Esther Stopps

Esther Stopps

Ph.D. candidate in chemical engineering,
Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering


Esther Stopps is a doctoral candidate in chemical engineering in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, is studying ways to make diagnostic tests for disease more definitive, rapid and accurate.

Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) is the most widely used method for detecting disease-related DNA and RNA molecules in a patient sample. However, it requires expensive instruments and longer processing times. In contrast, isothermal amplification reactions occur at a constant temperature, offering rapid and efficient alternatives to PCR that would work well in limited-resource settings. These places are typically characterized by a lack of funds to cover health care costs on individual or societal basis.

Stopps is investigating ways to improve the precision of isothermal amplification reactions by using multi-site DNA receptors to achieve more rapid, definitive responses in the presence of a disease target. She is measuring the reaction speed for different engineered DNA binding and amplification reactions. This data will help in the future design of isothermal amplification reactions that produce large, conclusive bursts of signal in the presence of a disease target.

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Gary Dunn

Gary Dunn

Ph.D. candidate in microbiology,
Department of Microbiology & Immunology


Gary Dunn is studying the herpes simplex virus-1 (HSV-1). This pervasive virus causes life-long infection in people.

HSV-1 infects approximately 80% of people globally and results in various diseases, from the common cold sore to more severe outcomes like blindness and brain infections. These diseases result from viral infection of skin cells and neurons. However, laboratory propagation and experimentation with HSV-1 often rely on cells from mammals, such as the African green monkey, that HSV-1 would not encounter in the natural world.

Dunn’s research explores how the cell type in which HSV-1 is produced, from non-human mammals versus human skin cells, changes various aspects of HSV-1 infection properties and capabilities. Specifically, he focuses on characterizing the unique proteins associated with virions produced from each cell type. He also compares how HSV-1 cell source impacts viral

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Brady Hislop

Brady Hislop

Ph.D. candidate in mechanical engineering,
Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering


Hislop, a doctoral candidate in mechanical engineering in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, is studying whether fluid transport occurs between bone and cartilage in our joints during everyday activities such as walking. His research has the potential to create a new paradigm in joint fluid transport that may impact future studies on joints in health and disease.

Bone and cartilage are two critical tissues within our joints that rely on fluid transport to maintain themselves. However, the current paradigm that bone-to-cartilage fluid transport does not occur has recently been questioned and may suggest that we have been missing a critical mechanism for maintaining joint health.

Hislop’s research examines critical questions surrounding bone-to-cartilage fluid transport. First, does mechanical loading increase bone-to-cartilage fluid transport? Second, does bone-to-cartilage fluid transport permeate cartilage or affect specific regions? Using novel experimental-computational methods, he is providing new data and insight on mechanically driven bone-to-cartilage fluid transport while estimating the underlying mechanics.

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