Tuesday, April 19, 2016

URSP Student Mahmoud Namazi Researches Molecular Dynamics of Copolymer in Explicit Solvent and Data

I first became interested in research on the Poly lactic-go-clycolic acid (PLGA) copolymer after previous research with my advisor, professor Blaisten-Barojas, on a molecule called Met- enkephalin which is an endogenous opoid peptide, which is naturally present in the brain. Professor Blaisten-Barojas suggested we use similar research methods to learn more about the effects of various solvents on PLGA and the conditions under which it undergoes dissociation.
Our research involves running molecular dynamics simulations which allow the modeling of the physical movements of the PLGA molecule under forces imposed by various solvents, such as water and ethyl acetate. The results of the molecular dynamics simulation is a new set of coordinates for the ensemble of molecules involved. Using this, we can look at the changes in the physical structure of the PLGA molecule. On a weekly basis, I can generally be found conducting my research on a computer. Usually, I am setting up the parameters for additional molecular dynamics simulations or writing code which will allow us to analyze the results of such simulations. For example, this week, one thing we discovered through the analysis of some molecular dynamics data was how the end-to-end distance of PLGA changes, in a water solvent.

I would like to be a physics researcher in the future, so the research I am currently doing is exactly what I would like to be doing in the future. Although, in the future, I most likely won’t be working on this exact topic, the experience and possible publications that come with this experience are highly valuable. I consider myself very lucky to have this opportunity and to work with my wonderful advisor, Professor Blaisten-Barojas.