Eastern Oregon University > Academics > EOU Colloquium concludes with a look at biosensor technology

EOU Colloquium concludes with a look at biosensor technology

Professor Anna Cavinato during International Women's Day

EOU Colloquium concludes with a look at biosensor technology

May 18, 2022 LA GRANDE, Ore. – Colloquium, EOU’s faculty academic presentation venue, finishes out the year with a look at research in microfluid devices and aquaculture biosensor development.

On Thursday, May 26, professor of Chemistry Anna Cavinato will present the findings from her 2021 research sabbatical in microfluidics and the development of an electrochemical biosensor for aquaculture applications. 

Cavinato’s presentation will be from 4 to 5 p.m. in Ackerman 210, One University Blvd, La Grande, OR 97850. The event is free and open to the public.

“The presentation will highlight the research that I previously did on aptamers and then how I utilized the aptamers for the development of an electrochemical, microfluidic sensor for the  detection of bacteria in water,” Cavinato said.  

Cavinato’s recent research experience in microfluidics is a continuation of her previous work in studying small artificial DNA strands, called aptamers, and how they can be utilized to recognize a specific biomarker that signals the presence of the bacterium responsible for bacterial kidney disease in salmon. She is currently developing a microfluidic based biosensor to detect the presence of Renibacterium salmoninarum.. 

“Aptamers are used as an alternative to antibodies in assays, and so for many years I’ve worked on identifying aptamers that bind to an extracellular protein on the surface of Renibacterium salmoninarum  which causes bacterial kidney disease in salmon,” Cavinato said.  

During her sabbatical, Cavinato took part in research at Colorado State University under Professor Chuck Henry studying microfluidic platforms  that use colorimetric or  electrochemical detection methods. She also worked with university graduate students learning how to fabricate disposable devices that could be utilized in the development of the bacterial sensors.  

“There was a lot of learning involved and it was wonderful to immerse myself in research and be a student all over again. It was very exciting to be able to learn something completely new. In the Lab where I was, they were applying microfluidics to COVID detection, so they were very busy working on microfluidic devices, both electrochemical and colorimetric,” Cavinato said. 

Cavinato also started  a new project developing paper microfluidic devices obtained by printing specific shapes with conventional laser printers rather than traditional wax printers which are becoming obsolete. She introduced these simple devices in her Analytical Chemistry course during fall term and had students experiment with different shapes and different analytical applications. .  

“A lot of the analytical tools in chemistry are moving into micro scale. There is a huge push to move analysis to the micro scale level because you use much less reagents, produce less waste, and things are portable. I’m just really interested in that concept, miniaturizing equipment, instrumentation, and the analysis in itself,” Cavinato said. 

As work on her own biosensor continues, Cavinato hopes that it will lead to the development of practical sensors for use in fish hatcheries to detect the presence of bacteria. 

“If you can develop something that is very simple or portable that can be implemented by a technician and would allow for the constant monitoring of the water, it would help prevent infection and would improve  the overall management of aquaculture facilities,” Cavinato said.

For more information and a colloquium schedule, visit eou.edu/colloquium. For more information about this and other on-campus events this month, visit eou.edu/may.

Written by PR Intern Garrett Christensen.