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FIG Awards 2009

PI and CO

PI Department

Title

Gilchrist, J. (Asst. Prof.)

Chemical Engineering

Control of Microstructure for Development of Dye-Sensitized Solar Cells

Jedlicka, S. (Asst. Prof.)

Materials Science and Engineering

Nanoparticle Induction of Biomolecular Signaling Stem Cells

Li, T. (Assoc. Prof.)

Computer Science and Engineering

New Technology to Solve Energy Crisis in Data Centers

Liu, T. (Assoc. Prof.)

Chemistry

Exploration of the Role of Counter-Ions on the Formation of Capsid hells

Mullen, S. (Asst. Prof.)

Biological Sciences

From Phenotype to Genotype: The Comparative Genetics of Mimicry in Butterflies

Nicholas, M. (Assoc. Prof.)

Modern Languages and Literature

Words worth a thousand pictures: Russian Conceptual Texts in Soviet and Post-Soviet Art

Snyder, M. (Asst. Prof.)
Caram, H. (Prof.)
Sicar, S. (Prof. of Pract.)

Chemical Engineering
Chemical Engineering
Chemical Engineering

Novel Chemisorption Membranes for Continuous CO2 Capture

Yu, Z. (Assistant Professor)

Earth & Environmental Sciences

Exploring Holocene Caron Dynamics of Peatlands in Patagonia:Toward a Global Synthesis of High-latitude Peatlands

Gilchrist, J. (Assistant Professor), Chemical Engineering
Control of Microstructure for Development of Dye-Sensitized Solar Cells

The dye-sensitized solar cell (DSSC) is a relatively new technology that generates electricity from solar energy. This technology aims to provide a low-cost replacement for current semiconductor-based technologies. DSSCs have potential for ubiquitous distribution due to the possibility of fabricating DSSCs on flexible substrates and their partial transparency allowing them to be used as windows. This research looks to enhance efficiency of the entire DSSC by 1) controlling morphology of deposited nanoparticles for the internal dye support and 2) controlling morphology of top-surface microlens array collectors. Most technologies use randomly aggregated particles for dye supports, with the intention of maximizing surface area for dye adsorption and creating a porous structure for interaction between the electrolyte and TiO2 particles. It is difficult to obtain uniform coatings with a reproducible pore structure. Our expertise allows nanoscale control of coating thickness, and deposition of nanoporous and mesoporous structures that we believe can enhance electron transport while maintaining a large surface area. The result of this research is to fabricate DSSCs using our technology and evaluate their performance as a function of our processing parameters and the surface morphology. On the top surface, coatings will be used to enhance capture efficiency using the same principles as used in our enhancement of light emitting diode (LEDs) extraction efficiency. The purpose of this project is to utilize current nanoscale science enabling fabrication of LED microlens arrays to enhance DSSC efficiency and support a collaboration that brings a new technology to campus.

Jedlicka, S. (Assistant Professor), Materials Science and Engineering
Nanoparticle Induction of Biomolecular Signaling Stem Cells

Nanoparticle-based drug delivery appeared in clinical applications in 1995, and the technology of drug carriers has significantly grown. Nanotechnology in medicine promises revolutionary advances in clinical therapies, but exploration has been limited to a small number of areas, such as drug delivery. Nanoparticles, due to their broad functionality, could prove to be drug formulations themselves; used for in situ tissue regeneration as extracellular signaling compounds. The idea of using nanoparticles as drugs requires solid-state cell signaling. Peptide ligands can influence signal transduction pathways similar to extracellular matrix based systems. Using synthetic peptides in a nanoparticle that can permeate the most complex physiological barrier could revolutionize clinical therapy. The overall objective of this study is to build cell-signaling ligands into a nanoparticle platform for use as an in situ tissue regeneration ‘drug’. The proposed research involves two goals. First, we will determine the nanoparticle chemical and physical characteristics that determine bioactivity. XPS and AFM will be used to examine bonding structure, folding structure, and bioactivity; the data collected will enable further funding for synchrotron NEXAFS experimentation to further support the data. Second, we will examine the single-cell dynamics of nanoparticle interactions. This includes an examination of receptor clustering mechanisms and subsequent kinase activation. These experiments will be performed at the single-cell level using novel advanced microscopy techniques. If successful, these experiments will lead to advanced work in vitro on neurospheres and eventually in vivo to determine the ‘drug’ capacity of the modified nanoparticles, and support federal grant proposals to this effort.

