Undergraduate Research Project Descriptions
Professor Lola Eniola Adefeso
Our overall research interest is in understanding dynamics of blood flow adhesion. Characterization of blood flow dynamics can help increase understanding of important biological processes like the cellular immune and inflammatory responses, and lead to the development of technologies such as cell separation and targeted drug delivery.
PROJECT #1: Leukocyte Adhesion Studies in Parallel Plate Flow Chambers – Evaluation of Platelet-Enhanced Neutrophil Adhesion
Dynamic interactions between leukocytes in the blood stream and the endothelial cells lining the blood vessels in response to inflammation are a hallmark of immune physiology. These interactions are mediated by cell adhesion molecules expressed on leukocyte and endothelial cell surfaces and are governed by blood flow dynamics and tissue-produced chemical stimuli. A recently published work suggests a role for platelets in leukocyte adhesion from flow and migration into tissues. We seek to elucidate the mechanism by which blood platelets enhance leukocyte (neutrophils) adhesion to the endothelium. This project will involve in vitro flow adhesion assays with human platelets, neutrophils and endothelial cells. Student(s) will also learn cell culture and fluorescence imaging techniques.
PROJECT #2: Characterization of the flow adhesion dynamics of vascular targeted drug carriers - Evaluation of Drug Carrier Blood Compatibility
Vascular-targeted drug carriers are often designed to locally deliver therapeutics that can eliminate (or control) disease phenotype in targeted tissue. For this reason, it becomes important that these carriers themselves do not elicit immune responses that can exacerbate the status quo. While blood concentration of targeted particles is not likely to elicit leukocyte reaction, a significant concentration bound to the endothelium at the target site could potentially affect local leukocyte-EC interaction by physical contact or molecular interaction. Student will use in vitro flow adhesion assays to evaluate increased leukocyte-endothelium interaction that is due to the presence of targeted drug carriers. Particularly, human leukocytes (neutrophils and monocytes) in whole blood (obtained by venipuncture from healthy donors) or isolated will be perfused in a flow chamber over activated endothelial monolayers with endothelium-targeted drug carriers already bound to their surface.
Professor H. Scott Fogler
Research of my group can be seen at: http://www.engin.umich.edu/dept/cheme/fogler.html
PROJECT #3: Asphaltene precipitation kinetics
Asphaltenes are known as the cholesterol of the petroleum industry. This project is a fundamental study on the onset of asphaltene precipitation and the growth of the primary particles. The onset is measured by the refractive index and by optical microcopy.
PROJECT #4: Barium Sulfate kinetics, deposition and scale formation
In the enhanced oil recovery technique of water flooding water, water containing sulfates is injected into the formation to push out the oil. Unfortunately it can mix with the ground water in the reservoir that contains barium to form a barium sulfate precipitate which can plug the pores in the reservoirs as well as damaging downstream equipment.
This project studies the kinetics of the precipitation in small capillary used to simulate the reservoir pores.
PROJECT #5: Web modules (MS/UG)
A. The development of reaction kinetic modules for tissue growth.
This past summer some initial work was undertaken to model the growth of tissue as replacement skin for burn victims using very simple kinetic models.
B. The pharmacokinetics of drugs and venom in the body.
Recent models we have developed on the application of reaction engineering to cobra venom (see web module) have been adopted/referenced by the Canadian Zoological Society as describing the interactions of venom and anti venom.
The use of microreactors to replace industrial reactors is a major focus in the CPI. This project will use FEMLAB to model banks of microreactors interdispersed with cooling channels. Highly exothermic reactions will be the emphasis of the initial modeling.
Professor Sharon Glotzer
PROJECT #6: Bio-inspired nanoscale assembly
We use computer simulation to study the spontaneous formation of biologically-inspired complex patterns in nanoparticle materials for applications to, e.g., photonics, nanoelectronics, drug delivery, sensors. A brief description of our work in this area is given at: http://www.engin.umich.edu/dept/che/research/glotzer/.
PROJECT #7: Structure and dynamics of supercooled liquids and glasses
We use computer simulation to study the nature of supercooled liquids and their tendency towards crystallization and vitrification. A brief description of our work in this area is given at: http://www.engin.umich.edu/dept/che/research/glotzer/.
