Listing of Cooke Bridges projects grouped by year. You can search by Project Title or Year. You can find past and present interns on the the Interns page.


The Gaines Lab conducts research on a wide variety of marine ecology, fisheries, and biological conservation topics. Historically, the Lab has been involved in long-term intertidal community ecology research, which means researchers have monitored the occurrence of near shore species over time. Knowing which species occurs in which geographic locations, and when, is a foundational part of a science field known as community ecology.

A barrier to the next era of personalized medicine is the cost of DNA sequencing. Currently full genome sequencing is too expensive to carry out on a population wide scale. DNA nanopore sequencing is a next generation sequencing technique that aims to make DNA sequencing cheap and fast enough for daily use in a doctor’s office. Nanopore sequencing relies on creating a nanometer sized pore between two chambers and measuring the current changes between the two chambers using electrodes. DNA is then added to one of the chambers and threads through the pore blocking the current reading.

How does the autopilot keep an airplane on course without the pilot adjusting the rudders and engines? How does the thermostat keep a room at a specified temperature without anyone turning the radiator and/or A/C on and off? How do Segways transport people instead of planting them on their faces? The answer to all these questions is "mathematical modeling and feedback." Control Engineers use knowledge of the behavior of airplanes, room temperatures, two-wheeled platforms, and other engineering systems to write programs that react in the right way: Is it too hot? Turn on the fan.

Turbidity currents are sediment-driven flows in lakes or in the ocean ('underwater avalanches') which propagate along the seafloor due to the density difference caused by the suspended particles. They play an important role within the global sediment cycle, and in the formation of deep-sea hydrocarbon reservoirs. The sediment deposits generated by these currents, known as turbidites, extend over tens or even hundreds of kilometers along the bottom of the ocean, and they frequently are hundreds of meters deep.

Kelps are brown macroalgae that grow on coastal temperate rocky reefs around the world. Kelp forests provide food and shelter for hundreds of species of animals, many of which are commercially important (i.e. rockfish, sea bass, lobsters, sea urchins, sea cucumbers). Additionally, Kelp itself is an economically important resource: kelp derived thickening agents are found in a variety of food products (i.e., salad dressings, ice cream, toothpaste) and for abalone aquaculture ventures. Kelp forests are among the most productive and dynamic systems in the world.

Microcantlever, which resembles a miniature diving board (shrinks down to 1 million times smaller, in the order of microns), is one of the most commonly used micro structures for mass sensing applications. This cantilever resonates at its natural frequency, and as molecules of interest attach or detach from the surface, the natural frequency shifts down or up. The changes in frequency is directly relates to the changes in mass on the cantilever surface.

Parasites are an important player in natural communities, by regulating population size, reducing individual health and reproduction, changing host behavior, and altering energy flows through a community. Thus, understanding their impact on natural communities is an important and challenging area of research. The aim of this project is to understand how these understudied and hidden players affect populations. We focus on Hemioniscus balani, an isopod that lives in the rocky intertidal zone.


In this project the students gained experience in the basics of speech, audio or environment recognition. Speech recognition is the technology that recognizes speech and serves as an interface between a human and a computer. This field has attracted much interest in recent years after launching the SIRI in mobile phones. In particular, students worked on a system able to recognize different types of environments. After recording the sound of a few different environments, students helped design the recognition system based on that data, and tested it to characterize its performance.

The many news broadcasts on the recent flight MH370 tragedy have reported the difficulties encountered during the search for wreckage debris in the Indian Ocean. This is due, among other things, to the complex dynamics of the Indian ocean surface current. In the Mezic Lab we study dynamical systems and control theory with applications to fluid mechanics, micro and nanoscale processes. We have developed methods that improve efficiency of motion prediction, search and tracking of objects moving in ocean currents.

Proteases are responsible for cutting peptide bonds in proteins and regulate many biological processes including cell growth and migration, blood coagulation, and programmed cell death. Protease misregulation is common to many diseases such as cancer, therefore it is important to understand which proteins in the body can be easily cut by a specific protease. The goal of this project is to determine what substrates are commonly cut by a given protease and to design inhibitors that can block protease activity and reduce disease symptoms.

Techniques that detect and identify particular DNA sequences are essential tools that researchers and doctors use for studying and diagnosing disease. Fluorescent silver nanoclusters (AgNCs) are a novel nanoscale system used for the detection of DNA and other biological and chemical species relevant to medical diagnostics. AgNCs are fluorescent particles consisting of fewer than 30 atoms of silver that are easily synthesized in water using various polymers, including DNA.

C. elegans is a nematode worm (roundworm, not to be confused with ringworms) approximately 1mm in length when fully grown that can be found living in soil around the world. They are used as a model organism in science to help researchers answer basic questions for a large range of biological areas including molecular biology, cellular biology, developmental biology, stem cells, neurology, and many others. We use C. elegans to better understand how biology controls the process of animals developing from a single cell to a fully formed animal.

Allorecognition is the ability to distinguish self versus non‐self amongst members of the same species. The most well‐studied system of allorecognition is through the Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) in jawed vertebrates' immunity. Interestingly, any species that predates the oldest known jawed vertebrates (sharks), do not have anything resembling the MHC or related components. Botryllus schlosseri belongs to a group of organisms known as tunicates which is believed to be the closest living group to vertebrates.

