Students Spend Summer Finding STEM Solutions

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Students Spend Summer Finding STEM Solutions

Published: October 2, 2017.

Lewis University students were using antimatter as a fuel source, hydrogels to improve wound treatment, arsenic to test soil, softball statistics to predict post-season success, microbial fuel cells to replace fossil fuels and search algorithms to map the brain. Others were investigating high-performance computing, the CMP filtration process, cell mutation, laser light mitigation on aircraft windshields, metal ion concentration in Alzheimer’s brain tissue and medication delivery regulation using silica pores.

Students presented their work, including lab experiments and results, at the eighth annual concluding symposium for the Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Undergraduate Research Experience. The program concluded with this research symposium to present to the community about their accomplishments over the summer.

The S.U.R.E. program is a collaborative experience for students from multiple STEM disciplines to engage in undergraduate research, as mentored by Lewis faculty. This 10-week summer program brings students from Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Math, and Physics together weekly to discuss topics, such as research ethics, data analysis methods, resume building and interviewing skills. They also discuss specific discipline related research.

“This intensive summer program serves as a foundation for continued research and subsequent presentations throughout the year,” said Dr. Sarah Powers, assistant professor of Biology and program director. The program provides the student researchers with a stipend and offers an experiential learning environment that accelerates their research careers. Many results end up being presented at conferences and in publications.

Students researched a variety of topics:

  • Mikayla Bertrand of Plainfield, chemistry major, researched “The Effects of Silica Pore Functionalization on Drug Release.” Dr. John Parker, assistant professor of Physics, served as faculty mentor.

  • Marc Cerda of New Lenox, computer science major, researched “Discovering the Hubness of Neurons in Connectomes.” Dr. Piotr Szczurek, assistant professor of Computer and Mathematical Sciences and director of the Data Science program, served as faculty mentor.

  • Matthew Dubiel of Plainfield, physics major, researched “Simulation of an Antimatter Engine for Space Travel.” Dr. Ryan Hooper, associate professor of Physics, served as his faculty mentor.

  • Madison Hill of Pekin, chemistry major, researched “Examining Hydroxyl Radical Formation via Fenton Decomposition through Ligand Coordination Chemistry.” Dr. Mallory Havens, assistant professor of Biology, served as faculty mentor.

  • Alexander Klouda of Shorewood, chemistry major, presented “Arsenic Concentrations in Soil.” Dr. Teresa Bixby, assistant professor of Chemistry, served as his faculty mentor.

  • Carley Maupin of Peotone, mathematics & social work major, researched “Predictive Modeling and Analysis of Softball Using Linear Algebra.” Dr. Amanda Harsy Ramsay, assistant professor of Computer and Mathematical Sciences, served as a faculty mentor.

  • Sarah Nelson of Joliet, biology and chemistry major, researched “Cyclin D3 Mutations and the Effect on Mammalian Cells.” Dr. Sarah Powers served as faculty mentor.

  • Cynthia Saucedo of Aurora, chemistry major, researched “Probing the Interaction between Copper Chemical Mechanical Planarization Slurry Chemistry and Polymeric Filtration Media.” Dr. Jason Keleher, chair and associate professor of Chemistry, served as her faculty mentor.

  • Quinn Stratton of Plainfield, mathematics major, researched “Implementing a High-Performance Computing Center.” Dr. Ray Klump, chair and professor of Computer and Mathematical Sciences, served as his faculty mentor.

  • David Santefort of New Lenox, physics major, researched “Effect of Indium Tin Oxide Surface Roughness on the Response of Liquid Crystal Cells for the Use of Laser Light Mitigation.” Dr. Joseph Kozminski, chair and professor of Physics, and Keleher served as faculty mentors.

  • Frank Vukaj of Davison, Mich., biochemistry major, researched “Investigating Biofilm Formation on Electrode Surfaces Relevant to Microbial Fuel Cells.” Keleher served as faculty mentor.

  • Carolyn Werr of Darien, biology major, researched “Synthesis of an Amino Acid Crosslinked Hydrogel for Improved Skin Cell Viability.” Her faculty mentor was Dr. William Chura, associate professor of Biology.
  • Support for the S.U.R.E. program is provided by the Aileen S. Andrew Foundation.

    Lewis University is an innovative and entrepreneurial Catholic university offering market-relevant undergraduate and graduate programs to 6,500 students. Sponsored by the De La Salle Christian Brothers, Lewis University is nationally recognized for preparing intellectually engaged, ethically grounded, globally connected and socially responsible graduates. Visit for further information.

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