Biosensor Tracks Drugs in Real Time

November 27th, 2013

It’s not quite the tricorder that doctors in the legendary sci-fi series Star Trek would use to instantly assess a patient’s condition, but it’s close. A small electronic device can continuously track the level of medicines in an animal’s bloodstream. If it works in people, the device could revolutionize how medicines such as anticancer compounds and antibiotics are monitored and administered for life-threatening conditions.

Doctors always aim to give their patients the right dose of medications. But that’s often not easy. Drug levels typically spike above the desired level after a medicine is administered and then fall below it as time goes on. It’s been even harder to track drugs with a continuous electronic readout. A device does exist for measuring glucose in the bloodstream of diabetics. It works by tethering an enzyme called glucose oxidase next to an electrode. When a drop of blood is added to the device, the glucose oxidase splits glucose molecules, swiping electrons in the process. Those electrons then hop to the electrode, producing a spike in electrical current. Unfortunately, researchers haven’t had much luck in tweaking this approach to detect other molecules, in part because there aren’t many enzymes like glucose oxidase that are tailored to work on a specific compound.

Science Tom Soh

UCSB Researchers Make Headway in Quantum Information Transfer Using Nanomechanical Coupling of Microwave and Optical States

September 23rd, 2013

Fiber optics has made communication faster than ever, but the next step involves a quantum leap – literally. In order to improve the security of the transfer of information, scientists are working on how to translate electrical quantum states to optical quantum states in a way that would enable ultrafast, quantum-encrypted communications.

UCSB Press Release

New Approaches to Quantifying How Animals Acquire Shape and Form

August 8th, 2013

It’s a summer course like no other at UC Santa Barbara or anywhere else. Spread between the lecture halls of the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics (KITP) and the labs in the California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI) on campus, the new Santa Barbara Advanced School of Quantitative Biology is abuzz with activity. Here, participants — graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and even science faculty members from around the world –– rub shoulders with leading experts in the field and shed new light — literally — on the dynamics of morphogenesis. Morphogenesis is the process that converts the genetic blueprint of a multicellular organism into complex physical structure.

“This program is really unique in that it’s incredibly interdisciplinary,” said Michelle Dickinson, a senior lecturer (assistant professor) at the University of Auckland and a student in the course. “It’s physics combined with biology, and technically I’m an engineer so it combines engineering, too. It’s a great place to meet world leaders and experts, and live and eat and breathe the science that we’re trying to solve.”

UCSB Press Release

Seung soo Oh received Baxter Young Investigator Award

August 8th, 2013

Baxter International Inc. is a global diversified healthcare company that applies a unique combination of expertise in medical devices, pharmaceuticals, and biotechnology to advance patient care worldwide. To further promote innovative research, Baxter sponsors an annual award program for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. Baxter’s Young Investigator Awards are intended to stimulate and reward research applicable to the development of therapies and medical products that save and sustain patients’ lives. Baxter invites current graduate and post-doctoral students in the Midwestern United States to submit descriptions of ongoing research. First tier awards will include a $2,000 cash prize and an onsite presentation of the award-winning research. Second tier awards will receive a $500 cash prize.

Baxter Young Investigator Award

New Additive Offers Near-Perfect Results as Nucleating Agent for Organic Semiconductors

June 11th, 2013

Researchers at UC Santa Barbara develop a new method of controlling crystallization of organic semiconductors and increasing the yield of devices to nearly 100 percent using a low-cost, sugar-based additive

Pixie dust may be the stuff of fanciful fiction, but for scientists at UC Santa Barbara’s Department of Materials, a commonly used sugar-based additive has been found to have properties that are near magical. By adding minute amounts of it during the fabrication of organic semiconductors, they have been able to dramatically increase yield and control crystallization, which could, in the near future, make the technology not only cheaper and more accessible, but also enhance its performance. Results of their study are published in the recent issue of the journal Nature Materials.

UC Santa Barbara Engineering

Hydration dynamics as an intrinsic ruler for refining protein structure at lipid membrane interfaces

April 24th, 2013

The structural properties of a membrane-associating protein at the water–membrane interfaces are intimately linked to its biological function, but they are difficult to characterize using existing biophysical tools. We identify the existence of a distinct intrinsic gradient of water diffusion across the lipid bilayer, encompassing a thick surface hydration layer above the lipid membrane surface, and debut an approach to exploit this gradient as a highly sensitive ruler to determine the topology, immersion depth, and location of a membrane associating protein, including the segments residing well above the membrane surface, that are otherwise difficult to resolve. This study demonstrates a potential of a broadly applicable approach for the structure–dynamics–function study of membrane proteins, membrane systems, and beyond.

PNAS Online

UCSB Assistant Professors Receive National Science Foundation CAREER Awards

March 12th, 2013

With combined grants totaling more than $1.3 million for their proposals integrating research and education, three assistant professors at UC Santa Barbara have received National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Awards.

Katie Byl, in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering; Theodore Kim, in the Media Arts and Technology program; and Megan Valentine, of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, are UCSB’s CAREER honorees for 2013.

UCSB Press Release

UCSB Faculty Member Awarded Sloan Research Fellowship

February 15th, 2013

David Weld, an assistant professor of physics at UC Santa Barbara, is among this year’s winners of Sloan Research Fellowships from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. He is one of 126 fellowship winners announced Thursday, Feb. 14, by the Sloan Foundation.

The two-year fellowships are awarded to researchers in recognition of distinguished performance and a unique potential to make substantial contributions to their fields. In the last eight years, Sloan Fellowships have been awarded to 16 UCSB faculty members.

UCSB Press Release

STAGE on BBC World Service Science in Action Radio Program

August 15th, 2012

BBC World Service Radio Program Science in Action follows STAGE International Script Competition through its Fifth Cycle.


Winner of the 5th STAGE International Script Competition Announced

August 14th, 2012

Ear to the Edge of Time, by Alana Valentine, wins prestigious 5th STAGE International Script Competition
for best new play about science & technology.

Press Release Details