Leticia Costa

MIT Department: Chemistry

Undergraduate Institution: Wesleyan University

Faculty Mentor: Jeremiah Johnson

Research Supervisor: Peyton Shieh

Website: LinkedIn


I’m an international student from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I’m a rising senior majoring in Chemistry at Wesleyan University, where I work on computational modeling and molecule system comprehension research in Professor David Beveridge’s Lab. Last summer, as part of MSRP, I worked with Polymer Chemistry at Professor Jeremiah Johnson’s Lab. Besides solidifying my interest in pursuing a post-doctoral degree, my summer experience at MIT helped to tailor my specific research interests and influenced me to use my knowledge to help to solve ongoing health issues. As an aspiring graduate student and chemistry professional, I aim to combine my knowledge in computational chemistry and organic synthesis into drug development. Aside from academics, I enjoy traveling, spending time with my friends, watching TV shows, and exercising.

2018 Research Abstract

Macromolecular Photocages

Leticia C. Costa1,2, Peyton Shieh2 and Jeremiah Johnson2

1Department of Chemistry, Wesleyan University

2Department of Chemistry, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The precise temporal and spatial control afforded by light makes it a powerful tool to study living systems. Towards this end, photocages, which are removed by light exposure, have long been used to modulate the activity of biologically-active compounds.  However, molecules without key sites of attachment, substrates for enzymatic activity and chemically reactive functionalities would be beneficial to photocage but difficult to do through traditional means. Here, we address this problem through the use of photo-degradable polymer nanoparticles. We describe the synthesis, characterization, and application of these nanoparticles as a general platform to photocage biologically active compounds, substantially increasing the types of molecules and biological functions that can be controlled by light.