Research Projects

This is a list of research projects that may have opportunities for undergraduate students. You can browse all the projects, or view only projects in the following categories:

Life Science


Cationic Amphiphilic Polyproline Helices for Antibacterial Activity

Research categories:  Bioscience/Biomedical, Chemical, Life Science, Other
School/Dept.: Chemistry
Professor: Jean Chmielewski
Preferred major(s): Chemistry
Number of positions: 1

The passive uptake of genes, polypeptides, particles and, at times, small molecules into cells is prohibited due to their inability to adequately cross the membrane bilayer. We have designed a class of molecules, cationic amphiphilic polyproline helices (CAPHs) that have been shown to effectively translocate mammalian cell membranes and display potent antibacterial activity. The goals of the proposed research are to probe the specific structural features within CAPHs that allow for efficient cell uptake and antibacterial action, while developing a mechanistic model for CAPH activity. Additionally we will seek to harness the remarkable cell penetrating and antimicrobial characteristics of CAPHs to target elusive pathogenic bacteria within mammalian cells.

With the knowledge that diverse CAPHs result in effective cell penetration, subcellular localization and antibacterial activity in vitro and in cyto, and with the mechanistic insight that resulted from these studies, we propose to address the following questions:
1. What effect does further structural modification of CAPHs have on cell penetration and subcellular localization, and how are these data linked to antibacterial activity in vitro and in cyto?
2. What is the mechanism of antibacterial activity and cell penetration of the designed CAPHs?


Weed seed preferences and C and N isotope tissue-diet discrimination factors of deer mice and white-footed mice

Research categories:  Life Science
School/Dept.: Forestry and Natural Resources
Professor: Elizabeth Flaherty
Preferred major(s): Wildlife
Desired experience:   Coursework related to wildlife or animal sciences and must be comfortable with providing husbandry and general care for captive animals. Experience collecting/recording data and experience with basic data processing (i.e. Microsoft Excel).
Number of positions: 1

Native mice are known to provide agricultural ecosystem services by consuming weed seeds and waste grain within crop fields, yet their preference for seed types is poorly understood. Knowledge of seed preferences of native mice will help elucidate their functional role as ecosystem service providers in agro-ecosystems. Therefore, the objective of this research will be to understand the preference of weed seeds by sympatric deer mice and white-footed mice collected from fragmented agro-ecosystems in central Indiana. To achieve this objective, the selected student will conduct discrete-choice feeding trials on captive deer mice and white-footed mice to investigate their weed seed selection preferences. A second objective of this research will be to simultaneously quantify the tissue-diet discrimination factors and turnover rates of C and N isotopes of captive deer mice and white-footed mice. This will be achieved by provisioning captive mice with isotopically distinct diets (i.e. C3 weed seeds versus C4 corn) and measuring C and N isotopes from diet items and animal tissues.