2022 Research Projects

Projects are posted below; new projects will continue to be posted. To learn more about the type of research conducted by undergraduates, view the 2021 Research Symposium Abstracts (PDF) and search the past SURF projects.

This is a list of research projects that may have opportunities for undergraduate students. Please note that it is not a complete list of every SURF project. Undergraduates will discover other projects when talking directly to Purdue faculty.

You can browse all the projects on the list or view only projects in the following categories:

Genetics (2)


Altered pathways and microRNAs in vascular tumors 

Jason Hanna
Preferred major(s):
  • No Major Restriction

Angiosarcomas are aggressive cancers with a poor prognosis for patients. We utilize genetically engineered cell lines and in vivo models to study the molecular drivers of angiosarcoma. In recent work, we found that DICER1 and microRNAs may function as critical tumor suppressors. We have gone on to generate additional tumor models investigating other genes known to be altered in patients. In this project we will study a novel oncogene to determine its role in angiosarcoma and potential as a therapeutic target.

More information: https://www.bio.purdue.edu/People/profile/hannaja.html


Stem cell immunoengineering for targeted cancer therapy 

Xiaoping Bao
Preferred major(s):
  • No Major Restriction
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Biological Engineering - multiple concentrations
  • Biochemistry
  • any related major
Desired experience:
Previous experience with cell culture and molecular biology is a bonus, but NOT required.

Cancer is a major threat for humans worldwide, with over 18 million new cases and 9.6 million cancer-related deaths in 2019. Although most common cancer treatments include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy, unsatisfactory cure rates require new therapeutic approaches. Recently, adoptive cellular immunotherapies with chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) engineered T and natural killer (NK) cells have shown impressive clinical responses in patients with various blood and solid cancers. However, current clinical practices are limited by the need of large numbers of healthy immune cells, resistance to gene editing, lack of in vivo persistence, and a burdensome manufacturing strategy that requires donor cell extraction, modulation, expansion, and re-introduction per each patient. The ability to generate universally histocompatible and
genetically-enhanced immune cells from continuously renewable human pluripotent stem cell (hPSC) lines offers the potential to develop a true off-the-shelf cellular immunotherapy. While functional CAR-T and NK cells have been successfully derived from hPSCs, a significant gap remains in the scalability, time-consuming (5 or more weeks), purity and robustness of the differentiation methods due to the cumbersome use of serum, and/or feeder cells, which will incur potential risk for contamination and may cause batch-dependency in the treatment. This project thus aims to develop a novel, chemically-defined platform for robust production of CAR-T and CAR-NK cells from hPSCs.

More information: https://engineering.purdue.edu/ChE/people/ptProfile?resource_id=210038