Edwin Oh

We are a research group that thrives on collaboration. Through our interactions with collaborators, public health labs, and patients we have developed a research program that interrogates the following themes:

1) Wastewater genomics and COVID-19

Wastewater testing has been used for years to investigate viral infections, to study illicit drug use, and to understand the socioeconomic status of a community based on its food consumption. While tools are in place in many states to evaluate the presence of specific viral strains, the community has not needed previously to collaborate on a global scale to standardize procedures to detect and manage COVID-19 transmission. In response to this challenge, our laboratories in Arizona, Nevada, and Washington have developed collection techniques and genomic and bioinformatic approaches to harmonize and visualize the impact of SARS-CoV-2 infection and viral mutation rates in communities populated by local citizens and international tourists. Our findings will contribute to the development of best practices in sampling and processing of wastewater samples and genomic techniques to sequence viral strains, an area required for environmental surveillance of infectious diseases, and has the strong potential to improve the clinically predictive impact of the viral genotype on patient care and vaccine utility.

2) Rare neurological conditions

An association between the 16p13.2 copy number variation deletion and seizures has suggested that a) systematic suppression of each of genes in the loci might yield similar neurological phenotypes seen in the 16p13.2 deletion; and b) such genes might be strong candidates for harboring rare pathogenic point mutations. Through these studies, we discovered USP7 as a message capable of inducing abnormal neurological activity in brain organoids, cultured neurons, and loss-of-function mouse models. Together with collaborators at the Foundation for USP7-Related Diseases (www.usp7.org), our studies are centered on the mechanism by which USP7 gene dosage and rare variants can induce pathology. In addition, we have also identified other gene loci that mimic USP7-related disorders in human and animal models.

3) Ciliary biology and neurodevelopmental conditions

Large-scale studies have begun to map the genetic architecture of Schizophrenia. We now know that the genetic contribution to this condition arises from a variety of lesions that include a) rare copy number variants (CNVs) of strong effect; b) common non-coding alleles of mild effect; and c) rare coding alleles that cluster in biological modules. The challenge that has emerged from these studies is the requirement for large sample sizes to detect significant genetic signals. These findings intimate that SZ is genetically heterogeneous and manifesting potentially as a clinically heterogeneous group of phenotypes with discrete physiological drivers. To address this challenge and to complement the ongoing sequencing effort of cross-sectional SZ, we propose to sample individuals with extreme phenotypes (i.e., resistant to treatment: TRS) to potentially discover an enrichment of causal rare variants which would have otherwise not been observed or been difficult to detect in a large, random sampling of SZ. In addition, we will focus on the role of a specific biological module, the pericentriolar material (including the centrosome, basal body, and primary cilium) and how it relates to the development of the brain and behavior through the genomic and functional dissection of PCM1.

Ehsan Vahidi

Dr. Ehsan Vahidi is an interdisciplinary researcher who has crossed traditional boundaries between metallurgical engineering and sustainability sciences. His research takes fundamental environmental engineering and translates this into applied settings, primarily in the mining and metallurgical industries. Dr. Vahidi received his B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees in Materials and Metallurgical Engineering from Sharif University of Technology and the University of Tehran, respectively. After earning his second master’s degree in Environmental Engineering from the University of South Florida, he obtained his Ph.D. from Purdue University in Environmental & Ecological Engineering. Prior to joining UNR as an Assistant Professor in 2020, Dr. Vahidi was a Postdoctoral Associate at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 

Cory Rusinek

Professor Rusinek is interested in electroanalytical chemistry, sensor development, and materials technology. This includes development in both biological and environmental sensing where applications in neurochemical detection, wearable sensors, and environmental monitoring coalesce for tangible impact on society. Prof. Rusinek is also interested in electrochemical methods for fundamental understanding of molten salt chemistry. In Prof. Rusinek’s group, students are exposed to a multi-disciplinary environment, pulling from knowledge in chemistry, electrochemistry, chemical engineering, and materials science.

