RESEARCH PROJECT TITLE & DESCRIPTION:
1. A Model Relating Obesity with Spinal Injuries in Dogs. Consulting project in conjunction with Red Bank Veterinary Hospital. Statistical analysis and interpretation of data.
2. Post-operative Side Effects of Gastrointestinal Surgery in Cats and Dogs. Consulting project in conjunction with Garden State Veterinary Specialists. Statistical analysis and interpretation of data.
3. Comparing Effectiveness of Continuous vs Intermittent Infusion of Antibiotics in Dogs. Consulting project in conjunction with Massachusetts Veterinary Referral Hospital.
Statistical analysis and interpretation of data.
4. Analyzing Small Sample Data from Genetics Experiments Relating to Brain Cancer (Collaboration with Dr. Martin Hicks in Biology). Exploration of statistical techniques for analyzing small sample data.
5. Analysis of Data from Experiments on Brain Cell Disorders in Mice (Collaboration with Dr. Catherine Kubera in Biology). Exploration of advanced statistical analysis techniques for analysis of data.
6. Predicting the Yield of NJ Vineyard Grapes (Collaboration with Dr. Pedram Daneshgar in Biology). Statistical design, data collection & analysis (types of tests, sample sizes, power, effect sizes, etc.) needed to answer research questions about the new MU vineyard and its use by the NJ wine industry.
7. PCB Levels in Bluefish in New Bedford, Massachusetts Coastal Waters. Consulting project in conjunction with Sandy Hook NOAA Lab. Statistical analysis of a prior study by Dr. Ashok Deshpande to determine if further conclusions are possible.
8. The Effect of Normalizing Data on the Outcomes of a Latent Variable Change Analysis using Structural Equation Modeling in R. (Collaboration with Dr. Stacey Lauderdale in the School of Education). An exploration of the technique of latent change analysis in structural equation modeling, using the R programming language.
PLEASE NOTE: This faculty member is not accepting high school students.
DEPARTMENT: Biology/Marine and Environmental Biology and Policy Program
Impacts of Anthropogenic Factors on Ecosystem Processes of Coastal Ecosystems
Coastal ecosystems such as salt marshes and mangrove ecosystems provide several vital ecosystem services from wildlife and fish habitat and shore protection to carbon and nutrient cycling. Anthropogenic factors such as sea level rise, salinity changes, and nitrogen deposition could have major impacts on the services coastal ecosystems provide. Through fieldwork and experiments, we will explore how climate change and other anthropogenic factors affect coastal ecosystem function with a focus on the plant species that dominate these ecosystems.
DEPARTMENT: School of Science
Curriculum Development in Entomology Focused on Ecosystems and Stability
Urbanization and climate change are causing unprecedented stresses on local communities, because of these changes many terrestrial and aquatic food webs have been compromised. Stable and predictable local ecosystems are critically important to a stable society. Bee and pollinator communities have been in the news recently as especially vulnerable to land use changes and new pesticides. It is easier to communicate importance of bee communities in terms of providing economically valuable services (eg Pollination) to the public than other communities that may provide broader
services e.g. song birds reducing mosquito and crop pest populations. Research will focus on developing a lesson plans using local plant/insect and plant/insect/vertebrate systems for active
lessons appropriate for a variety of age groups that will provide students lasting understanding of local food webs and ecosystems in general. Two subprojects are planned: Pollinators
project will involve using native plants and focus on biodiversity of plants and their pollinators for the elementary level. Will Climate Change really change anything? will explore plant
insect interactions at a higher level. All student researcher assistants will collect insects, observe and document feeding patterns, identify plants, write lesson plans in collaboration with the team and participate in either delivery or observation of lessons. Skill in drawing or graphic design should be mentioned in the application. Preference will be given to students with a demonstrated interest in careers in education at any level. This is a 6 week program beginning in late May.
Assessment and Inventory of New Jersey Coastal Fisheries.
Coastal waters of New Jersey and New York act as essential nursery grounds and migratory hotspots to numerous commercially and recreationally important finfish and elasmobranch species. The purpose of this study will be to examine the biology of these local resources with work largely focused on tagging recreational finfish/elasmobranch species through traditional and electronic tagging as well as examining predator-prey dynamics through diet. Work will also include analyzing previously collected fisheries data using Microsoft Access Databases (no experience necessary).
