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18 students in 5 advanced iTeams have taken their projects from FRI, Inventors Practicums, and Faculty Labs further into solutions development this Fall under the mentorship of Dr. Tim Riedel, Dr. Andy Ellington, and Dr. Bryan Davies!


Jessica Selim and Alyssa Cruz, mentored by Dr. Tim Riedel, built off their success in developing a blood agglutination test for COVID-19 to build out an even more generalized agglutination test. They spent the Fall developing an app which can analyze antibody-antigen agglutination by taking a picture of a sample on a smartphone and categorizing it as either positive or negative. They aim for the software to be applicable to many different types of antigen-antibody reactions, including but not limited to COVID-19. In the end, they hope for the app to function similarly to the check cashing feature in many mobile banking apps, which displays prompts to users such as telling them to move the phone closer or further or to take the picture with better lighting. Well done!

Plastics - Worm Composting

Jazzalyn Zou, Emily Samson, Sanjna Bhatia, and Satya Chintapalli, mentored by Dr. Tim Riedel and Dr. Andy Ellington, are developing a plastic composting system using friendly mealworm farms! They've set up worm systems and having carefully monitored their plastic-eating habits this Fall. Sanjna presented and won an award at the Fall Undergraduate Research Symposium (FURS). Additionally, HEB has generously given a gift in support of this research. Way to go!

Polyacrylamide Degradation

Nick Gibson, Zach Mann, Manav Patel, Rahul Venna, and Devang Deepak have continued to develop their protocol for a naturally degrading polyacrylamide (PAM), a substance used commonly in the oil & gas industry to increase material recovery, but that can lead to costly clogging and water pollution. Due to the unique challenges of working together in the lab in COVID-19, this team creatively partnered with the Plastics (Worms) iTeam to determine a pathway for PAM utilizing the power of plastic-degrading worms! This team is mentored by Dr. Tim Riedel and Dr. Andy Ellington. Stay tuned for future developments!

Natural Products

Dr. Andy Ellington mentors this iTeam of students (Nicole Garza, Destny Agubuzo, Henry Trentham, Maxine Wolters, Mbolle Ekane, Shubhi Nanda) who are researching options for natural therapeutics which could alleviate the spread or symptoms of COVID-19. By combining their understanding of genetics, chemistry, and biology in collaboration with Dr. Ellington's synthetic biology expertise, these students are researching products which might be more affordably and efficiently through natural pathways to aid in the spread of COVID-19. Onward! Read their post in UT News.

Antibiotic Resistance

Dr. Bryan Davies mentors this team of iTeam students led by Aileen Hu, Edson Santos, and Joseph Graham. They've delved into research and publicly available data sets this semester seeking to understand the extent of antibiotic resistance in communities in the states and globally as well as the market which surrounds the use and manufacturing of antibiotic products. Good going!