Ursula Perez-Salas

    Email Address: ursulaps@uic.edu
    College: Liberal Arts and Sciences Department: Physics
    Title: Assistant Professor
    Office: 2278 SES Phone: 312 996 4610
    Participating in the Chancellor’s Undergraduate Research Awards program: Yes

    Research Interest:
    I am interested in understanding the membranes of cells from a physics perspective. My group has been focusing on understanding the structure of membranes. Membranes are not s simple mixture of lipids and proteins forming a simple sheet that delimits the cell's inside from its surroundings. These components organize within this sheet to produce membrane environments that enable complex behavior. The organization results in a "patchy" membrane where certain components of the membrane form domains. These domains can be very small, typically nanometers in size in cells, but when working with model systems these become accessible to being studied by microscopy since the domains can merge becoming microns in size. More recently the group has started to work with real membranes directly extracted from cells which have proven to hold the same behavior as those with only a few components. The lab's goal has been to quantitatively determine the effect of approved drugs, such antidepressants, on the structure of these membranes and relate these changes to their efficacy in alleviating symptoms.
    In addition to structure in the membrane, we are also interested in how lipids move between and within membranes. My group does these experiments at national and international facilities where we do neutron and x-ray scattering.

    Minimum time commitment in hours per week: 8

    Qualifications of a Student:
    The student is selected based on his or her academic performance at UIC, employment and research experience, communication skills, and the result of an interview. Students should have completed Phys 141, 142, and 244. Students in the following majors are encouraged to apply: physics, engineering, biological sciences or other science major. Highly motivated students with other majors can also apply.

    Brief Summary of what is expected from the student:
    This work is part of an international collaboration between UIC and other US and international physicists on the CMS experiment at CERN, the European laboratory for particle physics. The research project will address issues with the use of semiconductor pixel detectors in the CMS experiment. Students can opt to get UIC credit for Physics 392, Physics Research.

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