Project Title: Synthesis of Novel 1,2,3-Triazole Sensors for Anions and Cations
Project Advisors: Dr. Karelle Aiken

To select this project, enter: Aiken

Dr. Karelle Aiken

Project Description: Cations and anions play significant roles in environmental and biologically processes. A slight disturbance in any ion concentration could be damaging to a system. Thus, the ability to easily detect and quantify a specific ion before significant damage occurs is highly beneficial. A solution to this issue lies in the rational design of small organic molecules called chemonsensors. The potential exists to “tune” the detection abilities of these molecules by (i) taking advantage of ion affinity for specific functional groups and (ii) controlling the size of the binding site with location of the coordinating moieties in the structure. In collaboration with Drs. Debanjana Ghosh & Shainaz Landge (GS Chemistry & Biochemistry), our groups target development of sensors with 1,2,3-triazole scaffolds. Thus far, we have successfully designed probes for copper(II) and fluoride and are moving toward sensing devices and probes more amenable to aqueous media.

Role of the research student: Scholars will synthesize novel 1,2,3-triazole sensors, modifications based on our copper(II) and fluoride sensors. They will work with the mentors on the synthetic plans, execution of the procedures and characterization of compounds using various instruments. Individuals on this project will develop strong synthetic skills, including the ability to perform air-sensitive and microscale procedures.


Project Title: Electrospun Silicon/Titanium Dioxide Nanofibers High Performance Lithium Ion Battery
Project Advisor: 
Dr. Ji Wu

To select this project, enter: Wu


Dr. Ji Wu

Project Description: Lithium ion batteries (LIBs) have been widely viewed as one of the most promising green technologies in the field of energy storage, including hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), and storage systems for renewable and intermittent energy sources such as solar, wind, and nucleation power. However, several aspects including relatively high cost and poor performance limit the broader applications of LIBs. Herein, a feasible and low-cost elelctrospinning technique combined with sol-gel chemistry is proposed to fabricate silicon nanocrystals confined in TiO2 nanofibers, for the purpose of making anode materials for high performance LIBs which possess high energy density, long cycle life, low cost and fast charging rates, whose synthetic strategy is shown in the following diagram.

Role of the research student: (1) Use sonication to synthesize various ratios to make a sol-gel solution; (2) utilize electrospinning techniques to fabricate nanofibers using a homebuilt electrospinning setup; (3) vary reaction conditions to determine the relationship between the fiber diameters and mass ratio, and the electrochemical performance; (4)) determine the composition and morphology of these synthesized nanofibers using thermogravimetric analysis (TGA), scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and energy dispersive spectroscopy (EDS); and (5) characterize the surface area of these nanomaterials using Brunauer–Emmett–Teller (BET) surface area analyzer.


Project Title: Examining the Acute Toxicity of TiO2 Nanofiber
Project Advisor: Worlanyo Eric Gato

To select this project, enter: Gato

Eric Gato 1

Dr. W. Eric Gato

Project Description: The Gato research laboratory at Georgia Southern University conducts biomedical experimental studies on susceptibility to metabolic syndrome (insulin resistance), including the developmental origin and the role of environmental chemical exposure in the induction of type-2 diabetes and pancreatic cancer, using epigenetic, genomic, and proteomic techniques and fate and chemodynamics of trace metals and nanomaterials. One major project in the Gato laboratory is to examine the potential toxicity and quantification of nanomaterials in complex biological matrix. The ultimate goal of this project is to analyze the bio-distribution of trace amount of carbon nanotubes quantitatively, sensitively and selectively using a facile isotope metal doping method, thus making the organ-distribution and toxicity studies of nanomaterials more reliable and accurate. In the interim, our laboratory is examining the acute toxicity of TiO2 nanofiber in Sprague Dawley rats. TiO2 has been used in cosmetics, waste water treatment and the protection of the skin against sun damage. However, there are concerns over adverse effects resulting from bio-effects. The objective of this study is to employ proteomic and genomic techniques to investigate the effects associated with the oral ingestion of TiO2 nanofiber by Sprague Dawley male rats.

