Project Title: Structure-Activity Relationship Studies with 1,2,3-Triazolyl α-Amino Acid Derivatives
Project Advisors: Drs. Rebecca Kocehra & Karelle Aiken
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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: Aromatic Amines Chemical Exposure and Susceptibility to Insulin Resistance
Project Advisor: Dr. W. Eric Gato
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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. 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: Synthesis and characterization of Ruthenium(II) catalysts and their examination capability to catalytically produce alkylarenes through a “greener” approach
Project Advisors: Brandon Quillian, PhD
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Project Description: This project investigates new transition metal catalysts for their potential capability of converting petroleum-based products into value-added products more efficiently. In particular, we are interested in homogenous ruthenium(II) catalysts that are able to couple olefins (compounds with carbon-carbon double bonds) with arenes to produce alkylarenes. Alkylarenes are an important commodity that is utilized in the production of plastics, medicines, and other fine chemicals. While alkylarenes are produced on a multi-ton scale using the Friedel-Crafts catalysis, this method is inundated with several draw backs such as lack of selectivity, high energy input, and heavy waste generation. We are investigating alternative, rationally designed, discrete ruthenium catalysts that operate on a different mechanism using metal-mediated C-H activation that affords a greener more efficient approach to producing alkylarenes.
Role of the research Scholar: The research scholar will engage in research dealing with synthesis and characterization of ruthenium (II) organometallic compounds followed by subsequent assessment of their catalytic activity with a number of arenes and olefins to produce alkylarenes. The students will learn to handle air-and moisture sensitive compounds using state-of-the-art equipment and hone their skills in separations. The student will learn to operate modern instrumentation and interpret their spectra. Students will also build soft skills such as developing synthetic schemes, maintaining a laboratory notebook, operating chemical software and searching chemical databases.
Project Title: Evaluation of Nanoparticles in the Suppression of Mosquito-Borne Viruses
Project Advisor: Dr. James Carter
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Project 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 RuthenioDesign and Development of Bio-applicable, Multimodal Nanoparticle@MOF Nanohybrids.
Project Advisors: Dr. Tyler Nungesser
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Project Description: Metal organic frameworks (MOFs) for the past two decades have garnered much attention from the chemical community in areas such as gas adsorption, chemical catalysis, and drug delivery. Taking advantage of both the high inner surface area and modularity of MOFs, many examples in this class of nanomaterials have been employed in drug delivery proof of concepts. While inherently able to store and deliver cargo of interest, drug delivery MOFs largely exhibit single modality, unable to perform multiple functions. A movement interested in expanding the potential of MOFs is the investigation of so-called nanoparticle@MOF nanohybrids. These relatively new materials possess combined traits that would otherwise be separated in two different materials. These take advantage of the optical, electrical, magnetic, and catalytic properties inherent to metal nanoparticles (MNPs) and apply these within a MOF outers shell that exhibits high inner surface area porosity.
Role of the research scholar: The core of the nanohybrid will be gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) which will then be coated with a zirconium/diazobenzene MOF shell. Scholar will be responsible for synthesis of AuNP core as well as deposition of MOF outer shell. Multimodality of this nanomaterial is stimulated via light irradiation. Scholar will be responsible for assessment of the fluorescent bioimaging properties of the AuNP core performed with irradiation at ~520nm. Scholar will also be responsible for the loading of MOF cargo and subsequent delivery via irradiation at 365nm. Cargo delivery will be analyzed with NMR, GC/MS, UV-Vis and HPLC to quantify the amount of 5-fluorouracil released.
Project Title: Comprehensive Inventory of Student Resource Use for CHEM 1212
Project Advisor: Dr. Leah Williams
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Project Description: As pressure mounts to reduce costs for students, publishers are turning increasingly to online delivery models for textbook content as well as homework. Instructors are left to wonder if students are really using the materials they’re asking them to purchase or if they are turning to other sources, such as Google or YouTube, for additional help and content knowledge. For our current study, we are interested in pursuing the following research questions for students in introductory chemistry courses:
1. What resources do students perceive as most helpful to their learning?
2. How does student resource use (both in type and frequency) relate to student success in the course as measured by final grades?
We are using an extensive inventory that includes items on required course materials, additional official resources such as office hours and supplemental instruction, and other unofficial resources such as YouTube and Chegg. Students are asked via the survey to comment on these resources and their perceived benefits or drawbacks. Responses to this survey are being compared with final grades to determine any statistically significant differences or correlations. We are currently collecting and analyzing data from four different semesters of students in Principles of Chemistry II. We anticipate being able to add to the growing body of knowledge about which resources students actually use and how helpful they perceive them to be. Additionally, we hope our findings can help inform decisions instructors make about assigned resources on our campuses.
Role of the research scholar: Scholars will be trained in the use of Excel and SPSS to clean up large data sets, run descriptive statistics, and run non-parametric statistics to identify any significant correlations. Scholars will be trained on quantitative data visualization and presentation. They will be encouraged to think critically about the data, synthesize findings, and structure any significant conclusions within the larger context of student learning.
Project Title: Design of Ionic Liquids (ILs) and/or Group of Uniform Materials based on Organic Salts (GUMBOS) for liquid and solid phase extraction of small organic compounds and from complex samples.
Project Advisors: Dr. Rocio Perez
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Project description: ILs are defined as organic salts formed from bulky cations and/or anions, with relatively low melting points below 100 °C. Due to their ionic properties, ILs are considered non-volatile and have high thermal stability and conductivity, making them more attractive as green solvents for extraction procedures relative to traditional organic solvents. Similar to ILs, GUMBOS are defined as solid phase organic salts with melting points in the range of 25 to 250 °C. The physical and chemical properties of ILs and GUMBOS, such as toxicity, hydrophobicity, thermal stability, conductivity, magnetic, etc., can be tuned through use of different combinations of ions. The aim of this project is to design specific ILs and GUMBOS for liquid and solid phase extraction procedures (LPE/SPE). In particular, design SPE systems with magnetic properties that avoid use of high volumes of solvents to extract emerging contaminants such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and hormones from water samples.
Role of the research scholar: Scholars will learn to synthesize and characterize magnetic ILs and GUMBOS using several techniques (FT-IR, NMR, Ko/w). Participants will evaluate the extraction procedure of non-steroidal pharmaceutical compounds (naproxen, ibuprofen, acetaminophen, diclofenac), and hormones (estradiol, estrone, testosterone, drospirenone, mestranol) at different times, temperatures, pH, ionic strength conditions. Finally, evaluate the efficacy of the extraction procedure and possible reutilization of the extractive material.
Last updated: 3/18/2022