Barituziga Banuna is a student at the University at Buffalo in New York, where he is a rising senior pursuing a B.S. in Chemical Engineering. At the University at Buffalo he works as a research intern in Dr. Marina Tsianou’s lab where he investigates the effects of additives on calcium oxalate morphology. This research is important in its application towards possible new directions for kidney stone prevention and increasing the knowledge of calcium oxalate crystal interactions. He became involved in research in high school where he worked in the Pharmacology and Therapeutics department of Roswell Park Cancer Institute a well-acclaimed research hospital for cancer treatment. There he has spent his summers volunteering at the hospital and investigating the effects of different therapeutic drugs.
During the summer of 2017, Barituziga is taking part in an NSF funded Research Experience for Undergraduates through which he is working in the Allen lab at the University of Maryland at Baltimore County. Barituziga will be working with Dr. Mark Allen to identify short polypeptides that can have an application in improving lithium ion batteries. The project aims to harness some of biology’s ability to bind to diverse materials and thus mitigate issues associated with safety and performance of lithium ion batteries. One challenge, in particular, is an issue of batteries having a high internal resistance which result in the battery getting hot while charging and discharging. The bacteriophage used in this project will express short polypeptides that may have a tight and specific interactions with different components of battery systems. By identifying different polypeptides that can bind to the different parts of the battery there is a hope to use the polypeptides to increase the connectivity inside the battery.
Outside of school, Barituziga likes to read Chinese novels in translation, try out new foods and hiking. He likes to cook and volunteers with campus clubs where he presents STEM related activities and experiments for students at local schools to get them excited about the STEM fields. He is currently applying to graduate school where he plans to pursue a chemical engineering PhD in the field of materials engineering. He hopes to enter industry or at a national laboratory where he will work on the research and development of special materials for batteries and solar cells.