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UConn Department of Chemistry  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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      Proposed Research Projects

(note that not all research projects and groups are available each summer, see selection on the application forms)

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Polymer Based Vesicles for Therapeutics
Dr. Douglas Adamson (Polymer Chemistry)

 

Our research is centered around organic polymer synthesis. We make well-defined polymers for applications in bio-mimetic materials, nano-composites, and self-assembled systems. We typically use living anionic polymerization, with controlled radical polymerization methods occasionally utilized. Post polymerization chemistry is often required to produce the relevant polymers for our work. We study these self-assembling materials for applications ranging from drug delivery to catalyst supports.

The REU student will learn polymerization techniques as well post-polymerization chemistry in making amphiphilic polymers for drug storage. These polymers will be used to form self-assembled vesicles (polymersomes) for long-term drug storage. The student will be involved in the synthesis of the polymers, the formation of the polymersomes, and will study the drug storage characteristics of the polymersomes.

Adamson Group Web Site


 
Catalysts for the Reduction of Carbon Dioxide
Dr. Alfredo Angeles-Bozai (Inorganic Chemistry)

 

The increasing emission of greenhouse gases, in particular carbon dioxide, has received considerable attention due to its serious environmental consequences. An obvious solution is the capture and storage of the CO2 produced in the industrial processes. A more attractive approach is to combine the capture of CO2 with its use as a renewable and environmentally friendly resource. For example, CO2 can be converted to C1 feedstock for liquid fuels. With this objective in mind, we have recently begun to explore rhenium complexes as (pre)catalysts for the electrochemical and photochemical reduction of CO2 to CO.

The REU student will synthesize and characterize heterocyclic ligands and rhenium complexes. The student will also explore the catalytic activity of the synthesized complexes through electrochemical and photochemical techniques.

Angeles-Boza Group Website

 
Use of Persistent Radical Catalysts in Living Polymerization Reactions
Dr. Alexandru Asandei (Polymer Chemistry)

 
Our group is interested in complex unconventional organic and polymer syntheses, new concepts, reactions and mechanisms. This includes radical polymerizations, polycondensations, liquid crystals, auxetic materials, self assembly and nanostructures. Molecular weight and polydispersity control in living radical polymerization (LRP) is based on the persistent radical effect (PRE). Persistent radicals are not involved in homodimerization reactions or addition to the double bond, and maintain radical concentration at low levels via their reversible end-capping with the growing chain. Various carbon or oxygen centered radicals (nitroxides, addition fragmentation derivatives) and metaloradicals (Cu, Ni, Fe, Ru complexes) are usually employed in LRP. Novel organic and inorganic systems capable of accomplishing LRP are currently being explored. One goal is the design, synthesis and characterization of catalysts capable of dual or multiple mechanism-polymerizations. The REU student will be involved in the synthesis of monomers, catalysts and polymers and in their characterization. He will acquire experience in organic, inorganic and polymer chemistry and will become familiar with instruments such as NMR, GPC, and DSC.



Asandei Group Web Site

 
Novel Chemistry of Oxoammonium Salt: Environmentally Benign Oxidations
Dr. William Bailey (Organic Chemistry)
   
One of the primary research interests of our group involves development of novel synthetic methodologies. Much of our effort is devoted to the use of reactive main-group organometallics, particularly unsaturated organolithium compounds, for the generation of carbon-carbon bonds.
Recently, in collaboration with Prof. James Bobbitt of our department, we have begun to explore the use of oxoammonium salts for the oxidation of a variety of functional groups [Org. Letters 2006, 8, 5485; J. Org. Chem. 2007, 72, 4504]. Our efforts in this area have focused on investigation of the utility of 4-acetamido-2,2,6,6-tetramethylpiperidine-1-oxoammonium tetrafluoroborate (1), an inexpensive, readily prepared, and thermally stable oxidant that offers an environmentally benign alternative to more commonly used Cr(IV) reagents.
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A particularly intriguing oxidation of benzyl ethers, displayed below, was discovered in the course of our investigations. The scope, limitations, and mechanism of this unprecedented reaction remain to be explored. This project is designed to allow a talented undergraduate to complete a project of some significance in a relatively short period of time. The study will expose the student to classical synthetic methodology as well as more modern techniques required for investigation of reaction mechanism. In addition, the project will acquaint the student with the use of chromatographic (GC, HPLC, TLC) and spectroscopic techniques (NMR, HPLC, GC/MS) used for the purification and identification of intermediates and products.
 