PROJECT #8: Self-assembly of nanostructures for energy applications
We use computer simulations to study the self-assembly of nanoparticles for applications to photovoltaics (solar cells) and other energy-related applications. More information may be found at http://www.engin.umich.edu/dept/che/research/glotzer/.
Professor Jinsang Kim
PROJECT #9: Flexible conjugated polymer-based solar cells
My research groups have synthesized various conjugated polymers to developed flexible solar cells. In this project, an undergraduate student will do nano-imprinting the conjugated polymers on a flexible substrate to make well-defined thin layer films of conjugated polymers with nano-holes first. The nano-holes will be infiltrated with electron transporting materials, for example, C60, carbon nanotubes, and columnar liquid crystals. Finally a metal electrode layer will be deposited on the nano-composite toward the flexible solar cells. Students will learn about conjugated polymers, nano-imprinting, solar cell fabrication and performance measurement.
PROJECT #10: Polarized fluorescence emission
Current LCD display requires color filters, a polarizer layer, and liquid crystal alignment layers. In this project, an undergraduate student will explore fluidic layer-by-layer molecular deposition method that has been developed in my research group to make well-aligned conjugated polymer thin layer films. We aim to produce polarized emission and liquid crystal alignment out of the aligned thin layer films of conjugated polymer. The student will do photo fluorescence study, novel thin layer fabrication study, and liquid crystal alignment study through this project.
PROJECT #11: Latent fluorescence imaging and optical data storage device
We have developed a new class of conjugated oxadiazole-containing polymers. These polymers showed very interesting properties. Upon UV irradiation the polymers show enhanced fluorescence emission so that we could make sharp fluorescent latent images on the polymer films. Interestingly the latent image can be deleted by heat treatment of the film. We also found that we could rewrite another image on the same film after the deletion of the previous image. An undergraduate student will investigate these polymers to understand this novel phenomena and find the optimum condition to use these novel polymers as a new optical data storage material and/or latent fluorescent imaging material. The student will learn about photophysics, thin layer fabrication methods, and image patterning.
PROJECT #12: Self-signal amplifying molecular biosensors
We have been devising molecular sensors having a dual-signaling capability; visible color change and fluorescence emission. The capability to generate a visible color change upon recognition of a target analytes will allow equipment-free detection. Fluorescence emission signaling upon detection is designed to provide a high sensitivity by means of signal amplification via the fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET). The sensory molecules are composed of a receptor, a diacetylene moiety, and a fluorophore. The molecules are devised to self-assembled to form a liposome followed by topochemical polymerization of the diacetylene moiety. The receptor will undergo a shape change upon recognition of a target analyte. This shape change will turn on the mechanochroism of the polydiacetylene unit of the liposome and produce a color change and develop fluorescence emission. Once the fluorescence emission is turned on the fluorescence energy of the fluorophore will amplify the turned-on signal through FRET. This research project has various interesting aspects; molecular design, self-assembly, sensor physics, and device fabrication.
Professor Nicholas Kotov
PROJECT #13: Biodegradable Inverted Colloidal Crystal Scaffolds for Bone Regeneration
Cell culture and biomaterials can benefit from the use of scaffold materials that can be modified easily1. Precise design of three-dimensional structures is essential for controlling nutrient diffusion, interstitial fluid and blood flow, and cell growth, function, and differentiation2. Engineered bone tissue substitutes can be used to regenerate or replace damaged or diseased tissues for victims of trauma, congenital and degenerative diseases, and are especially pertinent for military surgery in the reconstruction of facial or extremity fractures and scar reduction.
This project will focus on the preparation of bone-mimicking scaffolds with accurately controlled 3D geometry and surface topography. This project will utilize the combination of two new scaffold engineering approaches tools: inverted colloidal crystal (ICC) geometry, and layer-by-layer surface modification with bioactive nanostructured materials and proteins. The topology of the scaffold will be closely packed spherical cavities arranged in a hexagonal crystal lattice. This ICC arrangement optimizes the effects of 3D architecture and nanoscale topography to provide a favorable environment for cell growth. Specifically, the highly ordered structure of ICC offers a uniform cellular environment for differentiation and growth, as well as one of the highest porosities and surface areas for cell growth attachment. Additionally, the pore diameter can be precisely controlled within from 100 nm to 500 microns, which opens unique possibilities for optimization of 3D cell environment. The ICC geometry has been shown to be conducive to the growth of human hepatocellular carcinoma cells and, human bone marrow stromal cells3 and recently for osteoblasts and osteoclasts.
