Meet the Researcher - Sophia Barber

Breakout Room: 18

SophiaBarberResearcher Name: Sophia Barber
Co-Presenter: Sophia Ibarguen
Title of Research: Nanotechnology and medicine: Battling cancer one hybrid bio-nanoparticle conjugate at a time
Division Representing: Chemistry
Institution: Pasadena City College
Institution Location: California
Home State: California
District Number: 27
Advisor/Mentor: Jared Ashcroft
Funding Source: National Institutes of Health BUILD PODER Award Number RL5GM118975; National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education
Scholarships: 2021 Goldwater Scholarship by Pasadena City College 

Research Experience:   Sophia Barber is a second year Molecular and Cell Biology major at Pasadena City College with a 4.0 GPA. She currently works at Pasadena City College tutoring both Biology and Chemistry, is the External Vice President of the Pi Club, the Event Coordinator and ICC representative for the Caduceus Club, is an active member of the Alpha Gamma Sigma Honors Society, is a Student Research Mentor, is a Dean's Honors student, and is also on the Academic Commission Committee, the Student Services Committee, and the ICC Funding Committee. Additionally, in her free time, Sophia decided to teach herself Python and is now leading the research project Studying Statistics in Python. In the future, she hopes to become a physician-scientist studying preventative measures for Alzheimer's disease. Together, Sophia Barber and Sophia Ibarguen lead three research projects: Nanotechnology and Medicine, Statistical Analysis with DataClassroom, and the Analysis of Remote Research in COVID-19.

Presentation Experience: 
In November of 2019, Sophia Barber completed the poster: Pharmacokinetics: Determining the function that best represents the decrease in the concentration of two drugs in the body, which was presented at the HTCC Conference at University of California, Irvine. In July of 2020, Sophia Barber and Sophia Ibarguen created the poster Converting a General Chemistry Class to a Remote Format: the analysis of a simulated integration using DataClassroom, Jupyter Notebook, nanoHUB, and Canvas, which Sophia Barber presented at the MNTeSIG Live! 2020 conference. In October of 2020, they presented their work at the NSF ATE Principal Investigator's Conference. Sophia Barber presented Statistical Analysis: Building a Strong Foundation Through the Use of DataClassroom, Excel, nanoHUB, and Canvas. Sophia Barber also sat on the panel Remote Undergraduate Research to Increase Participation in ATE. Sophia Barber also recently submitted an abstract for a presentation titled Enhancing Student Participation and Understanding of Statistical Analysis in Remote Undergraduate STEM Courses, which was accepted for presentation at the 2021 National Conference on Undergraduate research. 

Significance of Research:       
Antibody conjugated nanoparticles have a multitude of uses in cancer and infectious disease identification and treatment at the cellular level, including enhanced drug delivery, biomedical imaging, and phototherapy. Gold nanoparticles are commonly used in nano therapies due to their high surface area to volume ratio, multi-functional surface chemistry, unique optical properties, and their stable, non-toxic, and non-immunogenic nature. Gold nanoparticles, however, lack antibacterial properties unless ampicillin is bound to their surface.  Silver nanoparticles have antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and anticancer properties yet are toxic to the human body. A rather new development in more effective cancer treatment options is the addition of an antibacterial component to counteract the symbiotic relationship between bacteria and cancer cells within the human body.  We aim to create a gold-silver nanoparticle hybrid so that the best properties of both the gold and silver nanoparticles can be more effective together, treating disease while also allowing gold's inherent properties to limit the negative toxic impacts that silver nanoparticles pose to the human body. Once synthesized, these gold-silver nanoparticle hybrids will then be conjugated to cancer-specific antibodies. The avenues of both passive absorption and covalent linkage are both being thoroughly explored to see which will garner the best results in attempting to conjugate, optimize, and link the core-shell nanoparticles to the cancer-specific antibodies. The project will then enter its next phase of employing ultrafast spectroscopy microscopy in the visible and infrared spectrums to capture the dynamics of the energy flow from nanoparticles to cancer cells.

Uniqueness of Research: 
This Au/Ag hybrid bio-nanoparticle conjugation research is a revolutionary step in the nanomedical field. Not only will these bio-nanoconjugates be able to be used as cancer therapies, but they also have a prospective use in imaging techniques as well.