Project Info

Synthesis and charactarization of polyion complex micelles formed from single/double stranded nucleic acids and gradient copolymers

Ramya Kumar

Project Goals and Description:

The goal is to control the spatial distribution of anionic and cationic groups along copolymer backbones to tune binding affinity¬† with anionic charged nucleic acids of varying strandedness and lengths. The resulting polyion complex micelles (PICMs) will be characterized via SLS, DLS, FRET, and their stability in salt and serum evaluated. We will compare PICMs formed from block copolymers and gradient copolymers. This polymer will apply reversibly deactivated radical polymerization, specifically reversible addition-fragmentation chain transfer (RAFT), to produce well-defined polymers and tunable interactions with nucleic acids and proteins.    

More Information:

Grand Challenge: Not applicable.

Primary Contacts:

Jessica Lawson Ramya Kumar

Student Preparation


None required. Some chemistry, molecular biology, and LabView coding may be helpful.


~8-12 hours per week.


polymer synthesis, air-free technique, Schlenk line, semi-batch polymerization, characterization using nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, dynamic light scattering, static light scattering, size exclusion chromatography, gel electrophoresis. The student will work closely with an NSF graduate research fellow. The student will gain unique insights into applying to and succeeding in graduate school as an independent researcher.


The student will work closely with a graduate student to learn basic laboratory skills and safety. Then, the student will be allowed to work more independently using the training they have received. Student will participate in group meetings.


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