Could green roofs be the answer to inner-city flooding?

The purpose of this project was originally to find ways of increasing the amount of green spaces in cities such as London. In areas like this many buildings are packed densely into little space which does not allow for many green areas, so green roofs seemed a sensible solution to this problem. From experiments we conducted we found that green roofs also absorb a substantial amount of water at one time and could provide a solution to flooding in cities. Based on these results we decided to look into this further by looking at the different materials that could be used as substrates and what effect each material has on the amount of water that is absorbed.

ROV Golf Ball Retrieval

 Constructing an ROV that can operate underwater to collect the golf balls that are littering ponds all over the world will benefit the environment that is being poisoned as the golf balls decompose. It will offer a much safer method of extraction than diving for the gold balls because humans will not come into direct contact with the toxins and animals present in the water. During the construction we decided to use a 3D printer to print the wheels and scoop. We had to connect and make waterproof the motor’s wires to give more power to the ROV and we used PVC pipe to construct the body to provide buoyancy. During the construction and testing phase we encountered many setbacks. Because of our strict timeline and these unforeseen complications, we were not able to make the necessary adjustments to the ROV for it to be operational in a realistic setting.

Preliminary Evidence: The Impact of Contingency Management on Depression and Anxiety Among Crack Cocaine Dependent Patients in Brazil

Recently an epidemic has occurred in São Paulo, Brazil’s largest city of over 11 million people, where in an inner city community known as “Crackloandia”, hundreds of people are openly using crack cocaine. The purpose of this research was to examine the effect of the treatment method known as contingency management (CM) paired with standard treatment (STCM) to see whether or not this treatment would alter depression and or anxiety in the population. It was hypothesized that CM would lessen the severity of anxiety and depression in the population while they received treatment for their crack cocaine use as a secondary, indirect effect. All data for the clinical trial was collected from 45 individuals seeking treatment for crack cocaine use disorder. This study found that CM effectively reduces depression and anxiety scores in patients who abuse crack cocaine. The implications of this research find it likely that CM is a treatment option capable of treating patients with a comorbidity of anxiety, depression, and substance abuse disorders.

The Effects of Classroom Cleaning Protocols on Parasitic Bacterial Growth

The dissertation examines the quantity of parasitic bacterial colonies growing in schools. By focusing on parasitic bacteria, the objective is to reduce student illnesses causing absences and therefore decreased academic performance. To achieve this objective, the levels of bacteria on commonly touched surfaces were audited in Phase I. Following, it was determined in Phase II whether cleaning student desks daily with a disinfectant would be tactful against the combat on bacteria. Accordingly, the study was implemented by culturing bacteria from surfaces inside several classrooms. In Phase I, surfaces included student desks, chairs, and other commonly touched surfaces. Bacterial counts in total ranged from no bacteria to as many as 208 colonies. Student desks, specifically, contained around 34.4% of the 2050 total bacterial colony count across the three sample rooms. After determining the student desks had the highest level of human contact, as well as moderately high bacterial levels, a commonly applied cleaning protocol was examined in Phase II. The results obtained demonstrate disinfecting student desks once per day was significant at reducing the present bacteria by as much as a 41.3% decrease. All in all, since desks had the highest human contact, disinfecting them with antibacterial wipes would be a worthwhile and inexpensive procedure to reduce the spread of disease. Keywords: disinfection, human contact, parasitic bacteria.

We do not live forever

 Why do people age? This has always been an age-old question of humanity. We all know that we do not live forever and that life on our planet will end one day. Life comes with death, but it is a natural process. It is an imposed order that mankind lives up to.

Until the 1970’s, people did not know what telomeres were and what their function is in our organs. Hence, aging had been a mystery. Between 1975 and 1977 Elisabeth Blackburn, a postdoctoral fellow at Yale University, together with Joseph Gail discovered telomeres. Later in 2009 Elisabeth Blackburn was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for her discovery.

On the Relation of Entropy with Gravity

This paper hypothesizes a connection between gravity and entropy. Gravity, which has not been successfully unified with other fundamental forces yet, is now alternatively explained as an entropic force that is caused by change in information associated with the positions of material bodies. We consider the statistical definition of entropy and ultimately conclude that gravity and entropy are two sides of the same coin and their inter-conversion is what we call ‘time’.

Development of a New Antibody-Based Diagnostic Approach for the Earlier Diagnosis and Treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease

Current diagnostic approaches to neurodegenerative diseases are often flawed as they are often invasive and cannot effectively diagnose early-onset dementia. Antibody-based therapeutics for neurodegenerative diseases are very promising but often lack specificity to certain biomarkers and require invasive methods of administration such as a lumbar puncture. In this study I report a novel quantum-dot (QD) conjugated bispecific-antibody (BsAb) diagnosis system designed for Alzheimer’s disease. This structure is easy to synthesize and displays specificity to oligomeric amyloid-beta (Aβ), which is often present before Alzheimer’s symptoms starts to manifest. The bispecific antibody also binds with a weak affinity to transferrin receptors – thus potentially allowing it to cross the blood-brain barrier (BBB) via receptor-mediated transcytosis and reducing the necessity for extremely- invasive means of administration such as a lumbar puncture. The CdTe/ZnS QDs conjugated to the BsAb have multimodal, non-invasive MRI and fNIR imaging capabilities and also displayed allow cytotoxicity to neuronal cells. The synthesized nanoparticles composed of CdTe/ZnS with a Gd-DOTA doped silica shell also displayed therapeutic properties by immobilizing the toxic oligomeric Aβ and increasing neuronal viability. These novel BsAb-QD structures display promising diagnostic and therapeutic properties and represent an important evolution in neurodegenerative drug design.

I synthesized a novel nanoparticle-bound antibody for the earlier diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease which proves to be less invasive and more accurate in comparison to existing tests of its kind.

Investigating the mouse brain for sex differences

Genes located only on the Y chromosome are male specific and are thus not expressed in female cells, which results in gene dependent sex differences. One of the genes located on the Y chromosome and expressed only in male cells is Kdm5d. In our study, the hypothalamus was compared between female and male SF-1 KO, intact WT and gonadectomised WT mice to investigate the genetically and hormonally dependent differences between the expression of the protein encoded by the Kdm5d gene. Standard immunohistochemical staining on floating brain sections was used to visualize the Kdm5d protein and was further analysed under the microscope. Immunoexpression of Kdm5d protein was observed only in WT intact males, but was not detected in any other groups. This observation suggests that the expression of the Kdm5d protein is both genetically and hormonally conditioned. Further experiments with testosterone supplementation should be carried out to confirm our findings. 

The UK Space Design Competition

The UK Space Design Competition (UKSDC) is light years ahead of your average after school science club. The challenge is open to all secondary students in the UK, inviting schools to recreate their own aerospace company and respond to a futuristic proposal for the relocation of a space colony. Throughout the year, the schools compete either at regional heats or in an online video competition, the winners of which attend the UK final at Imperial College London in March. Twelve students from the winning team will be invited to NASA to represent UK in the international final later during the summer. We’ve been lucky enough to catch up with some of the 2015-16 winners and technical volunteers to hear about their experiences.