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ChemistryPhysics Summer Research Program (CP-SRP) by austintorros


									   Chemistry/Physics Summer Research Program 2005
                          An 8 Week Program of Research
                              5/16/2005 – 07/08/2005

        The goals of this program are to 1) create a community of researchers that
includes undergraduates, 2) support faculty research in chemistry and physics, and 3)
stimulate communication and cooperation between research groups and our two
        Summertime is one of the most productive times for faculty research. It can also
be a very productive and exciting time for undergraduate researchers if they are in the
right environment. In the summer, faculty can devote themselves to mentoring students
who share their research interests. This intensive and nurturing environment will, we
believe, strengthen the student-faculty mentoring relationship, stimulate student interest
in further training or graduate school, and foster inter-departmental cooperation and

Faculty & Students Involved
Co-Coordinator: John Allison – Chemistry
Co-Coordinator: Donald Hirsh – Chemistry
Lynn Bradley – Chemistry
Georgia Arvanitis – Chemistry
Romulo Ochoa – Physics

Total Number of Student Researchers: 12
Chemistry: 6 fully funded by college, 4 funded by external grants
Physics: 2 fully funded by college

Student Research for 8 week period: $2,000/student (8 students) $16,000
Research Supplies and Materials: $500/student       (8 students)     $4,000
Housing: On-campus for 8 week period                (12 students) ----------
(We request that all students be housed together, whether externally or internally funded.)

Research Activities
       Research will be conducted under the direction of individual faculty mentors.
Each faculty mentor has written a description of the research program that s/he intends to
follow over the course of the summer, the role that students will have in the research, and
the number of students that s/he would like to mentor under this program.

The Research Community
        The research community will be created through a combination of informal and
formal mechanisms.
        Informal Mechanisms. Research will be conducted at The College of New Jersey
in the departments of Chemistry and Physics, which are adjacent in the School of Science
complex. Equipment and laboratory space will be shared between the two departments
and students will be free to engage each other during research hours. Research groups
would agree to meet informally for lunch two days a week. We also request that if
possible, our 12 students be housed in the same building together or in adjacent
townhouses to reinforce a sense of community.
        Formal Mechanisms. The research groups will gather on Wednesday morning of
each week to share a light breakfast. Students and mentors will be asked to discuss the
projects they are working on, the methods they are applying, and the successes (and
failures) they have met. A different format will be used each week to highlight different
aspects of research and stimulate discussion. As an example, one week, each student will
give a brief presentation on the research conducted by a student outside his/her own
research group.

Summary Project
         Each student will give a brief (~15 minute) PowerPoint presentation on his/her
research during the last week of the 8-week session. The purpose of the summary project
is to give the student the opportunity to reflect on what s/he has learned over the 8-week
program and to set near-term goals for future research on his/her project.

Program Evaluation
        The program will be evaluated by faculty and students. Students will be given a
questionnaire in the last week of the program. The questionnaire will ask students to
describe their expectations for the program and how this compared to their actual
experience, how they feel they benefited from the program, changes they would like to
see in the program, etc. The faculty mentors participating in the program will then
review the completed questionnaires and discuss their own expectations and experiences,
and make suggestions for improving the program. The faculty mentors will issue a brief
summary of their discussion. This summary and the student questionnaires will be
forwarded to the dean.

Faculty Research
        Donald Hirsh. Metal complexes and organic radicals work in tandem to catalyze
the production of commercial plastics and to synthesize the essential biochemical
building blocks within our bodies. My research is focused on the creation of a model
system to examine the pair-wise magnetic interactions between metal complexes and
organic radicals using electron spin resonance (ESR). These magnetic interactions are a
rich source of structural and mechanistic information. This information can, in turn, lead
to improvements in commercial processes and human health.
        The model system is based on the well-defined double helix structure of DNA.
Complementary DNA strands have been chemically modified to carry either a metal
complex or a radical so that each DNA duplex has one (metal complex – organic radical)
pair. This project has supported three areas of research that have been carried out by my
research students. One area of research has been the synthesis and purification of
modified DNA. The second area of research has been the characterization of the DNA
helix structure in the presence of “cryoprotectants” which prevent the crystallization of
water. The third area of research involves modernizing and more tightly integrating the
computer/instrument interface for the ESR spectrometer. I anticipate all three of these
research areas remaining open and active during the summer.
        I also plan to initiate a new research project looking into the use of ionic liquids as
solvents for polymerization reactions. Ionic liquids are a relatively new class of solvents
with zero vapor pressure and other unusual and potentially commercially important
properties. The early stages of this research will engage one student, first in library
research and later in synthesis and ESR spectroscopy.
        Funds from my ACS-PRF grant and a research fellowship from National Starch &
Chemical Company will support two students. I am requesting funding from the college
for two more students, one to work on the ESR computer/instrument interface and the
second to work on the project involving ionic liquids. I am requesting housing for all 4
of my students, both those supported by the college and those supported by external
        The following students, all sophomores, have expressed interest in working with
me over the summer: Chris Mecoli, Anne Szklarski, Shaum Kabadi, Matt Andress,
Catherine Campos, Maryll Geherty, Mark Fidanza, Karim Velasquez, Rachel
Underwood, Lauren Munoz, Joanna DelVecchio, and Jennifer Baker.

