Dr. Cindy Achat-Mendes
Cellular and Behavioral Mechanisms of Nicotine’s Neuroprotective Effects
This project will allow STEC 2500 students to explore behavioral and cellular models to study nicotine’s effects on dopamine signaling. Students will be introduced to a multi-tiered approach of research in which investigation at the cellular level complements what is studied at the behavioral level. Students will be exposed to 1) cellular and molecular neuroscience in which they can learn about culturing neurons to investigate cellular mechanisms that are triggered in response to nicotine, and 2) behavioral neuroscience in which they can develop animal models to study nicotine’s effects. This research opportunity will involve hypothesis-driven experiments, designed by students.
Dr. Jennifer Hurst-Kennedy
Effects of Common Herbal Supplements on Mammalian Cells
Plants have been used for their medicinal value for thousands of years and many contemporary medications have botanical origins e.g. aspirin, opioids and quinine. However, the popularity of herbal remedies has not been met with increasing FDA regulations. It's therefore possible that some herbal supplements, assumed to be beneficial, may produce deleterious effects following prolonged use. The goal of our research project is to investigate the effects of herbal supplements on the viability of mammalian cells. Each Bio-Bridge student will select his or her own herbal supplement to study.
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Dr. Matthew Schmolesky, Dr. Jennell Talley
A behavioral genetics approach to understanding personality traits and risk-taking behaviors
Recent research into the biological underpinnings of personality and behavior has suggested that polymorphisms in specific genes (e.g. the type 4 dopamine receptor, the serotonin transporter, etc.) are correlated with both the novelty seeking personality trait and risk-taking behavior. Novelty seeking can be defined as a predisposition, need, or desire for new and varied experiences through disinhibited behavior, including potentially dangerous activities such as extreme sports, drug use, or unprotected sex (Cloninger, 1987; Cloninger et al., 1993). This project is designed to examine the relationships between genetic variants, personality, and risk-taking, and risk-assessment in human participants.
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Dr. Chantelle Anfuso and Dr. Patrice Bell
Development of Several Laser Spectroscopic and Thermodynamic Experiments for Physical Chemistry II (CHEM 4202K)
Several advanced physical chemistry laboratory experiments are required for implementation of CHEM 4202K, Physical Chemistry II, planned for Spring 2016 enrollment. The experiments in this course will explore nonideal conditions of chemical systems via experimental and theoretical frameworks. Three experiments are listed below:
- Thermal Imaging of Heat Transfer – Bilateral Study of Study Perception of Heat Flow and Experimental Design of Thermodynamic Systems
- Raman Scattering of Green Laser Light Using a Spectrometer Coupled with CCD
- HeNe Laser to Generate Atomic Emission Spectra of Certain Atoms Using a Spectrometer Coupled
Dr. Michael Kirberger
Prediction of metal-binding in proteins
The purpose of this project will be to first conduct a comprehensive statistical analysis of proteins that bind or interact with essential metals (e.g., Mg2+ and Zn2+) as well as toxic metals, including Hg2+. These data will then be used to compare structural differences observed in protein metal-binding sites (bond lengths, angles, coordination number and geometry, etc.) and further extended to subsequent analyses of structural changes in metal-binding proteins found within neural pathways. This research is designed to improve our understanding of the roles of essential and toxic metals in molecular toxicity and neurodegenerative disorders.
Dr. Seungjin Lee
Quantitative analysis of the interaction forces between foulants and membranes
Reliable management of water resources and a secure supply of quality water have become one of the most crucial health concerns. As most water sources required conventional filtration, other enhanced filtration technologies emerged and membrane separation processes have been replacing conventional treatment and undergoing continuous improvement toward wider application. Membrane fouling is, however, an inevitable problem and one of the greatest hurdles in membrane processes. Surface chemistry finds its crucial role in identifying the nature of the interactions between contaminants and membrane surfaces, and such interactions can be estimated using Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM).
The effect of language elements on chemical education in multicultural classroom environment
While there are many ways to find materials and methods in chemical education, students’ difficulties with the language of chemistry has been viewed as the hurdle to effective chemistry learning. Teaching can be modified or reinforced to maximize the efficiency of classroom and laboratory experience utilizing the vehicle of language. This research focuses on the theoretical background of the relationship between language skills and chemical education and the development of hands-on pedagogy to assist students struggling in understanding core concepts in chemistry. Interviews, case studies, and review of online learning tools will be conducted and feasible suggestions will be made.