Synthesis and Study of DNA Damages
Dr. Ashis K. Basu (Bioorganic Chemistry)
 

We study chemicals and drugs that exert their biological effects through DNA damage. Some of the chemicals are environmental pollutants such as 1–nitropyrene. We also study ionizing radiation-induced DNA damages. The REU student will synthesize a specific DNA damage such as a DNA adduct of a nitroaromatic compound or induce an ionizing radiation damage into a designed oligo¬deoxy¬nucleotide. These DNA lesions can induce mutations which may represent the first step converting a normal cell into a cancer cell. Our goal is to correlate the type of mutation with three dimensional architectural effects induced in DNA. The modified DNA fragments will be used to study mutagenesis and DNA repair.
The project will introduce the REU student to a variety of organic synthesis and nucleic acid chemistry tools, chromatography, and structural characterization (NMR, UV-Vis, MS), and introduce the student to molecular biology and recombinant DNA techniques.

Basu Web Site

 
Protein-Based Photovoltaic Devices
Dr. Robert R. Birge (Physical, Biophysical Chemistry)
 

One of the key challenges of the 21st century is to harness solar energy to provide clean and efficient power. Much work has been done using semiconductor technology, but despite considerable effort and significant expenditures, solar cells still operate with net efficiencies of only ~20%. In contrast, nature converts light to energy with 40%-75% net efficiency. This project explores proteins as high efficiency photovoltaic converters. The proteins to be studied include bacteriorhodopsin and variants optimized via genetic engineering for photovoltaic applications. The cell that we are investigating not only generates electricity but also converts water into hydrogen and oxygen at a net efficiency of 55% or more. This research involves photochemistry and biochemistry. The REU student will be exposed to a more applied area of biochemistry and biophysics than is encountered in an undergraduate course or laboratory. If interested, the student will also learn how to use mutagenesis to optimize a protein by single or multiple amino acid replacements.

Birge Web Site

 
Synthesis of Pyrrole-Modified Porphyrins
Dr. Christian Brueckner (Organic Chemistry)
 

Photodynamic therapy (PDT) employs the combination of a photosensitizer, such as a porphyrin, and light to destroy diseased cells. For PDT to be most effective, the light that activates the drug must penetrate deep into tissue. However, while tissue is only transparent for red and infrared light, porphyrins cannot be activated using red light. Thus, our group has set out a program to modify synthetic porphyrins in a way that they can become photosensitizers which can be activated with red light. Although porphyrins are ubiquitous naturally occurring macrocycles, the regio-selective modification of them can be difficult. Hence, synthetic compounds are needed.

We modify a class sof symmetric meso-aryl-substituted porphyrins by formally replacing one pyrrole by a different heterocycle. One reaction sequence involves the cleavage of the ß,ß’-bond (1 to 2), followed by ring-closure to, in this example, form morpholine-derived porphyrin 3. Oxazole-, imidazole, and pyrazole-based systems are also available along this route.

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The REU student will do multi-step syntheses (1-4 steps), purification (column and preparative thin layer chromatography) and characterization (UV-vis, IR, fluorescence spectroscopy, NMR) of porphyrins and metalloporphyrins (NiII, ZnII, AgII). The student will learn many analytic and synthetic techniques employed in modern organic and coordination chemistry.

Brückner Group Web Site

 
Chemical Biology of Cell Migration
Dr. Gabriel Fenteany (Biological and Organic Chemistry)
 

Research in our lab is focused on chemical biology and involves taking a chemical approach to cell biology. We start with problems that are of interest from a biological standpoint and use a combination of chemical and cellular techniques to understand them. Working at the interface of chemistry and biology, we seek to answer questions that are hard to address with traditional biological approaches. A major focus is screening for small molecules with a desired biological effect and using these molecules as "probes" for use in affinity-based discovery, isolation and characterization of the cellular target. We are currently interested in problems relevant to wound healing, cancer and embryonic development.
Projects in our lab include:

• Organic chemistry to synthesize bioactive small molecules, including new synthetic methodology.
• Identification, manipulation and exploitation of new compounds that affect cell migration, and characterization of the molecular targets of these compounds.
• Molecular mechanism of action of antimigratory compounds; protein-small molecule interactions.
• Biochemical and cellular analysis of signaling pathways and function of specific proteins involved in cell motility.
• Mechanism underlying how groups of cells collectively generate force to drive movement of epithelial cell sheets
.

Students involved in our projects will get exposed to methods of protein biochemistry, cell biology and organic synthesis to make and modify bioactive small molecules.

