Many of our students participate in Study Abroad, Fellowships, and Summer Research Programs. Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) programs are very competitive and support active research participation by undergraduate students in any of the areas of research funded by the National Science Foundation. Here are a few examples:
Germany-Austria Study Abroad 2016
Belmont University students in physics and music business have returned from a 10-day tour of Germany and Austria, during which they received unprecedented access to world-class facilities and personnel in the fields of electro-acoustic research and product manufacturing. The program consisted of two courses: a physics course on Electroacoustics taught by Dr. Scott Hawley, Physics, and a music business course on International Marketing (with emphasis toward product design) taught by Dr. Sarita Stewart, Entertainment Industry Studies.
PHY1950 students touring the anechoic chamber at Fraunhofer IDMT (Ilmenau, Germany). Right to left: Mollie Jones, Emma Lambiase, Jay Pichard, Brock Steele, Tim Rencken, Riley Wymer, and Selena de la Cruz.
PHY1950 student Allie Monday experiences the sound source localization research setup for virtual reality environments in the Psychoacoustics and Experimental Audiology Lab of the Acoustics Research Institute (Vienna, Austria). The ring of speakers in the background is for the measurement of highly accurate Head-Related Transfer Functions, a key mathematical ingredient to spatial audio systems such as the “3D Music Player” WebAudio app developed by Dr. Hawley, which students tried out prior to departure.
A student-maintained blog for the trip is online at http://belmontaustriagermany.weebly.com
Daniel Beegan, a Chemistry Honors major, participated in an REU at The University of Cincinnati during the summer of 2015. Daniel worked in Dr. William Connick's lab over the summer and his project consisted of synthesizing a platinum complex that could be used in multi-electron redox reactions. The end goal of the project was to observe the reversibility of electron transfer within the complex utilizing cyclic voltammetry, but unfortunately they ran out of time before that step. The platinum complex was a monomer that was stabilized due to the geometry adopted upon the addition of a facially coordinated ligand, trithiocyclononane. The synthesis started with mercaptobenzimidazole, and from that they made bromobenzimidazole. Through a 2 day reflux, bromobenzimidazole formed TIPS-acetylenebenzimidazole. They removed the TIPS protecting group to yield acetylenebenzimidazole. They reacted the acetylenebenzimidazole with phenylazide to give the desired ligand. The platinum was coupled to the ligand, and the trithiocyclononane was attached last. Mass spectrometry and NMR data both showed they successfully made the platinum monomer, and Daniel was even able to crystallize it. Each step in the synthesis required purification, so Daniel was required to run many columns, as well as perform several other purification techniques.
Per Daniel, "The whole experience was incredible, and I was able to collaborate with several grad students and get feedback from other professors at UC. I was also able to work with instrumentation that Belmont does not have. We had professional development meetings every week that had topics ranging from interviews and resumes to potential careers in chemistry. The program also took the REU group to King's Island and a Red's baseball game, which were awesome experiences and helped the group connect. We had midsummer oral presentations and a poster session at the end of the summer, which gave us the opportunity to present the work we had been doing."
Emily Deas, a Biochemistry & Molecular Biology major, participated in a 10 week REU at Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, Florida during the summer of 2014. She also spent a week at the lab in the Florida Keys. The Mote Marine Laboratory is a non-profit lab started in 1955 by Eugenie Clark, a famous researcher who works with sharks and at 92 is still actively doing research and scuba dives. Emily worked with Dr. Kim Ritchie who focuses primarily on coral reef conservation research but who recently received a grant to start the development for probiotics for bottlenose dolphins in the Navy Marine Mammal program. Emily was responsible for beginning this research by screening isolated strains of bacteria from the dolphins gastrointestinal tract for antibiotic properties. Any strains with positive results, Emily would isolate the DNA from it, PCR amplify it, and send it for 16s RNA sequencing for identification. Then those strains were cultured on sheep blood agar to assess how the bacterial strains respond to eukaryotic cells. During her time at the lab in the Florida Keys, Emily helped collect coral reef samples for research, got scuba certified, partook in a manatee training session, and released baby loggerhead turtles into the ocean.
