Film Your Research Contest – Finalists’ Videos (Part 2)

Namrata Sengupta, Ph.D.
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The voting period for the popular choice award category in the JoVE Film Your Research contest ended on August 21, 2017, 11:59 p.m. U.S. Eastern Time. All our readers can still review and watch the videos of our top ten finalists in this and the previous blog post.

Not in any particular order, here is a list of five videos from the finalists:

6. Simon Vecchioni, Graduate student researcher, Columbia University, NY, USA

Research description: At NASA, we’re always trying to make things smaller. The less volume and weight something takes up, the easier it is to send into space. Unfortunately, this gets difficult when it comes to electronic repair systems – the factory machines you need to fix circuits are huge. My research integrates synthetic biology and nanotechnology to solve this problem, with nanoscale circuits made out of DNA, that can ultimately be built from bacterial plasmids—no large factories or toxic chemicals needed! Using small changes in chemistry, we’ve built one-atom thick electrical wires, made from silver atoms placed in between mismatched base pairs of the double helix. Because light can’t focus on the molecular scale, we need to use an atomic force microscope, or AFM, to scan and test the circuits we build. The AFM moves an oscillating, ultra-thin needle across a surface. If that needle hits a hard molecule, like DNA, the oscillation frequency changes. We can measure that change using a laser, which allows us to recreate a 3D map of the nanoscale DNA circuits. In short, the AFM helps us see and test our nanoscale wires, which we hope will one day empower great strides in space exploration.

Using an AFM to Scan Nanoscale DNA Circuits

7. Ceth Parker, Graduate student researcher, University of Akron, Ohio, USA

Research description: Magnetotactic bacteria form magnetite crystals (Fe3O4) inside their cells that allow them to utilize the Earth’s’ magnetic field for orientation within water columns and water saturated sediments. Once aligned, the bacteria can then efficiently swim along the field lines to find their optimal oxygen concentrations. Magnetite produced within these bacteria is of high industrial and commercial value and can be harvested for its properties. To isolate magnetotactic bacteria, Pasteur pipettes were filled with media and then melted closed on one end, creating magnetotactic “race-tracks”. Sample sediment slurry was aliquoted into the open end of the sterile pipette “race-track”, which was then laid between two aligned magnets. The magnetotactic bacteria migrated along the magnetic field lines to the tip of the pipette, which was subsequently broken off with the aggregation of magnetotactic bacteria being extracted and transferred to an oxygen-sulfide gradient slush agar tube. After incubation, distinctive bands formed in the gradient media, corresponding to different species’ oxygen requirements. Gradient tubes were then sterilely cracked open, their slush agar plugs were extruded, and individual magnetotactic bands were excised with sterile razor blades. The “race-track” and oxygen tube gradient method demonstrated here, allow for the isolation of magnetotactic bacteria.

How to Isolate Magnetotactic Bacteria

8. Stefania Gorgopa, Graduate student researcher, University of Victoria, Victoria B.C., Canada

Research description: Our oceans are under a variety of threats including overfishing. Rockfish are a long-lived group of fishes susceptible to overfishing. Unfortunately, due to SCUBA diving depth and time constraints, individual scientific research divers are limited in their collection of underwater data for marine species which is essential for their conservation. There is, however, an abundance of recreational SCUBA divers looking to add value to their hobby. Directing these divers to permanent monitoring sites as citizen scientists has the potential to increase the amount of data collected over the long term. It is unknown how reliable citizen science SCUBA data are, and the assessment of if/how these data differ from researcher collected data is an essential part of a robust citizen science monitoring program for rockfish conservation. To achieve this, divers will perform fish count dives at sites around Galiano Island and Victoria in British Columbia, Canada. The differences in fish counts reported by divers of different experience levels will be analyzed. In addition to the educational value for participants, the research will establish a long-term self-sustaining monitoring program generating data for use in conservation initiatives and contribute to our understanding of the reliability of citizen science data in general.

Citizen Science in the Salish Sea

9. Marc Berger, Principal Investigator, Paracelsus Medical University, Salzburg, Austria

Research description: We investigated whether inhalation of budesonide (a corticosteroid) prevents acute mountain sickness (AMS) after rapid ascent to 4559m. AMS is a syndrome of non-specific neurologic symptoms (headache, malaise, anorexia, nausea, dizziness, insomnia) that can occur in non-acclimatized individuals within 5–12 hours after reaching altitudes >2500m. We further tested whether budesonide lowers the blood pressure in the pulmonary circulation and thus might have the potential to prevent high-altitude pulmonary edema. In this prospective, randomized, double-blind and placebo-controlled trial, 50 subjects were randomized into 3 groups to receive either placebo (n=17) or budesonide at 200 or 800 µg twice/day (n=16 and 17, respectively). Inhalation was started 1 day prior to ascent from 1130 to 4559 m within 20 hours. AMS was evaluated by two internationally standardized questionnaires, and blood pressure in the lung was assessed by transthoracic echocardiography. Heart rate and oxygen saturation were measured by pulse oximetry and a lung function test was performed. Blood samples were collected to analyse underlying mechanisms. The present study offers a new perspective on AMS by placing the lungs in the pathophysiologic frontline, but is also of clinical relevance because budesonide inhalation may be a safe and easy measure for prevention of AMS.

Into thin Air

10. Emily Lewis, Postdoctoral researcher, Sheffield Hallam University, UK

Research description: Infections are known to have a detrimental effect on wound healing, which may lead to chronic wound formation and patients experiencing severe pain, hospitalisation and possible sepsis. The western world is facing a public health crisis with an increasing number of people suffering from chronic wounds caused by increased incidences of obesity, diabetes and ageing populations. Understanding the wound healing process may prevent chronic wound formation. The combination of artificial skin models, such as Labskin with a powerful analytical technique called Mass Spectrometry Imaging (MSI) is able to assess biological changes within non-infected and infected wounds. Therefore, identifying biomarkers associated with wound healing. Infected samples are compared against non-infected samples to assess the molecular changes between the two wounds. The technique separates the molecules, such as proteins and lipids allowing the researcher to create a coloured image based on its’ concentration across the sample, identifying, which molecules (i.e. proteins) are involved in the wound healing process. These biomarkers may then be used in clinic to assess patients’ wounds to determine if they are developing a chronic wound. Therefore, reducing national health budgets across western societies and improving the patients’ quality of life.

Novel wound assessment

Keep an eye out for the final results of our jury-choice and popular-choice awards, which will be announced on September 1, 2017.