My name is Nathan Junker. I am a fourth-year undergraduate student who will graduate in the spring with a BS in chemistry. After graduation I plan to work abroad for a year, followed by attending grad school for either pharmacy, chemistry, or chemical engineering. I am working in the White lab under Dr. Celeste Rousseau. We are working to improve our electrochemical aptamer-based (E-AB) sensors which will ultimately be used to detect biomolecules in vivo. These sensors are composed of synthetic DNA strands (aptamers) which fold to bind a particular target, for which the DNA sequence is specific. In E-AB sensors, the aptamers are typically attached to gold electrode surfaces via a gold-sulfur bond though a 5’ sulfhydryl group. These sensors detect target molecules with high specificity due to a conformational change that changes the rate of electron transfer between the Au surface and methylene blue, a redox reporter covalently attached to the 3’ end of the aptamer. Self-assembled monolayers are adsorbed on the electrode surface to prevent fouling and nonspecific redox reactions from occurring at the gold surface. I am studying the effects of using ethanol as a solvent in the preparation of the self-assembled monolayer as well as the effects of identity of the self-assembled monolayers with an emphasis on the longevity of the sensors.
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