Research Experience for Undergraduates | 2011 REU Fellows

Why CEINT? From our 2011 REU students and interns:

Bianca Bailey

Rising Senior
Chemical Engineering
Howard University, Washington, DC
CEINT Research Site: Lowry Lab- CMU

As a rising graduating senior, I am in the process of researching institutions that appeal to my interest in an advanced degree in environmental nanotechnology as it relates to water quality issues. Institutions such as Carnegie Mellon, Duke University and Howard University provide me with options to study and conduct independent research. This program will allow me to visit, interact and become acquainted with these campuses and their culture. In addition I will be able to interact with professors on site that could provide insight on nanotechnology research and graduate programs available. I see the Research for Undergraduate Fellows under the Center for the Environmental Implications of NanoTechnology (CEINT) as a two-way street. Not only will this program shape me into becoming a more competitive undergraduate researcher and potential graduate student, but each institution has the chance to benefit from the completed research, creativity and possibility to recruit me a as potential engineering minority graduate student for their university. I am excited about the Research for Undergraduate Fellows under the Center for the Environmental Implications of NanoTechnology (CEINT). This program allows me the opportunity to expand my horizons, to become familiar with the unfamiliar so that I can become the most competent and global researcher I can be!

Caroline Sorensen

Rising Senior
Engineering and Environmental Science
Sweet Briar College, VA
CEINT Research Site: Wiesner Lab- Duke University

My name is Caroline Sorensen and I am a rising senior at Sweet Briar College in Virginia. I am a double major in engineering and environmental science. As per the requirements for my engineering major, I took a course in materials science during which I was assigned a research paper on a topic of personal interest. I chose the environmental implications of nanotechnology and focused on the life cycle of nanoparticles in the environment. I spent hours researching this topic and found myself so fascinated that, even after I completed the paper, I continued to read books and articles, and subscribed to magazines just so I could discover everything there was to know about the technology. I knew that conducting research at the CEINT would be a valuable experience because my college does not extend the opportunity to work with the subject that I am most interested in. Research excites me because there is always something new to discover. No matter how well educated a person is, there is always the opportunity to learn something new through research. I saw this program as an opportunity to combine two distinct passions of mine – engineering and environmental science. I know that the skills and knowledge that I gain from this experience will stay with me as I continue my studies and delve into my career.

Hannah Thames

Rising Senior
Civil and Environmental + French Major
Loyola Marymount University, California
CEINT Research Site: the CEREGE, Aix-en-Province, France

As a French and civil environmental engineering double major, I was immediately drawn to the CEINT program’s partnership with CEREGE in Aix-en-Provence. After working with a professor at Loyola Marymount University who is publishing a book on nanotechnology, I wanted to be more exposed to the field because there is so much important research yet to be done. This summer I look forward to researching zero-valent iron nanoparticles with Dr. Naresh Kumar with enthusiasm.

Juan Carlos Silva Martinez

Rising Junior
Chemical Engineering
Univ. of Puerto Rico – Mayaguez Campus
CEINT Research Site: Ferguson Lab - Duke University

My interests are related to nanoparticles and their functionalization for improvements of our lives. Also, I want to participate and collaborate with studies that can help with the production of novel data that can lead to new technologies for protecting our home, the Earth. This summer internship at CEINT will give me the experience in my area of interest, nanotechnology and nanomaterial sciences with real and exciting outside lab experiences. This program is really important to me because it will teach me new scientific skills and knowledge in nanoscience and it relationship or effects in the environment.

Raymond Pierson

Rising Senior
Bio-environmental Engineering
Cornell University
CEINT Research Site: Marr Lab- Virginia Tech University

I am a rising senior from Cornell University studying Bio-environmental Engineering. I was attracted to the REU program with CEINT because of its research investigating the life cycle of potential contaminants and their possible toxicological effects. Nanoparticles are particularly interesting potential contaminants to study because their small size makes them behave in unique ways and their high surface area to volume ratio makes them more reactive for a given mass than larger particles. In Professor Marr's lab at Virginia Tech, I will study engineered nanoparticles emitted from commercial products using nanomaterials and how they behave in the atmosphere. Of particular interest is how the nanoparticles change or effect changes in the atmosphere though interactions with other materials.

Karen Yu

Rising Senior
Civil and Environmental Engineering
Carnegie Mellon University
CEINT Research Site: Hsu-Kim Lab- Duke University

A research experience with CEINT would be an excellent opportunity to prepare for graduate school by gaining more research experience. I am certain I want to work in some field related to environmental protection, but I am undecided about which area of environmental engineering I would like to focus on in graduate school. One way to find out would be to participate in different kinds of research projects as an undergraduate so that I could find out what interests me most. Additionally, participating in research at a different university would offer a different perspective and further help me in determining my future direction. At CMU, I've worked on a surface chemistry/transport project and a microbiology project. I'm hoping to do something a bit different at Duke so that I have a better idea of the different research fields in environmental engineering.

Lily Shepard

Rising Junior
Mechanical Engineering
Duke University
CEINT Research Site: CEREGE, Aix-en-Provence, France

My interest in the CEINT REU program was first peaked last summer while working as a research assistant at the CEINT mesocosms. I find it incredibly exciting to be able to contribute towards research on a topic at the cutting edge of science. I am a Mechanical Engineering major pursuing a certificate in Energy and the Environment at Duke University and as such I am interested in both the range of uses for nanomaterials and their environmental impacts.

