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Graduate STEM Fellow Profile

Jason White

Project Title: Ingenuity Incubators Prepare Technical High School Students for College Engineering
Thesis: Systems biology in personalized medicine--bottom-up modeling of Human Immunodeficiency Virus specific to the patient
College/University: University of Connecticut
Research Advisor: Ranjan Srivastava
Degree Sought: Ph.D., Chemical Engineering
Department: Chemical, Materials, and Biomolecular Engineering
Research Focus: Systems Biology
Teaching Partner(s): Larry Fritch, Heidi DeCosta, Jamie Lamitie

Description of Research

In a time where there has been great advancement in medical technology, new methods of interpreting the large amount of patient data available to make the results of these data helpful to patients. Systems biology deals with mathematically modeling biomolecular phenomena such as human disease so that observations made from the model, such as a potential drug target or therapeutic regimen, can be translated quicker than in a classical clinical trial, saving time and money and increasing patient quality of life. I am applying this line of thinking to show that diseases models should be synthesized and analyzed on the level of the individual patient rather than on a large data set collected from multiple individuals. This approach is also being carried out to synthesize new models describing bio-butanol production by Clostridium acetobutylicum in a chemostat.

Example of how my research is integrated into my GK-12 experience

Being an engineer, I take pride in the problem-solving skills that I have learned and use when developing a research plan. In addition to crafting a research plan to address a relevant problem, many minor problems crop up along the way that sometimes require a creative solution. I believe that developing good problem-solving skills is not only an important life skill, but will also equip the individual with a means to approach very complex problems. Therefore, I have presented the hydroelectric generator project that I am working on at Grasso Tech as a means to approach the energy crisis problem. Along the way, we’ve also had to problem solve through a lack of available water pressure. Without an appropriate amount of water pressure, our hydroelectric generator will not produce any appreciable amount of electricity. The students have been excellent in hypothesizing solutions to solve the water pressure problem using as little electrical input as possible as well as in implementing those solutions.

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