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.
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 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. Please note that SURE students are matched with advisors after being selected to participate in the program. Faculty may be listed on the application; it is not necessary to contact them in advance.
Lola Eniola-Adefeso | Scott Fogler | Sharon Glotzer | Bryan Goldsmith | Jinsang Kim | Ronald Larson | Andrej Lenert | Nicholas Kotov | Joerg Lahann | Nina Lin | Suljo Linic | Jennifer Linderman | Sunitha Nagrath | Johannes Schwank | Michael Solomon | Levi Thompson | Henry Wang | Fei Wen | Robert Ziff
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.
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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: Wax deposition in subsea pipelines
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)
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.
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.
MicroreactorsThe 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.
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More information about Professor Glotzer’s projects can be found at the Glotzer Research Group
PROJECT #6: Symmetry Detection for Visualization of Particle Simulations
Expand our data analysis and trajectory mapping software to detect “symmetric orientations” which are essentially rotations of a crystal that align an axis of symmetry with the plane of viewing. Identifying the interesting orientations is nontrivial for humans as well as computers but is essential for enabling visualization and identification of structures from our simulations.
PROJECT #7: Computational study of self-assembly of polydispersity in hard polyhedral systems
Plan and carry out simulations to investigate how small variations in the shape of polyhedra and also in the size of polyhedra affect the self-assembly behavior of nanoparticle systems.
PROJECT #38: Size Effect of Rhodium Nanoclusters on Selective CO2 Reduction by H2
We will investigate the impact of rhodium nanocluster size (from 50 atoms down to a single atom) dispersed on TiO2 for CO2 reduction by H2 to form CH4 (catalytic methanation, CO2 + 4H2 ⇄ CH4 + 2H2O) or CO (rWGSR, CO2 + H2 ⇄ CO + H2O). Correlations were observed between catalytic methanation turn over frequency (TOF) and the fraction of Rh nanoclusters, and between the rWGSR TOF and the fraction of isolated Rh atoms. Experiments demonstrated that isolated Rh atoms and Rh nanoclusters coexist on the same support under reaction conditions, and that each displays unique selectivity in competing parallel reaction pathways. An atom-ensemble effect was suggested to rationalize the difference in selectivity toward CO2 reduction by H2 exhibited by TiO2-supported Rh nanoclusters and isolated Rh adatoms; however, this hypothesis has yet to be tested. Moreover, it is unknown what structures the Rh nanoclusters adopt, as well as their preferred, size-dependent, reaction pathways during CO2 reduction. The atom-ensemble hypothesis will be tested by computing the catalytic methanation and the rWGSR reaction pathways as function of Rh cluster size and shape under realistic conditions. Next the dynamics of Rh nanoclusters and single atoms will be examined using molecular dynamics. Overall, this research will elucidate the size effect of Rh nanoclusters and single atoms dispersed on TiO2 for CO2 reduction by H2 and identify opportunities for improving methanation catalysts.
PROJECT #8: 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.
Project #9: Purely organic phosphors for display and sensors
Phosphorescent materials are enhancing and broadening the usefulness of organic compounds in a wide variety of applications including OLED, photovoltaics, and sensors. OLEDs and solid-state lighting (SSL) research in both academic and commercial settings are driven by the promise of highly efficient devices manufactured via economic and versatile processes. Of the emissive materials employed in OLEDs and SSL, phosphorescent compounds produce much higher efficiency devices than those based on fluorescent emitters by utilizing spin-parallel electrons and emitting photons from the decay of triplets. Organo-metallic compounds are thus often doped into organic hosts to impart a phosphorescent pathway into otherwise triplet-forbidding carbon-based materials. However, phosphorescence from metal free, purely organic, compounds is almost always either strictly forbidden or only extremely weakly allowed, leaving pure organics undesirable for useful applications. We developed a novel material system, metal-free purely organic phosphors recently and demonstrated. Directed intermolecular heavy atom effects are uniquely implemented in aromatic carbonyl molecules to promote spin-orbit coupling and suppress vibrational dissipation. Color tuning by rational molecular design, highly sensitive optical sensors, and PhOLED are the research topics for development.