Sarah Weber

Rising Junior
Smith College
CEINT Research Site: Hinton Lab- Duke University

I am was interested in CEINT because I want to get an advanced degree in nanoscale engineering and want to know of the ecological ramifications of nano-pollutants. During my freshman year of college I was introduced to the Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) and became enamored with the nanoscale. I had read about interesting nanotechnology developments but seeing specimens nanometers in diameter made nanotechnology tangible.

That summer I took part in a lab researching the initial molecular formation of biofilms. Biofilms are highly adhesive molecular films that allow for organisms to grow on smooth aqueous surfaces. I studied how salt affects the amount of the polysaccharide alginate adsorbed to the surface of a charged silica wafer. Alginate is secreted by brown seaweed and forms a film on the hulls of ships allowing for the adhesion of algae.

The SEM and my research on biofilms inspired my interest in nanotechnology. In one of my engineering classes I conducted a Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) of Wind turbines and Solar Panels; the LCA showed me that everything has an ecological impact. I had always assumed “green energy” had no substantial negative impacts on the environment, but at the conclusion of the research I found that about 300,000 Kg CO2 is produced in the production of a 500kW wind turbine. I was shocked by my findings and became curious as to the impacts of nanotechnology.

Ryan Murphy

Rising Junior
Chemistry Major
Clemson University
CEINT Research Site: Vikesland Lab- Virginia Tech University

The reason I choose CEINT for my summer internship is because my future plans focus around participating and/or leading chemical research. Because nano-scale science and nanotechnology are the next major steps in chemistry as well as industry it is crucial that I have experience in nanoscience in order to be on the cutting edge. Also, as environmentalism becomes more prevalent in mainstream society, science will be required to prove it is not harming the environment. A CEINT internship will provide experience in both the advancement and understanding of the environmental effects of nano-scale science and thus was my first choice for an internship this summer.

Sarah Welsh

Rising Junior
Chemistry and English - Double Major
Westminster College
CEINT Research Site: Gregory Lab - Carnegie Mellon University

I chose to participate in the CEINT summer program because it was a great way to get involved in cutting edge research. I love that science is always changing; there’s always a new field that has never been studied in the past, or simply a new way of looking at a known field. CEINT was able to provide me with an opportunity to actively participate in research in an exciting, up-and-coming field. It was also important to me that this is an interdisciplinary program. Through CEINT, chemists, engineers, biologists, and more collaborate to find answers to pressing questions about nanotechnology’s effects on the environment. This collaboration allows for a more rounded, complete understanding of the questions at hand. I’m very excited to be a part of this research center that is contributing fresh knowledge to such a growing field.

Stephanie Barton

Rising Senior
Biology Major
West Virginia University
CEINT Research Site: Wiesner Lab - Duke University

I first became interested in applying for the REU summer internship program with CEINT during my junior year at WVU, in which I was assigned a capstone project. The purpose of the capstone is for students to act in the capacity of a principal investigator by completing funding proposals, designing an experimental project, and reporting observations and conclusions in the form of a scientific manuscript. My group chose to conduct a project that explored the interactive effects of nano-titanium dioxide and daphnia pulex on the hopping rate, heart rate, population growth, carapace size, and overall biomass of daphnia magna. This project peaked my interest in the field of nanomaterials, especially in the risk assessment aspect that Dr. Wiesner and his students are dedicated to researching here at Duke. One of his students, Lauren Barton, has also been an enormous influence on my desire to pursue research on nanomaterials. As a role model and my older sister, Lauren’s enthusiasm and dedication to her work has excited me on researching the potential environmental implications of nanoparticles.

Stacey Saba

Rising Senior
Materials Science in Engineering Major
Cornell University
CEINT Research Site: Liu Lab - Duke University

In previous research work I’ve had the opportunity to fabricate nanostructures. However aside from the practical applications of my work I had never given much thought to the implications of what I was doing. I chose the CEINT REU because it would give me not only the opportunity to learn the process of nanoparticle synthesis but also help me to think critically about the work that we’re doing as a society and its significance. With the tangible impact of new technologies that are readily available to us, it is vital that we use all of our resources to the best of our ability and consider the ramifications of our research. The relevance of the project as well as the learning experience of working in a new laboratory under the guidance of a mentor ultimately drew me to this project.

Tara Soni

Rising Junior
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
CEINT Research Site: Bernhardt Lab- Duke University

I have been interested in research since I was a high school student, when I got the opportunity to work in the Chemical Biology Platform at the Broad Institute. I have been always been interested in environmental issues and I am currently an environmental engineering major. Last summer, I got my first taste of environmental research in the Polz Lab at MIT.

I was attracted to the CEINT REU program because the research immediately appealed to me. Nanotechnology is an important field that can redefine the scale of current projects. I did not have any experience with nanotechnology and wanted to gain experience and understanding, in an effort to fully understand the broad range and scope of environmental research. The structure of the program also allows me to learn more about the many connections between the many research projects at such an interdisciplinary center

Lila Thornton

Rising Junior
Biology and Environmental Science
Duke University
CEINT Research Site: Meyer Lab- Duke University

The CEINT REU immediately appealed to me and not just because I'm studying environmental science and biology. The program presented a way for me to get involved in the research of an emerging technology that's quickly becoming a part of our everyday lives. What I'm most excited about is doing research that combines my interests in nanotechnology and toxicology. Granted, I didn't know a lot about nanoparticles before starting this program. After the first week, though, I'd say nanotechnology has definitely captivated my curiosity.