Scaffolds will be constructed of biodegradable polymers, such as polylactic acid (PLA) or poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA). I will develop cell imaging techniques to obtain information in cell culture about cell status within the scaffolds. I will also test the short-term and long-term time release capabilities of the scaffolds for parathyroid hormone and bone morphogenic proteins. Lastly, in-vivo testing in animals of the bone-regenerating scaffolds will establish potential problems and corresponding solutions related to the potential use of the scaffolds as implantable material for bone tissue regeneration.
1. Entcheva, E., Bien, H., Yin, L., Chung, C-Y., Farrell, M., Kostov, Y. Biomaterials (2004), 25 (26), 5753-5762.
2. Taboas, J.M., Maddox, R.D., Krebsbach, P.H., Hollister, S.J. Biomaterials (2003), 24 (1), 181-194.
3. Kotov, N.A., Liu, Y., Wang, S., Cumming, C., Eghtedari, M., Vargas, G., Motamedi, M., Nichols, J., Cortiella, J. Langmuir (2004), 20 (19), 7887-7892.
PROJECT #14: Ultrastrong nanocomposites from carbon nanotubes
It is well known that single wall carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) are the strongest material known to mankind. However, this strength is confined to very small dimensions of single nanotubes. It is exceptionally challenging to create nanocomposites from them due to their intrinsic ability to aggregate and poor connectivity with the matrix. The layer-by-layer assembly (LBL) technology described above is used here to create a new type of SWNT composites, in which these drawbacks can be circumvented. Additionally, LBL technology affords aligning SWNT in a desirable direction which can lead to composites with unique mechanical properties with a wealth of applications from medicine to space exploration.
PROJECT #15: Interface of nanomaterials with neurons for neuroprosthetic devices
Nanostructured composites can be a tremendous source of for the design of a new generation of biomaterials. However, little is known about the actual interactions that might take place between them. Additionally, it would be advantages to prepare nanomaterials that can actively communicate with living cells. This goal is put forward in this project. Nanostructured films from nanoparticles are known to be photo- and electroactive. Therefore, we decided to combine them with electroactive cells, such as neurons. The light adsorbed in the nanoparticle layers generates a voltage at the interface of the neuron cell and creates a signal. Recently we succeeded in registration of action potential of neurons in such system (collaboration with Todd Pappas, UTMB). In a distant perspective, these findings open the possibility to create artificial retiana and information echange interface between brain and a computer.
PROJECT #16: Effect of nanoparticles on stem cells
(1) Preparation of biocompatible nanoparticle multilayers that can be attached to nerve cells. (2) Registration and characterization of the photo-induced nerve cell membrane currents and potentials following optical excitation of the interface as function of NP and biological structures. (3) Optimization of NP-cell coupling for different interface structure.
PROJECT #17: Preparation of biosensors from semiconductor nanowires
Nanoparticles of CdTe were found to spontaneously reorganize into crystalline nanowires upon controlled removal of the protective shell of organic stabilizer. The intermediate step in the nanowire formation was found to be pearl-necklace aggregates. Strong dipole-dipole interaction is believed to be the driving force of nanoparticle self-organization. The linear aggregates subsequently recrystalized into nanowires whose diameter was determined by the diameter of the nanoparticles. The produced nanowires have high aspect ratio, uniformity, and optical activity. The luminescence images of the single nanowires of different diameters had been obtained. These findings demonstrate the collective behavior of nanoparticles and a convenient simple technique for production of one-dimensional semiconductor colloids suitable for subsequent processing into quantum-confined superstructures, materials and devices
PROJECT #18: Energy applications of nanomaterials
(1) Preparation of biocompatible nanoparticle multilayers that can be attached to nerve cells. (2) Registration and characterization of the photoinduced nerve cell membrane currents and potentials following optical excitation of the interface as function of NP and biological structures. (3) Optimization of NP-cell coupling for different interface structure.
