Capstone Research Options

At Eastern, chemistry students work directly with a faculty member on a capstone research project, gaining extensive hands-on experience working with chemicals utilizing modern instrumentation. Here are some of the exciting projects our faculty on working on:

Dr. Yao Houndonougbo’s research involves the application of computer modeling and simulations, cheminformatics, as well as bioinformatics to study:
• Enzyme specificity and substrate selectivity
• Molecular docking for drug design
• Selective adsorption and transport of CO2 in Metal–organic framework (MOF) to help address the problem of global climate change.
His research efforts have been supported through funds of the American Heart Association, the Department of Energy (DOE), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Plastics and polymers are incredibly useful and common in our daily lives but they are incredibly persistent in the environment. Dr. Ashley Lamm is working with students to create polymers that degrade when exposed to environmental conditions.

Dr. Jeffery Rahn’s research involves the synthesis and characterization of transition metal compounds to examine how their structure affects the ways they react.

Research in the Dr. Eric Abbey’s research focuses on the synthesis of new organoborohydrides, which are organic molecules containing the -BH3- group. Borohydrides are widely used as reducing agents in chemistry, and are being investigated as hydrogen fuel carriers for alternative energy applications. We develop new synthetic methods and investigate the fundamental properties of this fascinating family of compounds.

Dr. Wes Steiner focuses on the use of both quantitative chemical analysis and the principles of instrumental analysis to explore a wide variety of research topics. These research topics may include for example areas of research involving health, environment, agriculture, defense, and chemistry instruction.

Detection of greenhouse gas and ozone-depleting molecules in the atmosphere is often reliant upon observing how molecules interact with light. Dr. Tony Masiello works with students to use lasers and/or infrared light to detect and analyze the way in which molecules absorb light. This not only gives insight into the quantum mechanical energy levels of molecules, but also helps scientist to determine the concentration of these gases in the environment.

Dr. Burgis’s research interests focus on understanding certain aspects of nucleotide metabolism, toxicology and drug metabolism using biochemical techniques. His lab is currently investigating the biochemistry and cell biology of the human ITPase enzyme. This enzyme is required for life in mammals due to its ability to prevent abnormal or damaged DNA/RNA building blocks from accumulating in cells. By studying the human ITPase, his lab aims to contribute to the fields of childhood diseases, cardiovascular development, purine metabolism, cancer development, ageing and drug metabolism. Techniques used in this research program include molecular cloning, protein purification, biochemical assays (including enzyme kinetics), HPLC, drug sensitivity assays, and fluorescent microscopy.

In the forensic program, students research new techniques, products, and ways to improve the methods of collection and analysis of samples from evidence like items that would either be submitted as evidence to the crime lab or encountered on a crime scene. Nick Reifsteck works with students to try to answer fundamental questions that plague the forensic field, improve upon the tried and true methods, and discover new techniques to gather or examine evidence items previously unable to be collected or analyzed. The primary focus is in the areas of forensic DNA (molecular biology) and crime scene processing and reconstruction.

Dr. Benjamin Lundgren’s research centers on bacterial biochemistry, genetics and metabolism with applications to environmental and human health. This includes understanding the adaptation, survival and antibiotic resistance of the pathogenic microorganism Pseudomonas aeruginosa in the human-host environment, as well as the virulence mechanisms of plant pathogens such as Ralstonia solanacearum (causative agent of bacterial wilt disease) and Agrobacterium fabrum. Dr. Lundgren’s research is specifically designed for undergraduate student involvement and participation. Students learn a variety of experimental techniques, including microbiology, protein purification and characterization, gene cloning and analysis, transcriptomics, gene-reporter assays, and metabolomics.