Aliyah Baksh is developing a novel optic technique to monitor the brain through blood tests.

Her research in UCF’s NanoScience Technology Center focuses on the development of an optical biosensor; a product used to track dopamine levels in the bloodstream. This product potentially offers a resourceful process for daily screenings and symptom detection of diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, says the biology major.

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that plays a large role in basic motor function and cognition. The absence of dopamine in the bloodstream is indicative of diseases. Aliyah believes this device would be revolutionary to the medical field in offering measures of the biomarker in a way that is more stable, reliable and cost-effective.

“I wanted to start applying knowledge rather than just taking it in,” she says. “Research enables you to do that. Instead of consuming things you are giving back.”

Through research, Baksh says she’s made an exciting transition from student to benefactor of knowledge within her community and the world. She aims to contribute to the discovery of comprehensive cures, even hoping to one day submit research to the Nobel Prize of physiology or medicine.

Baksh gives back through mentoring a freshman girl from Oviedo High School once a week. She prioritizes teaching her the basics of research and discussing ideas that have the capacity to change the scientific community. In doing so, Baksh passes on her undeniable passion for research and the potential for change it contains.

Baksh plans to present her work during UCF’s annual Student Research Week March 30-April 3.