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:



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?


Measuring the Thickness of Lubricating Oil Films

Research categories:  Mechanical Systems, Other
School/Dept.: Department of Agricultural & Biological Engineering / Mechanical Engineering
Professor: Monika Ivantysynova
Preferred major(s): Mechanical Engineering, Agriculture and Biological Engineering
Desired experience:   MATLAB, SolidWorks/CAD
Number of positions: 1

This project aims to understand the behavior of axial piston hydraulic units. The undergraduate researcher will assist in the design of a new test apparatus for the measurement of thin lubricating films of oil. These oil films are critical to the proper functioning of many hydraulic machines. New technologies allow direct measurement of the film thickness during machine operation. Models developed and refined using these measurements will lead to improved efficiency and reliability of axial piston pumps and motors.

The project is well suited to an undergraduate student interested in fluid power, tribology, instrumentation, and virtual prototyping. Previous experience or coursework with fluid power, fluid dynamics, tribology, MATLAB, and SolidWorks or another CAD software is desired but not required.


nanoHUB Research in Nanoscale Science and Engineering

Research categories:  Computational/Mathematical, Computer Engineering and Computer Science, Electronics, Material Science and Engineering, Nanotechnology, Other
Professor: NCN Faculty
Preferred major(s): Electrical, Computer, Materials, or Mechanical Engineering; Physics; Computer Science
Desired experience:   Serious interest in and enjoyment of programming, programming skills in any language, physics coursework.
Number of positions: 15-20

Join the Network for Computational Nanotechnology (NCN) team and help build the growing set of resources being used in all Top 50 Colleges of Engineering (US News & World Report rankings) and by over 300,000 annual users in 172 countries. nanoHUB provides over 340 simulation tools that users run from a web browser in a scientific computing cloud. You will work with one of the NCN collaborative investigators, such as Professors Gerhard Klimeck, Ale Strachan, or Peter Bermel.

SURF students learn the Rappture ( toolkit that makes it quick and easy to develop powerful, interactive, web-based applications. These skills are utilized by working with nanotechnologists to put their applications and supporting information on As part of our team, you will be engaged in the National Science Foundation-funded effort that is connecting theory, experiment and computation in a way that makes a difference for the future of nanotechnology and the future of scientific communities. Other undergraduate researchers before you have each been able to literally impact thousands of nanoHUB users (for an example, see; join their legacy and create something that will build your own skills and will help others.