Miniature fluorescence detectors enable CE-TDA

Laura and Kevin’s paper on the development of a miniature, low cost, 3D printed fluorescence detector was recently published in Analytical Chemistry. There, they describe design considerations and optimization strategies for these detectors, and illustrate the ability to identify peaks in CE separations without the need for standards via CE-TDA. You can read more about it here.

Congratulations Laura Casto, Ph.D.

On March 26th, Laura Casto became the first Ph.D. graduate from the Baker Bioanalysis Lab. In her time here she published two papers, with a 3rd in submission. Her work over the past few years has focused on the development of technologies for low cost electrophoresis, including electrophoresis in paper-based microfluidics, and miniature, low cost fluorescence detectors for CE. Laura has won numerous honors as a graduate student, including poster awards at UTK’s Women in STEM symposium and the Chemistry department’s Board of Visitor’s meeting, and a summer research fellowship from Eastman Chemical. She has proven to be a talented educator, having served as instructor of record for a general chemistry course in the spring semester of 2019. Laura is leaving our group to start a postdoctoral position at the Space Science Lab at UC Berkeley. We couldn’t be more proud of Laura and her accomplishments, and we can’t wait to see what her future holds!

Congratulations Alex Anderson, M.S.

Today Alex Anderson became the first Baker lab alumna. She defended her master’s thesis entitled Studies in hydrogel microfluidics and development of low cost imaging for quantitative TLC in the undergraduate teaching laboratory. During her time in the Baker Bioanalysis Lab, Alex studied novel approaches to microfluidic device fabrication, developed and implemented undergraduate curriculum for the senior-level analytical laboratory, and investigated low cost imaging strategies for quantitative TLC. 

Congratulations, Alex. Good luck with your next chapter, we’ll miss you!

Laura Casto is a 2018 Eastman Fellow

Congratulations to our group member Laura Casto, who was awarded the 2018 Eastman Chemical Fellowship in Analytical Chemistry or Polymer Characterization. The fellowship will fund Laura’s research on 3D printed fluorescence detector arrays (shown below) for the summer semester. Great job, you’re killing it, Laura!

Microdroplet laccase sensor featured by UT-ORNL Science Alliance

Our microdroplet-based laccase sensor project, funded by the Joint Directed R&D program, was featured by the UT-ORNL Science Alliance. You can read about it here.

The project is focused on developing a microdroplet array sensor for high throughput screening of conditions that promote laccase secretion in fungal cell cultures. Our ORNL collaborator, Jessy Labbe, is an expert in the field of fungal genetics.

Thanks for a great summer, Victoria!

One of the highlights of our summer is UTK Chemistry’s REU program, in which talented young scientists from universities throughout the region join our department for 9 weeks to gain hands on experience in the various research programs our department has to offer. This year, the Baker Bioanalysis Lab hosted Victoria Norman, a senior chemistry major from North Carolina A&T. Victoria worked closely with postdoc Marlene Dugger to develop detection systems for our droplet microarray project. The project was recently funded by The Science Alliance under the UT/ORNL JDRD program, and focuses on a visible absorbance assay conducted in nL droplets for high throughput screening of fungal enzyme production. Victoria developed a prototype 532 nm transillumination and CMOS imaging system, and characterized the specificity and dynamic range of the detection system.

Our whole lab is grateful for Victoria’s strong work, and we’re sorry to see her go. Good luck in your senior year, Victoria! Don’t be a stranger!

First String Theory Win the BBL Party Cup!

This year’s BBL Summer games pitted “First String Theory” (Laura, Marlene, and Ovi) against “The Iron (IV) Maidens” (Meagan, Alex, Sara, and Victoria) for the coveted BBL Party Cup. On the hottest day of the year, the teams raced all over campus and downtown to solve clues and take the most creative photos at Knoxville landmarks and establishments. Meanwhile the boss sat in a comfy, air conditioned armchair receiving and scoring photos via text message. Teams were awarded bonuses for style and speed, and the best photo of the day won a cash prize! Here are some of the highlights:















Marlene and Laura shoot the cover for their upcoming rap album at The Rock.


Alex and Meagan find some inner peace at 2nd creek. Namaste!



The Iron (IV) Maidens stop for a few essentials at Mast General Store
Getting a little cocky! First String Theory take their time with a drink at The Peter Kern Library.
Iron (IV) Maidens win the style bonus points AND they win the prize for Best Overall Photo with this one that ask’s King Seti II “What’s in the booooooxxxx??!!”
First String Theory are the first to find the boss hiding in the corner of Downtown Grill & Brewery, earning them first-to-finish bonus points


And the BBL Party Cup goes to….

In a nail-biter finish, First String Theory won the BBL Summer Games with a score of 75 – 71, becoming the third annual recipients of the BBL Party Cup. The whole lab convened at The Downtown Grill & Brewery to celebrate the closing ceremonies of the BBL Summer Games (a.k.a. happy hour). Iron (IV) Maidens are currently plotting their revenge for the upcoming BBL Winter Games.