Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU)

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Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry
College of Natural and Social Sciences

Biological Science room 336 | (323) 343-2300 (fax-(323) 343-6490)

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The CSULA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry REU Program

The National Science Foundation supported Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) Program located in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry at CSULA is designed to give research opportunities to community college students from the Los Angeles Basin. In particular, we seek students from groups underrepresented in the chemical sciences. The aim of our program is to introduce students to research opportunities early in their academic careers so they will be motivated to continue their education in the chemical sciences and be exposed to potential career options. Participants will work along side CSULA faculty and students for a ten week period each summer. They will present their research results at the end of the summer in a campus-wide symposium featuring posters displaying their findings and progress. Participants are required to attend several workshops throughout the summer that include Laboratory Safety and Preparing a Research Poster. Other workshops on various laboratory techniques and scientific ethics are also available to REU participants. Participants will be paid a stipend of $5000 for the ten week experience.

Please see our flyer on the REU program.
Please note the April 15, 2013 Deadline for all applications!

Please fill in the Application form and MAIL it
to the address provided on the form

Chemistry & Biochemistry faculty mentors and possible research topics are:

To apply to the program, interested students should return the Application Form (PDF) or Word (.doc), an unofficial copy of transcripts, and two letters of recommendation from science faculty to the address given below. The deadline for application is April 18th each year.  Students will be notified of their participation by May 20th.

For more information on the program, interested students may contact:

Dr. Scott Nickolaisen
CSULA NSF-REU Program Director
5151 State University Drive
Los Angeles, CA  90032
(323) 343-2382

Participants of the REU Program

Yong Ba (Physical Chemistry)—The development and application of NMR techniques for the study of short-range-ordered systems with particular interests in the study of biomolecules, porous, inclusive, and nanoclustered materials. This includes the mechanism of ice growth inhibition of antifreeze proteins that inhibit ice growth and recrystallization, and thus afford protection to fish from freezing in ice-laden marine environments; retention mechanisms of chromatographic column materials such as siloxane coatings or silica-based substances using xenon NMR to determine pore-filling by solute molecules; the use of 17O spin echo NMR and 2H quadrupolar echo NMR to study the kinetics of clathrate hydrates; and determination of group IV zeolitic-inclusion nanoclustered semiconductors using solid-state NMR and XPS techniques.

