Miniproject 1: Integration of peripheral signals indicating energy status in the arcuate nucleus of the hypothalamus – Supervisor Prof. David Spanswick
In this project I studied the effects of three peptides (oxyntomodulin, PYY(3-36) and Ghrelin) on the cells of the arcuate nucleus with a view to determining their mechanisms of action. These peptides play an important role in the regulation of appetite, and in particular, oxyntomodulin is known to suppress appetite and has the potential to be used as an anti-obesity drug so is a very interesting peptide to study.
Miniproject 2: Two-Variable Stochastic Models of Neuronal Integration – Supervisor Dr. Magnus Richardson
For my theoretical project, I used MATLAB to model the dynamics of a neuron. I represented the neuron using two compartments (one for the soma and another for the dendrites) and simulated the synaptic inputs reaching each compartment. Using this model I studied what effect correlating the two inputs or delaying one of the inputs had on the dynamics of the cell and in particular the firing rate.
Miniproject 3: Electrochemical Detection of Serotonin Using Carbon Electrodes – Supervisors Prof. Pat Unwin and Prof. Julie Macpherson
For my final miniproject I looked at the detection of serotonin electrochemically using three different carbon electrodes - glassy carbon (GC), polycrystalline boron-doped diamond (pBDD) and a carbon nanotube (CNT) network electrode. Carbon nanotubes have the potential to make an extremely good electrode material since they have very low background currents which makes the detection of very low concentrations of a species possible. In this project I compared the CNT network electrodes to the two other popular carbon electrodes to see which was able to determine the lowest concentration of serotonin, which had the highest signal/background ratio and which was the most resistant to fouling (where the signal decreases over time as the surface of the electrode is blocked by oxidation products of serotonin).