This award from the Division of Chemistry (CHE) in the Mathematical and Physical Sciences Directorate and the Division of Biological Infrastructure (DBI) in the Biological Sciences Directorate supports a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) site led by Scott Nickolaisen at California State University - Los Angeles. The research projects supported in this site are in a number of areas of chemistry, but with a number of projects at the Biology-Chemistry interface. Undergraduates will be recruited to this site primarily from institutions that lack infrastructure to support undergraduate research, including students from underrepresented groups, with a particular emphasis on community college students in the Los Angeles basin. The site will support ten students per summer in a ten week program. A sample of the projects that undergraduates will work on include: (1) the development and application of magnetic resonance techniques for the study of the physicochemical properties of biologically related macromolecule; (2) the study of the photochemical reactions of environmental pollutants in condensed phases; (3) the study of how dietary factors regulate the metabolism of high density lipoproteins; (4) the study of the allosteric activation sites of the enzyme phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase; (5) the preparation of non-spherically symmetric dendrimers with novel, engineered features such as canyons, clefts, and pockets and (6) the study of the reaction kinetics of larger (more than two carbons) alkyl peroxy radicals with other atmospheric constituents. In addition to conducting research during the summer, the students participating in this program will participate in a number of professional development activities, including training on the responsible conduct of research, laboratory safety, and scientific communication.

Young scientists need exposure to modern research methods and tools as part of their training. This REU site aims to provide students without significant research experience a chance to conduct cutting-edge research in the chemical sciences with dedicated faculty mentors at this predominantly undergraduate institution. The diverse student cohort participating in research at this site will be well-prepared for further study in the chemical sciences, graduate school, and eventual employment as part of the country's technical workforce.

Project Report

The REU site in Chemistry and Biochemistry at California State University, Los Angeles hosted 10 community college students each summer from 2011 – 2013. The primary objective of this REU site is to provide a comprehensive research experience for community college students who have had little, if any, prior exposure to research activities with the aim of encouraging students from these groups to pursue careers in the chemical sciences. Student participants work alongside CSULA faculty and students conducting original research using state-of-the-art techniques and equipment. The purpose of targeting community college students is twofold: to reach students early in their academic careers to make them aware of and excite them about the possibility of engaging in chemical research as a career path, and to tap the vast population of students in the Los Angeles Basin who begin their college experience in a community college where they have minimal access to participate in research activities of any kind. Because of the diverse population within the Los Angeles Basin, a secondary focus of our site is to engage students in research from groups underrepresented in the sciences including African-American, Hispanic, Native American, and Asian/Pacific Island students. Of the 30 student participants during this period, 63.3% were Hispanic, 10.0% were African-American, 10.0% were Asian, 3.3% were Pacific Islander, and 3.3% were Native American. REU participants selected research projects from an array of topics including inorganic and organic synthesis, electron spin resonance spectroscopy, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, infrared and laser spectroscopy, enzyme kinetics, plant genetics, electrochemistry, organometallic photochemistry, protein assays, mass spectrometry, atmospheric chemistry, lipid biochemistry, environmental analysis, and electrophoresis. REU participants presented their research result to CSULA students, faculty, and administrator as well as community college faculty at a research symposium hosted by the CSULA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry at the end of each summer. Titles of research posters and REU student names follow: "PAH’s and Organics in Air, Sediment and Water Samples collected from Ballona and Fern Dell Creek" Emily Aguirre, Emaan Madany, Christopher Nixon "Infrared Spectra of the i-Propoxy and i-Propyl Peroxy Radicals" Christian Bustillo, Joan Ngwuta "The Development of a Quantitative Method to Assess Plasma Lipoprotein Profiles on Agarose Gels" Candy Delgado "Synthesis of MRI Contrast Agents for Folic Acid Receptors" Michelle Gil, Omar Ramil "Synthesis and characterization of the anti-cancer drug Melphalan-TEMPO" John E. Jacobs "Alkaloid Extraction and Analysis using GC-MS from Tobacco" Justin Leinbach "Towards Characterization of a Repair System for Oxidized Creatine Kinase" Vian Ira Rejuso "Synthesis of a Closed Photochromic Chelator Model In the Study of Intracellular Calcium Oscillations" Brian Travis "Analysis of PAHs, Organics, and Trace Heavy Metals in Air Particulate Pollution in Los Angeles" Araceli Mora, Monica Cochran, Yanice Benitez, Ryan Dormond, Sentáze Keaton "Molecular Modeling/Synthesis of Pegylated β-CD Compound" Rigoberto Arenas "Synthesis of 1, 3, 5, 7-Tetrakis(aminomethyl)adamantane" Roberto Corella Staining and Polap Graphing as a Means of Measuring Atherosclerotic Lesions in the Aortas of Cholesterol-Fed Rabbits" Zoë MacDowell Kaswan "Analysis of Heavy Metals in Sediment and Water Samples from Fern Dell and Ballona Creek" Monica Cochran, Araceli Mora, Yanice Benitez, Ryan Dormond, Sentáze Keaton "Analysis of PAHs And Organics in Sediment and Water Samples from Fern Dell and Ballona Creek" Monica Cochran, Araceli Mora, Yanice Benitez, Ryan Dormond, Sentáze Keaton "Optimization of the Detection of PAH on Particulate Matter" Martin Ramirez "DNA Amplification of Lipid Transfer Protein 11(LTP11) in Arabidopsis thaliana" Xin (Shane) Wang "Structure of a Homology System of P-Glycoprotein through Molecular Dynamic Simulation" Rigoberto Arenas "Expression and Purification of Dendroides canadensis Antifreeze Mutant Protein" Mary Bessell "Phenotypic Observations and Lipid Analysis of Wild Type and LTP4 Mutant Arabidopsis thaliana" Aurora Gutierrez "Determination of Km for Lecithin:Cholesterol Acyltransferase" Derek Norimoto "Analysis of Heavy Metals in Sediment, Water Samples from Fern Dell and Ballona Creek, and in Air Particulate Pollution in Los Angeles" Monica Cochran, Estevan Contreras, Nataly Olmedo, Sofia Rivera, Erin Soriano "Analysis of PAHs and Organics in Sediment, Water Samples from Fern Dell and Ballona Creek, and in Air Particulate Pollution in Los Angeles" Monica Cochran, Estevan Contreras, Nataly Olmedo, Sofia Rivera, Erin Soriano The CSULA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry has hosted a REU site for more than 20 years. The broader impacts of the our REU site activities include an increase in the number of underrepresented students pursuing research careers in the chemical sciences. Surveys of former participants from the CSULA REU site indicate that all but one student have transferred to four year institutions to complete their undergraduate studies. Nearly 97 % of former participants have earned bachelor degrees, and over 60% have entered graduate programs in chemistry or biochemistry. About 90% of past participants have been from minority groups underrepresented in the physical sciences. This represents a significant contribution to the scientific workforce.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Chemistry (CHE)
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Program Officer
Michelle Bushey
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California State L a University Auxiliary Services Inc.
Los Angeles
United States
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