Turbidity currents are sediment-driven flows in lakes or in the ocean ('underwater avalanches') which propagate along the seafloor due to the density difference caused by the suspended particles. Turbidity currents represent a large-scale geophysical flow phenomenon that plays an important role within the global sediment cycle, and in the formation of deep-sea hydrocarbon reservoirs. Turbidity currents can be maintained for hours or even days, transport many km3 of sediment, and propagate over distances up to 1,000km or more.

Many diseases have genetic components that cannot be treated with traditional small‐molecule drugs. However, the symptoms of genetic diseases could be effectively treated by adding or silencing specific genes inside of cells. This is accomplished by delivering specific sequences of DNA or RNA to cells by way of a "gene delivery vehicle", such as cationic lipid‐nucleic acid complexes. These complexes are made by mixing DNA and special lipids in water, where the lipids encapsulate the DNA and prepare it for delivery to cells.


In this experiment, community college students worked with graduate student Damien Kudela in the Stucky group to study the effect of prothrombin concentration on encouraging blood clot formation.  This effort can help to stabilize patients of traumatic injury.

In this project, students worked with graduate student Sabrina Pankey in the Oakley group to understand genetic similarities in two minimally-related squid species.  Despite being separated in evolution, each of these species express similar bioluminescent proteins.  To better understand the biological role of these similarities, the students performed experiments to measure the amount of genetic expression in different tissue samples.

Currently, it is estimated that approximately 180 million people around the world are suffering from diabetes.

In this project, students worked with Dr. Payam Bozorgi in the MacDonald group to construct, measure, and optimize nanostructured devices to improve heat transfer.  By enabling more efficient heat transfer away from high-powered electronic components, these small devices have the capability to enable smaller, more powerful electronic devices.

In this project, students worked with graduate student Merritt Miller in the Brewer group to program a microcontroller to respond to external conditions and stabilize a disordered system.  The students then attempted to optimize the programming to perform the same tasks with lower energy consumption.

In this project, students worked with graduate student Chrysafis Andreou in the Meinhart group to construct and test microfluidic mixing devices.  These devices enable scientists to control fluid interactions on a very precise scale with a very small amount of a fluid sample.  Students used these devices to study diffusion of a small fluorescent molecule and investigate different modes of fluid control.

In this project, students worked with graduate student Heather McNair in the Brzenzinski group to study dissolved oxygen at different time points in different regions of the UCSB lagoon.  These measurements help to monitor the ability of the lagoon to sustain healthy aquatic life.

In this project, community college worked with graduate student Lauren Simkins in the Simms group to attempt to reconstruct the history of the Buena Vista Lagoon.  To do this, students analyzed a real core sample for variation in sediment characteristics and microfossil content to understand conditions as the lagoon existed hundreds to thousands of years ago.


This project will examine the ways in which fog could be used to aid restoration efforts on Lagoon Island at UCSB. This particular location is difficult and expensive to reach with traditional irrigation methods and therefore other methods need to be developed. One way we are trying to address this is by asking whether fog water can be collected in areas that specifically experience late summer fog. If so, would we be able to then distribute this collection of water to plants in restoration plots in order to decrease the water stress they currently experience?

Microfluidics deals with very small volumes of liquids in sub-milliliter quantities. One of the most important parts of microfluidics is microfluidic devices which have features of micrometer scale, such as channels, junctions, inlets, and outlets. These devices are used for different purposes such as analyzing biological fluids and particles. In this project we learn one or two of the various methods which are used to fabricate microfluidic devices. We will then use the prepared devices to run some experiments and analyze the acquired data.

Switching fabrics in data centers that rely on traditional electrical switches face scaling issues in terms of power consumption. Fast optical switches based on a silicon photonics platform can enable the high port speed and high interconnection density needed while still maintaining a small footprint and low power consumption.

In recent years there has been a rising interest in using proteins for drug therapy. In comparison to small molecule drugs (such as aspirin) which elicit a response when bound to a receptor and may have broad therapeutic activity, protein drugs show promise for highly selective activity due to the specificity for its target. Unfortunately, the promise for using protein drugs is limited by its metabolic vulnerability and difficulty to deliver them across biological membranes.

Dr. Turner’s group focuses on micro electrical mechanical systems. One of the most popular sensing device is a microcantilever. Microcantilever‐based sensors have been widely used for various applications, such as atomic force microscopy,along with chemical and biological sensing. In this project, the main goal is to understand the linear and nonlinear behavior of the fixed‐fixed beam through experiment by different forcing strength. We will use a simple mass spring damper system to explain the nonlinear phenomenon observed.

Doxorubicin is a common chemotherapy drug used to fight a number of different cancers. Because every patient is different, the length of time that this drug stays in the body changes from person to person. This is a problem because too little drug will not have any effect, but too much drug will produce serious side effects. Right now, doctors address this problem by drawing blood samples at specific times, measuring the amount of drug using complicated equipment, and making informed guesses about the amount of drug between each reading. This is not ideal.

Background: The Asian citrus psyllid (ACP), Diaphorina citri, is a small aphid-like pest of citrus that functions as a vector of a devastating disease known as citrus greening disease, or Huanglongbing. ACP was first found in Florida in 1998 with the first positive case of citrus greening disease discovered in 2005. By 2007 it was found in all citrus producing counties in Florida leading to devastating consequences.

UCSB California NanoSystems Institute