Plate Reader for Chemical, Paper and Bioengineering Undergraduate Labs

Project Title: Plate Reader for Chemical, Paper and Bioengineering Undergraduate Labs

Project Lead’s Name: Jason Berberich


Phone: (513) 529-0772

Please Choose the Primary Affiliation: CEC

Are There Other Project Team Members?: Yes

Other Project Team Member: Justin Saul

Other Project Team Member: Hui Wang

Brief description of project: The purpose of this project is to obtain a plate reader system that will allow the detection of UV-visible light for quantitative chemical engineering and bioengineering laboratories used in student lab courses (CPB 102, 311, 451) and design/research projects (CPP 471 and X77). CPB has developed multiple laboratory and student projects that require the use of spectroscopic methods. For example, a plate reader is used for an enzyme-kinetics laboratory in the Introduction to Chemical and Bioengineering course (CPB 102). Students in CPB 102 currently conduct an enzyme kinetics laboratory in order to learn to process and analyze data sets similar to those that they may encounter in the sophomore-senior curriculum. However, students are not currently able to use the plate reader because it is primarily for research purposes. The purchase of this plate reader system would allow these students to interface with the plate reader hardware and associated software in order to better understand the physics, chemistry, biological, and engineering aspects of the laboratory. The advantage of a plate reader over basic desktop spectrometers, is the ability to use much smaller amounts of materials (200 microliter versus 3 mL) and the ability to analyze multiple samples at one time (typically 64 samples). These abilities are especially important when performing analysis with expensive reagents (e.g. enzymes, cells, antibodies, quantum does, gold nanoparticles).

Does this project focus on graduate student education or graduate student life?: No

If yes, please explain: The emphasis of this proposal is on undergraduate education for freshman chemical engineering and bioengineering students (CPB 102: Introduction to Chemical and Bioengineering) and upper level laboratory courses (CPB 451 and 311). In addition, the system would be useful to senior students working on their capstone design projects (CPB 471/472) in areas that require chemical and/or biological assays. The proposed hardware and software would also be useful in several areas of on-going research in the department. This equipment would therefore positively impact graduate students working on thesis projects in chemical engineering related to enzyme development and modification (Berberich), environmental engineering (Almquist), and biomedical materials (Saul, Sparks, and Yousefi).

Describe the problem you are attempting to solve and your approach for solving that problem.: A key challenge in the education of engineering students is to have hands-on learning experiences in the engineering sciences. Chemical Engineering students at Miami University take two unit operations courses, but this is typically in their 4th year. Similarly, Bioengineering majors have several laboratory opportunities within their coursework in the engineering division, but most of these laboratory experiences occur in the junior or senior year. Pedagogically, it is recognized that engineering students should be engaged in the engineering sciences through hands-on experiences as early in their curriculum as possible. CPB 102 is the course taken by nearly all chemical engineering and bioengineering majors at Miami (although MME 102 and ECE 102 can be taken instead). The point of these 102 courses (CPB, MME, and ECE) is to actively engage freshman students in the engineering sciences during their first year. Aspects of the CPB 102 course include computer-based laboratories (so-called "dry labs") that focus on use of engineering tools (computer software), data analysis, unit conversions, logic sequences, and algorithms for solving problems. However, several "wet labs" have been developed for these students to expose them to a wider array of engineering experiences. One of these experiences is an enzyme kinetics laboratory that allows students to analyze relatively large data sets requiring the use of skills gained in the previous computer laboratories.

There are two aspects related to this laboratory that would be improved by the proposed plate reader. First, this equipment would allow faculty to develop enzyme kinetics laboratories that change from year to year or to modify the laboratory to other life-science systems such as cell growth kinetics (e.g., measured by optical density readings of genetically-engineered microbes) or receptor-ligand interactions. The second benefit would be that equipment dedicated to undergraduate training would be available for student use. The current enzyme kinetics laboratory conducted as part of CPB 102 uses a colorimetric assay. An instructor currently manages this laboratory because the plate reader used to take the measurements is primarily dedicated to research. Because the current plate reader is primarily for research (and is heavily used in that regard), the instructor conducts all of the plate reader runs with minimal student use of the actual hardware and software system. This additional non-research focused plate reader would allow direct student interface with the plate reader.

The criteria state that technology fee projects should benefit students in innovative and/or significant ways. How would you describe the innovation and/or significance of your project?: Enzyme kinetics are an important tool used in the natural and engineering sciences. Use of standard spectrometers are widespread, but makes collecting large data sets difficult. The plate reader approach to this laboratory exposes students to the capabilities and challenges associated with relatively large data sets. Students learn key aspects of data analysis as well as concepts related to error and statistical analysis. Thus, the innovation in this project lies in the ability to conduct well-known enzyme-substrate chemical reactions (or similar biologically-based experiments as noted above) within the context of data sets of a size suitable yet challenging for freshman engineering students.

How will you assess the project?: The project will be considered a success if multiple student groups can conduct a lab utilizing the plate reader; if senior design projects that require the use of the plate reader are implemented; and if the plate readers are used to support undergraduate and graduate research and independent studies. The value to students will be assessed by their increased knowledge, awareness, and critical thinking skills related to analytical chemistry, data acquisition, and data analysis. Such criteria will be assessed further by the number of labs, research papers, technical posters, and presentations that were written containing data from the plate readers.

Have you applied for and/or received Tech Fee awards in past years?: Yes

If funded, what results did you achieve?: The PI of this proposal (Jason Berberich) has received 2 previous tech fee awards. The first (in 2016) was used to refurbish an old FTIR in the department. The FTIR is now used by undergraduates in CPB and MME for design projects and independent research projects and graduate students for research. The second (in 2017) was used to purchase UV-vis spectrophotometers for use in the undergraduate labs of CPB 311 and CPB 451. These spectrophotometers are presently being used for kinetics lab experiments. They are also available for student use on undergraduate research and design projects. We expect to submit a final report for the FY17 tech feed upon final implementation.

Did you submit a final report?: Yes

What happens to the project in year two and beyond? Will there be any ongoing costs such as software or hardware maintenance, supplies, staffing, etc.? How will these be funded?: It is anticipated that this equipment will be used for many years in the CPB curriculum due to the importance of this laboratory for freshmen chemical engineering and bioengineering students. As noted earlier, the faculty listed above lead engineering design capstone teams (CPB 471/472) each year that would use this equipment on a regular basis each year in the foreseeable future. Existing computer and software resources are expected to be adequate for 3 - 4 years and we propose to maintain a service agreement with this equipment. The use of the engineering fee may also be appropriate for maintenance costs at such a time as the service agreement is allowed to expire.

Budget: Hardware

Hardware Title(s) & Vendor(s): Synergy HTX Model S1A Plate Reader; Made by Biotek (sold by Fisher Scientific)

Hardware Costs: $16,247.37

What is the total budget amount requested?: $16,247.37