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Portable cocaine sensor developed at UC Santa Barbara

equivalent of detecting three parts per million in blood. Still, this is not yet sensitive enough for use in the emergency room, since a person with .3 parts per million of cocaine in their blood would be considered "stoned on cocaine." So more work needs to be done to increase the sensitivity of the new test.

Last summer was the first time that Plaxco had high school students doing work for academic credit in his lab. "It was great," said Plaxco. "I thought they might be a distraction, but my students and post-doctoral fellows did a great job of mentoring and they all got a lot out of it, both the mentors and the mentorees." First author Brian Baker, a post-doctoral fellow, was one of these mentors.

Elaine Doctor, a senior at Channel Island High School in Oxnard, Calif., and McCall Wood, a senior at Santa Barbara High School in Santa Barbara, Calif., participated in the summertime Research Mentorship Program at UCSB on this work.Elaine Doctor said, "At first I felt kind of intimidated by all the graduate students who are used to all the equipment, but we caught on really fast and everyone was really helpful. I felt honored to help America's war on drugs." Elaine plans to continue her studies in the sciences, either in biochemistry or biology.

McCall Wood said, "I'm really excited about this work. It let me know what research is like and I definitely want to pursue this. Everyday we would go into the lab and test a different hypothesis. I found it really exciting and extremely challenging. I found my limits, like patience. Being in the lab every day taught me so much about myself and about science in general. It's not really the results that were so important but the journey and the process."


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Source:University of California - Santa Barbara


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