Thursday, July 28, 2016

Summer Research in the Muna Lab

David Aupperle is making the transition between his freshman and sophomore year as a chemistry major - and he isn't taking the easy road.  He is spending most of his summer in Professor Muna's laboratory learning and applying electrochemistry.  David's project is to develop a stable palladium modified electrode that offers long term stability and efficiency in catalyzing the electro-oxidation of steroid hormones. The ultimate goal is to employ this electrode for electrochemical detection of steroid hormones in water. 

David is the first student to be awarded the new Carolyn & Lawrence Garber Summer Research Scholarship which provides support for full-time research for one lucky student in the department.  David plans to attend graduate school to receive a Ph.D. in chemistry.  With interests in education, he is uncertain whether to pursue a career in industry or academics - but he has plenty of time to decide.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Summer Research in the Rizk Lab

Biochemistry Professor Shahir Rizk has three students working with him on three separate projects. The first is Pierre-Emmanuel N'Guetta [left photo], an international student from Ivory Coast majoring in biology.  He is continuing a research project that began in the Fall semester with the CHEM-C 486 (biochemistry laboratory) students designing a biosensor for glyphosate, the active ingredient in the herbicide RoundUp . Pierre plans to pursue a career in the medical field.

Next up are Michele Costantino (left) and Riley Bigelow (right) shown in the second photo.  Both students are biochemistry majors funded by SMART grants (student-mentor academic research team).  Michele is working on engineering reversible self-assembly of biological molecules with applications in the design of new nano materials and biosensors. She hopes to continue doing research at the graduate level.

Riley is working on engineering new proteins that can modulate the activity of enzymes with the hope of rescuing a dysfunctional enzyme that is caused by genetic mutations associated with inherited severe combined immune deficiency (SCID). This is a deadly disease with very few treatment options. She will also be investigating whether this technology can be applied to other genetic disorders.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Shahir Presents Work at Protein Symposium

Biochemistry professor Shahir Rizk travelled to Baltimore, Maryland last week to attend the 30th Annual Symposium of the Protein Society.  This is a yearly gathering for protein scientists spanning many disciplines including protein folding, structure, characterization and engineering. It also features the latest technologies and cutting-edge tools for researchers. Rizk presented his poster titled Controlling protein structure and function using engineered allosteric effectors which describes work based on collaborations with Rizk's colleagues from the University of Chicago, Notre Dame and Indiana University School of Medicine.  Rizk has only been at IU South Bend for a year, but has already built a bustling research program with three undergraduate students hard at work this summer.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Internships at IU South Bend

The IU South Bend Foundations magazine for alumni and friends of the university feature two students from our department in an article about internships for their spring/summer 2016 issue.  The photographs above are taken from the Foundations magazine - online issues may be found here: Foundations magazine.  Internships, and also undergraduate research, are valuable opportunities that help students learn more about their subject and get an idea of what working full time in their field might be like. Such experiences also look very impressive on resumes and applications to graduate or medical school.
Carrington Boyd is a senior chemistry major who received internship credit for her work at The Indiana Whiskey Company.  She was introduced to the occasional distillation in the sophomore organic chemistry lecture and lab, but now deals with the process daily. Carrington is quoted in the article as saying "I put into practice the concepts I learned in the classroom to make enough whiskey to meet the demands of our customers." 

Krista Schilling interned at Lebermuth Company during the summer after her junior year. Lebermuth extracts and purifies naturally occurring fragrances, flavors, and essential oils.  Krista remarked "I learned what it really means to be a scientist.  Instead of using some of these instruments once, I was able to use them every day.  My summer internship at Lebermuth taught me what it means to work as a scientist, all day, every day.  I loved it."  Krista graduated with a B.S. Biochemistry degree just this past May.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Summer STEP Program

This summer our department offered one of three classes as part of the campus's STEP program (Summer Teen Enrichment Program).  STEP offers students who are entering one of the four years of high school exposure to an area of college study with a focus on hands-on experience.  Adjunct Professor Pat Boettcher took a group of these students through a one-week adventure in forensics science in five three-hour lab based sessions.  Boettcher is pictured here holding a piece of thin-layer chromatography paper in a developing jar used to separate the different components in certain over-the-counter medicines according to their solubility in a solvent.  Classroom data - in the form of unitless retardation factor - appears behind him on the blackboard.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Alumnus Spotlight - Kasey Clear

IU South Bend graduate Kasey Clear (Chemistry, 2011) was awarded his Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Notre Dame for his dissertation Molecular Probes for Biomembrane Recognition.  During his five-year journey through graduate school, Kasey published research in Bioconjugate Chemistry, Chemical Communications, Journal of Materials Chemistry, Analyst, and even co-wrote the book chapter Synthetic Receptors for Polar Lipids in the book titled Synthetic Receptors for Biomolecules edited by his thesis advisor.  He somehow still managed time for activities other than coursework and research. Here he is pictured helping out with the "You be the Chemist" Challenge - a nationwide contest for students in grades 5 to 8. 
This fall Kasey is heading to Murray State University in Kentucky to start his professional career as an organic chemistry professor.  The department offers undergraduate and masters degrees.   He was attracted to Murray State in part by its well-equipped research laboratories where he plans to continue research - but Kasey also says that his positive experiences as an undergraduate at IU South Bend influenced his decision to take a position at Murray State, a regional public university like ours.  We are all very proud of you, Kasey.  Congratulations! And good luck! 

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Graduate Letty Black Publishes Research

Almost two months after graduation, Letty Black has received a late graduation present: becoming a published author.  Her computational work with Professor Marmorino was just published in the Journal of Mathematical Chemistry in an 'Online First' format before being assigned to a particular volume of the print journal.  Letty worked with Marmorino during the summer of 2015 between her junior and senior years.  Their research generalized an old formula (scalar version) that computes lower bounds to the expectation values of positive operators to a matrix method, hence the title: Lower bounds to the ground-state expectation value of non-negative operators.  Essentially this means that they improved on a method to calculate HALF of an error bar (just the LOWER bound) to properties such as the average distance (always positive) of an atom's electron(s) from the nucleus. Such a distance varies with the state of the atom - for example the 1s state of the hydrogen atom keeps the electron close to the nucleus but a 4d state of the hydrogen atom keeps the electron much further on average.  Only for the hydrogen atom are these distances known exactly; for all other atoms we have only estimates from theory.  Congratulations to Letty on her publication!