Bonjour BioMinds. I am Zarielys Feliciano Santiago, third-year undergraduate Chemistry student at UPR-Mayagüez Campus and I’m very grateful to be given the opportunity to participate of BioMinds’ last semester. I will be blogging my experience while working on my undergraduate research project this spring semester 2011. Since August 2010, I have been working in Dr. Nilka Rivera’s research project in DNA Chemistry. When she introduced me the different projects she was working on, I immediately chose to work with her DNA Chemistry project because it is closely related to Toxicology, thus also pharmacological research, which is the scientific field in which I aspire to continue my professional preparation after my bachelor’s degree. Even though my work would just serve as a complement to the project’s main research area, I would introduce myself within the pharmacological research field. The project is titled “Surface-Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy for the Detection of Nucleotides, Nucleosides and Nitrogen Bases of DNA and RNA at Submicromolar Level”. Until Decemeber 2010, I worked along with Angel Torres, fellow Chemical Engineering student at the university. Silver colloidal suspensions can help improve Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (SERS) signals for adenine, a DNA nitrogenous base. Our research laboratory work consisted of synthesizing silver colloids using two different methodologies, analyzing the SERS spectra of adenine samples with each of the colloids, and determining which of the procedures employed synthesized the colloidal suspension that best improved SERS adenine signal transmission.
Up to the day, my experience in the research lab has been a very gratifying one. Among what I learned during the semester, I became familiarized with colloid synthesis procedures, learned how to use a UV-VIS spectrophotometer and how to prepare its analyte samples, acquired some knowledge about the use of a Raman microscope and how to prepare its analyte samples, became familiarized with the special security measures to be taken in a laboratory prepared to work with explosives (aqua regia), learned how to work with micromolar solution calculations, how to keep organized logs on everything happening in the laboratory during the experiments, and collaborated with the scientific report that was to be handed to our mentor and graded by the end of the semester. This week (February 7-11), I will be meeting with Dr. Rivera and my partner for this term to discuss our goals for the semester and our weekly availability to work together in the lab. To close this first blog entry, at the lowermost part of it, you will find a link to what my research project is mostly about. I am enthusiastically looking forward to what this new semester’s worth of research experience will provide me and will be writing about it soon.