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Welcome to the UC Merced Undergraduate Research Journal, a fully Open Access publication of research conducted by undergraduates at the University of California, Merced.

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Articles

Micro Air Vehicles: A Biological Future

(MAVs) is limited due to the large but necessary onboard technology, obstacles involving the overall weight, and the need for ideal wing designs. These challenges are Over the last decade, the MAV (micro air vehicle) field has developed in that there have been great improvements in designs due to advances in computer aided technology, power supply due to better battery technology, and visual communications due to better transmitters and receivers. Different kinds of MAVs are now in existence, all with their own specific capabilities and limitations.

Despite the progress in various areas, the advancement of Micro Air Vehicles due to the need to have onboard MAV technology must include sensors and processors in order to fully achieve autonomous flight operation. Unfortunately, current hardware is too big to be handled by smaller components than those in present day UAVs. One of the biggest concerns is the battery life since there are multiple things operating on an MAV. Further research must be done in order to shrink the battery to a promising size while still providing the MAV hardware with enough energy to function. Weight is an important element to consider on an air vehicle for it effects what is referred to as the turning radius; the angle at which a flying vehicle can make a sharp turn around an obstacle, e.g., a building. Furthermore, weight also affects other key elements for flight such as drag and lift. While comparing biological wing models, there is noticeable, recurring “flapping” wing design such as on birds or insects. For most of today’s flight technology, they are mainly focused on using static wing designs. As these two wing designs have difference advantages, the overall issue then becomes the determination on whether or not one is more expedient than the other when implemented into an MAV design.

A Micro Air Vehicle is not whole all on its own; it is composed of multiple, independent concepts that must harmonize in such a way that they simultaneously compensate for each other’s flaws while reinforcing their strengths for optimizing performance and efficiency. Primarily, an object’s weight is what is noticed first when flight is a desired task. Because MAVs must carry specific tools for designated missions, their own weight is important. For example, the more it weighs, the less they can carry. Closely related to this concept, another crucial element to an MAV’s development and performance is its size. While examining this thought, it can be acknowledged that there are many biological and synthetic objects of many sizes that possess the ability of flight. With this fact, we can initially conclude that size has no correlation with flight, but when observed closely, the style and efficiency of flight is directly dependent on the weight of the object. Furthermore, if we look at a biological example, the flight of a honeybee is completely different to that of a fully-grown hawk. However, when looking one step forward, observations would reveal their wings are completely different. Today, when thinking about flying objects, there are only a few ideas that come to mind when thinking about their wings. An MAV’s performance strongly relies on the kind of wing design it has. More specifically, with the example of the honeybee and the hawk, though both excellent candidates of flight, the honeybee’s wing design allows it to be much more maneuverable while flying than the hawk and its different wing design. Thus based off of this example, should an MAV’s wing design be more carefully decided? It is evident that putting an efficient MAV together is a challenge, but in the individual research for these independent elements, an ideal relationship will arise. For these reasons, researchers must take into account various factors to try to create a balance in design.

Embryoid Body Formation is Required for Differentiation of Insulin-Producing Cell Clusters from Mouse Embryonic Stem Cells

In Type 1 diabetes, insulin-producing pancreatic cells, or beta cells, are destroyed by an autoimmune response. Current clinical treatments are indefinite insulin replacement therapy or transplantation of the pancreas or beta islets. The latter two treatments are limited in available donors; a potential alternative is the use of insulin-producing cell clusters (IPCCs) differentiated from embryonic stem cells (ESCs). We hypothesize that IPCCs will reproduce the insulin-producing capacity of healthy beta cells of an adult mouse, and we are testing the efficiency of distinct IPCC culture methods to achieve this goal. Among several existing ESC-IPCC differentiation protocols, Blyszczuk et al. developed the most successful method to date in producing IPCCs that showed similarities to pancreatic beta cells. However, this method is time-intensive, requiring approximately 41 days. We attempted to streamline the protocol by bypassing the formation of embryoid bodies (EBs), reducing the differentiation timeline to 27 days. At several time points during this protocol, IPCC cultures were analyzed by RT-PCR and immunofluorescence for genes and proteins expressed in pancreatic beta islet cells. The mRNA and protein expression of insulin was not observed.  Furthermore, ELISA analysis detected low intracellular insulin response after challenging IPCCs with different glucose concentrations.  These results reject the hypothesis that EB formation is not required for ESC-IPCC differentiation in vitro.  However, it is possible that alpha cells can be differentiated, as glucagon was detected.

Editing Staff

Description of editor staff that worked on this volume.