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PROJECT #10: Self-Assembly of Nanomaterial
Interactions between inorganic nanoparticles (NPs) are central to a wide spectrum of physical, chemical, and logical phenomena. Their quantitative description encounters, however, many obstacles not present, for micro-size particles (μPs), as revealed in multiple experimental observations. Such difficulties include the greater variability of NP shape, the greater effect of a surface layer, and discreteness and fluctuations of the ionic atmosphere around NPs, relative to μPs. At the nanoscale interactions between particle become non-additive, i.e electrostatic, van der Waals, hydrophobic, and other interactions cannot be simply added to each other. Some seeming simple assemblies such as bionic assemblies of NPs and proteins cannot be fully explained by existing models. We need to engage, experimental, computational and theoretical methods to understand better ho complex nanoparticle systems can form from simple ones.
PROJECT #11: Chiral Nanostructures: New Technologies and the Origin of Homochirality
The geometrical property of “chirality” or “handedness”describes whether the object is identical with its mirror image or not. This property is very common in nature and determines the operations of most essential elements of cellular machinery. In fact, biomolecules are known to be homochiral in all life forms on Earth, e.g. aminoacids display exclusively “left”chirality while sugars display exclusively “right” chirality. The dominance of particular chiral isomer (enantiomer) of biomolecules is particularly puzzling because of the miniscule energy difference between them.
In parallel with the origin of homochirality, chemical synthesis of molecules of specific handedness remains an outstanding and compelling problem. What occurs effortlessly in nature is very difficult outside of living organisms. The importance of finding out-of-the-box solutions to selectively synthesize specific enantiomers in industrial scale is hard to overestimate. Many drugs may have curative or toxic effect depending on their chirality. The availa- bility of homochiral precursors is paramount for plastics, pesticides, herbicides, and advanced nanomaterials, e.g. carbon nanotubes. Optical properties of chiral nanostructures also attracted a lot of attention as a viable technological pathway to negative refraction index materials, new telecommunication devices, three dimensional (3D) displays, and supersensitive analysis for cancer genes and infections.
We hypothesize that the problems of biomolecular homochirality and enantiomer-specific chemical synthesis have a common solution. It is based on inorganic nanoparticles (NPs) and their assemblies. Geological records indicate that NPs were a part of the primordial conditions on Earth, and therefore should have played a role in the origin of homochirality of the first biomolecules. Concomitantly, chiral NPs similar to those found in primordial Earth and their assemblies were found to be highly catalytic. Therefore, they can be used in enantioselective synthesis of organic molecules/intermediates for multiple chemical precursors. The goal of this project is to establish (1) nanoscale tools for the engineering of chiral inorganic nanostructures; (2) their role in appearance of homochirality; and (3) new technologies enabled by chiral NP assemblies – advanced chiral synthesis and optical devices.
PROJECT #12: Catalysis with Hedgehog Particles
One of the essential barriers on the way to broader utilization of photocatalytic conversion is that particles of metal oxides–the most efficient photoxidation agents known to date–are difficult to disperse in apolar media. Concomitantly, the same reactions in polar media compatible with inorganic catalysts have poor yields and/or selectivities. These issues can be potentially resolved by using colloidal ‘hedgehog’ particles (HPs) made by growing ZnO nanorods on microscale cores. Hydrophilic HPs were shown to disperse in all types of organic solvents regardless of polarity, dielectric constants and ionic strengths. The possibility to break the heuristic “similarity rule” originates from the drastic reduction of the van der Waals attraction between the HPs compared to particles with smoot surfaces. Simultaneously, ZnO nanorods coating HPs retain their hydrophilic properties, pristine metal oxide surface, strong light absorbance, and, thus, are expected to exhibit high photocatalytic activity. Purposeful development of a new form of photo-catalytically active colloids capable of circumventing the well-known problem of heterogeneous catalysis represents several on-going projects. They are expected to yield efficient photocatalysts capable of direct conversion of solar energy into useful products.
PROJECT #13: Ultrastrong Composites from Branched Nanofibers for Batteries
High-capacity, high-discharge rate batteries are essential for many technologies but their use has been hampered by troublesome safety and longevity records. These problems stem from the growth of dendrites that pierce ion conducting membranes and cause short-circuits leading to capacity fade, overheating, and fires. Dendrites are microscale branched metallic protrusions shaped as fern leaves forming on the surface of electrodes. They have numerous sharp nanoscale tips that exert large pressure on the membranes. Attempts to inhibit dendritic growth have met with limited success and highlight the fact that materials properties needed for safe high-performance batteries are fundamentally difficult to obtain. Resolution of this materials engineering problem will make possible a marked improvements in the performance of batteries without sacrificing their safety.
