Chemistry, Biochemistry, Physics, and Engineering Department Research

Student Research at IUP

All students in the Traditional Chemistry pathway are required to do a research project. But all students are encouraged to get involved with research as early as their second semester of their freshman year. Chemistry students can also participate in the Summer Opportunity for Applying Research program for 10 weeks during the summer. Many students receive at least partial support for this program.

The department has many active, innovative research projects in which students can directly participate.

Solid State/Inorganic Chemistry

Students interested in solid-state chemistry can work with Professor Charles Lake to prepare novel materials with unique semiconductor properties. Students use the X-ray diffraction facility to characterize the materials they make, and sometimes travel to the Oak Ridge or Argonne national labs to use those facilities. A recent project presented at the meeting of the Crystallographic Society was "Using Multiple Wavelength Synchrotron Data to Identify the Cd2+ site in Ag2CdGeS4 and " Rietveld Refinement and Structure Analysis of the Solid-Solution Na2(Zn,Co)GeO4. Professor Avitija Jain prepares inorganic materials used in photodynamic therapy to fight cancer. She also uses some of the lab's facilities to characterize her compounds. One recent project, presented at the national ACS meeting, was "Development of light-activated Ru(II) complexes applicable in photodynamic therapy."

Environmental Chemistry

IUP students can participate in the Beaver Run reservoir project, directed by Professor Nate McElroy. These students use ICP and ion chromatography methods applied to the water analysis of the local Beaver Run reservoir. Recent studies include "Determination of Trace and Inorganic Contaminants in Marcellus Drilling Sites Near Beaver Run Reservoir."

Students can also be involved in developing new processes for synthesizing biofuels, or creating biosensors important to the energy industry, directed by Professor Sudipta Majumdar. A recent student project was "Tuning Up The Redox Potential of Streptomyces Coelicolor Laccase by Site-Directed Mutagenesis."

Chemical Synthesis

Numerous Chemistry faculty direct projects where novel chemical compounds are synthesized. Students learn various synthetic techniques as well as important characterization methods, such as NMR, FTIR, GC-MS, and cyclic voltammetry. Some recent IUP chemistry student projects are "Synthesis, characterization, and electrochemical studies of water-soluble ruthenium complexes" (Jain), "A Solid Supported Palladium-Catalyzed Aza-Wacker Enamine `Synthesis" and "Homo-Polymerization of a Natural Monomer: Applying Wacker Chemistry to Eugenol Polymer Synthesis" (LeBlond).

Computational Chemistry

Modern chemistry relies on computational methods to predict and direct experimental work. Several IUP Chemistry faculty direct computational chemistry research projects. Dr, See's students work on the detailed interactions of inorganic molecules, recent student projects include Quantification of the Trans Influence in d8 Square Planar and d6 Octahedral Complexes: a Database Study, and Oxidation State and Ligand Binding Mode at the Active Site of Myoglobin. Dr. LeBlond and Dr. Fair use molecular dynamics to predict physical and chemical reactions. Some recent projects are "Molecular Dynamics Simulations of Brittle Fracture in fcc Crystalline Materials in the Presence of Defects" (LeBlond), and "Computational Study of Finkelstein Reactions" (Fair).

Protein function

Several IUP Biochemists work on protein chemistry. Dr. Villemain looks at analyzing protein behavior, an example is her recent student project "Post-Translational Regulation of Membrane-bound Proteins" and "Structural analysis of a proposed intrinsically unstructured protein region using fluorescence spectroscopic techniques". Dr. Majumdar looks at engineering proteins for various energy-related processes, a recent project is "Roles of Small Laccases from Streptomyces in Lignin Degradation".

Chemical Education

Dr. Ashe, Dr. Long, and Dr. Kondo have chemical education as a research focus, though many IUP chemistry faculty include chemical education in their research program. some recent projects include "Bringing student-student interactions online: Computer-monitored online discussions of intermolecular forces"(Ashe), "Predicting Student Learning from Conversational Cues"(Ashe.) Qualitative Assessment of Inquiry-Based Teaching Methods(Long), Periodic Properties and Inquiry: Student Mental Models Observed during a Periodic Table Puzzle Activity"(Long), and 'What I did and what I learned': Improving student ability to communicate about laboratory experiences with just one sentence" (Kondo), "Online assessment tools for organic chemistry" (LeBond), and "A Survey of Industrial Organic Chemists: Understanding the Chemical Industries Needs of Current Bachelor's Level Graduates" (Fair).

Our world-class faculty consists of 13 full-time PhDs within a multitude of chemical specialties, including analytical, biochemical, computational, education, inorganic, organic, and physical.

The majority of faculty members conduct research in their specialty area and encourage undergraduate research leading to presentations at local and national conferences and publications in leading chemical journals.

The following list gives an approximate distribution of the teaching and research interests of our faculty.

Analytical: McElroy

Biochemistry: Fair, Jain, Majumdar, Villemain

Computational/Theoretical: Kondo, LeBlond, See

Education (Chemical): Ashe, Fair, Long

Inorganic: Hao, Maicaneanu

Inorganic: Jain, Lake, See

Organic: Fair, LeBlond

Physical/Theoretical: Kondo, Long