Mentor: Dr. Laurie Gower
College of Engineering
"Research has always been an interest of mine from a very early age. My first research experience at the Scripps Research Institute led me to realize that research is a powerful tool to discover and create novel treatments that can improve global health. Ever since my experience at Scripps, I have been involved in research in various different fields such as cardiovascular tissue engineering, orthopedic biomechanics, and brain cancer. By conducting research not only do I have to opportunity to explore unknown topics and gain understanding of different subject areas but I find the intellectual pursuit aspect of research particularly enjoyable. My lifetime aspiration is to engineer an artificial organ or develop a novel medical treatment or device that can have global impact on human health. This aspiration is the driving force and motivation for all my hard work and dedication to research."
- Tissue Engineering
UF University Scholars Program
Amgen Scholars Program at UC Berkeley
Outstanding Poster Award at Rice University
NSF Travel Fellowship
- Malcom Randall VA Hospital
- Stop! Children's Cancer Event
- Noche De Gala Event
Hobbies and Interests
- Helping Others Through Community Service
Effects of Acidic Proteins on the Formation of Calcium Oxalate-based Kidney Stones
Kidney stone formation occurs in supersaturated conditions in various regions of the kidneys, ureters and urinary bladder. The majority of kidney stones are considered to be stones composed of a calcium oxalate and calcium phosphate composite. Previous studies of stone formation hypothesize that there are several general pathways for kidney stone formation. Stone formation is thought to begin in either the tubular fluid, where mineral crystals nucleate under varying conditions, or at the renal papilla where multi-layer stones are composed of a calcium phosphate core, known as Randall’s plaque, and layers of calcium oxalate overgrowth. However, the exact mechanism and urinary environment that governs stone formation remain to be elucidated. This project will focus on understanding the conditions under which these calcium oxalate / calcium phosphate stones form. We hypothesize that acidic proteins present in urine are responsible for a non-classical mineralization process, which results in the multi-layer morphology of these idiopathic kidney stones. We will test this hypothesis by creating a supersaturated environment of artificial urine and a negatively charged polymer (polyaspartic acid) which serves as a mimic for the acidic proteins. While the ionic conditions of urine vary depending upon the location within the nephron, we will develop an in vitro model based on the highest ionic concentrations that are found in the collecting duct of the nephron. We will determine the effects of varying concentrations of the polymeric additive on the morphology of the formed calcium oxalate mineral as determined by optical microscopy and scanning electron microscopy. Once we refine the experimental conditions using polyaspartic acid, we will then conduct experiments to study the role of the acidic protein osteopontin on calcium oxalate formation. The immediate goal of these studies is to identify the conditions necessary to replicate the formation of calcium oxalate overgrowth layers as found in idiopathic kidney stones. By understanding the mechanism and conditions that elicit stone formation, therapeutic approaches can be developed to reduce or eliminate formation of stones and pain associated with kidney stones.