Research Initiation Awards provide support for junior and mid-career faculty at Historically Black Colleges and Universities who are building new research programs or redirecting and rebuilding existing research programs. It is expected that the award helps to further the faculty member's research capability and effectiveness, improves research and teaching at the home institution. The award to Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University has potential broader impacts in a number of areas. The goal of this project is to probe the dynamic environments that exist within mammalian cells to eventually understand disease processes and the development of therapeutic molecules. The project is a collaborative effort with faculty at Florida State University and involves undergraduate students in the research.
The overarching research goal of the project is to develop a strategy for investigating cellular and sub-cellular environments of mammalian cells with high spatial and temporal resolution using engineered bacterial flagella. Towards this goal, the investigation specifically aims to characterize flagellar polymorphism in physiological relevant environments found within the cytosol; chemically modify flagella-based magnetic colloidal swimmers with stimuli-responsive small molecules; and to investigate active and passive internalization facilitated by externally driven forces and cell-mediated biochemical mechanisms. The development of these wirelessly controlled soft sensors will enable minimally invasive direct probing of nano scale fluidic environments. Identification of minute physiochemical property changes within local cellular regions will result from this project.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.