Research Programs for Undergraduates
For U-M Students
Summer Undergraduate Research in Engineering (SURE)
For U-M undergraduate students, SURE offers summer research internships to outstanding undergraduate students who have entered or completed their junior year by the time of their internship. Participants have the opportunity to conduct 10-12 weeks of full-time summer research with some of the country’s leading faculty in a wide range of engineering disciplines. The program provides opportunities for students to assess their interests and potential in pursuing research at the Masters or PhD level in graduate school. All participants must apply online through the SURE website. Accepted applicants from the University of Michigan receive guidance from a faculty advisor in a College of Engineering research facility, a stipend of $4,200, attend regular meetings and seminars, and produce a short YouTube video of their summer research project and/or experience. Learn more about SURE.
- Chemical Engineering does not require any additional documents other than a resume.
- Please do not contact faculty until you are accepted into the program.
- Chemical Engineering faculty each develop their own processes for selecting candidates to join their labs. As such, faculty may contact candidates as part of their decision-making process.
Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP)
The Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) creates research partnerships between first and second year students, and faculty, research scientist, and staff from across the University of Michigan community. All schools and colleges are active participants in UROP,thereby providing a wealth of research topics from which a student can choose. Begun in 1988 with 14 student/faculty partnerships, today, approximately 1200 students and over 700 faculty researchers are engaged in research partnerships. Learn more about UROP.
For Undergrads At Other Universities
Summer Research Opportunity Program (SROP)
For non-U-M undergraduate students, SROP offers summer research internships to outstanding undergraduate students who have entered or completed their junior year by the time of their internship. Participants have the opportunity to conduct seven to eight weeks of full-time summer research with some of the country’s leading faculty in a wide range of engineering disciplines. The program provides opportunities for students to assess their interests and potential in pursuing research at the PhD level in graduate school. All participants must apply online through the SURE website. Accepted applicants receive guidance by a faculty advisor in a College of Engineering research facility, a stipend of $4,000, room and some board, travel allowance, GRE Test Prep, weekly seminars and workshops, produce a short YouTube video of their summer research project and/or experience, and potential attendance at a Big Ten CIC Research Symposium. Learn more about SROP.
For department information, contact Ms. Susan Hamlin, ChE Graduate Program Assistant, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The application deadline is January 15th. We will contact you when the list has been updated with instructions for our internal ChE-specific selection process.
Projects by Researcher
Project Fogler 1: Develop Material for the Website: Process Safety Across the Chemical Engineering Curriculum
This project will develop modules on chemical process safety for all core lecture courses in chemical engineering that are course specific. A safety module consists of viewing a Chemical Safety Board Video of an accident, doing as safety analysis of the incident and then doing a technical calculation of the accident that is course specific. In previous years we developed at least two modules for each course along with 5 tutorials on process safety. These modules and tutorials can be found at http://umich.edu/~safeche/. In the next phase of this initiative, students on this project will work with faculty and industrial colleagues to strengthen the existing modules and tutorials as well as add new modules and tutorials.
Research Mode: Remote/Hybrid
More information about Professor Glotzer’s projects can be found at the Glotzer Research Group
Project Glotzer 1: Development of data and workflow management software in Python
You will be involved in the continued design and development of the data and workflow management framework signac (www.signac.io) and related tools. The software is in use by multiple research groups inside and outside of the University of Michigan. This project provides opportunities to develop and strengthen skills required for a professional software development project. Basic experience in programming with Python is required.
Research Mode: Remote
Project Glotzer 2: Developing a particle simulation toolkit in Python
Assist in the development of the particle simulation toolkit HOOMD-blue (http://glotzerlab.engin.umich.edu/hoomd-blue/), a fast, GPU-accelerated, simulation library for Python. The open-source library is in use by many research groups inside and outside of the University of Michigan. In this project, you will learn standard molecular dynamics and Monte Carlo particle simulation techniques and grow your professional software development skills. The package is written using Python, C++, so basic prior knowledge of at least one of these is required. Prior Python users will have the opportunity to learn C++ if they wish, and vice versa.
Research Mode: Remote
Project Goldsmith 1: Electrocatalytic hydrogenation of model bio-oil compounds
Our work aims to engender the electrocatalytic hydrogenation of bio-oil compounds to sustainably produce liquid hydrocarbon fuels. We will computationally probe the reaction rates, mechanism, and barriers for electrocatalytic hydrogenation of model bio-oil compounds such as phenol on platinum group metals. We will use state-of-the-art first-principles modeling techniques such as density functional theory modeling and molecular simulation. This work is in collaboration with Prof. Nirala Singh, who is performing analogous experiments.
Research mode: Remote
Project Lahann 1: 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.
Research mode: Hybrid
Project Lahann 2: 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.
