Student presenting at Senior Symposium, text reads: Sciences

Student Abstracts: Virtual - Panel B (Sciences)


Alvionna Sunaryo, Computer Science &
Claiborne Ngodinh, Computer Science

Image Reconstruction from Force to Vision
Project Advisor: Melody Su

Imagine there exists a plum picking robot, and we wish to have an accurate picture and haptic data of the indentations made on the plum by the robot. While the robot’s camera and sensors would work fine under normal conditions, there are some hindrances that arise due to outside circumstances. For example, if the robot is picking the plum on a rainy and foggy day, the image data could be blurred or unrecognizable. Another scenario could be that the weather itself is normal, but the network connection between the robot and the data collector is unstable, resulting in some image data lost in between short periods of time. Thus, two big questions arise that shaped this project: how do we improve the blurry image and what should the lost images look like in relation to the image data from both previous and future time instances? If we tried to improve or recreate the blurred and lost images alone, it wouldn’t be sufficiently accurate due to the limitation of estimating the size of the indentation when we are picking the plum. Thus, we proposed another idea. By utilizing the force information gained from the robot, we are certain we can improve the quality and the accuracy of the image. However, some obstacles arise during the creation period of the project. Firstly, there are few existing literatures regarding force to image reconstruction. Therefore, we approached this by taking one step at a time, initially incorporating both visual and force inputs into our model and removing the visual input once we have the model working. However, cross-modalities could complicate the model, so how are we going to incorporate both force and vision inputs and have them communicate with each other? Moreover, how can we modify the model so that it outputs the image in real-time? The answer to these questions remains unclear, but discovering the answer to them is the driving force behind this project.


Rowan Scott, Computer Science
Do We Really Need to Clear-Cut Forests to Meet Massachusetts’ State Energy Plan?
Project Advisor: Alan Werner

Climate change has the potential to dramatically impact the Northeastern United States, drawing the need for intense environmental action1 . While Massachusetts is at the forefront, pushing for hefty solar implementation to help reach net zero emissions, the action of allowing clear-cutting forests in the local hill town of Shutesbury for large-scale solar development has brought the solar initiative into question2 . The main points of conflict have been the carbon dioxide (CO2) sequestration potential of forests compared to that of solar CO2 mitigation. Prior to this evaluation, photovoltaic (PV) solar technology and Northeastern Forest CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent) emission impact had been compared, but did not account for degradation rate, embodied carbon, land use, and clear-cutting. While the Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target Program (SMART Program) has incentives to protect potential forests and wetlands by discouraging the use of greenfield sites3 , it is integral to reevaluate the exceptions made for clear- cutting of forests for ground-mounted solar.

In this study, CO2e is calculated for the sequestration potential for an average acre of Massachusetts forest and compared to the CO2e mitigation potential of an acre of PV solar panels on both brownfield and clear-cut land sites. It is suggested that while both sites for solar have far more mitigation potential for CO2e emissions compared to forests annually and over the course of 30 years, brownfield sites have a larger CO2e mitigation payout with less negative environmental effects. Though the Massachusetts Clean Energy and Climate Plan states that rooftop solar is not sufficient to achieve the 20GW of solar by 2050, alternative brownfield sites other than rooftops can make up some of the missing acreage in place of forests. Based on this analysis, clear-cutting forested land to achieve the solar initiative is unavoidable; however, there are steps that should be taken to limit the amount forest land conversions.
1 IPCC, 2021: Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Masson-Delmotte, V., P. Zhai, A. Pirani, S.L. Connors, C. Péan, S. Berger, N. Caud, Y. Chen, L. Goldfarb, M.I. Gomis, M. Huang, K. Leitzell, E. Lonnoy, J.B.R. Matthews, T.K. Maycock, T. Waterfield, O. Yelekçi, R. Yu, and B. Zhou (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press. In Press.
2 Aidun, H., Elkin, J., Goyal, R., Marsh, K., McKee, N., Welch, M., & Finn, S. (2022). Opposition to Renewable Energy Facilities in the United States: March 2022 Edition.
3 Executive Office of Energy Environmental Affairs, Department of Energy Resources. (2018). Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target Program (225 CMR 20.00) Gideline: Guideline Regarding Land Use, Siting, and Project Segmentation


Muskan Shrestha, Biological Sciences
Investigation of a novel VLP-based Chlamydia vaccine candidate
Project advisor: Rebeccah Lijek

Chlamydia trachomatis is a Gram-negative, intracellular bacteria that causes over 2 million infections a year in the US, making it one of the most common sexually transmitted bacterial pathogens. Infection with certain C. trachomatis serovars can cause immunopathology in the uterus and ovaries and lead to severe disease outcomes such as pelvic inflammatory disease, tubal infertility, and ectopic pregnancy if left untreated (Elwell et al., 2016). There is an urgent need for vaccination efforts to curb the increasing infection rates of Chlamydia globally.