Role of the research student: The projects outlined above will provide undergraduate students the opportunity to perform research at the interface of chemistry and biology. Participants involved in these projects will examine the role of oxidative stress and inflammatory response in the toxicity of TiO2 nanofiber or in the induction of diabetes. Specifically, participants will design polymerase chain reaction (PCR)  primer targets specific to oxidative stress and inflammation, extract total RNA from the liver or lung or pancreatic tissues, synthesize cDNA,  run quantitative PCR reactions, employ RNA gel electrophoresis to examine RNA quality. Thus, the participant will be able to determine the overall gene expression. Finally the participant will validate gene expression patterns via ELISA and immunohistochemical techniques.


Project Title: Assessment of Catalytic Behavior of Organic Catalyst-Gold Nanorod Composites Under Photo-irradiation
Project Advisors: Drs. John Stone & Hans Schanz

To select this project, enter: Stone-Schanz

Dr. John Stone

Dr. Hans-Joerg Schanz

Project Description: Gold nanorods have been widely studied over the past 20 years due to their interesting shape-dependent optical properties, long-term stability, low cytotoxicity and myriad of applications including biomedical imaging, photothermal therapy, and catalysis to name a few.  Much of the catalytic work performed thus far has centered around processes that take advantage of the high surface area of these gold nanomaterials either alone or in combination with another metals such as platinum or palladium.  While these studies have resulted in numerous publications confirming catalytic activity of these materials, they remain somewhat ill-defined.  There has been very little work looking at the catalytic behavior of small organic molecules attached to the gold nanorod surface.  In this case, it is not the nanoparticle itself that will act as the catalysis but rather the electron movement along the surface of the nanoparticle when irradiated with light and/or local heating that would enhance the catalytic behavior of the attached organic molecule.  We propose beginning with the well-studied organic catalysis, TEMPO.  TEMPO is a radical based catalysis which is part of a larger group of related organic molecules called nitroxides.  They have been highly studied with respect to their ability to promote oxidation and polymerization reactions.  Currently, we are working on the conjugation of TEMPO to the surface of our gold nanorods via an amide coupling.  This is being accomplished by terminating the gold nanorods with –COOH groups and reacting them with a –NH2 derivatized TEMPO.  Once conjugation occurs it is important that the rods remain stable and maintain their integrity.  Once this step is complete, specific catalytic studies will follow.


Project Title: Synthesis & Characterizations of Magnetic Materials
Project Advisor: Dr. Arpita Saha

To select this project, enter: Saha

Dr. Arpita Saha

Project Description: Magnetism is a multi-billion dollar industry. Magnetic materials are well known for industrial applications like computer hard drives, ATM cards, televisions, audio devices, motors, transformer cores, recordings, and highly specialized instruments like medical MRI equipment. Unlike traditional magnets, the nanoscale-size single-molecule magnets (SMM) with their unique quantum features are a viable source for developing future quantum computers. Besides, SMMs can store several hundred-fold more digital information than the current data storage technology. This project focuses on synthesizing and investigating properties of SMMs. More specifically, the work will be accomplished through the transition and lanthanide metal coordination- and magneto- chemistry using various techniques to assess novel, high-nuclearity metal complexes as magnetic materials.

Role of the research student: Participants will acquire key laboratory skills like synthesis of organic ligands & metal complexes, crystallization, chromatography, centrifusion, filtration, dilution and titration. In addition, they will learn several spectroscopic and analytical techniques e.g. Infrared, Raman, UV-Visible and 1H, 13C NMR spectroscopy, elemental analyzer, single crystal X-ray crystallography, Scanning Electron Microscope,  cyclic voltammetry and magnetochemistry along with proficiency in computer graphics (Microsoft, ChemDraw, Sigma Plot) by using variety of different instruments for data collection and interpretation.