Sustainable water reuse and waste management by recycling nutrients
Dr. Ajay Mallia
Design of metal nanoparticles embedded molecular gels
Preparation of metal nanoparticles with specific size and shape and organizing them into two- and three-dimensional structures may find potential applications in optoelectronic devices. In the present project molecular gels that can act as templates to generate metal nanoparticles will be explored. Molecular gels have been defined as semi-solid like materials that are composed of a liquid and low concentration of a molecular gelator. The student will synthesize molecular gelator using multi-step organic synthesis and study the templating effect on the preparation of metal nanoparticles. The student will be expected to determine the range of liquids that are gelated by the gelator and determine the gel melting temperature and stability of gels.
Dr. Ajay Mallia and Dr. Joseph Sloop
Synthesis and studies of ninhydrin based ring systems
For over one hundred years, ninhydrin has been used for the detection of amino acids and amines. Because of its versatile structure, ninhydrin has been also used to generate a wide variety of biologically active heterocyclic compounds. In the present project, ninhydrin-based polycyclic compounds will be prepared with suitable flexible alkyl chains, and students will study the self-assembling and gelation properties.
Dr. Omar Villanueva
Villanueva Project: Development of Redox-active Ligands that Promote Environmentally-sustainable Catalysis at First-row Transition Metal Ions
Recent emphasis in chemical research has been placed on discovering new methods that can produce alternative fuels, remove environmental pollutants, and reduce harmful by-products that contribute to global warming, as breakthroughs in these areas are needed to address the Nation's environmental and energy challenges. To achieve these goals, chemists are capable of controlling the structure and reactivity of transition metal catalysts through fundamental studies involving catalyst design.
Dr. C.M. Woodbridge
Developing a Sensor for Marine Toxins
Saxitoxin is one of the neurotoxins found in red tides. The accepted method of detection is via mouse bioassay which requires samples to be delivered to a lab. This project will investigate the potential for developing a spectroscopic sensor; ab initio methods will be used to characterize saxitoxin and a few of its derivatives.
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Dr. Ajay Mallia and Mr. Vlad Bursuc
Studying the safety operating procedures and regulations for chemicals in undergraduate chemistry labs
Safety is a key concern in any chemistry- or science-related experiment. There are many potential hazards when working with chemicals. All hazards can be avoided by understanding chemicals and proper precautions. In this STEC project, students will be working with Dr. Mallia, assistant professor of chemistry, and Mr. Bursuc, assistant professor of legal studies. Students will specify chemicals used in undergraduate chemistry laboratories to design and develop a reference document Safety Operating Procedures (SOP) for toxic chemicals. Students will also study and include the hazardous chemical handling regulations in the document, and learn about recent accidents at chemistry laboratories.
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Dr. Neelam Khan, Dr. Sang Park, Dr. David Pursell, Dr. Kathryn Zimmerman
Analysis of GGC Dining Operations Waste Oil and Grease for use as Biofuel
This research launches a long term, interdisciplinary STEC-4500 investigation of waste oil and grease from campus dining operations to jump-start development of a faculty/student environmental research cluster. Initial project personnel expertise spans disciplines (Khan, nanoscience; Park, environmental engineering; Pursell, chemical physics; Zimmermann, environmental toxicology) and maximizes opportunities for students in the new academic programs of chemistry and environmental science, as well as students from biology, plus young investigators from GSMST, to engage in authentic research on the waste cooking oil and grease generated through GGC dining operations.
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Dr. Andrei Olifer
Measuring the distance between pieces of information using Kolmogorov complexity
Suppose there are pieces of texts or music created by several unknown authors. Is it possible to automatically group the pieces according to authorship? A recently developed metric based on the concept of Kolmogorov complexity allows for solving this problem. Essentially, two sequences of symbols are considered similar if one sequence helps to predict the other and vice versa. This can be quantified by using file compressors such as for example gzip. The aim of this project is to analyze texts of presidential contenders from this perspective.
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Dr. Amy Battles
Introduction to Observational Astronomy
This is an introductory course to observational astronomy utilizing the new GGC 16-inch telescope. Students will learn about the instrumentation for taking optical images: optics of the telescope and the charged-coupled device (CCD). Students will learn how to reduce astronomical images and produce light curves. The astronomical objects that the students will observe are a class of objects called blazars: a type of active galaxy that has a super massive black hole that is being fed several solar masses of material a year. These objects produce relativistic jets as a result of being active. Students will be able to publish their observational results in professional journals.