Past Research Opportunities

Power Labs—Are a wonderful opportunity to introduce students to research through an intense immersion of short duration in the laboratory


The cloning and characterization of L,L-diaminopimelate aminotransferase (DapL) from Chlamydomonas reinhardtii

Target:  Student 
Time Period:  Summer (potentially academic year) 
Coordinator:  Andre O. Hudson, Assistant Professor, School of Biological and Medical Sciences/College of Science 
Field:  On site (Rochester Institute of Technology) 

Activity Description: The undergraduate student will characterize the enzyme DapL from Chlamydononas that has been shown to be involved in lysine biosynthesis. This will be done by performing classic enzymological experiments (enzyme kinetics) along with molecular biological techniques such as: sub-cloning, PCR, ligation, protein electrophoresis and agarose gel electrophoresis. 

Activity Goals and Objectives:  The goals for this particular activity are to provide a peer mentoring opportunity for an underrepresented minority student in the field of biology by training in areas of molecular biology and biochemistry. The specific objectives of the project are to: (1) identify and clone the dapL gene from Chlamydonomas and (2) characterize the enzyme 

Activity Outcomes: The student will present the findings at the Undergraduate Research Symposium at the end of the ten week period. There is also the opportunity to present at the Rochester Academy of Sciences. The PI belongs to numerous professional societies, including the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) and the American Society for Plant Biology (ASPB) where this research could be disseminated. The primary outcome for this project is to gather data that would eventually lead to a peer-reviewed publication. 


Ultrasonic Characterization of Materials

INSTRUCTORS:  María Helguera, Ph.D., Center for Imaging Science, helguera@cis.rit.edu, Ext. 5-7053 Benjamín Varela, Ph.D., Department of Mechanical Engineering, bxveme@rit.edu, Ext. 5-4737.

Quantitative characterization of materials is an active area of research across several disciplines. The goal of this proposal is to investigate diverse materials ranging from toner, to ceramics, to powder coated metal plates, to biological tissues, to characterize their viscous, elastic and acoustical properties. For example, toner imaging involves an electrostatic deposition of toner followed by transfer to paper and thermo/mechanical fixing.  Thus, understanding the properties of toner materials is critical to providing improved design and formulation of toner systems. On the other hand, geopolymers belong to an emerging new class of inorganic polymeric materials with promising applications in the construction and coatings industries. Finally, understanding of microstructure-scattering properties is an ongoing quest in medical applications, where the ultimate goal of tissue characterization is to use the obtained backscatter information to differentiate states of tissue between healthy and diseased tissue, or to monitor changes in tissue properties in response to medication, aging, and other factors.


Collaborative Research Initiative

INSTRUCTOR:  Dr. Chance Glenn

The Collaborative Research Initiative (CRI) is an effort to develop effective and intelligently driven partnerships between academic research faculty and regional small businesses.  The specific purpose of the CRI is to create strong proposals for the Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer Research (STTR) grant opportunities provided by the Federal Government.  The effectiveness of the CRI lies in embracing the principle of mutual benefit, where each entity involved gains from the relationship, and voids in core competencies are filled.

We need a student to help populate the CRI data base from the SBIR/STTR solicitations that will become available periodically.  The student will also learn about research proposal preparation, research, development, and technology commercialization.  Strong computer skills are required as well as the ability to comfortably interact with others.


Sign2 Project

INSTRUCTOR:  Dr. Chance Glenn

The Sign2 Project is a focused research and development effort whose three-fold goal is to (a) further establish and enhance the body of knowledge in physical movement/position to language translation, (b) to conceptualize and engineer a prototype device that closes the communication gap between the deaf and the hearing, and (c) to establish and build a statistical database from the prototype results useful to the research and development community.

We are looking for a student who has the interest and the drive to participate in data collection, analysis, image processing, grant writing, and the publishing of results.  This is an on-going project with far-reaching implications.  We need a motivated student who can learn quickly, has strong computer skills, and strong math skills.


Human Anatomy Library

INSTRUCTOR:  Dr. Richard Doolittle, Dept. Head, School of Life Sciences, COS

Currently, there are very few resources available to students that combine a variety of media in support of know facts about human anatomy.  The student will begin by creating representative dissections of select regions of the body’s nervous system.  He will then move forward to take photographs of those select regions and investigate the methods and materials needed to create stereo images.  He will also be working at the same time to generate text information within Adobe 3D which will accompany both 2D and, hopefully, 3D images he’s created in the laboratory.  Ultimately, the student will have created a library of information that will prove to be beneficial to our student in gross anatomy.  The depth of detail will also be appropriate for potential users outside of RIT to include other allied health and medical school student required to show competency in anatomy.


Design and Fabrication of Pneumatic/Electro-Pneumatic Stands to Support the course of Design of Machine Systems

INSTRUCTOR: Dr. Benjamin Varela, Department of Mechanical Engineering, bxveme@rit.edu, Ext. 5-4737

Pneumatic and electro-pneumatic systems is an area completely new to the typical mechanical and industrial engineering student, but is one which they will immediately encounter in the field of automatic systems integration.  The course of Design of Machine Systems presents the fundamentals of the function of pneumatic valves, actuators and their integration. The goal is that the students can gain enough knowledge to design their own circuits while in their professional life.  However, based on students’ evaluations, this is a topic where they have most trouble. The main problem is that it’s difficult to visualize on the board how the different valves commute and the cylinders move. In an attempt to overcome this difficulty, the Mechanical Engineering department acquired several pneumatic valves and cylinders to design and fabricate four stands to explain how the pneumatic valves and circuits are integrated and how they work.  The goal of this proposal is to design and fabricate a pneumatic/ electro-pneumatic stand with different types of directional valves and actuators. This stand will be tested and optimized and then three more replications will be fabricated.