Undergraduate Research Opportunities
The descriptions of undergraduate research projects given here have been supplied by Department of Chemistry faculty who are interested in having undergraduates work in their research groups. The list is not meant to be complete; other faculty certainly may welcome undergraduate research participants as well. Students interested in working on one of these projects or on similar projects should contact the appropriate faculty member directly. Once a research mentor has been selected, a student should see Prof. Adams (205 Schlundt) about enrolling in the appropriate research course (Chem 2950, 4950, or 4991H) if he/she wishes to obtain academic credit for the work.
For more information about faculty research interests, go to the Faculty Research Interests page or follow the links for individual faculty noted below.
Stevens' Summer Research Fellowships
The Department of Chemistry at the University of Missouri sponsors a summer research program for outstanding undergraduate students. Applications will be accepted from those presently in their junior year of undergraduate study in chemistry and who are considering graduate studies. Exceptionally talented sophomores will also be considered.
One of the most fundamental processes studied in chemistry is solvation, i.e. the dissolving of one substance in another. Although the most general principles, such as "like dissolves like" are well understood, the actual details of the process are still much in doubt. I currently am particularly interested in two aspects of solvation. The first is solvation in small atomic and molecular clusters, in which we can examine the changes in the physical properties of a solute molecule as solvent molecules are added one by one, and we can correlate those changes with experimentally observable quantities. Second, I am interested in extending the methods we have developed for studying small clusters to the investigation of solvation by supercritical fluids. These systems are of great practical significance--supercritical CO2 is used to extract caffeine from green coffee beans, while supercritical water is used in the degradation of chemical warfare agents--but they are poorly characterized at the molecular level.
My group uses computer simulations to carry out studies of the above systems. Thus a student interested in pursuing this sort of research should have some familiarity with computers. Actual programming experience is a definite help but not a requirement. (Our programs are written in FORTRAN, which is a particularly easy language to learn.)
Projects that I would like to have an undergraduate pursue in the future are as follows.
In examining small clusters, we have been very successful in correlating changes in the electronic spectrum of a solute with variations in cluster structure. I would like to extend this work to the prediction of another experimental observable, the cluster ionization energy. Only a modest alteration of existing programs will be required to carry out this project.
I want to extend our cluster studies to systems involving larger solvent species, which may display a wider range of solvation behavior.
I want to extend current work on structured solvation environments in small clusters to the analogous bulk supercritical fluid systems.
We are interested in developing new mass spectrometry-based methods to determine the bioactive components from dietary botanical supplements, as well as examining biological systems at the protein level. These latter areas are interdisciplinary and involve active collaborations with biochemistry, animal sciences and bioinformatic research groups.
The Greenlief Research Group welcomes undergraduate research students and believes that the research laboratory experience is an invaluable part of your education. So much so, that undergraduate students may become co-authors on scientific publications. It is not necessary for you to have the research skills prior to becoming a member of this Research Group; we will gladly train you.
The following projects are available for undergraduates:
- NIH/NSF REU in Radiochemistry & Stevens' Fellows Program (Application)
- Gold(III) Schiff base chemistry; potential use in radiotherapy
- Ligand and Au(III) complex synthesis and characterization
- Au-198 radiochemical synthesis and characterization
- Stability studies of Au(III) complexes in pH 7.4 buffer
- Stability/reactivity studies of Au(III) complexes to reducing agents
All of the above include some synthesis, characterization, analytical determinations, and may involve the use of radioisotopes. All of the above are amenable to summer projects. Combinations of the above may yield a project that requires the academic year to complete.
- Technetium clathrochelate chemistry; potential application to radioenvironmental chemistry
- Investigation of the complexation, using radiochemical techniques such as extraction, chromatography, etc., of pertechnetate with various ion pairing hosts. Important in these studies is the selectivity of the "host" for pertechnetate in the presence of various anions such as nitrate, sulfate, etc.
This project can be carried out during either the summer or as an academic year project. The student will learn various radiochemical techniques and use them to analyze the solution chemistry of the pertechnetate with the particular host (e.g., crown ethers, supramolecular molecules, etc.). Perrhenate may be used in some instances as a chemical analog for Tc-99 that is not radioactive.
- Rhenium and rodium chemistry with tetradentate phosphine-amine ligands (P2N2) for stabilizing Re(V) and Rh(III).
- Synthesis and characterization of complexes with either Rh(III) or Re(V)
- Radiochemical syntheses of the Rh-105 or Re-188 complexes
- Stability of the complexes in pH 7.4 buffer
The above projects are suitable for summer projects, or as academic year projects if they are combined or expanded.
There are various aspects of the above projects that involve redox reactions and there may be some interesting electrochemistry studies, especially with regard to Rh(III)/Rh(I) couples and possibly with regard to the gold chemistry. The latter though is probably not amenable to an undergraduate unless he/she would be spending at least the academic year in the research group.
Not all projects in my group involve radioisotopes, but any student that is interested in working in my group must realize that radioisotopes are used and that he/she may be involved with them at some point. All will be trained in the handling of radioactivity.