Our 10-week summer REU in Chemistry cultivates a learning environment that provokes students to ask, "What are the most important issues that face our society?" and then provides them with enough training that they can contribute to addressing those issues. Participants progress from undergraduate textbook learning to discovering and solving challenging research problems.
This REU offers a wide range of topics, including: organic radicals, biological mass spectrometry, NMR metabolomics, chemical biology, 3D printing, catalytic nanoparticles, biochemical sensors, natural products biosynthesis, drug-protein interactions, and graphene nanoribbons. The faculty mentors bring strong records of commitment to one-on-one mentoring of undergraduates in their research laboratories, and each brings their own multidisciplinary approach, specific research objectives, and experimental methods.
Students will learn and experience a wide range of communication skills during REU meetings, in mentor group meetings, career development seminars, social activities, and tours to local industries. The program concludes with students presenting their research findings at both a departmental poster session and a campus-wide poster symposium.
Competitive stipend: $5,000
Suite-style room and meal plan
Travel expenses to and from Lincoln
Campus parking and/or bus pass
Full access to the Campus Recreation Center and campus library system
The group utilizes enzymes to enhance organic synthesis, often to control stereochemistry, and develops mechanism- and structure-based enzyme inhibitors. REU students learn how to express, purify, and assay enzymes.
Dr. Barry Cheung
Catalytic Metal Doped Nanostructured Ceria
To recycle and reuse carbon dioxide and small alcohols (methanol and ethanol), the student will transform them into organic carbonate by creating metal-doped nanostructured ceria catalysts.
Dr. Eric Dodds
Biological mass spectrometry
To learn how mass spectrometry, tandem mass spectrometry, and ion mobility spectrometry are used to study the structures of biomolecules, the student researcher will work to develop bioanalytical methods for the detailed molecular characterization of oligosaccharides and glycoconjugates.
Dr. Liangcheng Du
Biosynthetic pathways of mycotoxins and novel antibiotics
The Du group seeks to elucidate the biosynthetic mechanism for two groups of natural products, food-borne mycotoxins and new antibiotics isolated from underexplored microbial species. REU students will isolate the products from microbial cultures and test activity of the products. They will also be involved in cloning and heterologously expressing the biosynthetic genes for in vitro studies.
Dr. Jiantao Guo
Developing bio-orthogonal reactions for biochemical investigations in living cells
To learn how protein structure determines its function, the student researcher will use the multidisciplinary tools of molecular biology and bioorganic chemistry to add chemically modified unnatural amino acids to the genetic code of a bacterium so it synthesizes protein molecules modified at specific and relevant locations.
Dr. David Hage
Rapid analysis of drug-protein interactions
To understand how drugs act on the body, the student will learn how to develop new analytical methods for studying the interaction between drugs and blood proteins. REU students learn about bioconjugation, liquid chromatography, absorbance, fluorescence, mass spectrometry, and protein assays.
Dr. Rebecca Lai
Electrochemical sensors using biomolecules
The student involved in this project will fabricate a paper-based single-use E-AB sensor for the detection of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in realistically complex media such as blood serum and plasma. REU students learn to prepare gold-plated screen-printed carbon electrodes, characterize them by SEM, study sensor response as a function of analyte concentration, and investigate matrix effects on sensor performance.
Dr. Stephen A. Morin
Reconfigurable objects with engineered properties
REU students learn how to make materials with surface-chemical, micro-structural, and solid/liquid interfacial characteristics that are reversibly modified using stimuli such as mechanical deformation that are then analyzed using optical, electron, and X-ray microscopies and analytical methods.
Dr. Andrzej Rajca
Organic radicals for organic magnets, spin labels, MRI contrast agents, and spin labeled amino acids
REU students learn to synthesize very high-spin organic molecules and polymers with a focus on stable radicals and high-spin polyradicals for use in supra-molecular templates.
Dr. Cliff Stains
Bioprobes of cellular signaling events
REU students will develop chemical biology tools (solid-phase peptide synthesis, peptide synthesis, fluorophore synthesis, fluorescence assays, enzyme kinetics, and mammalian cell culture) to decipher inter- and intra-cellular communication via fluorescence-based sensors such as a phosphorylation-sensitive sulfonamide-oxine (Sox).
Dr. Jian Zhang
Metal-organic frameworks and porous-organic frameworks as photocatalysts for organic synthesis
To synthesize new nanoporous photocatalysts for sustainable organic transformations, REU students will focus on crystalline metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) and amorphous porous-organic frameworks (POFs) with tunable electronic and photoredox properties.