Honorable Mention - Maria Cabezas

Graduate Student, Department of Chemistry

"Cell Patterning to the Rescue"

Human cells live in a complex environment. They receive information from chemical cues, their neighboring cells, and the surface that they’re attached to. Researchers are interested in how cells respond to changes in their environment. Cabezas and her colleagues in the Mirkin Laboratory are particularly interested in how changes to a surface affects the way that cells attach to that surface.

In this image, HeLa cervical cancer cells (yellow squares) were placed onto a gold-coated surface (black) that contained patterned adhesive proteins that act as Velcro-like anchors. The aim was to get one cell to attach to each protein, and to understand how pattern density and arrangement affects cell attachment and spreading. The surrounding area was decorated with a molecule that prevents cell adhesion.

In some instances, two cells attached to the same spot, which was not ideal. And, during sample preparation an air bubble got trapped between the sample and the glass coverslip, thus resembling the iconic Batman signature.

Technique: Fluorescence microscopy, false coloring

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