Andrew Jones CropAndrew is a fourth year Biomedical Engineering student at the University of Virginia. He helped re-found the Pi chapter of Theta Tau, a professional engineering fraternity and served as Risk Management Chair and Vice Regent. He was a Resident Advisor last academic year, and currently is a Senior Resident in the Lambeth Field Apartments. Andrew is a member of Green Dining and is currently working towards bringing a composting option to the residents within the Lambeth Community. He is also involved with the UVA Community Garden, volunteering when he can and serving as a composting consultant for the upcoming addition of a vermicomposting bin.

Eu Lipid Nanoparticle vs ELISA

The lipid nanoparticle (left, 2D slice) can hold thousands of europium ions without inhibiting antibody binding efficiency. Compare to ELISA (right) which is limited to only a few fluorescent molecules bound to each antibody to minimize binding interference.

Throughout his second year, Andrew worked as an undergraduate research assistant for Dr. Alexander (Sasha) L. Klibanov, a world renowned microbubble expert with interests in targeted delivery of therapeutic and diagnostic imaging agents. Immunoassays are in vitro tests that detect the presence of certain factors (e.g. a pregnancy test is an immunoassay that tests for the presence of the hormone human chorionic gonadotropin). This detection is accomplished by transducing the input chemical signal into photons via time resolved fluorescence. These photons are easily detected with the right technology and when compared to a control, the relative intensity can indicate a certain amount of chemical signal present. Andrew’s research focused on developing a new immunoassay technique that would enhance transduction to exhibit a greater signal-to-noise ratio and better sensitivity when compared to the current gold standard, ELISA (enzyme linked immunosorbent assay). This enhanced detection would allow researchers to make predictions and diagnoses sooner, improving science and healthcare.  Andrew worked on developing a europium-labeled lipid nanoparticle that exhibited these characteristics. Andrew and Esha Kapania, a nanomedicine engineer who also worked with Dr. Klibanov, received a nanoSTAR grant to continue research during the summer of 2012. Andrew and Esha created a lipid nanoparticle that demonstrated nanogram sensitivity, roughly the same as ELISA, with a comparable signal to noise ratio due to a higher level of background noise.  With further research, this nanoparticle could soon surpass ELISA in detection sensitivity and is currently being pursued by a team of fourth year biomedical engineers, led by Esha, for a capstone project.

During his time at the university, Andrew worked on a different engineering project each year through his classes. Within engineering, transduction seems to take the role of converting the demand of a consumer (input) into a useable form of technology (output) via innovation and hard work (transduction).  His first year, Andrew led a team of six engineering undergraduates in designing an off-road baby stroller. During his second year, he played a significant role in designing and building a prototype for a medical device to enhance and assist teaching neonatal-intubation to medical students. In his third year, Andrew then worked on a smaller design team to conceptualize a novel lung transportation device for transplantations. Finally, Andrew’s capstone design project focuses on assessing the efficacy of Hermetia illucens larvae in inactivating fecal pathogens within human waste for use in human waste treatment within developing countries that lack the infrastructure, resources and knowledge required for large centralized waste treatment plants. This poses many potential benefits that include removal of a toxic waste, greater food security given that mature H. illucens larvae can be used as a high protein supplement in the livestock feed of poultry, swine and fish, increased income for a facility caretaker, and improved health. Within this capstone project, H. illucens larvae act as agents of transduction to convert human waste into larval mass and ultimately, via livestock, into food for the local population.

Engineering Projects. Top left: First year, off-road baby stroller prototype. Top right: Second year, intuvision headset prototype. Bottom left: Third year, lung pod concept drawing. Bottom right: Fourth year, capstone black soldier fly larvae waste treatment project.

Engineering Projects. Top left: First year, off-road baby stroller prototype. Top right: Second year, intuvision headset prototype. Bottom left: Third year, lung pod concept drawing. Bottom right: Fourth year, capstone black soldier fly larvae waste treatment project.

After reading Nutritional and Physical Degeneration by Weston A. Price, DDS, The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan, and Folks This Ain’t Normal by Joel Salatin, Andrew discovered his passion for agricultural literature and the great need for a new generation of young farmers to replace the aging farmer population. He also began to view farming as the best kind of preventative medicine, as opposed to conventional medicine which often only treats symptoms and can enable patients to continue living the same lifestyles. Andrew quickly became unenthused with the idea of a conventional job. Convinced this was more than a literary interest, Andrew decided to spend the following summer as an intern at Perennial Roots, a permaculture and biodynamic farm in Accomac, VA, to determine if he actually enjoyed farming as an occupation. Andrew quickly adapted to farm life and was able to transduce his newfound passion into tangible results: he was personally responsible for raising 500 chicks, designed and helped build a roof extension for the tool shed, and improved the existing composting program.

Perennial Roots Farm

Perennial Roots Farm

Currently, Andrew plans on acquiring a job after graduation, hopefully related to his capstone project or agriculture. Ultimately, he aspires to own and operate his own diversified alternative farm and start this venture by 2020.

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