C. trachomatis enters host cells via the type 3 secretion system (T3SS) which is a needle- like complex that allows the bacteria to detect host cells and inject effector proteins directly into the cell cytoplasm, thus acting as an essential virulence factor. The tip of the injectosome is composed of the protein CT584, making it a potential target for neutralization by vaccine-induced antibodies as it can prevent C. trachomatis infection by sterically hindering contact between the C. trachomatis T3SS and the genital epithelium (Markham et al., 2009).

In this talk, I will present the rationale and a selection of data from our recent manuscript (Webster et al., 2022) that evaluates the efficacy and immunogenicity of a novel Chlamydia vaccine that targets CT584 in the C. trachomatis T3SS using a virus-like particle platform. In this study, female mice were immunized intramuscularly then challenged transcervically with C. trachomatis. Samples of blood sera and upper genital tract tissues were then evaluated for antibody responses and bacterial burden. It was found that the CT584 VLP vaccine is capable of stimulating passive protection and reducing bacterial burden in infected mice. The data demonstrate that the VLP-based vaccines show potential and warrant further study as a platform for Chlamydia vaccine candidates.
Elwell, C., Mirrashidi, K., & Engel, J. (2016). Chlamydia cell biology and pathogenesis. Nature reviews. Microbiology, 14(6), 385–400.
Markham, A. P., Jaafar, Z. A., Kemege, K. E., Middaugh, C. R., & Hefty, P. S. (2009). Biophysical characterization of Chlamydia trachomatis CT584 supports its potential role as a type III secretion needle tip protein. Biochemistry, 48(43), 10353–10361.
Webster, E., Seiger, K. W., Core, S. B., Collar, A. L., Knapp-Broas, H., Graham, J., Shrestha, M., Afzaal, S., Geisler, W. M., Wheeler, C. M., Chackerian, B., Frietze, K. M., & Lijek, R. S. (2022). Immunogenicity and protective capacity of a virus-like particle vaccine against chlamydia trachomatis type 3 secretion system tip protein, CT584. Vaccines, 10(1), 111.

K.J. Lewis, Physics
An Analysis of Annular Cold Spray Nozzles
Project advisor: Katherine Aidala, David Schmidt

Cold spraying, also known as gas dynamic cold spraying or supersonic particle deposition, is an additive manufacturing technique wherein powder particles are accelerated by a carrier or driving gas passing through a supersonic nozzle and impinged on a substrate. Powders used in cold spray range from a metal, alloy, polymer, or composite powder material. In the past this technique has primarily been used to form protective coatings for surfaces, but the process is also used for the repair and restoration of damaged or worn parts, or to machine a part that would be difficult or impossible to otherwise create1 .

Although cold spray has many benefits over similar fabrication and restorative processes due to less heat stress on the substrate, a key concern arises when considering small, internal surfaces. Cold spray relies on the high velocity of the particles—rather than on their temperature—to bond with the substrate. When repairing an internal surface that is too narrow for the full nozzle to fit into, it must be bent to accommodate the smaller diameter. This bend of the nozzle provides an additional surface for the particles to hit, causing either clogging or erosion of the nozzle interior, depending on the impacting particle’s velocity. In this project, previous radial cold spray nozzle designs23 were assessed and compared with revised versions to determine an optimal design for a radial cold spray nozzle.
1 R. Jones, N. Matthews, C. A. Rodopoulos, K. Cairns, and S. Pitt, “On the use of supersonic particle deposition to restore the structural integrity of damaged aircraft structures,” International Journal of Fatigue, vol. 33, pp. 1257–1267, Sept. 2011.
2 S. P. Kiselev, V. P. Kiselev, S. V. Klinkov, V. F. Kosarev, and V. N. Zaikovskii, “Study of the gas- particle radial supersonic jet in the cold spraying,” Surface and Coatings Technology, vol. 313, pp. 24–30, 2017.
3 Heinz, H., V. Johannes, and V. Heinz. "Fixed inner spray nozzle to supply gas and powder mixture, for painting surfaces, has sleeve and insert, formed so that outer contour of insert forms Laval nozzle with inner contour of sleeve." German Patent DE19961202 (C1), Jul. 26, 2001.