Finalist

Jessica Martinez

Jessica Martinez
– Microscopic Universe –

Department – Chemical and Biomedical Engineering (Postdoctoral Research Fellow) –
Research Field – Microbiology and Polyelectrolyte Multilayers –
How image was captured – Stereoscope Microscope (0.8X Magnification) –

Research Impact & Significance – Adhesion of bacteria to biomedical prosthetics can cause severe and even deadly clinical complications. One of the greatest threats is the potential development of bacterial biofilms, many of which are resistant to antimicrobial agents, such as antibiotics, and even to our natural immune response. The development of bacterial infection after implant surgery often requires removal of the implant, subjecting a patient to additional surgeries and potential medical complications. How bacteria attach to abiotic surfaces is complex and ever evolving, which poses a challenge to scientist engineering bacterial resistant surfaces and coatings. Our research group aims to tackle this challenge by creating polyelectrolyte multilayers (PEMUs), thin film coatings, with unique chemical and physical properties designed to resist the early and late stages of bacterial adhesion. My research investigates the effectiveness of PEMUs constructed with various surface chemistries by challenging them with increasing concentration of biofilm forming E. coli strain ATCC 8739. This image shows E. coli colonies, which developed from adherent bacteria after exposure for 2, 4, and 8 hours (top to bottom) on bare plastic (left) and PEMUs with varying electrostatic charges (right three rows).

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