Project Title: Bio-Based Hybrid Composites from Vegetable Oils and Collagen
Project Advisors: Drs. Amanda Stewart & Rafael Quirino

To select this project, enter: Stewart-Quirino

Dr. Rafael Quirino

Dr. Amanda Stewart

Project Description: The partial replacement of petroleum-derived plastics and composites by novel bio-based materials from inexpensive, and renewable, natural resources has the potential to greatly impact the plastics, coatings, and composites industries. Natural starting materials such as natural oils and agricultural residues tend to be readily available in large quantities and can possibly afford more biodegradable materials than petroleum-based polymers. Furthermore, new bio-based materials may exhibit properties not currently available in commercial petroleum products.  While bio-based composites from vegetable oils are very attractive due to their high bio-renewable content and low cost, an inherent incompatibility between triglycerides and the polar surfaces of most bio-based fibers limits stress-transfer mechanisms from the matrix to the reinforcement, resulting in materials with low flexural strength. Incorporating biomolecules such as peptides, proteins, and phospholipids as alternatives can be very attractive in that they possess both polar and nonpolar regions which can allow for greater adhesive properties between a hydrophobic matrix and a hydrophilic substance. Furthermore, the synthetic design of peptides has the advantage of incorporating any combination of natural amino acids as well as many unnatural synthetic amino acids. Peptides synthesized through solid phase peptide synthesis can be designed for any length and any sequence. While much research has been conducted to understand protein structure and function, the potential stabilizing interactions between proteins and vegetable oil polymers may provide insight into producing a host of composites for various applications.  

Role of the research student: Scholars will isolate and purify the protein from beef tendon and then incorporate the protein into the vegetable oil polymer to determine its interactions with the polymer and to test the mechanical properties of the composite. The undergraduate research will also synthesize the peptides based on the collagen sequence to produce a variety of potential composites.


Project Title: Synthesis and characterization of core-shell-shell nanoparticles for drug delivery and photothermal treatment of cancer
Project Advisor: Dr. Raju Kumal

To select this project, enter: Kumal

Dr. Raju Kumal

Project Description: Plasmonic gold and silver nanoparticles combined with different types of materials including biological molecular functionalization and dielectric core-shell-shell designs provide a greater specialization, optimization and control for plasmon-enhanced applications. The plasmon peaks of these core-shell-shell nanoparticles can be tuned from visible to the near infrared region by changing the core-shell material and its thickness. Multilayered gold-silver-gold core-shell-shell nanoparticles can be used in drug delivery and photothermal treatments of tumors due to their affinity to bind with biological molecules and their ability to absorb near infrared radiation with high photothermal efficiencies. Compared with the conventional cancer therapies, photothermal therapy exhibits unique advantages including high specificity, non-toxic to healthy tissues, and high temporal and spatial selectivity. By implementing common spectroscopic techniques, important new information on nanoparticle surface chemistry, molecular adsorption, resonant coupling, light-activated drug delivery, photothermal cancer therapy, nanomaterial catalysis and advanced optoelectronic designs can be obtained, helping to create new possibilities in nanomaterial applications.

Role of the research student: The research project involves the synthesis and characterization of nanoparticles such as gold, silver, gold-silver core-shell and gold-silver-gold core-shell-shell. Common characterization techniques such as scanning electron microscopy (SEM), transmission electron microscopy (TEM), UV-visible spectroscopy, dynamic light scattering (DLS) and zeta (ζ) potential measurements will be utilized. Research scholar will also investigate the molecular coupling of plasmonic nanoparticles with organic dyes. The project will help them to develop a strong research background for their future research.


Project Title: Drug Delivery via Targeting Liposome Encapsulated Anti-cancer Drugs
Project Advisor: Dr. Timothy Tolentino

To select this project, enter: Tolentino

Project Description: In chemotherapy, cancer drugs are delivered intravenously and carried throughout the body by the cardiovascular system. Thus, convection and random diffusion delivers these drugs indiscriminately to both cancer cells and healthy cells. The delivery of cancer drugs to healthy human cells is detrimental to human health and often leads to the death of cancer patients.  Thus, chemotherapy ultimately can result in the deterioration of quality of life and sometimes the survival rate due to the toxicity from these chemotherapeutical drugs. Anti-cancer drugs enveloped in a liposome are kept from binding to and entering cells by a phospholipid bilayer. If the surface of the liposome is functionalized with anti-CD44 IgG, the liposome targets cells which express the cell surface receptor CD44. Cancer cells tend to over express CD44.  Thus a liposome functionalized with anti-CD44 IgG, would target cancer cells. Additionally, the binding of anti-CD44 IgG to CD44 triggers mechanisms within the cell which causes it to internalize the bound CD44 along with the bound IgG. After internalization, liposomes are trafficked to the Golgi Complex for recycling of the phospholipids. Taken together, a targeting liposome provides a means to 1) target cancer cells 2) trigger cancer cells to internalize the anti-cancer drugs 3) Increase the efficacy of anti-cancer drugs, and 4) significantly diminish the damage to healthy tissue caused by chemotherapy.

