Faculty Mentor: Nancy M. Santagata, PhD

Faculty Mentor’s Department:

Contact Information:

Project Description: Collegiate chemistry courses, often the ‘My Worst Class in High School’ prizewinners, are only as effective as they are engaging. Pedagogical best practices, like interactive live demonstrations, can alleviate the monotony of a traditional lecture by giving life to seemingly intangible course content. The successful Undergraduate Research Fellow will contribute to the current catalog of lecture demonstrations available for use in General Chemistry I and II lectures by identifying appropriate topics, preparing engaging scripts, carrying out iterative testing, and designing relevant pedagogical materials. Completed projects have the potential to result in co-authorships of peer-reviewed journal articles and/or conference presentations.

Requirements for Student Applicants:
STEM or education major (broadly defined); completion of CHEM 1110 and CHEM 1111 (or equivalent) with a minimum final grade of B-; ability to work independently; excellent oral and written communication skills.

Application or Interview Process:
One page statement of interest (Times New Roman, 12 pt, single spaced); 30 minute in-person interview (informal). Statement of interest should address how the candidate satisfies the applicant requirements, describe candidate’s interest in the project, and include a discussion of how the project aligns with future goals.

Hours per Week the Student Will Work:
10 hours (flexible)

Starting Date:

Faculty Mentors:  Abby Parrill, Chemistry; Daniel Baker, Chemistry; Judy Cole, Biological Sciences

Contact Information: Abby Parrill, aparrill@memphis.edu, 901-678-3371; Daniel Baker, dlbaker@memphis.edu, 901-678-4426; Judy Cole,  jcole2@memphis.edu, 901-678-1363

Project Description: G protein-coupled receptors (GPCR) comprise a membrane protein super-family and are among the most important cellular sensors for external chemical stimuli.  The myriad roles of GPCR in both normal physiology and human disease explain why approximately 50% of current pharmaceuticals act at GPCR targets.  The non-sensory subset of the rhodopsin family GPCR still includes nearly 70 orphan receptors, for which endogenous signaling molecules have not yet been defined. Several of these orphans have been linked with important physiological roles, such as neuroprotection as well as regulation of renal and cardiac function.   Our team has a suite of complementary skills that we will apply toward identifying ligands that will be useful in further defining the physiological roles of various orphan GPCR.  These skills, which include analysis of receptor activation and function, computational chemistry and protein modeling, and analytical chemistry, will be used to achieve the following three objectives.

Requirements for Student Applicants: Chemistry or biology majors with at least 16 credit hours in the major discipline.

Application or Interview Process: Cover letter and meeting with faculty mentor team.

Hours per week the student will work:  10-15 hours

Starting Date:  Anytime 

Method of Compensation: Volunteer

Faculty Mentor:  Tomoko Fujiwara

Faculty Mentor’s Department:  Chemistry

Contact Information: 901-678-5558; tfjiwara@memphis.edu 

Project Description:  The Fujiwara group develops biomedical materials using synthetic and natural polymers for a variety of applications such as drug delivery systems, biodegradable implants, and body sensors. Our multidisciplinary research projects involve organic and polymer synthesis, characterization of molecular-level and nano-scale structures, analysis of chemical and physical properties, and biological evaluations.

Requirements for Student Applicants:  Chemistry or Biomedical Engineering majors; Amount of coursework completed will determine suitable project choices; Completion of General Chemistry I or higher required.

Application or Interview Process: Cover letter (brief statement of your motivation and interest), Interview

Hours per Week the Student Will Work: 10-15 hrs

Starting Date: Anytime

Faculty Mentor:  Nathan DeYonker

Faculty Mentor's Department:  Chemistry

Contact Information:  (901) 678-2029; ndyonker@memphis.edu

Project Description: My research group focuses on computational chemistry with three major research thrusts: 1) We explore the electronic structure of inorganic and organometallic molecules relevant to origin-of-life processes, informing experimental spectroscopists and synthetic chemists, and broadening theoretical understanding of small, radical inorganic molecules. 2) We use Density Functional Theory to propose mechanisms of complex inorganic and organometallic chemical reactions, related to catalysis and environmental chemistry. 3) We utilize bioinformatics and cheminformatics techniques in a quantum chemistry context to automate, simplify, standardize, and validate the construction of QM, QM/MM, and ONIOM enzyme models.