Fenteany Group Web Site

 
Carotenoids in Biological Systems
Dr. Harry A. Frank (Biological and Physical Chemistry)
   

Carotenoids are ubiquitous brightly colored natural pigments that play many different roles in photosynthesis: Light-harvesting, photo-protection, singlet oxygen scavenging, excess energy dissipation, energy flow regulation, electron transfer and structure stabilization.

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A major goal of our research to understand how these molecules are able to carry out such diverse functions. The structures of carotenoids are being deduced in solution and in isolated photosynthetic pigment-protein complexes using X-ray diffraction, nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and resonance Raman spectroscopic techniques. In addition, information from steady state (absorption and fluorescence) and kinetic (nanosecond and femtosecond time-resolved) molecular spectroscopy is being used to help pinpoint specific molecular features that control the photochemical and photophysical processes they undergo in conjunction with chlorophyll. This research will expose the participating REU student to topics in biochemistry, microbiology, bioanalytical chemistry, molecular spectroscopy, kinetics, and quantum chemistry. No prior knowledge of these areas is required, however – only a willingness to learn.

For more information about our research on carotenoids please visit our group’s web site. 

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* The photograph was provided through the kind generosity of Mr. Jay Kimball, Wood's Seafood Market and Restaurant on the town pier, Plymouth, Massachusetts.
 
Molecular Mechanical Modeling of Gold Nanoclusters
Dr. José Gascon (Physical and Computational Chemistry)

In Prof. Gascon's group you will carry out multi-scale computer simulations to investigate the electronic, structural and dynamical properties of small gold nanoparticles embedded in a monolayer of thiolated ligands. Such levels of molecular detail will allow us to correlate structural properties with spectroscopy analysis. You will learn the fundamentals of various levels of theory, from Molecular Mechanics to Quantum Mechanics. If you are interested in chemistry and computation, this experience will challenge you and broaden your understanding of the importance of computational modeling in today's scientific endeavors.

Gascon Group Web Site

Synthesis of Novel Nucleosides
Dr. Amy R. Howell (Organic Chemistry)
 
Strained oxygen heterocycles, such as epoxides, play a role as biologically significant entities, as well as being versatile intermediates in the syntheses of a variety of molecules. Recently, our group has developed the first general synthesis of 1,5-dioxaspiro[3.2]¬hexanes 1, an unusual and little explored class of compounds. We discovered that dioxaspirohexanes display a fascinating dichotomy of reactivity, providing either highly functionalized ketones 2 or substituted oxetanes 3. We have recognized that with the proper nucleophile we can access novel nucleoside analogs 4. Nucleosides continue to be key therapeutic agents for the treatment of viral diseases, such as HIV and hepatitis B, and of certain types of cancer.
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The REU student will prepare appropriately substituted dioxaspiro¬hexanes by well-established protocols and explore conditions for the efficient conversion of these compounds to novel nucleoside analogs. The student will routinely use chromatographic (GC, TLC, column chromatography) and spectros¬copic (NMR, IR, GC/MS) techniques for the purification and identification of intermediates and products.

Howell Group Web Site

 
Shape-Memory Polymers
Dr. Rajeswari M. Kasi (Polymer Chemistry)

We seek to synthesize, characterize, and, thereby, achieve a fundamental understanding of new biocompatible stimuli-responsive polymers. Development of new synthetic methodologies, modification of existing synthetic routes, multidisciplinary approach to structure-property evaluation, and advanced characterization tools are the overriding factors to rational material design.
Shape memory polymers are a class of responsive polymers that show a reversible temporary shape change with temperature. Upon temperature reduction the initial or permanent shape is achieved once again. We are interested in exploring the influence of architecture and states of matter on shape memory application. The triggering temperature used for these applications could be the glass transition, melting or liquid crystalline transition temperature leading to a multi-variable shape memory approach, Figure 1. Shape memory polymers and hybrid structures can be used in drug delivery, tissue engineering scaffolds, artificial muscles, and actuators.

The undergraduate student researcher will be mentored by a graduate student and the faculty member. The student will learn synthetic polymer chemistry methods and characterization techniques to investigate stimuli-responsive and shape memory properties.