Research mode: Hybrid
Project Lahann 3: Microfluidic Manifold for Anisotropic Fibers and Fiber Scaffolds
Using the techniques of electrohydrodynamic co-jetting and a microfluidic manifold device, we are hoping to be able to generate micro- and sub-micron fibers which are anisotropic in composition and physical properties along the length of the fiber. These fibers will then be patterned into 3D scaffolds and characterized for potential use in a variety of cell and tissue engineering applications. The student will learn how to set up and operate the microfluidic manifold device to produce fibers via electrohydrodynamic co-jetting. The student will also learn how to use a direct write process to pattern fibers into scaffolds. With these main skills, the student will participate in a series of experiments to create fibers made of different materials. The student will also pattern these anisotropic fibers into 3D scaffolds which will then be characterized. Characterization includes techniques such as Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM), Laser Confocal Scanning Microscopy (LCSM), and tensile testing for mechanical property analysis.
Research mode: Hybrid
Project Lahann 4: Surface-engineered hydrogel coatings for stem cell culture
The project investigates two routes in the creation of well-defined synthetic surfaces for long-term stem cell culture and maintenance- UV initiated free radical polymerization and atom transfer radical polymerization (ATRP). Commercially available polystyrene tissue culture substrates will be coated with a polymeric brush, created from various zwitterionic monomers whose ability to support stem cell proliferation while maintaining their undifferentiated state has already been demonstrated. These substrates will be shared with collaborators (cell biologists) who will jointly explore the effects of chemical interactions between the polymer and the stem cell system, coating thickness and hydrogel chain orientation on the ability of the substrate to achieve cell adhesion and proliferation. These results will enable us to understand the reasons behind the success of these zwitterionic hydrogels and to further tune the cell culture environment in a way that helps us control and direct environmental cues for triggering stem cell differentiation on demand. The techniques used for synthesizing cell culture surfaces are- Chemical Vapour Deposition and Surface initiated polymerization through ATRP and UVO-initiated polymerization. Additionally, surfaces will be characterized by FTIR, Ellipsometry and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy. Applications are mostly biomedical- tissue engineering, cancer stem cell culture, hESC and iPSC culture. The student will be responsible for the production and characterization of cell culture substrates for use by the collaborators and in interpreting results from this study. They will get hands-on experience in the techniques listed above and will familiarize themselves with the chemical and biochemical aspects of the research question. They will gain knowledge of basic polymer chemistry and cell biology and will be able to hone their understanding further by interacting with graduate students, collaborators and by taking part in group meetings.
Research mode: Hybrid
Project Lahann 5: Surface Engineering for Biomedical Applications
Biomolecular interactions with synthetic surfaces are important in diverse biomedical fields including medical device implants, microfluidic sensors, marine fouling, and tissue engineering. In the past, chemical vapor deposition (CVD) polymerization has been used to fabricate thin polymer films with robust mechanical and physical properties. The impact of CVD surface properties on biomolecular interactions will be assessed via a myriad of techniques such as ellipsometry, contact angle measurements, and fourier transform infrared spectroscopy. The student will be involved in all aspects of experiments from fabrication to characterization to data analysis. They will also participate in weekly research group meetings if their schedule permits it and will have the opportunity to work with senior graduate students.
Research mode: Hybrid
Project Larson 1 – Polyelectrolyte Simulations
Polyelectrolytes (PEs) widely exist in life, such as DNA/RNA, and they have many applications in fields such as drug delivery, sewage treatment. However, we do not understand most of the aspects of how PE molecules behave, not only because there are too many variables controlling the PE phenomena, but also PE system is strongly correlated due to electrostatic interaction, dipole-dipole interaction, hydrogen bonding, and so on. Here we are interested in understanding the fundamentals of PE complexes using via all-atom or coarse-grained molecular dynamics simulations. The project will involve learning the molecular dynamics software package GROMACS, and directly simulating complex formation by oppositely charged polyelectrolytes. The results will be compared to experiments and theory.
Research mode: Remote
Project Larson 2 – Polyelectrolyte phase behavior and rheology
Polyelectrolytes (PEs) widely exist in life, such as DNA/RNA, and they have many applications in fields such as drug delivery, underwater adhesives, food additives and others. When polyelectrolytes of opposite charge are mixed, they form complexes or “coacervates” with unusual flow properties, including high viscosity and gel-like structure important for their applications, and important in the structure of biological cells. The project is to mix well-defined polyelectrolyte and measure their properties experimentally, especially their flow properties using a mechanical rheometer. The work will be guided by a Ph.D. student and will train the student not only in polyelectrolyte physics and technology, but also in the measurement of properties of viscous solutions and gels.
Research mode: In person
Project Lenert 1: Multicomponent aerogels for solar thermal applications
Silica aerogels are an exciting alternative to conventional solar thermal collectors for use in concentrated solar power. They are one of the most thermally-insulating materials and they can also be optically transparent. Our goal is to develop a facile synthesis procedure that improves their properties by coating them with a second material: one that is capable of suppressing infrared radiative losses while also maintaining high optical transparency. This project will provide experience in wet lab chemistry and material characterization, and also provide knowledge in conductive and radiative heat transfer.
Research mode: In person
Project Lenert 2: Beyond Refractory Photonics.
