SUMMER UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH
At Alma College, we believe teamwork is important to the success of our students. After all, individuals don’t solve most scientific and medical problems–teams do! As part of the PRISM program, up to 20 first-year students will be given the opportunity to participate in a summer research program, where they will work one-on-one with a faculty member. Each student will receive a stipend of $2,500, housing, and 4 academic credits.
This opportunity is great for a number of reasons:
During the academic year, you’re busy with a full load of courses, on-campus activities, and trying to get a few hours of sleep. Now, you can concentrate on your research and really enjoy it!
It’s unlike any other opportunity you will have–you will not only work one-on-one with a faculty member while conducting research, you will interact with your department in a way you never have before.
From beginning to end, you will be part of every step of the research process. This means you will assist in selecting a research project, write your results, and everything else in between.
Your work has the opportunity to be published or presented at a national conference or at Honors Day. How many students have that on their résumé? Here at Alma, it’s not uncommon.
After completing your research, you will be known as a Research Associate and as a peer mentor for the research project.
Summer 2013 Research Projects
If you are currently a first-year student at Alma College, you can apply for one of this year's PRISM Summer Research Projects. The deadline for application is February 15. You can download the application form here.
Synthesis of Biomimics and Therapeutic Agents
Faculty Supervisor: Joel Dopke, Chemistry
Our research focuses on the synthesis of new molecules with specific applications to clean energy production or toward experimental cancer treatments. One project will seek to make sulfur-rich binding environments for transition metals. Some biomolecules utilize metals in sulfur-rich environments to catalyze many small-molecule transformations, such as the conversion of H+ to H2 or the reduction of CO2 to chemically useful CO or HCO2–. A second project investigates the modification of boron hydride clusters relevant to Boron Neutron Capture Therapy with the aim of producing tissue-specific tags for drug delivery.
Spatial and Thermal Ecology of Freshwater Turtles
Faculty Supervisor: John Rowe, Biology
We are currently conducting research on movements of Blanding's Turtles as they relate to social behavior and landscape features. In Painted Turtles, we are studying the effects of habitat use and behaviors on body temperature regulation and also the effects of environmental features on skin color determination. In our work, we rely heavily on radio telemetric techniques, spectrometric measurements, and other remote monitoring technologies.
Effect of Temperature, Exercise, and Cardiovascular Stress on Cardiovascular and Temperature Regulation
Faculty Supervisors: Maurie Luetkemeier/John Davis, Integrative Physiology and Health Science
Physiological stress places significant demands on cardiovascular and temperature regulatory function that require compensatory responses. The purpose of this project will be to assess these responses in humans during exercise and other physiologic challenges.
Wicked Fast Numerical Computing on the GPU
Faculty Supervisor: Andrew Thall, Computer Science
Modern graphics cards (GPUs) have 10-100x more compute power than typical Intel-based processors. My research uses the GPU to perform numerical computations, such as prime-number testing on numbers with millions of digits, with coordinated searches using multiple networked machines. A student working with me will learn about numerical computing, GPU parallel computing, and inter-network communication, while developing skills with programming languages like CUDA and Python
Environmental Impacts of Industrial Agriculture.
Faculty Supervisor: Murray Borrello, Geology and Environmental Studies
Studies in environmental studies will link with biology and possibly biochemistry and will investigate impacts of large-scale industrial agriculture on water quality, air quality and health. Specifically, research will take the form of field sampling around the county and lab analyses of different media (water and air) looking for nutrient concentrations and antibiotic resistance and potential source(s).
Natural Product Drug Discovery: Biological and Chemical Investigation of Medicinal Plants
Faculty Supervisor: Brian Doyle, Biotechnology
My research aims to identify the biologically active chemical constituents in plants that have a history of use in traditional medicine. This involves aspects of botany, chemistry and biology, and may result in the discovery of new drugs or botanical alternatives to costly pharmaceuticals.
Primary Cell Culture Models of Muscle Myogenesis
Faculty Supervisor: Karen Ball, Integrative Physiology and Health Science
Cell Culture provides an excellent model system to study regulators of muscle tissue formation, both skeletal and cardiac muscle. The work to be carried out will focus on establishing primary cell cultures of mammalian skeletal myoblasts, including human myoblasts. This work will include characterization of the impact of statins on primary cultures, comparing this with data from myoblast cell lines.
Tracking Antibiotic Resistance Genes in the Agricultural Setting
Faculty Supervisor: Tim Keeton, Biology
Over half of the antibiotics used in the United States are given to beef and dairy animals, many of these in large concentrated feedlots. We are in the process of determining local resistance gene hotspots, and the effect(s) agricultural use of antibiotics may have, if any, on local microbial populations. The work will involve some fieldwork (sample collection and storage), and will provide experience in molecular and microbiological lab techniques.
Asteroid Impact Studies
Faculty Supervisor: Melissa Strait, Chemistry
Concern over ways to address the problem of a giant asteroid impacting the Earth has led to our studies of the consequences of hypervelocity impacts between bodies in the solar system. Using the Ames Vertical Gun range, small bodies are impacted with a projectile and the resulting debris is collected and analyzed in our lab. We measure the sizes of the holes in Al-foil targets, we weigh the physical debris and we use this information to see how different materials disrupt.
Synthesis and Reactivity of Heterometallic Complexes
Faculty Supervisor: Nancy Dopke, Chemistry
The energy from direct methanol fuel cells (DMFCs) is generated from the oxidation of methanol on a platinum/ruthenium electrode. This project uses heterometallic transition metal complexes of platinum and ruthenium, inspired by the reactivity of the Pt/Ru electrodes, to investigate how structural changes influence reactivity. Our work involves the synthesis and characterization of complexes using a variety of air and moisture sensitive techniques and utilizes atmospheric oxygen to investigate their reactivity with alcohols.