        Romulo Ochoa. I have two areas of research. The first area involves using Raman
spectroscopy to obtain, in a non-contact process, the temperature of ZnSe
semiconductors. By obtaining the Stokes/Anti-Stokes ratio of the corrected Raman
spectra the temperature of ZnSe under various conditions will be obtained. The spectra
are corrected by including wavelength dependent scattering, the Bose-Einstein population
factor, and the CCD response curve. The samples will be cooled in a liquid nitrogen
cryostat and analyzed using an Argon Ion laser and a CCD Spex spectroscopy system.
        My second area of research uses computer modeling to study the fracture
precursors in amorphous silica. The classical mechanics molecular dynamics technique is
used to generate amorphous silica samples and fracture them by pulling at different strain
rates. The studies are conducted using a Sun Blade 2000 workstation, DL-Poly software
(Fortran program), and in-house designed programs for data analysis.
        I am requesting support for two students. One student would work on each
project. All the equipment is located in a single lab in the third floor of the Science

        John Allison. My research is in the area of applications of tools and concepts of
Chemistry to areas of interest in Forensic Science. I would like to continue projects
currently underway in my lab in the following areas: 1. Analysis of colorants using non-
invasive techniques, particuarly fiber-optic reflectance UV and Visible spectroscopy.
This can prove to be the basis for a rapid method for determining the authenticity of items
such as paper currency and passports. 2. Analysis of pigmented inks, such as those used
in inkjet printers, using differential scanning calorimetry and thermogravimetric analysis.
We currently have a proposal submitted to the National Institute of Justice concerning
this project. If funded it will provide support for two students for two years. 3.
Chemical aspects of latent fingerprint identification. Forensic investigators frequently
use „superglue fuming‟ to locate fingerprints. The chemistry behind the application is not
understood. 4. Laser Desorption Spectroscopy of Automobile Paints. We have just
started negotiating a collaboration between TCNJ and the NJ State Police scientist
Vincent Desiderio on this project. I am requesting support for two summer students from
TCNJ. I have funds from the Department of Education to support one student. I am also
negotiating support for a second student with the State Police. A number of students
have expressed interest in working in my lab this summer. They include: Sylwia
Stachura, Rene Butler, Erin Sigwart, Kaitlin Papsin and Patrick Czekanski.

Research Projects based on Synthesis

        Work in our labs has focused on synthetic topics in organic and organometallic
chemistry. The development of new synthetic methodologies that can be incorporated
into total syntheses of compounds having great interest to the chemical community is of
special interest. Projects united by the theme of organic heterocycles have been used to
introduce students at The College of New Jersey to basic research in chemistry in our
laboratories. Recently, our research efforts have centered on the synthesis of organic
heterocycles containing nitrogen: The three- and four-membered ring aziridines and
azetidines, respectively (Dr. Bradley‟s work) and the slightly larger imidazoles and
pyridines (Dr. Arvanitis‟ work).

Georgia Arvanitis

        My research projects center on the design and synthesis of novel organic
compounds. Among them are ones that can be used as ligands for metals which are then
evaluated for biological activity. Research efforts have centered on the synthesis of
organic molecules and some of the target compounds are natural products. Relevant
systems include heterocyclic nitrogen compounds, such as imidazoles or pyridines, and
seven-membered ring derivatives. The target organic compounds themselves can be
biologically active and may produce a synergistic effect with the metal. Additional studies
are carried out in order to understand and to modify the biological activity of these
        As part of this research program, we have undertaken a study of structure activity
relationships. The approach is based on the premise that molecular geometry plays a major
role in determining the nature of a complex's interaction with its biological target molecule.
Our continuing efforts will focus on determining the molecular foundation for the
cytotoxicity of novel complexes prepared in this laboratory. Student participants can
develop a strategy for the synthesis of organic compounds and carry out experiments to
produce them and optimize their yields. Further work is needed to purify and characterize
them using spectroscopic techniques. In addition students can perform modeling studies to
help understand how structure influences the interaction of either organic compounds or
their metal complexes with biological target molecules.

Lynn Bradley

      Aziridines are three-membered aliphatic nitrogen rings that have proven useful in
chemical synthesis. The ring system is highly strained and can be opened readily by
nucleophilic attack to form ring-opened amines. This reaction finds valuable application
in the synthesis of heterocyclic compounds. Of particular interest in our research group
is the synthesis of a basic tetrahydroisoquinoline structure via an intramolecular ring-
opening reaction of an aziridine compound. This model study would provide information
that could be used in the total synthesis of sendaverine, a natural product containing the
tetrahydroisoquinoline backbone. Azetidines are similar in structure to the aziridines but
contain an additional methylene in their ring system. They are less reactive than the
aziridines due to the increased stability of the four-membered ring, yet undergo the same
ring-opening reactions in the presence of nucleophiles.
        Initially, the synthesis of the aziridine and azetidine starting materials would be
conducted, and the yields optimized. Conversion of these compounds to the larger ring
systems would then be studied by using a variety of bases and varying general reaction
conditions. Incorporation of these ring systems into larger natural products could then be
explored. This project would give a student the opportunity to conduct library research,
develop advanced synthetic organic laboratory techniques, and learn how to characterize
organic compounds through spectroscopic techniques.

       We are requesting that 2 students be supported by The College‟s summer research
program to work on the projects described above.

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