Ryan Agh, a Chemistry major, spent 10 weeks during summer 2014 participating in the Higher Education Research Experiences (HERE) at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). This was the third summer that Ryan has worked in the Biosciences Division of ORNL on the Plant Metabolomics and Bioconversion Group under the instruction of Dr. Timothy Tschaplinski and his lab manager, Nancy Engle. This section of the group worked in plant metabolomics, where they quantify the amounts of metabolites found in the specific plant samples via Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry (GCMS). These samples include anything from transgenic poplar samples to microbes. Ryan said "he had his normal intern-style duties that I’ve had every year I’ve been there, which include maintaining and organizing our chemical stock, getting samples from other groups, running standards, prepping samples, and occasionally synthesizing compounds to run as standards for the instrument. Along with those duties, I had the opportunity to see a project from beginning to end all by myself. We got samples in from a partner on a biofuels project who took samples of Agave tequilana at two hour intervals. Then I ground the samples, extracted the metabolites, added internal standard, derivitized them for analysis, ran them through the GCMS, and found and analyzed the desired metabolites. Then I sent those numbers to my boss, where he showed me how to back calculate to get the original amount, and I took those numbers and graphed them and found their diurnal cycles. The data I found was sent at the end of the summer to a postdoc working in the Proteomics group where he was gathering metabolites, proteins and transcript concentrations to see how they were all related".
Victoria Lim, a double major in Chemistry and Mathematics, participated in the 2014 CCQC Summer Research Program at the Center for Computational Quantum Chemistry (CCQC) at the University of Georgia. This program gives students an opportunity to perform graduate-level research as part of a world class research team in an active academic environment. It included a stipend and travel allowance. Vickie spent eleven weeks in Athens, GA with six other undergraduate summer students from all over the country. She attended lectures thrice a week in quantum chemistry theory and applied that information to her research projects. Vickie plans to pursue a graduate education in computational quantum chemistry.
Adam Woods, a junior Chemistry major, participated in a summer Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) hosted at Boston University in the summer of 2014. The research experience was funded by a National Science Foundation grant. Eleven diverse students were chosen for the REU entitled “Fundamental Research in Chemistry Addressing Problems in Biology.” Each student received a stipend of $5,000, housing, and a travel stipend. REU students are able to present their research at numerous conferences throughout the year. The REU experience helps to open many career paths and future internships. Professor Mark Grinstaff and mentor MD/Ph.D student Jonathan Freedman helped to guide Adam’s projected entitled “Contrast Agents: New Positively Charged Contrast Agents for Diagnosis of Osteoarthritis.” REU students typically work 40-50 hour work weeks throughout the summer. Boston is a wonderful and vibrant city in the summer. Read more about Adam’s experience at his blog http://www.adamwoodsresearch.com/
Sarah Heacock, an Honors Chemistry major, participated in a Bio-Archaeological research project in Peru during the summer of 2014. Sarah spent three weeks total with the field school. The group spent one week in the lab house and two weeks camping and excavating on site. Students excavated human bones from Marcajirca, a pre-Incan Native American settlement located in the Andes. Students also participated in collecting data from the bones such as classification of the bone, age, gender, and any pre-mortem trauma when possible. Leaders of the Marcajirca project have used this data to support signs of increased violence, better understand burial traditions, pinpoint early uses of trepanation, as well as find possible hereditary diseases within the settlement. Click here for more information on this Bio-Archaeological Research Project Field School in Peru.
Professional Chemistry major, Mathematics minor, Rebecca Newton ('13) was awarded a National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) at Syracuse University in Syracuse, NY for Summer, 2011. The REU included a $4,500 stipend, campus housing for the summer and other benefits. While in New York, Rebecca had the opportunity to carry out Organometallic Chemistry research, attend research seminars, and present her results at a culminating poster session.