Chemical and Biological Engineering Graduate Program
Dept. of Chemical and Biological Engineering

Faculty Advisor: Sean Palecek


My research project involves understanding the Saccharomyces cerevisiae transcriptional response to DNA damage to gain insight into how cells sense and repair different types and doses of DNA damage. I will use genomic experiments and develop novel models to relate changes in gene expression to molecular pathways regulating the DNA damage responses. In addition, I will construct yeast-based biosensors for quantitative detection of DNA damaging agents. This project combines skills and approaches in biology, chemical engineering, and bioinformatics. Many carcinogenic compounds can be found in water and soil supplies, and many assays exist too test for these chemicals. Most of these tests are time-consuming and expensive, and they are often ineffective against unknown toxins. Harmful chemicals can cause DNA mutations such as single strand lesions, double strand breaks, covalent crosslinks, and base pair mismatches. While some DNA mutations are beneficial in allowing cells to adapt to changes in the environment, most mutations are detrimental. For this reason, one of the most crucial tasks a cell performs is detecting and repairing DNA damage. To prevent damage from permanently altering the genome, cells must recognize it has occurred and shut down the cell cycle until the damage can be repaired. My hypothesis is that a yeast-based cellular biosensor can be developed which will be sensitive to both identified and currently unknown DNA-damaging agents.


  • Benton, M. G . and C. S. Brazel (2002). “Comparison of Kinetiics for Solution Polymerization of Poly(methyl methacrylate) in Green Ionic Liquid Solvents Versis Traditional Volatile Solvents.” Polym. Prepr. 43 : 881-882.
  • Benton, M. G . and C. S. Brazel (2002). Effectiveness of Room temperature Ionic Liquids as Replacements for Volatile Organic Solvents in Free Radical Polymeraization. Ionic Liquids: Industrial Applications for Green Chemistry . R. D. Rogers and K. R. Seddon. Washington, D.C., American Chemical Society Symposium Series. 818: 125-133.
  • Brazel, C. S., G. S. Maddox, M. F. Grarcia, L. M. Savoy, M. G. Benton and A. M. Thornton (2002). “Fundamental Chemical Differences between Polyacidic and Polybasic Materials for the Design of pH-Responsive Systems.” Proceed. Int. Symp. Control. Rel. Bioact. Material. 29 (007).
  • Brazel, C. S., M. P. Scott, M. G. Benton and M. Rahman (2002). Plasticizing Effects of Imidazolium Salts in PMMA: High Temperature Stable Flexible Engineering Materials. Ionic Liquids as Green Solvents: Progress and Prospects . R. E. Rogers. Washington, D. C., American Chemical Society Symposium Series.

Search PubMed for Publications