Kasi Group Web Site

Shape memory behavior of an amphiphilic polymer with a triggering T of 25 to 40°C

Biocatalytic Nanomaterials
Dr. C. Vijaya Kumar (Biophysical)

Our group is interested in synthesizing novel nanomaterials and use them to enhance the biological activities of enzymes, proteins and nucleic acids by rational approaches. In this program, the REU student will learn synthesis of nanomaterials by a very simple approach developed in our laboratories and use the materials for the nanoencapsulation of enzymes. The encapsulated enzymes will be tested for biological activities under extreme conditions, such as organic solvents, high temperatures, and extreme pHs. Nanoparticle-bound enzymes are finding extensive applications in medical diagnostics, organic synthesis, cancer therapy, and environmental remediation. For example, we are using nanoparticle-bound enzymes for the conversion of carbon dioxide into useful chemical substances. The student will gain experience in organic and inorganic synthesis as well as in spectroscopic methods and the activity evaluation of enzymes.

Kumar Group Web Site

 
From the Kitchen to the Lab
Dr. Nicholas Leadbeater (Inorganic Chemistry)

We all know that microwave ovens can be used for heating food fast. An exciting area of study in the synthetic chemistry community is the use of microwaves for making molecules rapidly, easily and cleanly. Using microwave heating, it is possible to enhance the rate of chemical reactions significantly and to do chemistry that was otherwise not possible. Unlike the microwave at home, we use state-of-the-art scientific microwave systems that allow precise control of reaction conditions. One limitation at the moment is the scale-up of reactions to make multi-gram or kilo quantities of compounds. However, we are about to receive a microwave apparatus that is designed to overcome this hurdle. As an REU student, you would play an important role in using this apparatus over the summer and would have your own mini-project focused around the use of microwave heating for scaling-up reactions. You will be mentored by a graduate student in the group. The reactions will be performed in water as a solvent rather than organic solvents thus making the chemistry more environmentally friendly. As well as being exciting, the project will introduce you to a range of modern synthetic chemistry techniques as well as analysis methods.

Leadbeater Group Web Site

 

Supramolecular Assembly of Polypeptides into Nanomaterials
Dr. Yao Lin (Polymer Chemistry)

Our research interests are to establish nanomaterial platforms that will bring in interesting biological characteristics (e.g. self assembly and hierarchical assembly) for technology applications. In this specific project, the students will work on the supramolecular polymerization of synthetic polypeptides (functionalized homopolymer, block or random copolymers, or brush-like complex polymers) in solution. The aim is to exploit the design principles and applications of complex macromolecules with intrinsic secondary structures components (e.g. alpha helices). Recently, we have successfully polymerized polypeptide-grafted brush-like polymers into giant superhelical structures (as shown in the transmission electronic microcopy image in the figure). We are now pursuing the general, rational design of polypeptide-based polymers that can be used as macromolecular monomers for supramolecular polymerization into other giant nanostructures. The students will work closely with the PI, the postdoc and the graduate students, and have plenty of opportunities to learn and use state-of-art synthesis and characterization methods available in the Chemistry department and at the Institute of Materials Science.
 

Nanoscale Controlled Light Emitting Devices by Self-Assembly Techniques
Dr. Fotios Papadimitrakopoulos (Polymer Chemistry)

Implantable biosensors could be a plausible way to continuously monitor blood glucose levels, provided they exhibit long-term stability and means to establish telemetry. However, their potential applications remain largely unexploited due to the negative tissue responses such as biofouling, inflammation, tissue fibrosis, and calcification generated by the implantation of such devices. Other problems such as electrical short, signal drifts and need for continuous calibration can lead to device malfunctioning and eventually failure. Also, one of the chief concerns is the possibility of sensor breakdown because of oxidative degradation of enzyme and other electrode coatings due to excess of hydrogen peroxide present in the immediate vicinity of the sensing electrode. This is a direct result of over-sampling of the glucose in the blood stream. Coating the device by a biocompatible, semipermeable membrane can rectify this situation. Apart from acting as a barrier to permeation of glucose, the membrane would protect the sensor from foreign molecules that cause fouling.
Our group investigated the simplistic, yet versatile approach of layer-by-layer (LBL) self-assembly of assembly of Humic Acids (Has), a naturally occurring biopolymer and Fe3+ cations. Not only did these coatings provide the required degree of glucose permeability, but in vivo results indicated their biocompatibility with reduced tissue fibrosis upon implantation. Furthermore, the conformation and growth characteristics of the HAs/Fe3+ membrane could be tailored by carefully adjusting the pH of the aqueous medium. Apart from the HAs/Fe3+ bilayers, we self-assembled films of HAs/poly (diallyldimethylammonium chloride) (PDDA) and also films of poly (styrene sulfonate) (PSS)/PDDA onto the sensory device. Moreover the diffusion coefficients of glucose through these membrane systems were investigated in order to explain the individual sensor response as it pertains to the microstructure of these outer semipermeable membranes. The hysterisis behavior of these sensors was studied as a function of permeability of the outer membrane. It was concluded that the microstructure of these coatings govern the permeability of glucose and correspondingly, the sensitivity, longevity and hysterisis of the sensors.
We plan to extend this outer membrane research to a more biocompatible polyelectrolytes like poly saccharides and proteins, which we aniticipate to finish within one summer. The incoming REU student will be exposed to a variety of techniques including electrochemical sensor fabrication, electro-analytical techniques, ellipsometry, enzyme immobilization, electropolymerization of conducting polymers, layer by layer assembly, in vitro and in vivo testing of electrochemical sensors as well diffusional based theoretical modeling of electrochemical sensors.

