2022 Design and Research Conference


Room 318.

1:00 p.m.

The Synthesis of Antibacterial Peptides

Team Member: Elizabeth Ruff

Advisor: Dr. Scott Poh

This paper explores the need and synthesis of peptides for antibacterial properties. With the increased access to solid-phase peptide synthesis, synthetic peptides have become the new frontier for dealing with the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Infections like Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus have made traditional antibiotics, for the prevention of post-op infections, obsolete. For this study, IGR, RIKA, HQ, and RR were synthesized using solid-phase peptide synthesis and then tested on multiple bacteria strains to compare their effectiveness. This study has confirmed the results of previous literature and supports further testing of higher concentrations of the peptides. The peptides created for this research may be a viable option for topical antibiotics.

1:15 p.m.

Synthesis/Characterization of Silica Aerogels Utilizing Class F Fly Ash

Team Member: Tanner Fuselier

Advisor: Dr. Sven Eklund

In examining methods of curbing human energy consumption, one path that is often overlooked is the utilization of better insulative materials in construction. Data corroborates this as, in the U.S. alone, home heating and cooling costs account for most of the domestic energy consumption. Silica aerogels can fill this role due to their immensely low thermal conductivities and ease of application to this purpose. The goal of this research is to examine a cheaper method of silica aerogel production using a combination of two novel methods and Class F fly ash, which is a byproduct of burning coal with limited uses. Compare our product to aerogels made through more common, complex, and expensive methods.

1:30 p.m.

Frontally Polymerized Fly Ash-Based Geopolymer Composite Using Phosphonium Persulfate

Team Member: Michael Miller

Advisor: Dr. Sven Eklund

A new organic-inorganic geopolymer composite has been synthesized using the frontal polymerization technique. The organic component uses methyl methacrylate as a monomer and trihexyltetradecylphosphonium persulfate as an initiator to form a traditional polymer. The inorganic component incorporates the industrial waste-product fly ash mixed with an alkaline activator solution composed of sodium hydroxide and sodium silicate to form a fly-ash-based geopolymer. When both components are mixed and a small amount of surface heat is applied, a self-sustaining thermal front develops that quickly cures resulting in a hardened final composite composed of both the inorganic geopolymer and the organic polymer. The physical properties have been evaluated and compared with a similar composite and traditional fly ash geopolymer. The prospects of this method are accelerated curing times with a lower energy requirement, early development of compressive strength, and improved workability. This furthers the development of waste-based geopolymers and has potential for civil engineering and construction applications in which rapid curing is needed, such as 3-D printing.

1:45 p.m.

Clay Nanotubes for Release of Protective Coating to Canine Hair

Team Member: Alyssa Bradford

Advisor: Dr. Richard Thurlkill

This work proposes a way to administrate protective medication to canines through the use of halloysite clay nanotubes. The clay nanotubes are allowed to sustain the release of medications while protecting the canine hair. The first investigation included the colloidal and structural integrity of the halloysite nanotubes with the given medication. The keratin/medication’s pH is close to 4, allowing it to favor the halloysite lumen due to the opposite pH properties. This was used for the overall immersion treatment of the canine hair. Thermogravimetric analysis was used to determine the loading weight percent of both keratin and medication. Each hair sample was exposed to ultraviolet radiation for two days to investigate the protection and percent of medication administrated. The keratin halloysite nanoparticles prevent the depreciation of the hair as proven by large amounts of cystic acid, while dark-field hyperspectral microscopy will be used to confirm successful hair protection visually. This proposed formula of conjoined medications and keratin is promising in administrating extended-release medication while also protecting the canine coat.

2:00 p.m.

Effect of Magnetic Fields on Anodic Stripping Voltammetry of Lead

Team Member: Stephen Kile

Advisor: Dr. Sven Eklund

Anodic stripping voltammetry is an electrochemical technique that takes advantage of electrodeposition over time to lower the detection limit to ppb or even ppt levels. In this study, Pb2+(aq) ions were reduced to Pb0(s) onto the surface of a graphite electrode, and then later re-oxidized while measuring voltage and current. In order to further enhance the electrodeposition, an inexpensive in-house-built mechanical pencil electrode (MPE) was used to decrease the active electrode surface area. The MPE graphite was used as a carbon electrode and connected to a copper wire in a glass tube using graphite powder and mineral oil. The electrodeposition process at the MPE was then subjected to various magnetic field strengths during the potential step in solutions of Pb2+ in a standard three-electrode cell setup to determine if the magnetic field enhances the deposition. Calibration curves of Pb2+ were constructed to determine the limit of detection, the limit of quantitation, and sensitivity. Further evaluation of this technique as a cost-effective method to introduce electrochemistry into college or even high school classrooms is discussed.

2:15 p.m.


2:30 p.m.

