Research: Lisa Runco, Ph.D.

Diarrhea Vaccine: Synthetic Biology based “Re-coding” of ETEC Bacterial Toxin

I have recently started to investigate a new avenue for vaccine development against pathogenic strains of Escherichia coli (ETEC), specifically using synthetic biology and innovative gene design. Building on a recently successful advance that uses synthetic biology to construct bacterial vaccines, gene design software will be used to ‘re-code’ the Enterotoxigenic E. coli (ETEC) LT toxin subunits to have significantly decreased, but not eliminated, level of toxin expression. This ‘re-coded’ strain may serve as a live-attenuated vaccine capable of immunizing against ETEC, the most common cause of diarrhea in the developing world.

Cyber-enabled Learning: Digital Natives in Integrated Scientific Inquiry Classrooms

In addition to my infectious disease research, I am also a Co-Principal Investigator on a NSF Discovery Research K-12 Program grant: “Collaborative Research—Cyber-enabled Learning: Digital Natives in Integrated Scientific Inquiry Classrooms”. As the Science Content Expert, I help develop scientific professional development workshops and ensure the integrity of scientific learning for middle school living environment science teachers. Our research provides professional development to make science teachers comfortable with multi-user simulations and communications.

Our group practices research-based pedagogies in the K-12 classrooms, enhance New York City teachers’ science and technology literacy, and cultivate students’ 21st-century skills. Our group works closely to develop learning activities that integrate scientific inquiry-based learning and new literacy skills through cognitive tools approach. Teachers learn the technology that our digital natives are already familiar with, and integrate these technologies to motivate students’ learning in science classrooms.

Selected Publications:

  • Runco LM and Coleman JR. Harnessing DNA Synthesis to Develop Rapid Responses to Emerging and Pandemic Pathogens. Journal of Pathogens. Volume 2011 (2011), Article ID 765763.
  • Hsu, H.-Y., Wang, S.-K., & Runco, L. Middle school science teachers' confidence and pedagogical practice of new literacies. Journal of Science Education and Technology (JOST). 2012.
  • Runco LM, Wang SK, Hsu HY (2012). Teachers’ self-efficacy in teaching science as inquiry and their classroom practices. Poster presented at April 2012 Annual Conference of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), Vancouver, Canada.
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