College of Science and Letters Announces Winners of $5,000 Summer Research Stipends
Matt Bauer, associate dean for academic affairs, College of Science and Letters, announced the winners of this year's CSL Undergraduate Summer Research Stipends. Each student will receive $5,000 to do research with a faculty member this summer.
Mohamad Alaliwi (CS 4th year) will work with Lisa Gandy, computer science instructor at IIT and assistant professor of computer science, Central Michigan University, on "Congressional Close Up: Constructing Political Narratives from Congressional Votes." Congressional Close Up is an automated system that gleans through large amounts of data to explain why U.S. senators and representatives vote a certain way on legislation.
Kaylynn Barker (BIOL 2nd year) will continue her work with John Terschak, former lecturer in chemistry, in the university's CRABLab. The European shore crab, or "green crab" (Carcinus maenas) has caused catastrophic changes in areas in which it has been introduced including the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of the continental United States. The researchers are developing an integrated pest management approach similar to that used in terrestrial agriculture, including using a signal from the natural predator (common octopus) as a "push" to force the green crab out of key habitats.
Haocheng Bian (AMAT and CS 2nd year) joins forces with Greg Fasshauer, professor of applied mathematics, for the project "Kernel Methods in Computational Mathematics." Kernels are used to build different kinds of mathematical models. Bian will use appropriate techniques to find models that have good approximation properties, investigating existing kernel methods and creating new ones.
Melanie Dooley (AMAT and PHYS 2nd year) will team up with Duchossis Professor of Physics Carlo Segre for "Fabricating a Rapid Annealing Furnace." Dooley will fabricate a microwave furnace, make her own samples of ferroelectric ceramics, and participate in experiments at the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory, helping research teammates to obtain EXAFS (extended X-ray absorption fine structure) data on their samples.
Aleksander Korczakowski (PHYS 2nd year) will assist John Zasadzinski, Paul and Suzi Schutt Endowed Chair of Science, on the project "Superconducting Radio Frequency Cavities." The overall project involves surface studies of Niobium for the improvement of SRF cavities, an essential component of linear particle accelerators. Korczakowski will introduce dislocations into annealed Nb foils in a controlled fashion and look into the potential of Density Functional Theory to generate the vibrational modes of amorphous graphene. He will work with a group of graduate students, postdocs, and scientific staff at Fermilab and Argonne.
Peter Lau (BCHM 3rd year) will research "Consequences in Exon Skipping Repairs of Dystrophin" with Nick Menhart, associate professor of biology. Menhart does Muscular Dystrophy Association supported research on the consequences of exon skipping repairs of dystrophin, so that they may be implemented therapeutically for the treatment of Duchenne muscular Dystrophy, or DMD. They have been studying biophysical properties of dystrophin, and especially exon edited dystrophins, to better understand the consequences of these modifications, to determine which skips are most suitable.
Martha Razo (AMAT 1st year) will work with Fred Hickernell, applied mathematics chair and professor, on "Improvements to Quadrature Algorithms." Automatic integration (quadrature) algorithms take as inputs a function routine, an interval of integration, and a tolerance. They claim to provide the requested integral with an error no greater than the tolerance. Unfortunately, nearly all such algorithms can be fooled. Razo and Hickernell will try to determine the characteristics of integrands that fool automatic quadrature algorithms and then suggest how to improve those algorithms.
Megan Schultz (BIOL 3rd year) will do research with Biology Associate Professor Jialing Xiang, "Laser Capture Microdissection and Genetic Analysis of BaxΔ2 in Immunohistochemistry Tumor Tissue." Xiang's team discovered BaxΔ2, a powerful tumor suppressor found only in cancer cells. Schultz will isolate BaxΔ2 positive cells from control tissues utilizing laser capture microdissection (LCM) and conduct analysis to determine if these cells are truly BaxΔ2 positive. Genomic DNA will be isolated from the cells followed by PCR to amplify Bax genomic DNA.
Thomas Vukson (CHEM 3rd year) will work with Aditya Unni, assistant professor of chemistry, on "Total Synthesis of Salinosporamide A." Salinosporamide A is a cancer treatment drug, a very potent proteasome inhibitor. Others have synthesized it, but so far all syntheses are either very low yielding or contain many steps, which means the synthesis is more costly. The proposed synthesis aims to construct the natural product in fewer than 10 steps using a dynamic kinetic asymmetric transformation in the key double annulation step.
Undergraduate Summer Research Stipends offer undergraduate students the opportunity to see what it is like to work in a lab alongside faculty who are leaders in their fields of research. Students explore their interests, solve problems, advance knowledge, and prepare for their next step—whether graduate school, medical school, or the workplace.