The projects described below are featured to:

(a) highlight the variety of research opportunities available in the CSU Chemistry program, and
(b) link less-experienced undergraduate researchers to thoughtfully constructed assignments, with the aim to maximize discoveries and research productivity.

Please note: prospective REU participants are welcome to apply to work with any of our participating faculty.

Mentor: Prof. Melissa ReynoldsImage of Photoluminescent Ion-Induced Changes

Project Description: Metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) are porous crystalline materials comprised of metal ion or cluster nodes and organic linkers. MOFs may undergo fine tuning to optimize the materials for specific applications by altering the metal ions or organic portions of the material. As such, MOFs have emerging applications in the environmental and biomedical arenas. The summer research student working on this project will choose and synthesize an appropriate MOF, and work in a collaborative group to use their synthesized MOF for a related application involving one of the following: catalysis, sensing, separations, or developing antibacterial surfaces. The student can gain experience in organic and inorganic synthesis, characterization, and analysis via different analytical instrumentation.

Mentor: Prof. Chuck Henry

Image of low cost paper based analytical devices
Project Description:   There has been a growing trend in chemical measurements towards two measurement paradigms. The first paradigm relies on instrumentation, like mass spectrometry, that provides massive amounts of data about what molecules are present at what concentrations. While these methods have provided valuable insights, their cost and complexity limit widespread deployment. The second paradigm relies on low-cost systems that can be used in many different situations by many different people and are best typified by the handheld glucometer. Our laboratory has been developing a suite of these systems using paper as the substrate material for clinical and environmental diagnostics with applications ranging from heavy metal detection to detecting the Zika virus. Students will have an opportunity learn about the fundamentals of paper-based analytical devices as well as their application to specific sensing situations.

Mentor: Prof. Andy McNally

Project Description:    Developing therapeutics relies on a toolkit of synthetic reactions to make organic molecules and linking aromatic groups via biaryl bonds has been a mainstay activity in the pharmaceutical industry. We are developing ‘contractive’ couplings via phosphorus atoms as alternative to transition-metal catalyzed approaches to make molecules that were previously accessible. In particular, coupling pyridine rings to useful functional groups often fails using Pd- or Ni-catalysis; we have discovered a new type of coupling process where individual partners can be assembled onto a phosphorus atom and then coupled together using simple acids and bases rather than expensive and toxic transition metals. The summer REU project will involve developing new reactions that transform pyridines into derivatives that are vital in the pharmaceutical sciences. Mechanisms of these transformations will be studied experimentally and computationally in this project. The ultimate goal is to provide practicing chemists with tools that can be immediately applied to discover new drugs.

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