Li, T. (Associate Professor), Computer Science and Engineering
New Technology to Solve Energy Crisis in Data Centers

The goal of this research is to develop and simulate new architectures and technologies needed to realize space- and energy-efficient, quantifiably-reliable, and massively-scalable network storage systems (i.e. data centers) to cope with today’s exponential surge of data (and the data-demanding business legislation). Exiting systems based on data replication are simple, but are rather wasteful in energy and space. Leveraging the advanced information and fault recovery theory, and exploiting some of her newly invented optimal erasure codes, the PI proposes a new architecture of hybrid replication-and-erasure-coding that will not only saves tremendous energy, but is also reliable, scalable, and capable of performance guarantees. The fundamental challenge is to embrace a feasible design that can rely on the strength of multiple efficient erasure codes distributed across the storage units to strike a desirable balance between space, computation, and bandwidth efficiency. The focus of the proposed research will be on system prototyping, development and optimization of erasure codes with the right lengths and rates, and extensive simulation to identify best practice."

Liu T.(Associate Professor), Chemistry
Exploration of the Role of Counter-Ions on the Formation of Capsid hells

"This proposal aims to explore the possible important role of small counter-ions on the formation of virus capsids – the protein shells of viruses which protect their genetic materials. Many virus capsids are assembled by capsid protein subunits into icosahedral structures. Hydrophobic interaction among these protein subunits is usually believed to be responsible for the spontaneous self-assembly process.1-3 On the other hand, the role of small counter-ions on the self-assembly of the negatively charged protein subunits is often overlooked. We speculate that the role of counter-ions in this biological process is important, based on his recent work on the self-assembly of fully hydrophilic inorganic macroions into structurally analog “blackberry” structures.4-6 The blackberries and the capsids share many common features, from the final superstructures, the formation mechanisms to even the “lag phase” at the beginning. Two commercially available capsid proteins: Hepatitis B Virus X-Protein and Human Parainfluenza Virus Type 3 Fusion Protein, will be used for the following studies: (1) Synchrotron Small-angle X-ray study on the radial distribution of counter-ions around discrete protein subunits. (2) Effect of the valent state and ionic size of the counter-ions on the kinetics of the capsid formation studied by light scattering technique. (3) Cation transport process across the capsid membrane monitored by fluorescence spectroscopy. The results might be useful for understanding the capsid formation process, and consequently for further developing therapeutic strategies. This project aims for external funding from the NIH after the proposed preliminary studies.

Mullen, S. (Assistant Professor), Biological Sciences
From Phenotype to Genotype: The Comparative Genetics of Mimicry in Butterflies

Abstract: A major goal of modern research in evolutionary biology is to characterize, at a genetic level, the mechanisms of adaptive evolution. One issue of particular interest is whether changes in homologous genes underlie the independent evolution of similar adaptive phenotypes. This project will develop a comprehensive framework with which to compare the genetic architecture of phenotypic diversification across three of the most striking examples of wing pattern mimicry in butterflies. Emerging research from Heliconius butterflies indicates that closely related species share a conserved genetic architecture for their mimetic wing color patterns. We will greatly expand the scope of available comparisons by generating genome maps for Limenitis Admiral butterflies and Papilio Swallowtail butterflies, and integrating these with genetic maps for Heliconius butterflies and the Lepidoptera model system, Bombyx mori. We will then map, in concert, the genes that control wing pattern mimicry phenotypes in all three butterfly clades. Using these data we will test the hypothesis that diverse lineages are using the same set of genes to achieve wing pattern mimicry. In addition to providing a robust comparative framework with which to understand the genetic basis of adaptive phenotypic variation and mimicry, the proposed research will have a variety of broader impacts related to undergraduate and graduate education, and this project forms the basis for a highly-collaborative, cross- institutional research venture that will support the training and career development of four young investigators (two Co-PIs and two post-docs).

