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May 14, 2020
Town Hall Seattle and University of Washington present
UW Engage Science (livestream)
HIV Antibodies, Microbubbles, Laser Light

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Thursday, May 14, 2020, 6:00PM

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Town Hall and UW Engage Science present local graduate students discussing their cutting-edge research. Tune in for a look at the forefront of research in our region, and meet the students who are leading the latest wave of scientific discovery.

It’s been almost 40 years since HIV/AIDS was first reported, so why don’t we have a vaccine that works yet? Meghan Garrett joins us to explain why HIV is a trickier virus than most—and why we have to go back to the drawing board in order to understand how to protect people from infection. Using samples from mother/infant pairs to study immunity against HIV in a natural setting, Garrett explores why some babies born to HIV-infected mothers contract the virus but other babies don’t. She reveals hypotheses about the protective antibodies that mothers pass on to their babies—and outlines how study of these antibodies could help us understand the immune responses needed to protect people from HIV infection.

Meghan Garrett is a Ph.D. student in the Molecular and Cellular Biology program at UW. She studies the immune response against HIV in infected mothers in order to better understand antibodies that might have protected their infants from infection, with the goal of using this knowledge to improve HIV vaccine design.

Countless researchers have devoted their careers to the discovery of new and effective methods of cancer diagnostics and treatment. Sara Keller presents a new submission in this saga with a discussion of her research surrounding cavitating microbubbles and the ways they can be applied in cancer treatment. She explains how contrast-enhanced ultrasound with gas-filled microbubbles is used clinically as a method of visualizing blood flow. Keller demonstrates how ultrasound can also be used as a therapeutic tool; if ultrasound is focused in an area with microbubbles, it can cause a process of expansion and contraction known as cavitation. She outlines the practical applications of the effects of cavitation, ranging from causing highly localized damage to certain areas to enhancing delivery of drugs. Discover how the mechanical forces of cavitating microbubbles can be exploited for the treatment of cancer.

Sara Keller is a fourth-year Ph.D. student in Bioengineering working in the lab of Dr. Mike Averkiou. She studies the use of contrast enhanced ultrasound for cancer diagnostics and therapy.

Did you know your internet is delivered via lasers? Laser light, because of its enormous data rate, is the information carrier of choice in our fiber optic networks. Shervin Sahba brings us an in-depth discussion on the possibility of using lasers for information transfer, delving into the hurdles facing laser light today. Unfortunately, lasers fall flat in free-space, where we instead rely on radio and microwave frequencies for wireless communication. In addition, lasers don’t like moving through air! Temperature variations, fog, and—when communicating between aircrafts—turbulence, are all factors that can deform the beam and corrupt information. Shervin explores the possibility for overcoming these challenges by coupling physics with machine learning to predict and correct these distortions.

Shervin Sahba working in the Applied Math Department, studying methods for controlling the flow of light and forecasting the future, coupling techniques from computational physics, photonics, and data-driven machine learning.

Presented by Town Hall Seattle and the University of Washington.

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