The following chemistry faculty will be performing research with students this summer. Please read these descriptions and meet with the faculty to discuss their projects in more detail. Office and telephone numbers are given in the descriptions, although emailing a faculty member to set up an appointment ahead of time is usually the best option. Links to pages with more specific information on these research projects are provided at the end of these summaries in some cases.
Dr. Tony Borgerding (461 OWS, 2-5592). Research in my group interfaces analytical chemistry with physiological and environmental studies. Projects can include work designing and building new instruments, making measurements of samples to study natural processes, or both. We are currently building, testing, and applying a recently developed microprobe using dialysis membrane sampling for in-vivo sampling. Projects involve optimization of the system for increased sensitivity and selectivity, allowing direct use in physiological studies. Interfacing with specialized instruments such as chemiluminescence and mass spectrometry will also be pursued. In a separate area of research, many students will work on projects involving sampling, concentration, purification, and analysis of environmental samples from nearby areas by GC-MS and LC-MS/MS. Click here to go to Dr. Borgerding's research web page.
Dr. Joe Brom (463 OWS, 2-5578) . Dr. Brom has three research projects in the area of materials chemistry: 1. Spectroscopic studies of the photophysical properties of molecularly doped polymer materials. These experiments will include UV-VIS absorption and emission spectroscopy of organic compounds that are highly luminescent. 2. Experiments measuring the time dependence of light emission from doped materials that have been excited by an ultraviolet laser. These two projects belong to efforts at UST in building new optoelectronic devices that emit light due to the conduction of electric current through a thin film of organic material: electroluminescence of organic compounds, or OLED emission. We have recently published, with an undergraduate co-author, our successful experimental OLED results with boron difluoride complexes of dipyrromethenes. 3. The final project is in the area of computational chemistry. Collaborating with a research group at the University of Minnesota, we are developing computational models applicable to new materials containing boron. We have recently published, again with a UST undergraduate co-author, a new method for determining atomic partial charges for molecules containing boron.
Dr. Justin Donato (464 OWS, 2-5580). The Donato lab focuses on applying functional metagenomics to explore chemical processes used by bacteria to survive in diverse habitats. Current projects are aimed at the discovery and subsequent characterization of genes that confer antibiotic resistance on their host bacteria. Using this approach, we have successfully identified novel resistance genes from bacteria found in soil and the human body. Detailed information regarding the nature of resistance genes will help guide researchers in both the development of new antibiotics as well as strategies to manage the use of those antibiotics. Future studies will build on this work to identify genetic elements involved in bacterial detoxification of other chemicals. Click here to go to Dr. Donato's research web page.
Dr. Eric Fort (407 OSS, 2-5588). Students in the Fort lab develp new methodology and improve existing routes to interesting molecules that can be used in electronic devices and medical research. Though the primary focus is on developing aromatic molecules with boron-nitrogen bonds replacing carbon-carbon bonds, students who express a particular interest in methodology or synthesis will find many projects that expand chemists' routes to important molecules. Click here to go to Dr. Fort's research web page.
Dr. Marites Guino-o (OWS 452, 2-5526). Students in the Guino-o lab focus on the syntheses of new catalyst systems utilizing carbene ligands. The resultant reactivity and structure will be analyzed, and ultimately, the new organometallic compounds will be tested for dehydrogenation ability, a current interest in hydrogen storage systems. Click here to go to Guino-o's research web page.
Dr. J. Thomas Ippoliti (462 OWS, 2-5582). The students of Dr. Ippoliti's research group are actively involved in five areas of research. All of these areas utilize organic synthesis to make new molecules. The first area is in the field of diagnostic molecules. Diagnostic molecules are used to detect proteins or other biomolecules that indicate the presence of disease. We have been synthesizing new fluorescent molecules and upconverting nanoparticles to detect the presence of enzymes that are indicative of disease. Using Enzyme Linked ImmunoSorbent Assays (ELISA) and a start-of-the-art handheld detector, we can then utilize our new molecules to detect a variety of important bioactive molecules.
The second area is synthesis of novel heterocyclic molecules. These molecules can be used to make Zeolites or Metal Organic Frameworks (MOF). Zeolites are inorganic frameworks that can be used for catalysts or separations. MOF’s can be used for the storage of fuels in a solid state. The can also be used to capture CO2, a greenhouse gas.
The third area is the synthesis of new antibiotics, antimalarials and molecules active against tuberculosis . We have synthesized several new antibiotics recently based on a molecular topology program that predicted high antibacterial activity. We are also synthesizing novel antimalarial compounds.
The fourth area of research is in the area of thermochromic and photochromic molecules. These molecules change color reversibly with temperature or light, respectively.
The last area is biomedical in nature. We are synthesizing polymeric molecules that are radioopaque. These materials can be used to coat implantable medical devices such as stents so they can be seen using X-radiography.All of these areas give the student experience in carrying out organic reactions, purifying products and structure elucidation using NMR spectroscopy. Click here to go to Dr. Ippoliti's research web page.
