Student Highlight

Alyssa SeunarineChemical Engineering Senior, Alyssa Seunarine, makes strides in development of Potassium Biosensors for Trauma Patients during Undergraduate Summer Research Grant Program

Alyssa Seunarine is currently a senior Chemical Engineering major from Trinidad and Tobago. During the summer of 2016, Alyssa participated in the Texas A&M University’s Undergraduate Summer Research Grant (USRG) Program supported by funding from Hampton University’s Partnership for Research and Education in Materials (PREM). At Texas A&M, she worked in the Department of Biomedical Engineering under the mentorship of the department head, Dr. Anthony Guiseppi-Elie, Sc.D. in the Center for Bioelectronics, Biosensors and Biochips (C3B®). Her project was entitled Potassium Biosensor for the Pathophysiology of Trauma.

Hemorrhage arising from trauma is one of the leading causes of death among persons less than 44 years old in the US. During hemorrhage, spikes in serum potassium ion (K+) levels, believed to originate in the muscle bed, are directly related to decreasing blood pressure. It was hypothesized that these levels could be used as a biomarker to monitor hemorrhage pursuant to trauma and thus, guide resuscitation. Currently, there is no intramuscular, implantable sensor capable of accomplishing the task of monitoring potassium levels in the blood. Utilizing the electropolymerization of conductive electroactive polymers to deposit the K+ ionophore Valinomycin onto a platinum microelectrode (PtµE) to produce sensing electrodes, Alyssa assisted in the design, fabrication and testing a K+-sensitive membrane layer to be applied to PtµE for the continual monitoring of extracellular K+ levels in the muscles.

Alyssa is currently serving as Hampton University’s AIChE (American Institute of Chemical Engineers) chapter President and the SWE (Society of Women Engineers) Vice-President. She played intramural soccer during her freshman and sophomore years and then went on to play on Hampton University’s inaugural NCAA D1 women’s soccer team during her junior year. Upon graduation from Hampton University, she plans to attend graduate school after which, she will return home to Trinidad where she hopes to pursue a career in academia.