Yaxin Duan ’23


Chemical and Biological Engineering

Project Title

The Impact of Contaminant Spatial Configuration on Bacterial Chemotaxis

Certificate(s): Sustainable Energy, Environmental Studies

I studied chemotaxis, a phenomenon in which bacteria can sense the concentration gradient of a chemical and move toward where the gradient is steepest. Chemotaxis can improve the efficiency of bioremediation strategies that deploy microorganisms to remove pollutants from the environment by driving the mass migration of chemotactic bacteria toward sources of contamination. I investigated how the spatial configuration of contaminants impacts the ability of bacteria to perform chemotaxis. I used the programming language MATLAB to build a one-dimensional model that simulated how different concentrations of bacteria respond to varying distances between two drops of contaminants. Through my simulations, I found that if two drops of contaminants are too close together, the concentration gradient may not be steep enough to produce a chemotactic response. The process of building and debugging my model helped me gain experience with MATLAB and taught me the importance of documenting my work. I am excited to continue working on this project for my junior independent work, and I look forward to growing my relationships with the amazing mentors and scientists I worked with as I join them in the lab in Fall 2021.

Internship Year


Project Category

Innovation and a New Energy Future


Datta Lab, Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Princeton University


Sujit Datta, Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering; Jenna Ott, Ph.D. candidate, Chemical and Biological Engineering