What are you presenting at the conference?

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Before the arrival of clinical symptoms, there are many molecular-level changes in the body that can indicate the presence of a disease. When doctors make a diagnosis, they often look for changes in the concentration of specific molecules, called biomarkers. These changes can be detected using a biosensor that recognizes the target biomarker in a patient’s blood, urine, or other bodily fluid and produces a detectable signal. However, these tests can be expensive and require special storage conditions, preventing their widespread use. I will be presenting my work on the development of portable, inexpensive diagnostic tools which use synthetic receptors, called molecularly imprinted polymers (MIPs), instead of natural receptors, such as antibodies, which are currently used in most diagnostic tests. MIPs have several advantages over antibodies, including lower cost of production and better environmental stability. In this work, I synthesized MIPs on the surface of nanomaterials with unique properties that enable signal production upon binding to protein biomarkers. I am currently working with lysozyme, a biomarker for several diseases including leukemia, multiple sclerosis, and Sjögren’s syndrome. The technology developed in this work could be adapted and applied for diagnosis of a variety of other diseases. Production of small particles from the emissions of human activities in large urban areas are detrimental to human health, leading to approximately 3.3 million premature deaths per year. An important component of these particles are organic particles, which are primarily produced through rapid gas-phase chemistry; however, it has been historically difficult to predict both the production and amount of organic particles in large urban areas. This impacts the ability to reduce the emissions that lead to organic aerosols and the premature deaths. Here, I use data collected from numerous cities around the world to further explore the chemistry that controls organic particle production. I find that I can explain the production of organic particles through differences in the emissions from these urban areas with just four compounds. With this, I have started looking into the impact of reducing emissions associated with these four compounds in a chemistry model to investigate the reduction in premature deaths per year. These results will improve the atmospheric chemistry community’s understanding of organic particle sources and health impacts, and will inform policy maker’s what emissions should be reduced to improve air quality around the world.