St. Thomas offers a number of opportunities for students to carry out research in collaboration with a faculty member. For more information, see the Undergraduate Research and Collaborative Scholarships page, http://www.stthomas.edu/urcs/default.html.
Over the last century, the fields of biology and chemistry have become increasingly complex as areas of basic research have developed ever more sophistication and specialization. While such specialization has facilitated incremental advances in specific knowledge, it has also made it more difficult for individuals in particular disciplines to identify and to articulate fundamental principles that unite scientific knowledge and inspire new insights. Undergraduate science education often reflects the complexity and specialization in each discipline, and consequently students struggle to make connections between courses and to integrate what they learn into a conceptual framework. The perception of fragmentation in the curricula leads students to question the relevance of their education given the multifaceted challenges apparent in today's world. Interdisciplinary programs can counteract this perception of fragmentation, thereby significantly enriching the quality of an undergraduate's experience. The Merck-AAAS Undergraduate Science Research Program (USRP) provides valuable interdisciplinary opportunities for students by allowing them to integrate their understanding of biology and chemistry through collaborative research. The biology and chemistry departments at the University of St. Thomas view student-faculty research collaborations as a core educational emphasis. These collaborations provide students with opportunities to become actively engaged with material they encounter in class, and offer them an outlet to develop their interests and express their creativity. Activities sponsored by a USRP grant would provide new ways to integrate these vibrant programs.
The collaborative research program is intended to help biology student researchers identify the chemical mechanisms underlying patterns, and help chemistry student researchers place chemical processes in the context of dynamic biological systems in which they occur. As a common theme for these projects, students will become adept at experimental design and data analysis, gain experience at method development, and become expert in specific bioanalytical techniques. The ancillary activities we propose will help students communicate across disciplines and gain an understanding of both biological and chemical approaches to problem solving.
Integrative research experiences in biology and chemistry should provide students with practical bioanalytical skills necessary for graduate-level pharmaceutical, medical, environmental research.
Students will develop bioanalytical skills that are directly applicable to the key needs of the rapidly growing biotechnology industry.
The program fosters an interdisciplinary research environment that encourages students to examine problems from different perspectives and develop the ability to communicate across disciplines.
This program recognizes that interdisciplinary activities are needed to address complex problems of global importance, such as environmental degradation and disease prevention.
|Synthesis and Testing of Novel Antimicrobial Compounds ·
Multi-drug resistance among Gram-positive bacterial pathogens represents a serious challenge for health practitioners. The oxazolidinone class of antimicrobials represents a promising advance in the fight against this resistance. The first oxazolidinone approved for clinical use was linozolid (tradename Zyvox; compound 1 in Fig. 1).
|Dr. Thomas Ippoliti, Chemistry & Dr. Jayna Ditty, Biology|
|Ecological Stoichiometry of Insects ·
Ecological stoichiometry (ES) is the study of the balance of chemical elements in living systems (Sterner and Elser 2002). Major biomolecules contain different mixtures of elements such as carbon (C), nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and calcium (Ca). As a result, important organismal characteristics with particular biochemical demands have distinct elemental signatures. A focus on elements provides simple currencies for integrating across levels of biological organization and diverse types of organisms, and provides a common language facilitating collaboration between biologists and chemists.
|Dr. Tom Marsh, Chemistry & Dr. Adam Kay, Biology|
|Quantifying Atrazine Contamination in Minnesota Wetlands ·
Atrazine is a widely used herbicide in the cultivation of corn, with 33 million kg applied annually in the United States; in the early 1990's it was the most detected herbicide in surface waters throughout the US (Capel and Larson 2001). The estimated half-life of atrazine ranges from 42 days to 10 years, making it also one of the most persistent surface water contaminants (Hayes 2004).
|Dr. Tony Borgerding, Chemistry & Dr. Kyle Zimmer, Biology|