Papadim. Group Web Site

 
Synthesis as a Tool in Glycoscience
Dr. Mark W. Peczuh (Organic Chemistry)

Carbohydrates are indispensable to biological processes such as metabolism, protein folding, and cell-cell interactions. Our group is interested in the design, synthesis, and characterization (conformation, binding) of ring expanded carbohydrates that can interact with natural proteins such as lectins and glycosidases. The preparation of novel ligands of these two broad groups of carbohydrate binding proteins may provide new tools for glycobiology or even future drug leads.

The REU student will synthesize septanose carbohydrate glycosides and glycoconjugates designed for their ability to bind natural lectins and glycosidases. The routes for their synthesis will rely on established procedures, or will be developed by the student. They will be multistep sequences (4-6 steps), where compound purification (chromatography, crystallization) and spectroscopic characterization (NMR, IR, CD, MS) are critical aspects of the research.

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Peczuh Group Web Site

 
Cancer Biomarker Detection by Immunoarrays
Dr. James F. Rusling (Analytical, Physical Chemistry)
 

One focus of our research is to design immunoarrays for proteins based on nanomaterials. This project is in collaboration with materials scientist Profs. Papadimitrakopoulos at UConn and the NIH cancer biologists in Bethesda, MD, and has early cancer detection and monitoring as its goal. In this project, the REU student will utilize newly developed array fabrication and coating techniques to develop and evaluate electrochemical immunoarrays based on gold nanoparticle electrodes in microfluidic devices. Arrays will utilize captured antibodies spotted on multi-electrode chips to detect major protein biomarkers for oral and other cancers.

The student will develop analytical protocols for these analyses in serum samples, and attempt to improve sensitivity, detection limit and reproducibility compared to our existing arrays. The student will learn state-of-the-art biomedical sensor preparation technology utilizing nanoparticles and ink-jet biomolecule spotting. The student will also gain experience in electrochemical, AFM and spectroscopic analyses to monitor array fabrication, and the use amperometry for biomarker detection with the microfluidic arrays.

Rusling Group Web Site

 
Surface Initiated Polymerization on Inorganic Oxides
Dr. Thomas A.P. Seery (Polymer Chemistry)
 

Nanostructured materials have generated intense interest in recent years. The ability to control molecular structure on a scale intermediate between organic molecules and bulk matter has become increasingly important in technologies relying on thin organic films. Our research has advanced the concept of surface initiated polymerization (SIP) as a means to prepare conformal polymer monolayers on hard substrates. Gold and silicon oxide surfaces have been used as model systems to demonstrate this concept. Idealization of SIP consists of the following steps: (1.) Surface coverage of initiator is formed. (2.) Active catalyst is generated. (3.) Polymerization via chain growth mechanism provides polymer with catalyst on the living ends. (4.) Endcapping gives control over ultimate surface properties.
The REU student working on this project would lead the effort to extend this concept to titanium oxide surfaces. This is a fairly challenging task, but the student would be working alongside an interdisciplinary team of experienced graduate students and postdoctorals. The first task would involve functionalizing the titanium surface with monochlorosilane coupling agents that have terminal vinyl groups. The next step is detection of these species at the surface using ellipsometry and contact angle measurements. The vinyl species will be reacted with ruthenium alkylidene complexes to form catalytic species on the surface. Polymerization then occurs after addition of strained cyclic olefins. This project is modular, and the interdisciplinary nature will allow a student the freedom to focus on either synthetic or physical chemistry.

