Melissa  Nie

Melissa Nie

Scholar Title

MIT CEE | Undergraduate Research and Innovation Scholar

Research Title

Quorum Sensing Analysis for Marine Microbial Communities




Civil and Environmental Engineering

Research Areas
  • Computational Biology

Otto X. Cordero


Microbes live in a noisy world, sensing and integrating information from countless chemical cues in their environments to optimize growth. One way bacteria gain knowledge about their surroundings is quorum sensing (QS). Through sensing the concentrations of specific, diffusible QS signals, bacteria can regulate behavior in response to fluctuating population sizes, rendering the collective more powerful than the individual. Though well-studied in the lab, QS in natural environments remains poorly understood. In this project, I will characterize signals produced by wild bacteria isolates that act as carbon digesters of the ocean, exploring how QS impacts ecological interactions between these strains and what it can tell us about the role of QS in the carbon cycle.


This SuperUROP is a continuation of work I’ve done since IAP 2023, and I’m grateful that I’ve had the chance to get a more hands-on research approach and gain experience with wet lab techniques. I want to apply what I’ve learned from my computer science courses to the bioinformatics aspects of this project, which will help me gain more experience in a field I hope to join after graduation.

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