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March 2015 we published (open-source) our experimental setup in the Journal of Visualized Experiments to allow other researchers to confine reactions in femtoliter chambers.  We use this technique to observe cell-free protein synthesis.

Graduate School:

I am currently researching noise in protein expression at Oak Ridge National Laboratory with the guidance of my advisors Mike Simpson in the DOE sponsored Center for Nanophase Material Science and Mitch Doktycz in BioSciences Division.

Gene expression noise, variation in protein expression, has been found in numerous, diverse species.  Noise plays an important role in many cell-fate decisions, like the lytic/lysogenic HIV switch.  The actively propagating HIV lytic cycle can be treated with antiretroviral drugs.  In the lysogenic cycle however, the virus lays dormant inside cells.  At random times the viral particles switch between lysogenic and lytic.  Noise has been found to play a role in pushing HIV toward the lytic cycle where it can be treated.  However, the mechanism producing noise has not been identified, but because it is so widely found, it is believed to be universal to life.  If we understood the mechanism(s) that creates gene expression noise we could more knowledgeably search for drugs that affect noise.

I also facilitate research of the cell-free production of therapeutic proteins in microfluidic devices for the DARPA Biological Technologies Office BioMOD grant.  I helped establish in-house E.coli and Yeast cell-free expression system protocols.

I became interested in biology and genetics after creating transgenic, green fluorescent bacteria in high school AP biology.  As a junior, I worked with Dr. Mingjun Zhang to model the Young’s modulus of a silicone matrix filled with dispersed nanoparticles.  Senior year, I worked with Dr Cong Trinh to create a collection of plasmids with different copy numbers and antibiotic resistances.  These plasmids were then incorporated into other work being done in the lab for better control over enzyme production and the associated metabolic processes.  I earned a BS in Biomedical Engineering with a minor in Engineering Entrepreneurship and graduated summa cum laude.  I am now a Bredesen Center Fellow working at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

My ORNL profile is here

My Google Scholar profile is here.


Bredesen Center Energy Science Engineering Fellowship

Summa cum laude

Deans list Fall 2009 - Spring 2013

Alcoa Engineering Study Abroad Fellow

Tau Beta Pi member

Research Publications:

Norred, S. Elizabeth, Patrick M. Caveney, Gaurav Chauhan, Lauren K. Collier, C. Patrick Collier, Steven M. Abel, and Michael L. Simpson. "Macromolecular Crowding Induces Spatial Correlations That Control Gene Expression Bursting Patterns.ACS synthetic biology 7, no. 5 (2018): 1251-1258.

Boreyko, Jonathan, P. Caveney, Sarah L. Norred, Charles Chin, Scott T. Retterer, Michael L. Simpson, and C. Pat Collier. "Synthetic Biology in Aqueous Compartments at the Micro-and Nanoscale.MRS Advances 2, no. 45 (2017): 2427-2433.

Caveney, Patrick M., S. Elizabeth Norred, Charles W. Chin, Jonathan B. Boreyko, Brandon S. Razooky, Scott T. Retterer, C. Patrick Collier, and Michael L. Simpson. "Resource Sharing Controls Gene Expression Bursting." ACS Synthetic Biology (2016). [PDF]

Norred, S. E., Caveney, P. M., Retterer, S. T., Boreyko, J. B., Fowlkes, J. D., Collier, C. P., et al. Sealable Femtoliter Chamber Arrays for Cell-free BiologyJ. Vis. Exp. (97), e52616, doi:10.3791/52616 (2015).

Lijin Xia, Zhonghua Xu, Leming Sun, Patrick M. Caveney, Mingjun Zhang. (2013) “Nano-fillers to tune Young's modulus of silicone matrix.” Journal of Nanoparticle Research. v. 15 pg. 1570. [PDF]