Degradation of photonic materials under harsh, high-temperature conditions is one of the grand challenges of high-performance solar energy conversion. Current spectral control approaches make use of refractory materials that do not possess ideal optical properties but are resistant to decomposition by heat. To achieve spectral control, pairs of refractory materials are shaped and arranged with varying degrees of complexity, ranging from multilayers to plasmonic resonators and 3D photonic crystals. These approaches, however, do not guarantee that the materials will be resistant to intermixing, reactions, or coarsening. Ultimately these structures progress toward more thermodynamically favorable configurations that are less structurally complex and more intermixed, which limits their performance. The aim of this project is to develop a comprehensive methodology to ensure that ordered/structured photonic materials are energetically and entropically favorable at high temperatures, where thermodynamics is likely to prevail over time. This involves determining which refractory materials are lattice-matched but chemically and optically distinct from an enormous number (>10e7) of possible entropy-stabilized alloys. To address this challenge, we will leverage machine-learning techniques to develop high-throughput screening approaches and expedited experimental characterization to provide validation of computational models.
Project Lenert 3: Zero Emissivity Devices.
Approaching zero thermal emissivity in functional optoelectronic devices, such as photovoltaics and LEDs, would be transformative for solid-state thermoelectric conversion. It would enable devices that leapfrog the limitations of current mechanical processes by (i) providing ultra-lightweight and scalable interconversion of heat and electricity, and (ii) avoiding issues related to mechanical wear and release of harmful refrigerants. The basic scientific challenges involve (1) manipulating single-crystal building blocks with nanoscale precision to create complex functional architectures, and (2) quantifying the coupling between the thermal and optoelectronic properties of ZEDs, which will provide design rules for high-performance energy conversion.
Project Nagrath 1: Isolation of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) for use in cancer diagnostics and monitoring
Circulating tumor cells (CTCs) are rare cells shed from the primary tumor that can be found in the blood stream. To isolate them is an elusive goal: they are present at a frequency of as low as only one CTC in one billion blood cells. However, it is these target cells that may provide clinically useful answers to questions such as “what cells are capable of metastasis?” and “how do we stop them?” By monitoring the concentration of CTCs in a cancer patient’s blood stream, an oncologist may determine the effectiveness of an applied therapy on a day-to-day basis as well as other prognostic indicators. The number of CTCs varies significantly among patients and among different types of cancer, but in all cases, CTCs are rare relative to other blood cells. The field of microfluidics shows a promising capability to capture the cells specifically and enable subsequent genomic and proteomic analysis. The student will work to design, optimize and use microfluidic devices to isolate CTCs and nanovesicles to answer questions about disease status, metastasis and treatment outcomes.
Research mode: Hybrid
Project Solomon 1: 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.
Research mode: In person, Hybrid
Project Thurber 1: Simulations of Clinical Antibody Distribution in Human Tumors using COMSOL
Cancer therapeutics must efficiently distribute to cancer cells within a tumor in order to be effective, and for many advanced therapies like antibody drug conjugates, this can be the limiting step in efficacy. Drugs with significant delivery issues can exhibit counter-intuitive trends, where the most effective drugs in early screening tests may ultimately be less effective in humans. Alarmingly, this can lead to effective drugs being discarded during drug development and ineffective drugs being carried through to clinical trials. In the Thurber lab, we combine molecular imaging of drugs with computational modeling to identify the drug properties that make them susceptible to delivery limitations. We then use these simulations to design, build, and test the efficacy of next-generation therapeutics to overcome these challenges. While the simulations accurately predict the distribution and efficacy of drugs in preclinical models of cancer, human tumors can exhibit different properties than animal models (e.g. a mouse tumor) based on their structure. This project will use COMSOL to simulate the distribution of antibody-drug conjugates in human tumors based on clinical images and established mouse-modeling equations. The results will be compared with clinical measurements of antibody distribution for validation. Ultimately, these simulations can be used to design new agents and identify dosing regimens that will be most effective in the clinic. The project can be conducted in a remote fashion, although hybrid or in-person formats would be available if conditions allow. Previous experience with COMSOL is recommended but not required.
Research Mode: Remote, Hybrid, In-person
Project Wen 1: Engineering protein scaffold for biofuel production
Fuels produced from biomass represent a sustainable alternative to fossil fuels and have various environmental, economical, and societal benefits. The goal this project is to genetically engineer yeast cells for efficient conversion of biomass to biofuel, such as ethanol. We approach this goal from various perspectives, including improving biomass degradation via protein engineering and increasing biofuel production via metabolic engineering. As such, an ideal candidate should have a strong interest in learning biological/bioengineering principles. Students will learn recombinant DNA manipulation, protein production and detection, enzyme kinetic analysis, bioreactor and fermentation.
Research mode: Hybrid
Project Wen 2: Engineering of therapeutic proteins for T-cell function modulation
T cells, an important type of immune cell, play critical roles in fighting pathogens. Their malfunction has been implicated in a wide range of diseases, including autoimmunity, allergy, cancer, and infectious diseases. The goal of this project is to engineer proteins via directed evolution and rational design approaches so that they can deliver desired instructions (molecular signals) to T cells for therapeutic purposes. This project involves culture of hybridoma and mammalian cell lines, library creation and screening, flow cytometric single cell analysis, and recombinant protein analysis in vitro.
Research mode: Hybrid