CEMITURE
College of Science and Mathematics

CEMITURE Projects

Project Title: Structure-Activity Relationship Studies with 1,2,3-Triazolyl α-Amino Acid Derivatives
Project Advisors: Drs. Rebecca Kocehra & Karelle Aiken

To select this project, enter: Kocehra-Aiken

Project Description: 1,2,3-Triazoles show promising pharmacological behavior such as antifungal, antibacterial and anticancer properties. For cancer in particular, the cells which are multiplying indefinitely have a high nutrient demand for certain types of α-amino acids. This need is supported, in part, by an increase in the number of amino acid transporters in the cell membranes. In targeting 1,2,3-triazolyl derivatives of α-amino acids we aim to (1) capitalize on the biological activity of the triazole-based units and (2) obtain efficient uptake of the derivatives by exploiting the amino acid transporters. The viability of these molecules as drug candidates with anti-cancer activity will be evaluated in a panel of cancer cell lines.

Role of the research scholar: Scholars will synthesize novel 1,2,3-triazole compounds and perform the anti-cancer investigations with the molecules. 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. The research scholars will also utilize established drug screening strategies to quantitate cancer cell growth in dose-response studies with the synthesized molecules.


Project Title: Examining the Acute Toxicity of TiO2 Nanofiber
Project Advisors: Drs. W. Eric Gato & Ji Wu

To select this project, enter: Gato-Wu

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Wu-Gato-Picture-550x354.jpgProject Description: The Gato and Wu laboratories are examining 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 scholar: 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. 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: Aromatic Amines Chemical Exposure and Susceptibility to Insulin Resistance
Project Advisor: Dr. W. Eric Gato

To select this project, enter: Gato

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Eric-Gato_Pcture-1.jpgProject 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. Specifically, we investigate the toxicogenomic and poroteomic response of rodents and mammalian cells to dietary environmental contaminants (2-aminoanthracene). This research examines the effect of 2-aminoanthracene (2-AA) on pancreatic cells with a specific focus on insulin production, insulin resistance, pancreatic cancer etiology, and susceptibility of offspring to metabolic syndrome (insulin resistance) after in utero exposure. Overall, our investigations will enhance our understanding of the adverse effects associated with aromatic amines chemical exposure.

Role of the research scholar: 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 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: Identifying the Role of Calcium Interference in Quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction
Project Advisors: Drs. Asli Aslan and Arpita Saha

To select this project, enter: Aslan-Saha

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Aslan-Saha-Pcture-550x315.jpgProject Description: Current advances in molecular microbiology have revolutionized our understanding of waterborne pathogen ecology and their overall impact on environmental health. Quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) is an established molecular method to identify and quantify gene copies of a target microorganism. One of the many potential uses of qPCR is rapid detection of waterborne pathogens from beach waters. By federal law, every state has to monitor their beaches and report these findings to public in a timely manner to protect health. The United States of Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) is recommending states to use qPCR as rapid method so that in the event of contamination, immediate actions can be taken to protect public health. Because qPCR is a fluorescence-based method, chemical composition of the target water body may interfere with the reagents, causing false negatives in results. Our goal in this project is to investigate the occurrence and quantity of calcium in marine beaches across Coastal Georgia and its impact on qPCR efficacy.

Role of the research scholar: At the end of this interdisciplinary project, scholars will gain skills needed to work at the interface of molecular microbiology, chemistry and public health. Under the supervision of their mentors, they will be able to practice running qPCR from real life environmental samples and identify interferences from inorganic chemicals such as calcium and other organics. Participants will acquire key laboratory skills for collecting water samples, filtration techniques and quantifying inorganics in the water. Through this process they will develop proficiency with spectroscopic and analytical techniques such as UV-Vis, 1H & 13C NMR spectroscopy, elemental analysis, High-Pressure Liquid Chromatography (HPLC), Ion-Chromatography (IC), Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS), and Scanning Tunneling Microscopy(SEM).


Project Title: Evaluation of Nanoparticles in the Supression of Mosquito-Borne Viruses
Project Advisor: Dr. James Carter

To select this project, enter: Carter

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Carter-Picture.jpgProject Description: Zika virus (ZV) causes Zika fever (ZF), an acute self-limiting febrile illness characterized by a rash, conjunctival injection, arthralgia, myalgia and headache.  Symptoms associated with ZV infection appear 3 to 12 days after inoculation.  The most frequent symptoms include fever, a maculopapular rash, joint pain, and non-purulent conjunctivitis (pink eye).  Importantly, 80% of individuals infected with ZV are asymptomatic.  The 20% of individuals presenting symptoms may range from mild to severe.  Infection during pregnancy has been reported to cause microcephaly and death of infants.  Neurologic symptoms in the form of Guillain-Barre syndrome have also been associated to ZV infections.  The research projects in my lab involve the design, construction, and evaluation of nanoparticles-based systems for their efficacy in the detection, suppression, and even eradication of mosquito-borne viruses, such as dengue and Zika.