Requirements for Student Applicants: Student applicants need to have earned a B+ or better in both CHEM 1110 and 1120.

Application or Interview Process:  Email to set up and interview.

Starting Date:  Any time

Method of Compensation: Volunteer opportunities are always available. Academic credit opportunities are available for Chemistry and Biochemistry majors. Paid positions are infrequently available and first require at least one semester of volunteer or for-credit research.

Faculty Mentor:  Abby Parrill

Faculty Mentor’s Department:  Chemistry

Contact Information:  (901) 678-2638; aparrill@memphis.edu

Project Description:  The Parrill group investigates the structure and function of proteins through a combination of computational and experimental methods in order to guide drug discovery and optimization efforts.  Proteins of current interest are those that produce bioactive phospholipids, or mediate the signaling networks stimulated by bioactive phospholipids.

Requirements for Student Applicants:  Amount of chemistry coursework completed will determine suitable project choices, current enrollment in General Chemistry I or higher required.

Starting Date:  anytime

Method of Compensation (Volunteer, Academic Credit, or Stipend):  To be arranged

Application Process: Students should submit unofficial transcript

Faculty Mentor: Ying-Sing Li

Faculty Mentor's Department: Chemistry

Contact Information: yingli@memphis.edu

Project Description: Two research projects are in consideration and in progress in my laboratory. The first one is dealing with the surface treatment of metals and alloys to improve their anticorrosion property. A novel nano-sol from organosilicone compounds is developing to serve this purpose. Different physical and chemical methods will be employed to characterize the treated surfaces. The second project is to develop a method to improve the hydrogen storage for fuse cells using the modified nanocarbon tubes. This research is involving the fabrication and characterization of materials as well as the studies of adsorption and desorption of hydrogen.

Requirements for Student Applicants: Junior level or upper; some chemistry laboratory experience; reasonable working schedule and plan.

Starting Date: Flexible

Method of Compensation (Volunteer, Academic Credit, or Stipend) : To Be Determined 

Application Process: Students should submit unofficial transcript

Faculty Mentor: Xiaohua Huang

Faculty Mentor's Department: Chemistry

Contact Information: xhuang4@memphis.edu; 901.326.1665

Project Description: The goal of this application is to develop a single vesicle technology (SVT) for exosome surface protein profiling based on surface enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) imaging in conjunction with direct molecular exosome capture from diluted biofluids. Single exosome profiling of surface proteins would provide unprecedented insight into biological events and invaluable information for biomarker discovery. It can probe tumor-derived exosomes in the presence of abundant non-tumor exosomes, providing sensitive, precise, and quantitative information superior to bulk methods. However, single exosome protein profiling is challenging due to the small size and low abundance of antigens on individual exosomes as well as the difficulties in isolation of pure exosomes for downstream analysis. To address the technical challenges, we use highly sensitive and specific SERS nanotags to label and image exosomal surface proteins. We have developed a surface chemistry that can molecularly capture exosomes directly from diluted biofluids based on exosomal CD81 marker expression. Our method only requires microliter of extremely diluted plasma (typically 100-fold dilution), which is over 150 times less than the bulk enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Due to the advantages in simplicity, sensitivity, efficiency, and sample consumption, the SERS-SVT, if successful, would substantially improve the analytical performance for molecular characterization of exosomes for cancer research and accelerate the progress in the exosome field in terms of biomarker discovery and clinical translation. Our SERS-SVT will be developed and tested for breast cancer diagnostics through the following three aims: 1) Develop and optimize SERS-SVT methodologies for single exosome protein profiling; 2) Characterize and validate SERS-SVT with cell-derived exosomes in the breast cancer model; and 3) Apply SERS-SVT to examine the potential of exosomes for cancer diagnostics at different stages using HER2-positive breast cancer as the disease model.

Requirements for Student Applicants: Students with background in chemistry, biology, and biomedical engineering fit to our research.

Hours per week the student will work: flexible, but 2 - 4 h per week is fine.

Application Process: Students should submit a resume and will be interviewed