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.

Donald Price

A major theme in my research is to understand how species adapt to diverse environmental and biological factors and diverge into new species. The evolutionary changes that permit species to survive and reproduce across a wide range of environments has resulted in a remarkable range of biological complexity.

My research group studies the interplay of behavior, ecology, genetics, and physiology to determine how species adapt to environmental changes and how diversification of populations leads eventually to the formation of new species. One focus of my group is the amazing Hawaiian Drosophila, which boasts up to 1,000 species in several taxonomic groups. Using genome sequencing and gene expression analyses coupled with detailed behavioral and physiological measurements we have identified genes that are involved in temperature adaptation between two species and between two populations within one species along an environmental gradient. We have also identified genes and epicuticular hydrocarbons that are involved in behavioral reproductive isolation and hybrid sterility between species. Initial studies have begun on the interaction with microbes, (bacteria and yeasts) that are important for food, internal parasites/symbionts, and possibly host-plant associations. In collaboration with others, we are also investigating the genetics of Hawaiian bats and birds, Drosophila melanogaster, the invasive Drosophila suzukii, and Hawaiian Metrosideros trees.

Jun Yong Kang

Dr. Kang’s research interests include the development and synthesis of novel organocatalysts, new reaction discovery, synthesis of biologically active organic compounds and biocompatible biomaterials. Especially, N-hetero phosphines will be used as a platform for the synthesis of highly efficient bi-functional organocatalysts. The organocatalysts will be employed for the discovery of new cascade reactions such as asymmetric tandem annulation reaction via a new mode of reactivity, asymmetric fluorination, and the synthesis of biocompatible polymers through Ring-opening polymerization. The developed methodologies will be future applied to the synthesis of biologically active complex molecules.

Rubaiya Murshed

On 2017 Fall, I have started working as a Research Assistant in department of Mechanical Engineering at UNLV. My research is on fabrication and analysis of highly efficient and stable Lead-free Perovskite photovoltaic material to avoid the toxicity of Lead. My current focus is on Cs2SnI6 Perovskite and I am analyzing the effect of additives such as SnF2, Pyrazine and Guanidinum Thiocyanate on the optical and structural properties of that Perovskite. I am also working on the Perovskite device fabrication and its diode characteristics analysis. In future, I would like to work on another novel Perovskite , which is Cs2GeI6. Both this materials are of A2BX6 structured Perovskite and possess promising photovoltaic properties.

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.

Allen Gibbs

My lab uses experimental evolution in the laboratory to study how physiological systems evolve. We subject populations of fruitflies (Drosophila) to stressful conditions and investigate how they evolve in response to stress over many generations. Our current major projects involve flies that have been selected for resistance to desiccation and starvation stress for >100 generations. To understand the relevance of this laboratory research to nature, we have also studied several other types of insects and their relatives, including grasshoppers, ants, desert fruitflies, scorpions, etc.

Shichun Huang

I study the elemental and isotopic compositions of basalts, peridotites, meteorites, and samples returned by NASA missions, and use them to understand the origins and the evolution of the solid Earth and the early Solar System.

Pradip Bhowmik

My interests focus on organic and polymer synthesis in general. More specifically, we are interested in developing novel light-emitting and liquid-crystalline polymers for their multitude applications in modern technology including biosensors. In another project, we are developing ionic liquids based on the concept of green chemistry, and liquid-crystalline and light-emitting organic salts to make them functional materials. Carbon nanotube-based composite materials based on ionic polymers are of significant interest in our group. In recent years, we are also actively pursuing for the development of cisplatin analogs for the development cancer therapy.

Erica Marti

Dr. Erica Marti’s main research interests are in water and wastewater treatment, especially in the area of transforming wastewater for a beneficial reuse (drinking water, irrigation water, etc.). Past work has included understanding the formation of unregulated disinfection byproducts (DBPs) and investigating different methods to prevent their formation. DBPs are created when water is disinfected with chemical oxidants like different forms of chlorine and ozone. We use the chemicals to inactivate pathogens (bacteria, viruses, etc.) but the chemicals can react with other dissolved organics and inorganics to create unwanted byproducts, some of which are toxic. Therefore, water treatment professionals must work carefully to provide the right amount of oxidant for disinfection while minimizing DBPs.
Future research topics include remediation of polluted groundwater, adsorption of heavy metals from wastewater using biochar made from agricultural waste products, uptake of DBPs in plants grown using treated wastewater, and optimizing toxicity assays for DBPs.
Dr. Marti also conducts research in the area of STEM education and has led several Teacher Professional Development programs for integrated STEM lessons and engineering design.

Shahab Tayeb

My research interests span communications, complex networks, and network security. I particularly plan to investigate network protocols (e.g. emerging wireless communications standards), big data analytics, the security and privacy of the Internet of Things and Cyber Physical Systems (e.g. Smart City).