Role of the research student:  Run cell viability assays on cancer cells treated with compound B and liposome encapsulated compound B,  Specifically, the student will culture cancer cells, run MTS cell viabilituy assays, and apoptosis assays via flow cytometric analysis.


Project Title: Synthesis and functionalization of nano-clay fillers towards automotive crashworthiness applications.
Project Advisor: Drs. Shainaz M. Landge & Ermias Koricho

To select this project, enter: Landge-Koricho

Dr. Shainaz Landge

Dr. Ermias Koricho

Nearly 1.3 million people die every year in car accidents. In automotive design, there are two methods to increase the vehicles safety. Active safety, which is a component designed to assist in preventing accidents and passive safety that protect passengers in case of an accident. In passive safety, use of lightweight materials such as composites and metallic alloys offer better mechanical properties, crashworthiness, and reduce fuel consumption. Composite materials with tailored design will be targeted in this study because that will allow to improve the crashworthiness of vehicle components such as bumper beam and crash box. Commercially available, inexpensive nanoclay in the form of platelets, tubes will be functionalized with organosilane handles, epoxy groups, organic materials etc and use as fillers to increase the fracture toughness of glass fiber reinforced polymer of the composite materials. Vacuum assisted resin transfer molding method will be used to manufacture composite plates, which will be further sonicated to disperse various ratios of nano-clay fillers in a resin. Our hypothesis is that this fillers will improve the energy absorption capability of composite materials during impact/crash.

Role of the research student: Research scholars will functionalize the nanoclay with organic materials and it will be characterized with instruments housed in chemistry and biochemistry. Students will be trained on Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (NMR), Infrared Spectroscopy (IR), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), energy dispersive spectroscopy (EDS), transmission electron microscope (TEM) and thermogravimetric analysis (TGA). Universal testing machine will be used to characterize the fracture behavior of the composite material and digital image correlation method will be used to detect crack formation and propagation.


Project Title: Synthesis of Potential Anti-Tumor Compounds
Project Advisor: Drs. John DiCesare

To select this project, enter: DiCesare

Dr. John DiCesare

Anthracycline derivatives like doxorubicin are useful chemotherapeutic agents.  To develop drugs with greater efficacy we synthesized the naphthaquinone adduct, N-methyl-5H-benzocycloheptanaphthalene-5,12-imine (TU-100), with a similar ring skeleton.  Preliminary data from the National Cancer Institute suggested TU-100 may be a potential tumor-killing agent.  Using a cell culture system we found the drug rapidly kills cancer cells, with potentially synergistic effects on both DNA metabolism and regulation of protein degradation.  The overall goal of this project is to further characterize the biological activity of this novel anti-tumor drug, and synthesize additional versions with enhanced anti-tumor properties.  The aim of this project is to investigate the structure/activity relationship of the lead compound by synthesizing additional derivatives.  These experiments will develop a pharmacophore for determining anti-tumor activity.  The lead compound will be divided into two regions and structural analogs of each region will be synthesized and evaluated for the biological activity.  The long-term benefits of this work will be the development of novel anti-tumor agents.  By understanding their mechanism of action and how it relates to structural components, specificity can be enhanced while at the same time reducing potentially debilitating side effects.

Role of the research student:  Participants will synthesize novel compounds and characterize the compounds by NMR spectroscopy.  Participants may also have the ability to test these compounds for biological activity.

Last updated: 12/3/2018

Department of Chemistry • PO Box 8064Statesboro, GA 30460 • cemiture@georgiasouthern.edu