Nicholas, M., (Associate Professor), Modern Languages and Literature
Words worth a thousand pictures: Russian Conceptual Texts in Soviet and Post-Soviet Art

Beginning in the midst of the brief thaw after Stalin’s death and continuing sporadically throughout the 1970s and 1980s, unofficial Soviet art developed outside the public realm and largely beyond the reach of critics, art historians, and most viewers. A hostile regime set unofficial artistes in opposition to those in power, despite the fact that many of the artists, particularly in the 1980s, evinced scant interest in political action and treated the authorities with casual disdain or simple indifference. Despite lack of access to state patronage, museums, the mass media, and the public, a relatively small and insular group of unofficial Soviet artists nevertheless threatened the system with their powerful critique. This was especially true of works that used borrowed texts to indicate Soviet power with its own words. The resulting conceptualist movement was the most important Russian art development of the late twentieth century, and its impact, both on the eventual dissolution of the Soviet Union and on the further development of contemporary Russia, continues today. Despite its cultural significance, however, Russian conceptualism has received little critical attention. Most Russian studies of the movement have been narrow or partisan, and there is no general work on the subject in English. My research addresses this issue by considering the work of the main Russian conceptualist artists and by situating their work in an appropriate international context. My long-term goals for the project are two books: the first will be focused on the broad question of conceptualist narrative in Russian visual art, and the second will address a specifically Soviet art movement, “Sots Art.”"

Snyder, M. (Assistant Professor),
Caram, H.(Professor),
Sicar, S. (Professor of Practice),
Chemical Engineering
Novel Chemisorption Membranes for Continuous CO2 Capture

The proposed work aims to develop novel membrane technology for efficient, highly selective high-temperature carbon capture from flue gas and natural gas, two major sources of greenhouse gas emissions. Realization of high-performance membranes for such applications is widely recognized as a potentially revolutionary technology for continuous carbon capture. The proposed program aims to address stringent demands that have severely limited the direct applicability of state-of-the-art membrane technologies. Specifically, we aim to harness recently identified CO2 sorption selectivities of sodium oxide promoted alumina for fabricating, for the first time, high-temperature stable CO2 selective membranes. As bulk adsorbents, these materials have shown high-temperature CO2 chemisorption selectivities, a property critical to membrane viability. The proposed program will study sodium oxide promotion of tubular alumina membranes for highly selective CO2 chemisorption from compositionally complex process streams and the potential for separations driven by surface facilitated transmembrane CO2 permeation. Efforts will involve membrane synthesis and characterization, permeation testing, and modeling, the latter aimed at interpreting permeation performance and establishing synthesis-structure-properties relations to guide rational membrane design. Beyond membrane development, the chemisorption (rather than physisorption) of CO2 onto sodium oxide promoted alumina raises fundamentally unanswered questions about the implications that strong adsorption may have on the mechanisms of trans-membrane permeation. Mechanistic understanding resulting from the proposed initiative should drive membrane optimization and extension to other systems. Success of this program should lead to novel practical and fundamental insight and, potentially, the establishment of a new paradigm for membrane based carbon sequestration.

Yu, Z.(Assistant Professor), Earth and Environmental Sciences
Exploring Holocene Caron Dynamics of Peatlands in Patagonia: Toward a Global Synthesis of High-latitude Peatlands

The Antarctic Peninsula has been one of the fastest warming places on Earth over the last several decades. This warming will significantly affect the structure and functioning of high-latitude ecosystems, especially carbon-rich wetlands, in addition to the observed impacts on atmospheric circulation and ocean carbon cycle. However, little is known about the C accumulation history of these ecosystems. Documenting past ecosystem dynamics and associated climate sensitivity would provide critical information for understanding ecosystem processes and feedbacks to climate. Here we propose to collect and analyze peat cores from a network of peatlands in Patagonia in southern South America, the continent closest to Antarctica. We will use the collected data sets to test the hypothesis that C accumulation in southern peatlands has been sensitive to changes in seasonality (warmer summers and colder winters) in the past, as we have observed in Alaska. Due to very different seasonal cycles in the Southern and Northern Hemispheres, however, C accumulation patterns should differ in these two regions. This study should provide an ideal test case to investigate the response of C-rich wetlands to very different climates in the past and future. The preliminary data and ideas generated from this proposal will be used as the proof-of-concept to secure funding from NSF for more extensive data collections. This new project on southern peatlands, along with our ongoing research program on northern peatlands, will provide a more integrated understanding of the connection between long-term C dynamics and climate change in high-latitude peatlands in both hemispheres.

 

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