Cyanostar as a Macrocyclic Ionophore for Beta-Diketonate Anions

Team Member: Kati Young

Advisor: Dr. Elisabeth Fatila

Cyanostar (CS) is a five-fold symmetric macrocycle that binds anions using polarized C-H hydrogen bond donors. CS-anion complexes are defined by the ratio of CS macrocycles to anions. CS demonstrates size-based selectivity for anion complexation. Complexes with high-affinity anions favor a 2:1 sandwich motif that doubles the number of C-H hydrogen bond donors and can be stabilized by pi-stacking. Larger anions that are considered weakly or non-coordinating such as PF6 and ClO4 size match well with the cyanostar cavity and are bound to CS with high affinity. In contrast, β-diketonates are popular ligands for transition metal and lanthanide cations; however, their affinity to CS is unknown. The use of β-diketonates for CS complexation expands the scope of anion binding studies to investigate how unique characteristics of β-diketonates such as size, resonance-stabilized partial negative charges, and substituent effects alter complex formation. Using cation metathesis, we prepared a tetrabutylammonium-β-diketonate salt of 1,1,1,5,5,5-hexafluoroacetylacetonate (TBAhfac). Following synthesis, the salt was characterized using infrared spectroscopy (IR) and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR). Once the identity and purity of TBAhfac was confirmed, 1H NMR titrations were performed with CS to study complexation behavior. In addition, electrospray ionization mass spectrometry studies were conducted to obtain a survey of species formed in the gas phase. These studies show that TBAhfac binds to CS with low affinity.

2:45 p.m.

Extraction of Parthenolide from Magnolia Grandiflora Leaves Determined by HPLC

Team Member: Carsyn Travis

Advisor: Dr. Sven Eklund

Parthenolide is a sesquiterpene lactone found in Tanacetum parthenium L. (feverfew) and Magnolia grandiflora (Southern magnolia) that has shown exceptional potential as a novel anticancer drug. In this study, the ethanolic extraction of parthenolide from Magnolia grandiflora leaves by Soxhlet extraction was optimized. Solvent concentration and extraction time were varied to determine the optimal extraction conditions. High-performance liquid chromatography was utilized to determine extraction efficiency, quantity, and purity of parthenolide extracted.

3:00 p.m.

Fluorescence-Guided Tracking of CuHARS Degradation – Anticancer Treatment of Gliomas

Team Member: Morgan Roque

Advisor: Dr. Mark DeCoster

Modern nanotechnology has presented opportunities to improve clinical approaches to treat cancer for enhanced efficacy and safety. Metallic micro/nanoparticles have shown toxicity to glioma cells in the presence of inflammatory stimuli. Copper high aspect ratio structures (CuHARS) are negatively charged nano/microparticles synthesized using copper sulfate and cystine, and they have recently shown anti-cancer properties. This experiment tested how different pH levels affect CuHARS’ anti-cancer abilities by using fluorescein, a highly sensitive and fast-responding dye, to observe these changes. The degradation of CuHARS and Cu(II)𝑆𝑂4 separately in both NaOH and HCl were compared to theorize the products of CuHARS. X-ray diffraction analysis of the precipitate in the Cu(II)𝑆𝑂4 and NaOH reaction showed signs of CuO, tenorite, 4 instead of Cu(II)OH, an expected byproduct, which helped propose the reaction’s mechanism. Only HCl revealed noticeable changes in fluorescent intensity and absorbance using ImageJ analysis of Olympus TH4-100 Microscope images. Our results followed previous studies: increasing pH caused an increase in fluorescence. Lower concentrations of HCl resulted in more fluorescence and higher absorbance. Digital images of phenol red-based pH changes were observed in glioma cultures. We plan to apply our research to long-term cultures.

3:15 p.m.

An Analysis of Styrene through Porous Membranes via GC-FID

Team Member: Sebastian Guerrero

Advisor: Dr. Sven Eklund

Styrene is a monomer utilized in many industries; however, the focus of this project is the application of styrene via the industrial process for the polymerization of public drainage. Several polymer membranes have been evaluated for use in preventing the out-gassing of styrene from cured-in-place-pipe liners. The headspace above a small portion of the membranes in specially made glass vials with dual chambers was analyzed by a gas chromatography-flame ionization detector to determine the rate of styrene permeation. To convert from pA to ppm, a standard of styrene-benzene was made to create a correlation between the two. Several concentrations were then made using the stock standard from before. The headspace was sampled every two hours for the first six hours, then daily for seven days. Between measurements, the samples were refrigerated at 4°C. The permeation rates were correlated with scanning electron microscope porosity measurements. Permeation rates in ppm/hr.

3:30 p.m.

Atomic Emission Spectroscopy Utilizing a Medical-Grade Nebulizer

Team Member: Cameron Hoot

Advisor: Dr. Sven Eklund

This project involves the determination of the potassium and sodium content of sports drinks using an in-house built flame atomic emission spectrometer. Samples are introduced to the air intake of a Bunsen burner flame using a low-cost commercial nebulizer. Collection of the atomic emission is via a fiber optic probe connected to a miniature spectrometer that allows concurrent multielement determination. Calibration curves of potassium and sodium ions reveal a linear response down to low ppm levels, which is well within the range of sports drinks.