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Departmental Resources: Careers

UROP Postings

The Department routinely receives notices of UROP opportunities and lists them here as a service to members of the MIT community. The positions have not been screened, nor verified to be available. Nor are they endorsed by the Department.

For more information, visit MIT's Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP).

Department: Chemical Engineering
Faculty Supervisor: Prof. Kristala Jones-Prather

Mentor: Lisa A. Anderson, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Researcher

Research Category: metabolic engineering and synthetic biology

Project Title:
Combinatorial assembly, screening, and functional characterization of recombinant glucaric acid pathway in S. cerevisiae

Research Description:
Glucaric acid is one of the top value added chemicals from biomass according to a 2004 report from the U.S. Department of Energy. The Prather lab has developed and optimized a synthetic pathway in E. coli to generate glucaric acid from glucose, and is interested in porting the pathway into yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. S. cerevisiae offers a number of potential advantages in addition to its acid tolerance, including genetic stability through chromosomally integrated constructs, years of experience working with it in large scale fermentations, and high glycolytic flux potentially leading to high productivity.

The project consists of two phases to optimize the biosynthetic route to glucaric acid from glucose in S. cerevisiae: Phase 1) building and testing a homologous enzyme library; and Phase 2) building and testing an alternative promoter library (performed in collaboration with the Voigt Lab, MIT BE). With an intelligently designed set of synthesized constructs containing both a library of promoters and enzyme homologues, permutations of these pathway components can be evaluated and globally optimized.

Role of UROP and skills required:
A strong understanding of molecular biology and analytical chemistry is desired. The undergraduate researcher will perform cloning and DNA assembly using molecular biology techniques (e.g. PCR, gel electrophoresis, cell culturing) and analysis of biosynthetic pathway intermediates with HPLC, LC-MS, and GC-MS. The ideal applicant will be an enthusiastic, dedicated, and hard-working individual who can work independently and is not afraid to ask questions. The UROP may have prior laboratory experience. Preference will be given to students who could make long-term work commitments through Fall 2016, or longer.

Anticipated Start Date: June 2015

Posted: April 11, 2016

Department/Lab/Center: Department of Materials Sciences and Engineering /Chemical Engineering
Faculty Supervisor: Michael F. Rubner / Robert E. Cohen
Project Title: Polymer “backpacks” for cell based drug delivery across the blood-brain barrier.

Project Description:

The polymer backpacks are 7-10 μm diameter polymer patches of a few hundreds of nanometers in thickness that can be attached to the surface of living cells for cell-mediated, targeted drug-delivery.
This research project focuses on engineering new approaches for loading and releasing drug payloads from the backpacks. The applications will include using backpacks to carry small enzymes for treating various diseases in the brain and will be tested with in vitro and in vivo models.
The students will be working with (Layer-by-Layer) LbL deposition of enzymes in these backpacks, and will be studying their drug loading and release profiles, as well as performing sample characterization (e.g. NMR, Profilometry, Ellipsometry).

Pre-requisite: Commitment of 20 hours a week starting on June 6th and ending on September 2nd. We are looking for self-motivated, responsible, and detail-focused students interested in polymer and materials sciences, and materials characterization. Prior experience in lab is preferred but not required. We have 2 openings available.

Contact: Please contact Roberta Polak ( with a resume.

Posted: April 4, 2016