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Krishna Foster (Physical/Atmospheric Chemistry)—Studies of the photochemical reactions of condensed phase environmental pollutants.  Analytical techniques including ion chromatography, APCI and electrospray mass spectrometry, and GC/MSn are employed to determine kinetics and products of the photoinduced reactions of species such as aqueous nitrate and phosphate and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Hydroxyl radical production from nitrate photolysis is measured as a function of freezing.  Also, phosphate photolysis results in reduced forms of phosphorous that lead to phosphine formation.  Finally, oxidized products from incomplete combustion of PAHs are detected and analyzed for their potential to cause damage to environmental and human systems.
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Raymond Garcia (Biochemistry)—Studies to obtain a better biochemical understanding of how dietary factors regulate high density lipoprotein (HDL) metabolism and thereby obtain a better understanding of how diet induces the development of atherosclerosis, the major cause of cardiovascular disease in humans. Female New Zealand White rabbits are fed either a normal diet or a normal diet supplemented with a specific lipid and/or cholesterol for seven days. Blood samples are collected, and the rate of transfer of cholesteryl esters from HDL to the lower density lipoproteins by cholesteryl ester transfers protein and the rate of esterification of free cholesterol to cholesteryl esters in HDL by lecithin:cholesterol acyltransferase are measured with fluorometric assays.
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Frank Gomez (Inorganic/Analytical Chemistry)—Development of capillary electrophoresis (CE) techniques to assay affinities of ligands to receptors, to monitor on-column microreactions, and to separate DNA. Plug-plug techniques are used to perform on-column biomolecule derivatizaton coupled to affinity CE using, as model systems, glycopeptide antibiotics (vancomycin, ristocetin, and teicoplanin).  Plugs of either the ligand or antibiotic are derivatized and their binding to a receptor or ligand are assayed using relative migration times in CE. The use of two non-interacting markers compensates for changes in electroosmotic flow caused by Joule heating, ionicity variances, or changes in viscosity. The separation of DNA by hydroxypropylmethyl cellulose in uncoated capillaries has been demonstrated.
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Carlos Gutierrez (Organic Chemistry)—Preparation of non-spherically symmetric dendrimers having topologies with engineered features such as canyons, clefts, and pockets bearing defined structural units and functional surfaces. The ability to make dendrimers with defined domains, where the solubility and other properties can be better controlled, promises the synthesis of better drug delivery agents, enzyme mimics, and catalysts than are available with current dendrimers. The synthesis of 1,3,5,7-tetra(aminomethyl)adamantane by the photochemical reaction of sodium cyanide with 1,3,5,7-tetrabromoadamantane to form 1,3,5,7-tetracyanoadamantane in good yield and reduction to tetra(aminomethyl)adamantane has been achieved.  Further synthesis will produce dendrimers with interesting and novel topologies.
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Alison McCurdy (Organic Chemistry)—We use the tools of chemistry to understand biological processes. One research area involves using organic synthesis to build a series of molecules that are capable of photoreversible binding and release of calcium ions. These molecules would be used in studying the effects of natural calcium signals on proteins. A second research area involves using solid phase peptide synthesis to incorporate natural and unnatural amino acids into simple proteins (model alpha helices). These "chemical mutants" may be used to study protein stability and intermolecular forces in proteins.
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Jamil Momand (Biochemistry)—Development of tools to measure the level of specific protein oxidation reactions in cells.  Recent measurements have determined that the metal chelating compound, pyrolidine dithiocarbamate oxidizes at least 25% of the available p53 tumor suppressor protein in cultured mammalian cells. This has profound implications for cellular outcome because p53 is a major regulator of cell cycle and programmed cell death (apoptosis). We have shown that p53 is oxidized at specific cysteines located in the DNA binding portion of p53 or in the dimerization domain (the H1 helix), that oxidation of p53 involves disulfide bond formation, and that an average of one cysteine per p53 monomer is oxidized. Identification of which cysteines are oxidized (there are 10 in each p53 molecule) and the form of the oxidizing ligand is underway. Additionally, we have shown that the p53 gene is activated in response to hydrogen peroxide, a common intracellular stressor. Current work focuses on the mechanism by which transcription factors involved in this process respond to H2O2.
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Scott Nickolaisen (Physical/Atmospheric Chemistry)—Alkyl peroxy radicals are an essential intermediate in the mechanism by which ozone is formed in photochemical smog. The aim of this project is to measure kinetic parameters for the reactions of larger alkyl peroxy radicals (Cn, n>2) with other trace atmospheric constituents such as NO, NO2, O3, and SO2. The project has two specific research components.  First, a 150 m path length absorption cell coupled to an FTIR spectrometer is used for measurement of the mid-IR spectra of the alkyl peroxy radicals.  Second, the IR spectral information obtained is used in a flash photolysis system with infrared laser detection to measure alkyl peroxy radical concentrations as a function of time for determination of the reaction rate coefficients.
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James Rudd (Chemistry Education) Study and development of science instruction that promotes active learning through the use of writing tasks, guided-inquiry methods, collaborative learning environments, and computer-based animations.  Study and development of science instruction that promotes active learning through the use of writing tasks, guided-inquiry methods, collaborative learning environments, and computer-based instruction; investigation of the nature, roles, and impact of science faculty specializing in science education.
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Matthias Selke (Organic Chemistry)—Study of the reaction of singlet O2 with arylphosphines. The mechanism may proceed  by direct reaction to form phosphine oxide or by an insertion reaction to form phosphinates. The formation of phosphinates versus phosphine oxide is determined as a function of different electron-donating and withdrawing groups on the phenyl rings. Earlier work indicated that the insertion reaction results in a long-lived phosphadioxirane intermediate. The use of this intermediate as an oxidizing agent of a variety of substrates, particularly olefins, is being measured.
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Wayne Tikkanen (Organomettalic Chemistry)—Development of new Lewis acid catalysts. The catalysts are capable of asymmetric induction of three important classes of reactions: [4+2] cycloaddition; silylcyanation of carbonyl groups; and the oxo-ene reaction.  Zirconocene complexes of cyclopentadienyl ligands have been demonstrated to act as Lewis acid catalysts for a variety of reactions. The new complexes proposed as new catalyst systems are based on the CpEZr piano stool framework.  The greater steric bulk and poorer donor power of the phenyl-substituted cyclopentadienyl give higher facial selectivity, while also helping to maintain lower coordination numbers and, as a poorer donor, enhance the Lewis acidity of the complex compared to the Cp* ligand.
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Linda M. Tunstad (Organic Chemistry)—Synthesis and study of molecules with fully enclosed cavities of molecular dimensions as participants in guest-host chemistry. Container, or host, molecules of this type whose structural features can be manipulated to provide cavities of various sizes have potential as drug-delivery devices. They can also serve as microreaction vessels.  Other applications include the stabilization of reactive intermediates through isolation from the bulk solvent phase, and use in separations technologies such as chromatography. The synthesis employs hemicarcerand capsuled connected by covalent and hydrogen bonding. The enclosed conformation is stable at room temperature while the opened conformation is expected to dominate at low temperatures. The combination of covalent and hydrogen bonding allow easier access and release of the guest.
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Robert L.Vellanoweth (Biochemistry)—The emphasis of this research is the characterization of biochemical and molecular genetic events in the senescence of leaf tissue in Arabidopsis thaliana. This project involves the identification and cloning of senescence-specific genes and analysis of their regulation at the transcriptional level.
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Xin Wen (Biophysical/Biological Chemistry – Protein Molecular Recognition). Application of the combination of biological, chemical, biophysical, and structural methods to (1) identify highly efficient enhancers of antifreeze proteins and address fundamental questions in enhancement mechanisms for their final biomedical applications; (2) investigate the interactions between toxic metal ions and zinc finger proteins for a better understanding of metal (ion) carcinogenesis.
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Feimeng Zhou (Analytical Chemistry)—Qualitative and quantitative characterization of surface-confined DNA molecules using ellipsometry, flow-injection quartz crystal microbalance, flow-injection surface plasmon resonance, and scanning probe microscopes techniques developed in our laboratory. We now have a thorough understanding of the relationship between surface structures of DNA probes immobilized on gold surfaces and the performance of  DNA-covered surfaces for gene analysis, so our current emphasis focuses on the characterization and quantification of DNA molecules immobilized onto other types of surfaces such as glass or silicon wafers. We are also working on the synthesis and characterization of metal-, metal oxide-, and conducting polymer-based nanomaterials using nanospheres as templates for surface modification by compounds such as polystyrene and melamine formaldehyde particles.
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