Professor Joerg Lahann
PROJECT #19: Anisotropic Multicompartmental Nanoparticles via Electrohydrodynamic Co-jetting
Nanoparticles are an attractive technological platform for a multitude of biomedical applications including drug delivery, tissue engineering, biosensing, and diagnostics. In the Lahann lab we fabricate multicompartmental particles via a process known as electrohydrodynamic co-jetting; we can incorporate multiple functionalities into these particles in a combinatorial fashion, allowing for the ability to produce a wide array of particles with diverse capabilities. We are looking for motivated and diligent students who would learn a variety of skills and work on various aspects of our projects, including manufacturing particles and post-fabrication processing, including chemical modifications. We are also looking for students who are interested in the testing of such particles in vitro and potentially in vivo as well.
PROJECT #20: Anisotropic Nanoparticles for the Delivery of Therapeutics and Imaging Agents
Current research in drug delivery attempts to address the delivery of multiple therapeutics with distinct pharmacokinetics, sustained release over a set period of time, and fabrication of novel nanoparticles as carriers for targeted delivery. Through electrohydrodynamic co-jetting, our group has thus far been able to display the fabrication of multi-compartmental, biodegradable nanoparticles capable of selective surface modification and dissolution. The undergraduate student will be involved in the manufacturing, as well as further processing (surface modification and separation), of the nanoparticles and testing of their efficacy in vitro.
Professor Ronald Larson (SROP only)
PROJECT #21: Polymer Fluid Mechanics
Polymers are shaped into final products through fluid flow. The aim of this project is to develop practical models of a polymer chain that can be used in fluid flow predictions. For polymer molecules in dilute solutions, typically a bead-spring model is used for simulation that contains a series of beads connected by springs. The project involves computer predictions of polymer chain deformations in flows and how this affects fluid flow properties. Previous undergraduate students on this project have been co-authors of a paper published in the scientific literature. No prior programming experience is required but familiarity with any programming language would be very useful. The student would have an opportunity to learn about computer simulations and data analysis and would learn how polymer molecules in flow can be modeled.
PROJECT #36: Reconfiguration dynamics of colloidal structures
Colloidal particles can assemble into a myriad of structures by virtue of the many interaction forces available to them. Variable range attraction and repulsion and non-isotropic character, exemplified by Janus particles (spherical or ellipsoidal particles with patchy interactions) and "Pacman" particles (particles with dimples that serve as docks for other particles), are examples of the versatility of colloidal particles as building blocks. The project involves computer simulation of reconfiguring colloidal structures in different scenarios. This information will enable the design of novel materials and applications (photonics, chemical sensors, optically active materials). No prior programming experience is required but familiarity with any programming language would be very useful. Students working in this project will be able to learn about dynamic computer simulations and colloidal forces of different kinds and their effect on observed structures.
Professor Xiaoxia (Nina) Lin
PROJECT #22: System-Level Modeling and Engineering of Microorganisms for Bio-Fuel Production
Bio-fuels, derived from renewable biomass, offers a promising alternative to conventional fossil fuels which will potentially benefit US significantly by promoting agricultural growth, energy security and environmental sustainability. To achieve cost-effective large-scale production of bio-fuels such as ethanol derived from plant cell walls, it requires multidisciplinary research efforts to overcome many biological, technological and economical challenges. Our lab is interested in developing computational and experimental approaches for better understanding and engineering of micro-organisms which play important roles in bio-fuel production, for example, in the fermentation of cellulosic sugars into ethanol. More specifically, one new strategy we are exploring is to utilize microbial communities for accomplishing complex bioconversion processes. Interested undergraduate students are encouraged to participate actively in our research and will learn experimental techniques in applied microbiology and/or computational methods such as metabolic network modeling.
Professor Jennifer Linderman
PROJECT #23: Systems biology of tuberculosis
An estimated one-third of the human population is infected with the bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb). Granulomas are self-organizing collections of immune cells that form in the lungs after inhalation of Mtb. They both contain the infection and provide a niche for bacterial survival. Persons with latent tuberculosis can survive for decades with granulomas (and thus the bacteria) in their lungs. Understanding granuloma formation and maintenance thus provides a key to identifying as well as manipulating factors that lead to different outcomes following infection. In this project, we use experimental work and mathematical modeling to understand the factors that influence granuloma formation and maintenance. Our approach is both multi-scale (in space and time) and multi-system (monkey, mouse, and mathematical models). Typical projects in this area involve writing and running simulations of cell behavior and comparing output to experimental data.