DEPARTMENT: Computer Science and Software Engineering
Dispelling the "Fantasy" in Fantasy Sports
Project participants will engage in research that will uncover the analytics, and predictive and financial modeling of sports fantasy leagues. Researchers will build a “fantasy sport” model and software platform.
Engineering, Synthesis and Evaluation of Gene Transfer Vectors for the Delivery of RNA Therapeutics to the Tumor Cell Microenvironment.
We design, generate and test novel gene transfer vectors directed against genes up-regulated in cancer, specifically glioblastoma multiforme. Our strategy is to deliver the genetic sequences of RNA therapy molecules that target the transcripts of receptor tyrosine kinases (RTK). Ultimately, the RNA therapies modify the expression and function of RTKs. Current strategies include 1) anti-sense RNA
therapy molecules to alter RTK pre-mRNA splicing 2) anti-sense RNA therapy to effectively destabilize and block RTK expression 3) and effective delivery of RNA aptamers to block RTK activation.
High School students are encouraged to apply to this project.
Dynamic Real-Time Mobile Object Identification and Location (DYNAMO)
his project’s focus is on the implementation of a system that identifies and locates mobile objects in real time both indoors and outdoors in an integrated manner. The project has three aspects: the
identification and location of the objects, the location and management of the detecting device, and the management of the entire system.
The identification and location technologies for the objects are several. Data collected from these devices will be processed and displayed on a tableau (user display).
From an application perspective the key is a collection of mobile objects that are in need of identification and location in real time.
We will work as a team to explore the use of emerging technologies to enable a cutting edge solution. We will take this as far as our innovation and insights allow. This will be fun. Students interested in this project should have one or more of the following skills:
DEPARTMENT: Chemistry and Physics
Designing Next Generation Solar Cells: Modeling Energy Transfer in Biological Chromophores
Mechanisms of energy transfer in biological molecules will be investigated to find new efficient ways of solar energy conversion into electricity and environmentally friendly fuels. Molecular modeling software based on novel quantum-mechanical methods will be used to obtain detailed molecular-level knowledge of the key mechanisms of light capture by biological and organic molecules—chromophores. High performance/supercomputing systems will be employed to carry out the simulations.
Project 1: The Role of GABA in Neuronal Precursor Proliferation
This project will examine the role of inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA in brain cell proliferation during development. Following identification of successful small-inhibiting RNAs, constructs to knock down GABA receptor expression will be electroporated into the developing chick embryo brain. Neuronal proliferation will be assessed by injecting and later staining for BrdU, which will be incorporated into the DNA of dividing cells.
Project 2: Intersections between mTOR and calcium signaling pathways
Mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) is a protein that plays a number of important roles during development as a regulator of protein translation, cell growth and proliferation.This study will examine the interactions of mTOR with calcium and other signaling molecules underpinning neuron process extension and migration using techniques such as quantitative PCR, Western blotting, immunohistochemistry and microscopy.
Project 3: Computer assisted analysis of in vitro cell dynamics
This project involves using computer-assisted advanced imaging analysis techniques to examine cellular behaviors such as movement, migration, and proliferation in order to characterize the role of
mTOR in cell motility.
Development of Emollients of Essential Oils and Methylglyoxal to Combat Multidrug Resistant Bacteria in Healthcare Settings Globally
Cassia and Methylglyoxal (found in Manuka Honey) will be combined with carrier oils in various dilutions to determine their efficacy in inhibiting the growth of two hospital acquired multidrug resistant
bacteria using the Kirby-Bauer disk diffusion method. The bacteria that will be tested are: Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Acinetobacter baumannii.
PLEASE NOTE: This faculty member is not accepting high school students.
Rearrangement of Seven-Coordinate Metal Complexes
We have had some recent success in identifying isomers of eight-coordinate metal, in determining the exchange rates between these isomers at various temperatures, and in using the rate versus temperature data to determine the thermodynamic parameters of the transition state between the isomers. Seven-coordinate complexes exhibit temperature-dependent fluxional behavior that is similar to the behavior of eight-coordinate complexes. This project will attempt to prepare a small set of seven-coordinate complexes with symmetries that will allow for the spectroscopic identification
of isomers. If successful in preparing such complexes, those complexes will be used to study the interconversion of seven-coordinate isomers in order to compare their properties to the properties
of our previously studied eight-coordinate systems.
