Graduate engineering student
Presenting a paper on his research at a professional symposium and leading a team that is working on a research project to develop a new type of nanoscale wire for use in sensors is all part of a day’s work for David Araujo, a graduate student in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering.
Araujo, who grew up in the Caldwell-Nampa area, is working with engineering professor Dr. Bill Knowlton on an interdisciplinary research project that involves using strands of collagen, the most abundant protein in the human body, to develop biomolecular nanowires. The wires would form the backbone for possible biomolecular nanoscale sensors that could be used for a range of applications, from identifying biological agents such as anthrax, to being packaged inside pills and ingested by patients to remotely detect disease or other health issues.
Araujo presented a paper on his research, titled “Self-Assembled Collagen Fibrils as Novel Biomolecular Nanowires for Sensor Applications,” at an Environmental Sensing Symposium held at Boise State in late October. The symposium, sponsored by the university’s Environmental Sensing Center and the Inland Northwest Research Alliance, attracted researchers from throughout the United States.
The project is part of a larger biomaterials research project at Boise State that involves researchers in biology, materials science and engineering, electrical and computer engineering and other fields. The research is funded by the U.S. Department of Defense. The co-investigators on the project include materials science and engineering professor Dr. Amy Moll, biology professor Dr. Julie Oxford and electrical and computer engineering professor Dr. Wan Kuang.
Inside the SPM Systems and Nanofabrication Laboratory in the Engineering and Technology Building at Boise State, Araujo oversees a team of students on the project, including materials science and engineering majors Patrick Price and Jason Brotherton; mechanical and biomedical engineering major Jonathan Henderson and graduate biology student Kendra Coonse.
Araujo has now worked in Knowlton’s lab for about three years, after being recruited by Knowlton as an undergraduate to work on an interdisciplinary project to study the structure and strength characteristics of cartilage. The experience in Knowlton’s lab led Araujo to be an author or co-author on eight publications and presentations at conferences.
Araujo says that the hands-on lab work enables him to utilize the theoretical knowledge he learns in classrooms, as well as to develop close working relationships with engineering faculty. “It’s very satisfying to work in a lab on a project that has the potential to benefit society,” Araujo added.