Students Send Robotic Rover, Bio-Chemistry Projects to CSU Biotechnology Symposium

marsstudents.jpegAn automated rover designed to explore remote areas and experiments in bio-chemistry are the focus of some of the undergraduate faculty-student research projects from Sonoma State University featured at the 23rd annual CSU Biotechnology Symposium on Friday and Saturday, Jan. 7-8, at the Hyatt Regency in Orange County.

One of the student graduate researchers, Peter Arnold, has also been honored with the Crellin Pauling Student Teaching Award which acknowledges outstanding student teaching achievement by a California State University student in biotechnology-related settings, courses and programs.

The California State University Program for Education and Research in Biotechnology's two-day symposium aims to make connections between innovative life science research and the impacts it has on society, to highlight cutting-edge bio-technologies, and to inspire students for success in the global economy.

This year the program theme is innovation - especially as it might impact global health and new product development. The symposium provides a terrific opportunity for CSU students to network with bio-tech professionals working in academia, government and industry. Faculty share research progress, discuss educational best practices, and meet potential collaborators from other campuses and industry.

SSU representatives join poster sessions that feature 236 projects from 21 CSU universities this year. Research teams include:

Mohammad Haider, Professor of Engineering Science, leads a team of comprised of undergraduates Philip Brault and Kyler Connelly about a modular automated rover system (MARS).

MARS researchers are using sensors and software to guide robotic rovers toward the brightest light source while transmitting information about humidity conditions. Potential applications include exploring other planets, surveillance and security, and monitoring health and environmental conditions in a medical facility.

Haider also worked with Qingyun Ma on a project focused on the use of wireless energy transmission to power implanted medical devices, an approach that could reduce or replace the need for implanting batteries into patients. Specifically, the researchers are developing injection-locking mechanisms to improve the efficiency and consistency of the wireless power supply, enhancing their reliability for use with implanted bio-sensors and devices.

Chemistry Professor Jenn Lillig heads up two teams in biochemistry with students Frankie Gonzalez and Pete Arnold.

In Arnold's project, researchers cloned an anti-microbial compound by inserting the gene for it from one bacterium into E. coli, which then produced it. They also found that its protein structure varies depending on the type of solution or environment it's in. The compound, called carnobacteriocin B2 (CBn2), "exhibits activity" against Listeria monocytogenes, a common food-born pathogen.

Gonzalez's project examined the thermodynamic and kinetic activities that occur when a compound derived from wasp venom binds with liposomes. According to the National Institutes of Health, liposomes are artificial, single or multilaminar vesicles that are used for the delivery of a variety of biological molecules to cells, for example, drug delivery and gene transfer. They are also important in simulating cell membranes in research.

The symposium is coordinated yearly by the CSUPERB's to develop a professional biotechnology workforce by mobilizing and supporting collaborative California State University (CSU) student and faculty research, innovating educational practices, and responding to and anticipating the needs of the life science industry.

CSUPERB provides grant funding, organizes an annual symposium, sponsors industry-responsive curriculum, and serves as a liaison for the CSU with government, philanthropic, educational, and biotechnology industry partners. The program involves students and faculty from Life, Physical, Computer and Clinical Science, Engineering, Agriculture, Math and Business departments at all 23 CSU campuses.

For complete details, visit

Photo above: SSU engineering science students Philip Brault and Kyler Connelly with their MARS unit developed with the help of Professor Mohammad Haider. Photo by Shahram Marivani)

Search Newscenter

Subscribe to SSU NewsCenter