About the Program (100-250 words): 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, chemical education research, chemical biology, 3D printing, catalytic nanoparticles, biochemical sensors, natural products biosynthesis, lead halide perovskites, drug-protein interactions, graphene nanoribbons, and RNA-protein interactions. 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. James Checco
Intercellular signaling via neuropeptides and peptide hormones
Students will learn the chemical synthesis of peptides, purification by high-performance liquid chromatography, cell-based assays to examine function, and characterization by mass spectrometry.
Dr. Barry Cheung
Catalyzed hydrogenation of carbon dioxide into hydrocarbons
Students will learn how to prepare nano-structured metal oxides and investigate plasma-catalytic reactions as a function of catalyst composition, reaction parameters, and plasma characteristics.
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. Catherine Eichhorn
RNA structural dynamics and RNA-protein recognition
Students will learn RNA synthesis, protein expression and purification, RNA-protein binding assays, and structural characterization using solution state NMR spectroscopy.
Dr. Jiantao Guo
Expanding the genetic code to include quadruplet codons
Students will incorporate non-natural amino acids site-specifically into proteins in live cells using molecular cloning, protein engineering through directed evolution, and protein biochemistry.
Dr. Yinsheng Guo
Laser spectroscopy of advanced materials
Students will study lead halide perovskites, an emerging class of materials with photovoltaic and optoelectronic applications, using novel laser spectroscopy and optical microscopy to measure atomic motion in crystal lattices as well as to alter charge carrier behaviors and solid-state chemistry.
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. Alena Moon
Using the photoelectric effect to explore students’ conceptions of light
To understand how chemistry students understand light and its interaction with matter, the REU student will conduct and analyze qualitative interviews with students about the photoelectric effect.
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. Alexander Sinitskii
Synthesis and characterization of 2D materials
To investigate emerging two-dimensional materials, such as graphene and transition metal chalcogenides, for electronic applications; the student will synthesize these materials and study their properties.
Dr. Joseph Yesselman
Rational design of RNA nanostructures
Students will learn how to design new RNA nanostructures using the lab' s software and determine if their designs were accurate using PCR, in vitro transcription, RNA structural probing, and next-generation DNA sequencing.