Role of the research scholar : The scholar will evaluate nanoparticles, of novel design, for their ability to effect the infection of capabilities of ZV when tested in vitro cell culture Baby hamster kidney (BHK-21), Vero green monkey, and C6/36 Aedes albopictus mosquito cells.  Cultured cells will be infected in the presence of antiviral nanoparticle systems, and infection properties of ZV will be analyzed to determine the efficacy of lab produced nanoparticle systems in reducing, and even eliminating, ZV viremia.


Project Title: Peptide-assisted Synthesis of Ruthenion Nanoparticles and their Use in Heterogensous Catalysis
Project Advisors: Drs. Beverly Penland & Hans Schanz

To select this project, enter: Penland-Schanz

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Schanz-Penland-Picture-550x294.jpgProject Description: Noble metal nanoparticles (Au, Ag, Pd) have become of increasing interest in the world of heterogeneous catalysis due to their stability, recyclability and extremely high surface areas.  Using peptides, their size can be controlled and stabilized, in addition to providing solubility in aqueous media.  This principle has not yet been applied to ruthenium, a metal on the brink of being noble with unique catalytic properties and activities.

Role of the research scholar: This is a collaborative project between Drs. Penland and Schanz.  The nanoparticle synthesis will be developed in Dr. Penland’s laboratories.  The scholar will use different ruthenium precursors such as RuCl3 or (cymene)RuCl2 and the Pd4 peptide to determine the best method for synthesizing nanoparticles. Size, shape and, where applicable, surface area of the nanoparticles will be characterized via imaging techniques.  Optimization will be performed by varying peptide to Ru-precursor ratios or by varying the Ru-precursor.  Once nanoparticles are synthesized and purified, they will be used in catalytic reactions.  Those reactions include, but are not limited to, alkene and ketone reduction in aqueous media and aqueous olefin metathesis.  Multiple reactions will be performed under variable conditions, such as different substrates, temperatures and concentrations.  The catalysis will be investigated under the supervision of Dr. Schanz.

Techniques: The scholars will use UV-Vis spectroscopy, fluorescence spectroscopy, dynamic light scattering and electron microscopy to study the ruthenium nanoparticles they produce. Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, gas chromatography (GC) and, where applicable, various mass spectrometry methods, will be used to investigate the catalytic activity of the nanoparticles.  Where possible, the scholar will conduct these studies hands-on and will learn how to interpret all data obtained while bringing them into context with previous results from our laboratories and the literature.


Project Title: Do Parasitic Plants Create “Leaks” in Forest Canopy Nutrient Budgets?
Project Advisor: Dr. John Van Stan

To select this project, enter: Van Stan

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Van-Stan-Picture.jpgProject Description: In most forest ecosystems, there are plants that thrive far above the life-sustaining soils by parasitizing tree canopies. One such parasitic plant that is abundant in the southeastern US is mistletoe. Mistletoes trick their host tree into believing that they are young, developing, resource-hungry branches. This results in the tree allocating substantial water and nutrient resources to the mistletoe (at the expense of its own branches). We already know that mistletoes waste much of the excess water provided, just letting it transpire out to the atmosphere. But, do mistletoes “wound” the canopy nutrient budget as well? And, does this wound bleed nutrients when it rains (in a process called ‘leaching’)? If so, how much nutrients leach from mistletoe? Do any nutrients preferentially leach from mistletoes? How different is nutrient leaching from mistletoes compared to their host tree leaves? This project would focus on select leaching-prone macronutrient ions fundamental to plant nutrition.

Role of the research scholar: Deploy samplers before storms to collect rainwater beneath mistletoe-infected and uninfected tree canopies. Generate controlled leachates from mistletoe and host tree tissue samples in the lab using a rainfall simulator. Prepare these water samples for ion chromatography mass spectrometry (ICMS), run samples on ICMS, then analyze ICMS output. Compute leachate rates and nutrient fluxes for comparison between mistletoes and host trees.


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

To select this project, enter: Landge-Koricho

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Landge-Koricho-550x297.jpgProject Description: 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 scholar: 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.

Last updated: 11/18/2019

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