"I decided to apply to the scholars program because I was interested in the opportunity of doing research working one-on-one with a faculty mentor on a project that we both found interesting. I was specifically looking forward to the possibility of integrating my interests in biology and engineering to work on a project that aims to provide alternative treatments to inhibit cancer from metastasizing. My goals for this academic year are to learn new essential laboratory techniques, better understand the mechanical properties of multi-cellular motions generated through the interaction between cancer and healthy cells, be able to predict patterns of movement of cancer cells within tissue-like material when driven by an oxygen gradient, and provide a potential alternative to treat cancer by preventing metastasis after analyzing our experimental results."
Industrial and Systems Engineering, Biology
Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
I am primarily interested in molecular biology, cell mechanics, cancer, and the health disparities gap that exists in our communities. I plan to integrate my primary academic interests (biology and engineering) in order to further explore my research interests.
Academic and Other Awards
- Dean's Undergraduate Engineering Scholarship (2009-2010)
- First Place Award for Best Decision Support System Model (2009)
- Painting Smiles for the Future
- Gators United for Haiti Venezuelan Student Association (VENSA)
- Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE)
- Jewish Student Union (JSU)
- Intramural Soccer
President of Painting Smiles for the Future (Fall 2009 - Spring 2010)/ (Present) Borad of Directors of Gators United for Haiti (Fall 2010- Present) Volunteer Manager of Women’s Soccer Team (Spring 2008 – Spring 2010) Volunteer at Shands Hospital, Gainesville, Fl (Summer 2009) Volunteer First Aid Ambulance Responder, Haifa-Israel (May 2008 – August 2008).
Hobbies and Interests
- Nature, biology, engineering, math, human health, sports, music, dogs, playing soccer, biking, going to the beach, and snowboarding.
Metastasis Mechanics in an Oxygen Gradient
One of the defining characteristics of cancer is the ability of cells to grow out of control and invade other tissues by entering the bloodstream or lymph vessels. After metastasis occurs cancer cells grow in other tissues of our bodies creating tumors and causing serious illness and death. Metastasizing cancer cells may be guided by oxygen gradients, migrating from deep within tissues toward oxygen rich blood vessels. To migrate from deep within a tissue into blood vessels, cancer cells must interact mechanically with healthy tissue cells and the extra-cellular matrix (ECM), forcing these materials out of the migration path. The mechanics of single cell migration is well understood, however here we propose to study the multi-cellular mechanical interactions that occur during metastasis by co-culturing healthy cells and cancer cells in the presence of an oxygen gradient. By obtaining two cell lines (one cancer and one healthy cell line) engineered with different fluorescent proteins we will create a three-dimensional culture in a chamber containing cancer cells attached at the bottom of the surface, and a population of densely packed healthy cells on top. By making the layer of healthy cells with a thickness of at least 200μm, an oxygen depletion gradient will automatically be generated. As cancer cells cross the tissue-like material driven by the oxygen gradient we will monitor their motion as well as the resulting motion of healthy cells through time-lapse microscopy. We hypothesize that when cancer cells migrate through the tissue-like material, they will displace healthy cells and generate multi-cellular circulation patterns. By better understanding the characterizing mechanics of cancer cells in a metastasis-mimicking environment with careful characterization of multi-cellular motions and the mechanical properties of the model tissue, we could develop strategies for new ways of treating cancer and preventing metastasis.