Students Tackle Summer Research in the Sciences
While many buildings on campus stood empty this summer, the Dow
Science Center and the Kapp Science Laboratory Center were filled
with the sounds of student and faculty research from a variety of
departments, including biology, biochemistry and chemistry.
Topics ranged from “Plankton Dynamics in a Bog-Dystrophic Lake” to “Surface Analysis of Foil Detectors from High Velocity Impacts of Meteorite Fragments.” Students presented their research during a campus forum in September.
Students conduct science research.
“Students can get a lot from the textbook and laboratory
coursework, but research is a completely different experience,” says
Jeff Turk, assistant professor of chemistry. “Undergraduate research
breeds students that become mature, confident and independent problem
“Professionally, it not only helps me with my research, but the commitment of investing that time in a student is very satisfying,” he says.
“This was a great experience because it is helpful to have research on your resume,” says senior Daniel Gonzales-Morales. “It was a good learning process. I got a chance to show what I learned in the classroom and apply it to laboratory work. I'm very grateful to the chemistry department for the opportunity.”
A sampling of students’ research projects is below.
Student: Amanda Rogers, senior biology major
Title of Project: “Characteristics of Winter Territories in Falco Sparverius (American Kestrel)”
Description of Project: “I worked out at the bog doing bird banding and a territory study of the veery. The territory study consisted of catching the veery, putting radio transmitters on them and following them around. Each bird had a unique frequency that was transmitted, and we could pick up with a receiver. We marked the points where we found the birds, and we are going to be gathering GPS data. The GPS points can then be used in a computer program to make maps of the territories and determine the size.”
Faculty Advisor: Mike Bishop
Student: Daniel Gonzalez-Morales, senior biology and chemistry major
Title of Project: “Synthesis, Analysis and Derivatization of Nitrogen and Sulfur-Containing Ligands”
Description of Project: “I was working with Dr. Joel Dopke on a research project involving ligands containing a combination of N and S atoms attached to a benzene-containing cyclononane backbone. These ligands bind metal ions and create metal complexes that will assist in studying the transfer of metal ions in biological and environmental chemistry. We were able to isolate one of these ligands and react it with zinc and other transition metals successfully. I was responsible for my own laboratory workstation along with equipment and instruments such as the rotovap, NMR, IR and ion selective electrode. Working with Dr. Dopke gave me an opportunity to learn new methods and techniques in inorganic and organic chemistry. This has been a great opportunity for me because I will present our findings at the March National American Chemical Society meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah.”
How I became interested in the research: “I was always interested in doing research, but since I'm a double major I don't have room for it in my schedule during the school year. When the opportunity to research during the summer was offered, I said I would do it for free; little did I know I was going to be getting paid for it.”
Faculty Advisor: Joel Dopke
Student: Christopher E. Duymich, junior biochemistry major
Title of Project: “Synthesis and Evaluation of Group-1 Neuraminidase Inhibitors”
Description of Project: “I was working on designing and synthesizing group-1 Neuraminidase inhibitors. My project involved the actual synthesis of possible molecules that could inhibit the sialic acid cleavage. We were able to successfully synthesize a few of the intended products and are working on streamlining the process. Once we finish this process, we would then be able to do neuraminidase inhibition tests with H1N1 Influenza. These tests would allow us to see how well our molecules inhibit the sialic acid cleavage.”
How I became interested in the research: “I have always been fascinated with the field of chemistry, especially organic synthesis. I really enjoy working in the lab, and this was a perfect opportunity to learn some new chemistry and work in a different lab environment to gain more experience. It has been an ongoing learning experience.”
Faculty Advisor: Jeffrey Turk
Student: Kelsey Hughes, senior biochemistry major
Title of Project: “Sulfotransferase Dimerizing Monomers”
Description of Project: “I characterized two mutant bovine phenol sulfotransferases that I constructed during the previous academic year. After purifying the proteins, I determined their pH-activity profiles, measured their catalytic kinetic properties, and performed equilibrium titration binding studies. The mutants behave comparably to the wild-type enzyme in most respects, although some data indicate different kinetic properties. This work is ongoing.”
How I became interested in the research: “I have been involved in research since my sophomore year because I enjoy working independently to learn both theory and application of experiments to a relevant scientific question.”
Faculty advisor: Joe Beckmann
Posted: Mon, October 13th, 2008 at 8:54AM