Dr. Gary Mabbott (454 OWS, 2-5583) This research group is working on developing trace methods of analysis for biochemical, forensic and environmental applications. For example, we are applying visible spectroscopy through a microscope in order to quantify very small amounts of materials, such as drugs, confined to microscopic particles such as cell surfaces, organelles, or solid phase extraction media. One of the current strategies involves applying a micro-fluidic device to the delivery of selective agents that bind with the target compound and titrate the material in very tiny volumes. Another area of interest is the development of a size adjustable aperture so small that only single molecules can pass through the supporting membrane at a time. The device should be capable of counting molecules and provide a new way of quantifying proteins using antigen/antibody reactions. Click here to go to Dr. Mabbott's research web page.
Dr. Tom Marsh (460 OWS, 2-5599). Research in the Marsh group is focused on studying the self-assembly of guanine rich DNA into higher order structures toward the development of nanoscale devices. The use of DNA in the development novel biomaterials is of great interest in the new and rapidly developing field of nanotechnology. Potential applications for DNA nanostructures include the development molecular sensors, switches, molecular scaffolding, and molecular wires. There are several ongoing biomaterial projects that involve utilizing small DNA oligomers to create stable self-assembled nanostructures. The DNA oligonucleotide sequences used contain guanine repeats that confer the ability to form quadruple helical DNA. These G-rich quadruplex structures are generally known as G-DNA. Structure formation is due to specific guanine-guanine interactions and the formation of a metal ion coordination complex within the quadruple helix.The morphology of self-assembled G-DNA structures is dependent on the species of monovalent and divalent metal cations present. Research students will take advantage of the morphological diversity of these simple G-rich oligonulceotides and apply a hydrothermal synthesis strategy to obtain 1D, 2D and 3D self-assembled structures. Laboratory work will include synthesis of modified nucleic acids, formation of self-assembled structures and analysis of structures (via scanning probe microscopy, electron microscopy, UV spectrophotometry etc). Novel biomaterials such as these are of great interest in the new and rapidly developing field of nanotechnology. Click here to go to Dr. Marsh's research web page.
Dr. William Ojala (OWS 456, 2-5585). Research conducted by Dr. Ojala and his students is focused on the organic solid state. This summer's work will include three projects: (1) the synthesis, crystallization, and X-ray crystal structure determination of molecules designated bridge-flipped isomers, molecules differing only in the orientation of a bridge of atoms connecting two major parts of the molecule. Such isomers include members of the benzylideneaniline (Ar-CH=N-Ar', Ar = aryl) and arylhydrazone (Ar-CH=N-NH-Ar') families of organic compounds. Co-crystallization of bridge-flipped isomers (e.g. Ar-CH=N-Ar' with Ar-N=CH-Ar') may offer a means of preparing new solid materials with properties that can be adjusted by design through the solid-state incorporation of selected proportions of the isomeric compounds; (2) the synthesis of crystalline derivatives of selected monosaccharides to gain insight into the structures and properties of their biologically significant polysaccharide analogues (such as heparin); (3) the preparation of molecules designated strict isosteres, chemically different molecules with essentially identical space-filling requirements. Co-crystallization of these compounds offers a method for influencing the course of solid-state phase transitions one or both of the isomers may undergo. For all three projects, knowledge of the solid-state structures of the compounds is necessary. Single-crystal data sets will be collected using the diffractometers of the X-ray Crystallographic Laboratory of the University of Minnesota Chemistry Department, and subsequent structure determination and analysis will be conducted in Dr. Ojala's laboratory. Click here to go to Dr. Ojala's research web page.
Dr. Lisa Prevette (OWS 455, 2-5672). The Prevette research group is in the area of biophysical chemistry, studying the interactions between biomaterials and biomolecules. In particular, we are interested in interactions that occur at the cell surface, leading to cellular internalization of drugs and genes for gene therapy. Students in the group learn about binding mechanisms, thermodynamics and kinetics, and the structure of biomolecules and their complexes. Click here to go to Dr. Prevette's research web page.
Dr. Kris Wammer (OWS 457, 2-5574). Dr. Wammer's research focuses on the chemical and microbiological processes that affect the fate of organic contaminants in the environment. Students in the Wammer lab are currently working to better understand potential impacts of pharmaceutical compounds in natural waters. We will be working on several projects this summer. Our major effort will be a project examining the influence of exposure to low-level concentrations of antibiotics on antibiotic resistance levels in environmental bacteria. This project is in collaboration with research groups from Gustavus Adolphus College and the University of MInnesota. We plan to expand our current study, which has focused on the Minnesota River, and move to new sampling sites in the Mississippi River. We will also be studying the impacts of drinking water treatment, in particular ozonation, on macrolide antibiotics to determine if treatment results in potentially harmful byproducts. Finally, in a collaborative project with the Martinovic group in Biology, we will be analyzing whether certain UV filter molecules found in sunscreens break down after exposure to sunlight into products that have estrogenic activity. Click here to go to Dr. Wammer's research web page.