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Growing a New Whip

6/21/2011

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Bacterial cells can swim and use for this purpose one or more flagella, whiplike appendages that exceed the length of the cell severalfold. The flagella are made of many thousand copies of a protein called flagellin, arranged in a helical fashion such that the flagella are hollow inside, forming a very long channel. When the flagella are rotated by the cell counter-clockwise, the cell swims straight; when they are rotated clockwise, the cell turns to a new direction. Through swimming and turning the cell searches its habitat for food and avoids trouble. But sometimes a flagellum breaks and needs to grow back. At this point starts an amazing process: the cell makes new flagellin and pumps the unfolded protein into the flagellar channel, extending its length. This is like squeezing toothpaste out of a tube, except in reverse, like pumping toothpaste into the tube at the toothpaste factory, and the tube is extremely long. Now researchers have described the process that makes flagella grow step-by-step through a combination of mathematics, physics, and molecular modeling using NAMD. As reported, the researchers reproduce the time course of growth as well as the length of the growth and also explain how friction of the protein paste is kept extremely low to make the flagella grow many times the length of the cell itself. More information here.

1/7/2014 Maryland Robotics Center

LOOKING FOR A RESEARCH CHALLENGE?

The University of Maryland’s Maryland Robotics Center, with support from the National Science Foundation, is offering exciting research opportunities for undergraduate students in the area of miniature robotics. These small robots, with overall sizes between 1 mm and 100 mm, have the potential to significantly enable or enhance capabilities in manufacturing, medicine, reconnaissance, exploration, food safety, and search and rescue. Because of their size, miniature robotics offer a truly interdisciplinary systems research challenge that encompasses mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, materials science, and computer science—among other topics!

PROGRAM FEATURES

• 10-week research experience: June 2 to August 8, 2014
• Placement in a robotics lab with faculty and graduate student mentors
• Weekly research and development seminars
• Field trips to national labs doing work in miniature robotics
• All students receive a $5,000 stipend, and non-local students will also receive housing and a travel allowance

HOW TO APPLY

Complete the application, available online at ter.ps/roboreu.
APPLICATION DEADLINE: FEBRUARY 23, 2014

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Visit our website for additional details, sample project descriptions, application materials, and more!

ter.ps/roboreu