Group. Here we list some of the currently available student projects (topics). For more possibilities, you can ask by email or visiting our lab.
Thermal Property Simulation of Artificial Skins
Various artificial skins have been developed for robotics, prosthesis, or as skin-interfaced devices for a wide range of applications, e.g., physiological monitoring. In this project, we aim to develop the artificial skins with proper thermal properties, replacing human body tests under various hazardous environments, e.g., high temperature environments. Aspects of the project includes:
• Material development: thermal property design and fabrication
• Temperature measurement technique development
• Device fabrication
• Data analysis and visualization
Dr. Manhao Guan
Spatial Mapping of Tissue Sections
In this work, we propose using a microfluidic probe (MFP) to quantify heterogeneity in tissue sections by periodic sampling and spatial mapping of the tissue section.
Tumors, as all biological organisms, provide a wide range of variability in their structure and expression. This variability manifests itself in the macro scale – the morphology itself, and also in the micro-scale – the difference in molecular expression. These molecular variations are expressed as inter-tumor and intra-tumor heterogeneities. Traditional gold standard technique of tumor analysis – immunohistochemistry (IHC) provided an elegant staining method but is limited by being an end-point assay and is used to provide one data point for the whole tissue. Averaging out all heterogeneity information in the entire tissue section leads to loss of important diagnostic information. A recently developed workflow, called GeneScape (Voithenberg et. al., Small, 2021), allows localized analysis while preserving spatial information.
We propose to extend the workflow to parallelize sample collection and subsequent analysis. Adapting sample collection techniques to existing workflows will further allow easy acceptance and adoption of the proposed technique in general practice. The application of spatial information in tumor heterogeneity will be in basic research and clinical use to adapt tumor therapy based on molecular heterogeneity.
New CRISPR/Cas13 Tool for Context-dependent Manipulation of Cells
CRISPR, and specifically Cas9, is truly an exceptional genome engineering tool and winner of the Nobel prize in Chemistry 2020. It is easy to use, functional in most species, and has many applications in research and clinical studies. The focus of this project is to develop a new CRISPR tool based on Cas13 enzyme, which has the ability to bind target RNA instead of DNA, enabling transcriptome manipulation without direct and permanent genome modification. The cherry on the top of this new tool will be to combine CRISPR/Cas13 with the endogenous RNA silencing machinery in order to control the cell transcriptome in a context-dependent manner, allowing modifications only in specific cell types and/or stages. Aspects of the project will be:
Molecular cloning (generation of guide RNA constructs with different conformations)
Cell culture (cell lines generation, tool optimization)
Flow cytometry and data analysis
On-chip Three-dimensional Cell Imaging
Three-dimensional (3D) imaging of cells can reflect important morphological information, which is crucial for understanding complex biological processes. However, current 3D cell imaging techniques typically suffer from inherently low throughput (few cells per second) which is not suitable for the vast majority of biological applications. To this end, we will develop a high-throughput microfluidic platform for multiparametric 3D cell imaging. We envision our platform can be a powerful tool for high content cell analyses.
Rapid Screening of Antibiotics using Droplet Microfluidics
Droplet-based microfluidic systems are powerful tools for performing chemical and biological experiments. Millions of droplets can be used to encapsulate a wide variety of samples in pL-volumes, allowing for ultra-sensitive and rapid analysis. Put simply, the use of such droplets provides an enormous advantage over conventional high-throughput screening methods. We have recently discovered a novel microfluidic strategy that allows for easy and reliable execution of multiplex analysis within droplets. In this project, you will use this strategy to screen antibiotics and evaluate their performance.
This project is suitable for master students. You will be trained in:
The latest microfluidic droplet technologies for high-throughput experimentation.
The design and fabrication of microfluidic chips.
High-speed imaging and image analysis.
Flow cytometry and data analysis.
Dr. Yun Ding
CLOUD-ON-A-CHIP: When Does Ice Nucleate?
It is a collaboration between the Atmospheric Physics (Lohmann, D-USYS) and Microfluidics (deMello, D-CHAB) groups. The project is to improve our ability to predict the formation of ice and clouds (cold and mixed-phase) in the atmosphere by quantifying the ice nucleation activity of particles (mineral, biological, and/or anthropogenic). More details can be seen here.
A Well-defined Double Emulsion System for High-throughput Biological Screening Experiments
Water-in-oil-in-water emulsions or double emulsions (DB) could be the next research focus of droplet-based microfluidics. The semi-permeable interface of the DB and the aqueous surrounding environment provide new opportunities for performing high-throughput biological screening experiments. In this project, you will define a DB system and optimize its workflow for the usage in a specific biological task. You will have a lot of fun to play with these lovely DBs. This project is suitable for creative master students.
Dr. Yun Ding
High-throughput Methods for Capturing 3D Chromosome Conformation
Genome DNA coding is linear. However, the organization of the genome is in a 3D configuration, forming chromosomes. Such 3D configuration of chromosome is complex, dynamic, and crucial for gene regulation. The goal of this project is to develop a high-throughput workflow to perform 3C (chromosome conformation capture) experiments at the single chromosome level. This project is suitable for hardcore master students.
Dr. Yun Ding
A High-Throughput Optofluidics for Rare Cells Enrichment
Rare cells sorting is important for single cell analysis and disease diagnosis. However, these cells, like circulating tumor cells (CTCs), usually present at very low levels (around 1~10 CTCs per milliliter), which challenges the current benchtop fluorescence-activated cell sorting systems. For this project, a high throughput microfluidic flow cytometer for CTCs enrichment will be developed, the goal of which is to provide a pre-sorting strategy which can enrich the CTCs concentration to a large extent in quite a short time with high accuracy before downstream analysis.
Microfluidic System for Extracellular Vesicles Fractionation
Extracellular vesicles (EVs), including apoptotic bodies, microvesicles and exosomes, is a kind of lipid-based vector which contains nucleic acids and proteins for intracellular communication, demonstrating great potential for early disease detection and therapeutic drug delivery systems. Traditional separation methods, e.g. differential centrifugation and ultrafiltration, are time-consuming and labor-intensive, and suffer from low sample purity or low sample yield. Towards this end, a novel and simple microfluidic system for isolation of EVs based on their size will be developed. Downstream analysis, e.g. western blot and sequencing, will be employed, hopefully providing an easy-operating way for early detection of cancer.
Yingchao Meng, Mohammad Asghari