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Summer Poster


Rajesh Burela, 2014 Summer ScholarRajesh Burela

2014 Summer Scholars and Artists Program award recipient

Major: Integrative Neuroscience (formerly Psychobiology)

School: Harpur College of Arts and Sciences

Project Title: The Role of Digestion on Nanoparticle Physical and Chemical Properties

Project Description:

Nanoparticles, which are increasingly used in food and food-packaging applications, are uniquely reactive with human cells. Yet, there is a critical lack of knowledge about how ingestion of engineered nanoparticles affects small intestinal functionality. In addition, the acids, enzymes and pH fluctuations that occur during digestion could all dramatically alter the physical and chemical properties of consumed nanoparticles. The objective of this work is to screen a library of nanoparticles used in commercially available food and food packaging to learn how digestion affects nanoparticle size and shape, state of dispersion, physical and chemical properties, surface area and surface chemistry. This data will contribute toward testing the hypothesis that ingestion of some types of nanoparticles can alter mineral and nutrient absorption, change gene and protein expression, initiate inflammatory activation, modify mucus layer composition, vary microflora populations and result in adverse physiological consequences.

Rajesh’s faculty mentor is Gretchen Mahler, assistant professor of bioengineering, Thomas J. Watson School of Engineering and Applied Science.

A quick Q&A with Rajesh:

Where is your hometown?

I live in Monroe, N.Y.

Why do you think research is important?

It is important for me to do research because, first, it is my passion and goal to further our understanding of science. Nothing is cooler. Second, I hope to conduct medical research as a career, so having this early start opens the door for endless opportunities.

What are your future plans?

After graduation, I hope to attend medical school.

Do you have any hobbies?

My hobbies include playing sports, volunteering in my community and listening to music.

Can you share a fun fact about yourself?

I like to make song mixes and DJ in my spare time.

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Last Updated: 5/12/14