Maryam Raeeszadeh-Sarmazdeh

Maryam Raeeszadeh-Sarmazdeh joined the University of Nevada, Reno in July 2019 as an assistant professor. Dr. Sarmazdeh was a senior research fellow in the Department of Cancer Biology at Mayo Clinic, Florida from 2017 to 2019 at Dr. Radisky’s lab, during which her work was focused on engineering novel protein-based therapeutics based on natural enzyme inhibitors. Prior to her appointment at Mayo Clinic, she was a postdoctoral scholar at the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department at the University of Delaware at Prof. Wilfred Chen’s lab for 2.5 years. Dr. Sarmazdeh earned her Ph.D. in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville under Prof. Eric Boder’s supervision. There, her research was focused on generating site-specific protein immobilization on the surface and protein engineering using yeast surface display and directed evolution.

Marian Berryhill

My research falls in the domain of cognitive neuroscience. I study how we hold on to a few items in working memory and use them for immediate task demands. My lab investigates what factors matter in getting information into working memory, how we maintain and manipulate information, and how well we retrieve it. For example, we are currently investigating the consequences of familiar and unfamiliar distractor items on older adults’ working memory performance. We use a range of experimental techniques in human participants, some with brain lesions. These include fMRI, fNIRS, tDCS/tACS, and HD-EEG.

Samuel Odoh

My research interests are in theoretical/computational chemistry approaches to explain the properties of materials and to predict materials with better performance. I have experience using density functional theory approaches (DFT), ab initio quantum-chemical methods as well as molecular dynamics (MD) approaches . Examples of materials that I have worked on in the past are: proteins, porous materials (like zeolites and metal-organic frameworks), solids (like Mott insulators, metal oxides, metal oxide surfaces), liquids and
heavy elements.

Craig Smith

Dr. Craig Smith’s professional interests are in Energy Meteorology, Wildfire Meteorology, and Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP). With over 15 years experience in NWP, Dr. Smith has built and runs several applied operational weather decision support systems for Wind Energy companies, public lands managers, and the construction and outdoor event industries.

His works seeks to quantify and improve the predictability of weather-driven variable generators to facilitate and accelerate their integration onto the electrical grid, and determine and improve the predictability of extreme weather-driven processes such as wildfires and high wind events.

Dale Karas

Dale E. Karas is a UNLV Mechanical Engineering PhD student, specializing in energy-efficient materials science fabrication and testing. His research efforts include optical analyses methods for energy-efficient nanomaterials characterization, computer-aided engineering, and advanced materials manufacturing. Prior to joining the Energy & Environmental Materials Laboratory (EEML) in Fall 2015, he obtained his B.S. in Optical Sciences & Engineering and a B.M. in Music Composition from The University of Arizona, where his work experiences involved remote sensing, machine vision, nanophotonic materials fabrication, and illumination engineering/design. He is president of Étendue: The UNLV Student Optics Chapter, representing student members of SPIE and OSA.

Brendan Morris

research in computationally efficient intelligent systems. The lab combines computer vision, machine learning, and pattern recognition to develop “real” solutions. Intelligent systems are those that are able to observe the world, learn from these observations, and understand the environment. The real-time systems are designed to operate continuously and robustly through all operating modes.

Research areas of interest include traffic monitoring and pedestrian safety, activity analysis and assessment, visual object recognition, self-driving cars.

Trabia Mohamed

Overview of current research projects:

Optimization Algorithms and their Applications to Mechanical Engineering Design
Finite Element Analysis of Mechanical Components and Systems
Dynamic Analysis and Control of Mechanical Systems with Emphasis on Flexible Robots
Analysis and Design of Robots and Mechanisms
Biomedical applications of mechanical design
Characterization of biomaterials
Shock Transmission
Characterization of Material Properties under Impact Loading.
Fuzzy Logic Control Applications.