Team:Santa Clara

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Santa Clara University is a Jesuit University located in the heart of Silicon Valley. We are at the cutting edge of innovation while still maintaining our roots in traditional Catholic and Jesuit Values. Part of being a Jesuit University means that we are taught not only to think of results and outcome, but the whole journey; where do we come from, how did we get here, who are we now, who are we becoming, and who we want to be. This type of education is unique to Jesuit Schools that put the time and effort into the students as they are rather than whom they want you to be. In other words our education is about the whole self rather than focusing on one aspect of the self. Santa Clara strives to instill upon its students Compassion, Conscience, Competence- or the three C’s. The Three C’s work together to create a well-rounded individual who can succeed at anything.

One thing that our education at Santa Clara has allowed us to do is think critically about problems and think of ways in which to tackle those problems. What this meant for our project is that we were independently of our professors to design, execute, and understand our project. This individualized approach meant that we had to have leadership within ourselves to take the initiative to understand our problem and work collaboratively to produce the best project we could. The professors acted as a support network, only helping if we asked for help. We took a project from start to finish by ourselves and put to work everything that Santa Clara University has taught us.

Our team worked together to create a project from start to finish with little support from seasoned faculty and professors. We conducted our own background research, designed our own protocols, found our own resources, troubleshot our experiments, and critically analyzed everything on our own. None of this would have been possible without the whole rounded education that we received from Santa Clara University.

Achieving greater microbial aciduricity through the Escherichia coli cyclopropane fatty acid system.

Cyclopropane fatty acid (CFA) synthesis is triggered as a response to acid stress in Escherichia coli in order to chemically modify its lipid bilayer and decrease its permeability to surrounding acids. The addition of the cyclopropane ring to fatty acid chains creates a sterically hindered path for acidic compounds attempting to cross the plasma membrane, thereby reducing the passive entrance of unwanted acids. We are aiming to standardize this acid defense system so that it may be implemented in other microorganisms to increase their survival under low pH conditions. By utilizing acid-resistant microbes, it is possible to decrease the running costs of bioreactors that are hindered by acid buildup from metabolic processes. Moreover, given that microbes often transition to stationary phase during acid stress, this CFA system may enable higher cell densities and biosynthetic yields in cell cultures because genetically modified microorganisms may more readily tolerate acidic conditions during growth.