The third week of my summer immersion was rather different than the previous weeks. I had to return to Ithaca for 3 days in order to run the 4-H program that my lab was hosting, which turned out to be very rewarding despite the hard work and preparation put into running it. But while I was in Ithaca, I really solidified what my project was going to be for the rest of immersion.
My lab has an IRB with Dr. Spector to test certain tissue samples with a device that can measure mechanical stiffness of different tissues. Because cancerous tissue tends to be stiffer than normal tissue, it could be advantageous to have some kind of probing device to determine if the stiffness of a tissue in a hard-to-see area resembles that of cancer or normal properties. A collaborator in my lab has developed a prototype of this device, and I will be using it to test different tissue samples provided by Dr. Spector. The device consists of a pressure source attached to a pressure transducer to measure instantaneous pressure. Inside the probe are electrodes spaced at a particular height in the probe, such that when the tissue has distended into the probe far enough to complete the circuit made by the electrodes, you can measure the distance of distension and the exact pressure at which this occurs. From there you can calculate stiffness. Although this is a unique design, it is still in its prototype phase and has a lot of parts and set-up. But it does work, so I will start testing on different tissue samples to further check accuracy in human tissue in the weeks to come.