Travel Report: Chapin Korosec, Physics

August 18, 2017

Chapin Korosec, a PhD student in Physics, received a Graduate International Research Travel Award (GIRTA) in 2016 to further his Master's research in Lund, Sweden. His report:

My master’s project under the supervision of Nancy Forde involves the study of an artificially designed molecular motor called the Lawnmower. The Lawnmower consists of a small central hub, attached to multiple enzyme blades (which act as feet) via flexible and adjustable linker molecules.

The motor can be visualized as a central sphere with multiple legs extending out towards ‘special feet’ that clamp to then destroy their footholds. Because the feet prefer to bind to fresh substrate, the motor effectively biases its own motion. Thermal energy from the surrounding environment randomly kicks the unbound legs around until they find a new foothold. The Lawnmower is expected to remain moving on the track as long as the individual feet bind before complete detachment. The motor was designed and built at Simon Fraser University in the Forde Lab. My planned contribution to this project is assessing the motor properties of the Lawnmower through experiments. Our collaborator Heiner Linke at Lund University, Lund, Sweden, has developed a new and promising bio-sensing assay that allows us to see the central motor hub moving across a substrate, as well as get information on the individual binding events.

The Graduate International Research Travel Award (GIRTA) allowed me to travel to Lund, Sweden to take part in these collaborative experiments which are vital for the completion of my masters project. While in Lund I also had the opportunity to present this work at the “Micronano System Workshop (MSW)” which was an exciting opportunity to connect with many Swedish scientists doing research related to my field. Upon arrival to Vancouver from Sweden, and together with Damiano Verardo (PhD candidate in the Linke lab), our preliminary research was presented at this years Biophysical Society meeting “Engineering Approaches to Biomolecular Motors: From in vitro to in vivo” where we won the “BJ Award for Outstanding Student Poster”

When not in the lab, I also enjoyed exploring southern Sweden. A particularly beautiful memory was my trip to Ven Island. The relatively small island is home to many farmers, small museums, Tycho Brahe’s observatory, silver smiths, cafés, and a whiskey distillery. When you land off the ferry, one can rent a bike for the day and go exploring! I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to further my research through travel provided by the GIRTA.

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