PLEASE NOTE: This faculty member is not accepting high school students
DEPARTMENT: Urban Coast Institute / Biology
Mapping of Plastics in the Coastal Marine Environment
Field and lab work collecting and quantifying marine plastics in local waters using a manta trawl to collect samples. Areas of interest include Barnegat Bay, Manasquan, Shark, Navesink and Shrewsbury Rivers, Raritan and Sandy Hook Bays. Collaborating with local NGO’s and researchers at other academic institutions. Additional work will involve water level mapping and field support for other projects.
1. Development of a RNA biosensor to detect cancer
One is to continue the development of an aptamer that binds tightly and specifically to a metabolite only present in cancer cells. A specific type of cancer produces a metabolite normally absent in normal cells. The detection of this metabolite may prove an early cancer detection application as well as a potential for treatment. We currently have several generations of selected RNAs binding the oncometabolite. The next steps are to isolate the aptamer sequences by inserting them into plasmids and bacterial cloning, followed by cleavage activity measurement in order to sequence the best aptamers. Once sequenced, the secondary structure of the aptamers will be determined. The long-term goals of this project if to transform the aptamer into an artificial riboswitch.
2. Development of a glucose biosensor
The second project is to develop an aptamer to sense glucose. Such a biosensor may have application in research (test a medium culture for glucose) up to future human health diagnosis (new non-enzymatic way to monitor blood sugar). We currently have several generations of selected RNAs binding to glucose. The next steps are to isolate the aptamer sequences by inserting them into plasmids and bacterial cloning, followed by cleavage activity measurement in order to sequence the best aptamers. Once sequenced, the secondary structure of the aptamers will be determined. The long-term goals of this project if to transform the aptamer into an artificial riboswitch.
3. Artificial riboswitch selection by antibiotic resistance
With the aim of transforming the aptamers from the previous two projects into artificial riboswitches, an effective, affordable and easy method has to be developed. Since the action of the riboswitch is to transmit the signal of aptamer binding by activating gene expression, the aptamer will be fused to an antibiotic resistance gene with a randomized linker. Only upon addition of the ligand should the riboswitch be activated (and be resistant to the antibiotic). Replica plating technique will be used to test bacterial resistance with and without the ligand to isolate the colonies that are resistant strictly in
presence of the ligand.
The main molecular biology techniques for these 3 projects involve PCR, transcription, ribozyme cleavage, reverse transcription, cloning, DNA sequencing, etc.
Microplastics and the Biogeochemistry of Toxic Metals in the Aquatic Environment
The main goal of this project is to study mircoplastics in the aquatic environment with respect to their origin; chemical and physical properties; mobility; surface reactivities; and surface biogeochemistry of adsorbed chemical pollutants. Microplastics are comprised of synthetic polymer products manufactured as additives in various consumer products such as hand, facial, and body cleansers; small pieces from degrading industrial and domestic polymer products; polymeric fibers released by washing of synthetic clothing and plastic abrasion during dishwashing; and preproduction pellets that are used in plastic production. They occur in various shapes that include spheres, fibers, and fragments. They enter the aquatic environment primarily via improper waste disposal,
insufficient waste management, and urban runoffs. In the aquatic environment, microplastics harbor microbes and adsorb chemical pollutants. As a result, microplastics can introduce pathogenic organisms and chemical toxicants from wastewater to the less contaminated freshwater and marine habitats. They can also enter food webs through filter feeders.
Multidrug resistance, the principal mechanism by which many cancers develop resistance to chemotherapy drugs, is a major factor in the failure of many forms of chemotherapy. One way to overcome this resistance is the use of nutriceuticals. Nutraceuticals are any products derived from food sources with extra health benefits in addition to the basic nutritional value found in foods. One of the most powerful nutraceuticals is pomegranate extract (PE). Previously, PE has been shown to have antipoliferative and proapoptotic properties in human oral cancers and prostate
cancers We will be attempting to reserve the effects of in vitro drug resistance using a leukemia model by treating the cells with pomegranate extract.