Seery Web Site

 
New AIDS Drugs, Polymer Reagents, Anti-Cancer Drugs, and Natural Product Isolation
Dr. Michael B. Smith (Organic Chemistry)
 

My laboratory uses synthetic methodology and total synthesis techniques to solve problems in areas ranging from biomedical applications, to environmentally friendly chemical processes. We are developing the total synthesis of the anti-cancer compound pancratistatin based on an intramolecular are-oxazolone-driven Diels-Alder strategy. We are also using a chiral lactam as a template, combined with ring-closing metathesis techniques to prepare several classes of biologically active alkaloids.
We have synthesized 5-hydroxymethyl-2-pyrrolidinones with nucleobases at C3, as a new class of anti-viral drugs, with the goal of treating HIV. We are collaborating with the department of periodontology at the UConn Health Center to synthesize and verify the structure of a series on lipids, isolated from Pseudomonas gingivalis, that are powerful inflammatory agents and lead to serious disease. There is also some evidence that these compounds are present in atherosclerosis plaques, suggesting a link to heart disease. The goal is to verify the structure of the compounds and prepare the inflammatory agents for further biological testing.
We have also discovered, in collaboration with Professor Gregory Sotzing, that conducting polymers oxidize alcohols, without the need to attach other reagents to the polymers. This constitutes a new paradigm in polymer chemistry and will be an important contribution to environmental chemistry. The polymer oxidant can be recycled and does not involve toxic heavy metals. This work has significant implication to sensor research, and we have also embarked on new methods for the synthesis of small-ring heterocycles, that can be used to prepare important monomers, that lead to new conducting polymers. we are also looking at the possibility of preparing hydrogel polymers that are conducting, for use as nerve regenerating agents.

Smith Group Web Site

 
Catalytic Conversion of Biomass
Dr. Steven L. Suib (Inorganic Chemistry)

Our NSF funded project involves the conversion of various biomass feeds like oils, Jatropha, and lignin into useful fuels and chemicals. A key feature of this work involves development of new heterogeneous catalysts that are stable and highly active. Besides synthesis an characterization of catalysts, catalytic reaction are also an important part of this research.

This project is ideal for an REU student, particularly in synthesis, where much of the apparatus and techniques have already been developed and the REU student can learn about various synthetic methods, characterization tools like XRD, BET, SEM, and reactor design. Kinetic and catalysis experiments will also be investigated, which involve use of various chromatographic and mass spectrometry methods for product analysis.

Suib Group Web Site

 
Mass Spectrometry to Investigate Micro-Scale Preparation of Peptide Samples
Dr. Xudong Yao (Analytical Chemistry and Biological Chemistry)
 
Mass spectrometry is used as a fast and sensitive tool to study peptides. Mass spectrometry analyzes charge-to-mass ratios of peptide ions in gas phase. A mass spectrum plots the intensities of ions against their charge-to-mass ratios. These ratios can be used to determine chemical structures of peptides, while the intensities give relative quantitation of the ions. Sample preparation of peptides is a key step for successful mass spectrometric analysis, and it is often done at a micro-scale. In REU summer projects, students will work on different sample manipulations of peptides such as chemical modification of peptide mixtures and use mass spectrometry to study the efficiency of various micro-scale procedures for peptide sample preparation.
The REU project will specifically investigate analytical challenges in mass spectrometric analysis of phosphopeptides. Phosphopeptides are fragments of phosphoproteins that are important regulators for cellular signaling. Analysis of protein phosphorylation is important to understand and treat various human diseases and to manipulate the fate of stem cells for therapeutic and regenerative applications. The REU researcher will study ß-elimination and Michael addition reactions of phosphopeptides. Objectives of the project are to minimize side reactions and maximize the efficiency of the sample preparation workflow that will be examined by high performance liquid chromatography and tandem mass spectrometry.


Yao Group Web Site
 
Optical Properties of Single Nanoparticles
Dr. Jung Zhao(Analytical Chemistry and Physical Chemistry)
 

Our group focuses on various optical spectroscopies of semiconductor and metallic nanoparticles, and analytes that are in the close proximity of the nanoparticles. The aim of our research is to characterize the optical and structural properties of nanoparticles at the single particle level, and to functionalize the nanoparticles to control and optimize their properties for biological sensing and imaging, and energy related applications.

The REU participant will work on the synthesis of metal nanoparticles, characterization of their structure, and the study of the light scattering properties of single nanoparticles. He/She would be working with the PI, experienced graduate students and postdocs. The student will be exposed to a variety of techniques including colloidal synthesis, electron microscopy, and dark field scattering spectroscopy.

Zhao Group Web Site

 
     
 
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