This project will be focused on materials engineering of ion-conducting membranes aimed at making them strong, tough, and resilient to high temperatures. We shall employ a new method for constructing ion-conductors and a new nanoscale component. The new generation of ion-conducting membranes will be made using layer-by-layer assembly (LBL) that affords nanoscale precision in construction of composites. Branched aramid nanofibers (ANFs) discovered recently at the University of Michigan will be utilized as the ultrastrong component during the layered manufacturing of the membranes. The membranes will be made from ANF and ion-conducting polymers and systematically investigated for suppression of lithium dendrites. The prototypes of high capacity charge storage cells will be prepared and tested for performance and safety.
PROJECT #14: Kirigami Composites
The typical studies on increasing elasticity and expanding multifunctionality of nanocomposites focus mainly on integrating new polymeric and nanoscale components. Yet owing to the stochastic emergence and distribution of strain-concentrating defects and to the stiffening of nanoscale components at high strains, such composites often possess unpredictable strain–property relationships. In this project we are taking inspiration from kirigami—the Japanese art of paper cutting— to show that a network of notches made in rigid nanocomposite and other composite sheets by top-down patterning techniques prevents unpredictable local failure and increases the ultimate strain of the sheets from 4 to 370%. We also showed that the sheets’ tensile behaviour can be accurately predicted through finite-element modelling. The electrical conductance of the stretchable kirigami sheets is maintained over the entire strain regime, and we demonstrate their use to tune plasma-discharge phenomena. The unique properties of kirigami nanocomposites as plasma electrodes open up a wide range of novel technological solutions for stretchable electronics and optoelectronic devices, among other application possibilities, which new students are welcome to explore.
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PROJECT #15: 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 #16: 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.
PROJECT #17: 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
PROJECT #18: 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.
PROJECT #19: 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.
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PROJECT #20: 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 #21: 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.
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ChE PROJECT #22: Thin-film Photovoltaic Heat Engines
For additional details, please refer to: https://lenert.engin.umich.edu/research/
ChE PROJECT #23: Sky Cooling using Nanoporous Materials
For additional details, please refer to: https://lenert.engin.umich.edu/research/
PROJECT #24: 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.
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PROJECT #25: Synthesis and characterization of shaped metallic nanostructures
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PROJECT #26: 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 computational models 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 computational models). Typical projects in this area involve running simulations of cell behavior and comparing output to experimental data.
PROJECT #27: Signal transduction pathways in single cells
Ligand binding to cell surface receptors initiates a series of intracellular reactions known as signal transduction, ultimately leading to cell behavior such as migration, secretion, growth, and differentiation. A better understanding of these pathways may improve drug design and discovery. In our studies, we use fluorescent imaging of cells within a microfluidic device to track signal transduction events. We then analyze single cell data to understand the quantitative and kinetic relationships between different processes. Typical projects in this area involve using image analysis software to quantify cell behavior and testing mathematical models against these data.
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No Current Projects
PROJECT #28: 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.
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PROJECT #29: 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 perform research in the the many fields the synthesize and use colloidal particles, including subsequent research experiences and graduate training.
PROJECT #30: 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.
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ChE PROJECT #31 (Project to be determined)
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PROJECT #32: 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 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 #33: Additive and Adaptive Manufacturing in Pharmaceutical Innovation
Most non-communicable diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular diseases are polygenic in nature while many infectious diseases like HIV and TB require more than one active agent to combat the disease without developing drug resistance. Thus, polypharmacy concept of using three or more active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) have been advocated in various disease management these days. One technical hurdle of this trend has been to develop a cost effective manufacturing platform to generate a polypill that can be mass produced and can also be customized according to a specific patient need. We would like to explore the feasibility of using 3-D printing technologies developed for other manufacturing sectors as a means for pharmaceutical manufacturing of a polypill. The initial phase of this research is to study the feasibility of using such advanced technology to generate a polypill containing 5 APIs: Metformin, Glyburide, Lipitor, Lisinopril, and Aspirin help to prevent the onset of diabetes in patients diagnosed in the pre-diabetes stage.
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PROJECT #34: 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.
PROJECT #35: 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.
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PROJECT #36: 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, algorithmic development, determination of critical densities, etc. Some familiarity with programming in the C computer language would be helpful.
PROJECT #37: 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.
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