This project will focus on the measurement of thermodynamic and transport properties for redox flow batteries (RFBs). RFBs are a novel type of rechargeable battery system that stores chemical energy in a liquid, rather than in a solid. They are useful for grid-scale energy-storage applications because the battery capacity scales with the volume of liquid reactant, which can be varied independently of the reactor mass. Our group has developed several new RFB chemistries that deliver higher voltage than state-of-the-art RFBs (like the aqueous all-vanadium RFB or the Zn-Br hybrid flow battery). These chemistries exploit reactions wherein a metal-organic coordination complex disproportionates into oxidized and reduced species. The voltages delivered by these reactions are so high that they split water, so our RFB systems must be operated with non-aqueous solvents. Because information regarding non-aqueous electrolytic solutions is sparse, a significant experimental characterization effort is needed to understand how the thermodynamic properties of non-aqueous single-metal RFB electrolytes affect their energy density. Also, since RFBs involve multicomponent diffusion/reaction systems, novel theoretical techniques are needed to simulate RFB operation.
Professor Sunitha Nagrath
PROJECT #26: Sensitive isolation of circulating tumor cells : A project to optimize a
capture platform to isolate cancer cells
PROJECT #27: Hydrodynamic focusing in microchannels: Studying the complex interaction of
cells and structures in microfluidic channels to separate cancer cells based
Professor Phillip Savage
PROJECT #28: Converting Biomass to Renewable Fuels
Reacting biomass (energy crops, algae, used cooking oil) in water at elevated temperatures and pressures breaks down the biomacromolecules and converts them to smaller molecules that are in the range of liquid and gaseous fuels. We are using this hydrothermal processing approach to convert lignocellulosic biomass into H2 or CH4 and to convert algae into liquid transportation fuels. We are also investigating the ability of different heterogeneous catalysts to accelerate reaction rates and provide better selectivity for producing desired products. Undergraduate research projects are available that involve planning and conducting reaction experiments, analyzing the reaction products, and interpreting the experimental data. SURE and SROP students will work closely with an experienced PhD student throughout the summer. The undergraduate course that is most directly related to this research is chemical reaction engineering.
Professor Johannes Schwank (SROP only)
PROJECT #29: Deactivation Mechanisms of Diesel Exhaust Gas Sensors
Diesel exhaust gas and particulate matter sensors pay an important role in assuring the proper function of emission control systems in Diesel vehicles. However, these sensors suffer from problems with contamination. There appear to be three different types types on contamination, but the actual mechanisms and root causes of the contamination are not yet known. In this project, Diesel exhaust sensors and particulate matter sensors will be characterized both in pristine state as well as after exposure to various contamination levels experienced under typical drive cycle conditions. In addition, pristine sensor samples will be systematically contaminated in flow reactors under controlled temperature and gas composition conditions, simulating typical situations encountered during drive cycles, such as cold start. At various stages of contamination, sensor samples will be subjected to extensive characterization protocols, including TGA ( thermo-gravimetric analysis), temperature-programmed oxidation/reduction, in-situ DRIFTS, XRD, and inductively-coupled plasma spectroscopy (ICP), scanning electron microscopy, and XPS. The goal of these experiments is to 1) identify the nature of the contaminants, 2) develop an understanding of the degree of reversibility or irreversibility of the contamination as a function of temperature and gas environment, and 3) explore regenerative treatments that restore part or all of the sensor function..
PROJECT #30: Characterization and modeling of multifunctional structured materials
Structured, multifunctional materials play an important role in many areas of technology, including catalysis, microelectronics, and other high-tech applications.
In this project, an undergraduate student would work with a graduate student or postdoctoral researcher on physical and chemical characterization of multifunctional structured materials, with special emphasis on determining the mechanical and chemical properties of these composite materials before and after being heated to elevated temperatures.
A second task would be to develop a multiphysics computer model, using software such as FEMLAB, to determine the physical properties and response of the composites as a function of composition and structure.
