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  • Created 29 Nov -0001

Research Modules

The CASPiE model uses real research to teach students the fundamental skills of science as well as the process of scientific discovery. Each research module is based on and actively linked to the work of a scientist.

Available modules:

Phytochemical Antioxidants with Potential Health Benefits in Foods

fruits & vegetablesThis module investigates the level of antioxidants in foods and examines how these levels are affected by treatments including heating, drying, and digestion. In this module students will first learn different techniques of measuring antioxidant content that are currently used in practicing research laboratories. Students will prepare solutions and samples for Trolox Equivalent Antioxidant Capacity (TEAC) and Total Polyphenolics assays, through which they learn about dilution factors and making precision mass and volume measurements. Students then will conduct both assays using a UV-visible spectrophotometer, develop calibration curves and perform calculations to analyze the data. A third technique learned will be preparing samples for analysis by High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC). This includes interpretation of HPLC chromatograms to calculate the concentration of ascorbic acid. Students will then apply the learned techniques to design a novel experiment in which they will investigate the effects of a treatment on the antioxidant levels of a food product.

Small Molecule Anti-Viral Drug Development

triazole compoundThis module allows students to explore the drug discovery process by allowing them to design, build, and test a potential anti-viral drug candidate. Students will first learn and perform organic synthesis reactions such as nucleophilic substitution and 2+3 cycloaddition (‘click’ reaction), while tracking reaction processes by thin-layer chromatography (TLC). Analytical techniques utilized for identification of products include infrared spectroscopy and gas chromatography/mass spectrometry. Students will then apply the learned techniques to design a novel experiment in which they will develop their own molecules. Students will select four precursors (two alkynes and two alkyl halides) from a provided list, and assess the feasibility of each potential drug candidate by applying the Lipinski Rule of Five.

The Plasmin Enzyme System and its Impact on Dairy Foods

plasmin enzymeIn this module students will learn about the plasmin system and its relationship to dairy food decay. Students will learn the techniques of gel electrophoresis to measure casein hydrolysis, enzyme activity assays to assess plasmin and plasminogen activities, and enzyme kinetic assays to assess conversion of plasminogen to plasmin. Students will then apply the learned techniques to design a novel experiment in which they will choose different variables such as temperature, pH, and other storage conditions of dairy products to further investigate the process of the plasmin system.

Band Gap Tuning of Zinc Oxide Films for Solar Energy Conversion

ZnO crystalIn this module students will learn about the synthesis and characterization of semiconducting films and the basics of their use for solar energy conversion. Students will learn a spray pyrolysis technique to prepare ZnO films and use a UV-Vis spectrophotometer to determine band gap size in order to characterize the films’ optical properties. Students will then design synthetic conditions to prepare ZnO-based solid solutions with varying concentrations of a chosen metal from a provided list of available metal nitrates. Students will conclude the module by determining the maximum amount of their chosen metal that can be incorporated in the ZnO lattice.

Biodiesel

biodiesel pumpIn this module students will learn about Lewis acid-catalyzed synthesis of biodiesel. Students will first perform titrations to determine acid value measurement of waste oil. Students will then carry out Lewis acid catalysis for the transesterification of vegetable oil. Then they will use proton NMR analysis to quantify percent conversion of vegetable oil to biodiesel. Students will repeat the techniques learned while altering a variable of choice each lab with the goal of maximizing the percent conversion to biodiesel.

A Sensor for Ion Detection Using Ligand Surface Attachment

ligand on surfaceIn this module students will learn about the practical applications of biosensors and how they are developed to detect specific ions. Students will learn how to modify glass surfaces with alkoxysilane reagents, measure the properties of surfaces using contact angle measurements, and modify surfaces to specifically alter regions of a self assembled monolayer. Students will then use the learned techniques to develop a sensor for the detection of specific transition metal ions in solution.

Development of an Old Reagent for the Reduction of Solid-Supported Alkenes

zingeroneThis module allows students to carry out a solid phase organic synthesis of the natural products zingerone and raspberry ketone and to use the synthetic routes to these compounds as a vehicle with which to evaluate reagents for the efficient reduction of immobilized alkenes. Students will learn and perform several organic synthesis reactions and tests. The lab techniques employed in this module include Volhard titration, thin layer chromatography (TLC), and infrared spectroscopy (IR). The ultimate goal of this module is to explore possible alternatives for a reagent within the synthesis scheme and determine their effectiveness.

Lipids: Chemistry, Biology, Food, and Health

lipid moleculeIn this module students will learn about the effects of various conditions on saturated and unsaturated fat content in food products. Students will learn lipid extraction using chloroform and methanol, lipid class identification using thin-layer chromatography (TLC), and preparation of fatty acid methyl ester (FAME) samples which will be analyzed by gas chromatography (GC). Students will then design an experiment in which they will alter a variable such as processing, preparation and storage conditions, or sources of food products with the ultimate goal of minimizing saturated fat levels and maximizing polyunsaturated fatty acids.

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