Minority Research Opportunities in Science and Engineering at the

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					Minority Research Opportunities in Science and Engineering at the US Naval Research Laboratory (NRL)
Paul Charles (PI), George Spanos (Co-PI), US Naval Research Laboratory, DMR 0601364
                                                                                                  Intellectual
   Overall Program:                                                                 (a)              Merit
  • NRL has provided undergraduate research opportunities for 10-15 minority students
  per year (over past 15 years) through an NSF REU program
  • Highly qualified Science, Math, and Engineering students selected from Historically
  Black Colleges, Minority Institutions, and/or Tribal Colleges & Universities (HBCU/
  MI/TCUs) conduct “hands-on” 10-week research projects involving cutting edge,
  creative concepts in various thrust areas including Material Science & Engineering,
  Bio-fuel Cells/Energy Harvesting, Novel Optical Materials and Sensor Design
  • Mentored by leading researchers (Ph.Ds) in their field as demonstrated by their                                                              (b)
  established track record and publication output in high impact scientific journals (e.g.,
                                                                                               Figure 1. Cysteine-mutant of Cowpea mosaic virus. (a) A
  Nature, JACS, Analytical Chemistry, Phys. Rev. E, Langmuir and Scripta Materialia)           30 nm diameter icosahedral virus particle, EF-CPMV,
  •Students often become co-authors on peer-reviewed publications                              made of 60 identical protein subunits containing a total of
                                                                                               60 cysteines (thiol-containing group shown as white
                                                                                               circles). (b) EF-CPMV protein subunit.
  Specific Project Example (2006):
  "Fluorescent Signal Amplification of Carbocyanine Dyes Using Engineered Viral
  Nanoparticles"
  •Mentors: Drs. B. Ratna and C. Soto - Center for Bio/Molecular Sci. & Eng.
  •Takes advantage of exquisite specificity of biological systems by using a plant
  viral capsid as a scaffold
  •A primary objective for students: to increase number of dye molecules with
  controlled intermolecular distances that would eliminate self-quenching of a
  reporter dye and increase immunoassay/sensor sensitivity.
  •Optimized reaction conditions (i.e., pH, time) and purification schemes to
  increase the dye-to-virus ratios of a variety of dyes and CPMV mutants
  •Fluorescence studies conducted to determine efficiency of signal output               Figure 2. Comparison of NA-Cy5-CPMV with commonly utilized
                                                                                         detection methods. (a) direct incorporation of Cy5-dCTP(white);
                                                                                         (b) Cy5-streptavidin (gray); (c) NA-Cy5-CPMV (black)a

  Results:
  •Followed on from the earlier work in which Dr. Soto and colleagues reported an enhancement in the fluorescent signal of the
  carbocyanine dye Cy5 by using the engineered virus (J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2006, 128, 5184-5189).a
  •Demonstrated that organized spatial distribution of Cy5 reporter molecules on capsid obviates problem of fluorescence quenching
  •Results suggest applications for the virus are very attractive for development of sensor systems and immunostaining of tissues and cells
                 Minority Research Opportunities in Science and Engineering                                         Broader
                        at the US Naval Research Laboratory (NRL)                                                   Impact
             Paul Charles (PI), George Spanos (Co-PI), US Naval Research Laboratory, DMR 0601364

Overall Program - Broad Impact:
•Major goal: to impact broader scientific community by
encouraging minority students to pursue advanced degrees
in Science, Math, Engineering, and related disciplines

•Students receive formal training on laboratory protocols
and instrument operation with a gradual progression during
their tenure to a much higher level of independence

•Attend scientific and skill set seminars, write weekly
project reports and a final written project report, deliver an
oral presentation.

•Site visits to local Graduate Schools provide students the
opportunity to discuss admissions criteria, financial aid,
and life as a graduate student

•Overall anticipated benefits to society include first hand
experience of high level research to students in
underrepresented groups

•Emphasis on encouraging students toward graduate
studies, teaching, and/or careers in science and technology

•Benefit to scientific community in scientific findings and      Students working in laboratory at the Center for
publications resulting from research projects                    Bio/Molecular Science and Engineering