During the summer of 2007, I am transferring from Olympic College in Bremerton, Washington to the University of Washington (UW). During the same summer, I was accepted into an undergraduate REU program known as Hooked on Photonics. This program is a ten week course and includes many useful seminars and workshops, valuable research experience, and two credits of UW research. I was assigned to the Dalton Research Group and was mentored through the summer by Dr. Phil Sullivan. While here, I worked on developing two-photon dyes for use in microscopy and medicinal transfer.
With the Dalton group, I have been working on the design and synthesis of a lipid soluble two-photon dye. One of the more important possible uses may be the transfer of medicines or other chemicals into certain biological tissues or cells. Due to its highly lipid-soluble character, this compound will be readily absorbed into biological structures which contain lipid bilayers as membranes. The intended chemicals will still be contained within these vesicles and not released beforehand where it could have been absorbed elsewhere. Once inside the tissue, the vesicles can then be opened by irradiating the biological structure with long wavelength (and thus low energy) light. The two photon dye will then absorb the photons of radiating light and cause the vesicle to explode and to release its contents.
A benefit of this dye is the wavelength of light which it absorbs. Absorbing in the near to far-infrared regions, the energy of this light is much lower than current ultraviolet techniques currently in existence. If used in a biological structure, two advantages become immediately seen. Firstly, the lower energy wavelength used does not cause the tissue damage seen in ultraviolet methods. The other benefit is better penetration. Infrared light has been well documented at penetrating farther through biological tissue than ultraviolet light. This will allow for deeper body radiation to open the vesicles and expose their contents.
The overall plan of this project includes several steps. Firstly is the modification of the two-photon dye. A previously formed dye will be modified through several steps primarily to change its solubility characteristics. Currently, the two photon dye is quite soluble in aqueous media but lacks the lipid solubility needed for its projected applications. Once finished, the compound will be formed into vesicles. These vesicles will then be observed and tested using green and red laser spectrometers. Once this modification is performed, other similar dyes may be synthesized and/or altered accordingly. These will be examined using identical methods of spectroscopy.
Examination and testing of the compound will both be done simultaneously using High Resolution Infrared Laser spectroscopy. This method allows the observer to view the vesicles of dye. Also, it enables one to shoot a single, powerful laser pulse at the vesicle to explode it. This simulates the conditions projected as a possible application.
My goals are to complete my PhD in chemistry here at UW and then to become a college professor. I acquired this taste for teaching while at Olympic College. While there I tutored inorganic and organic chemistry students for an average of twelve hours per week. This was some of the most fun I have ever had in a job.
For entertainment, I have a rather uncommon hobby: I drive and ride on carriages pulled by horses in events known as Combined Driving Events or CDEs. While I own and drive a miniature horse, I ride on full-size horse carriages as a navigator. The roles of a navigator are both to remind the carriage driver of directions through and around the course and “hazards” as well as to the maintain balance of the cart to keep it from tipping over. It can be quite hard to keep the carriage up sometimes as these horses are moving really fast.