Professor Michael Solomon
PROJECT #31: Synthesis and assembly of nanocolloids
Nanocolloids are constituents of materials that are applied in many areas such as inks, coatings, optical materials, sensors and drug delivery. These particles are smaller than about one micron. In this project you will learn methods to synthesize, assemble and characterize such particles. The synthesis procedures you will master include methods to produce monodisperse particles. You will learn how to characterize what you make by electron and confocal microscopy. You will assemble particles by means of sedimentation, spin coating or applied electric fields. You will gain experience characterizing the rheological and electrokinetic properties of the particles you synthesize. At the conclusion of the project you will be well prepared to work or perform research in the many areas and industries that work with colloidal particles.
PROJECT #32: Physical characterization of bacterial biofilms
To survive in the many environments they inhabit, bacteria may grow in communities in which individual organisms are embedded in a polysaccharide matrix. Biofilms are examples of such communities. Biofilms adhere to a variety of surfaces, including substrates relevant to human health, such as catheters. Confocal microscopy is a tool widely used in microbiological research because it can resolve multiple fluorescence emissions in three dimensions. Our aim here is for students to apply microscopy methods to characterize the microstructure of bacterial biofilms and aggregates. Students participating in the project will receive training in microscopy, computer image processing, and bacterial communities. This unique combination of research in soft matter/complex fluids and microbiology will provide students with a strong foundation from which to pursue subsequent research experiences and graduate training.
Professor Levi Thompson (project to be determined)
Professor Henry Wang
PROJECT #33: Engineering Design of A Spinning Filter System for Cell Harvesting in Microalgal Cultures
The dilute nature of harvested microalgal cultures from photobioreactors and open pond cultivation systems creates a major technical challenge and increase operational costs for dewatering. Currently, both filtration and/or centrifugation have been used for cell harvesting but they incur greater capital costs as well as high energy consumption. We propose a new spinning filter design (see Figure) that combines the salient features of a filter with centrifugation that potentially be able to reduce the operating costs for microalgal cell harvesting and dewatering. A prototype unit will be built and tested under various operating conditions such as cell concentrations, flow rates and rotational speeds of the filter. A viable filter membrane shall be selected for long term use with reduced fouling.
PROJECT #34: Development of Gas Chromatography (GC) based analytical procedure lipids in microalgal biomass(with Mr. Pablo LaValle)
Microalgae species (such as Chlorella vulgaris) have been proposed as a possible source of lipids for the production of biodiesel fuel. Currently we have a photobioreactor unit in the Undergraduate Senior Unit Operations lab (ChE 460) for the production of algae cultures. Various cultivation methods have been proposed to produce algal cultures with high lipids content (as high or higher than 50% by weight). In order to measure the lipid contents of the microalgae, we have been using a gravimetric procedure that is likely to cause a large variability in the results. In this work we would like to develop a GC-based analytical procedure to measure cellular lipids that reflect more accurately and generate reproducible results than our current gravimetric measurements.
Professor Robert Ziff (SROP only)
PROJECT #35: Percolation profiles
Percolation is the process of flow through porous media, such as water or oil flow through sandstone in the ground, and also relates to many equivalent problems of connectivity through random media, such as electrical conductivity in random composites or the spread of disease. A particularly interesting and important aspect of percolation is to consider a system that is right at the “critical point” – the point where the connectivity is just sufficient for flow to take place. Some study can be done by mathematical analysis, but most involves computer simulation. The project will involve studying various aspects, including density profiles (see figure below), algorithmic development, determination of critical densities, etc. Some familiarity with programming in the C computer language would be helpful.
PROJECT #36: Percolation and Flow Through Porous Media.
The percolation model concerns problems of connectivity and flow through random porous networks. Related problems include electrical conductivity of random conductor/insulator mixtures, dissolution of pills that are made of soluble/insoluble aggregates, and the spread of disease though a population of susceptible and unsusceptible individuals. These various problems can be modeled by a simple and elegant probabilistic geometrical model in which a regular lattice is made random by making some of the edges or "bonds" open or shut. The project is to study various forms of these networks through computer simulation, to determine connectivity and transport processes. This will entail modifying existing programs, written in the C programming language, running those programs on computers, analyzing the results, and writing it up for possible publication. Some of these programs make use of elegant recursive subroutines, and if you are interested in programming this is a fun project.