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An especially important aspect of any undergraduate chemistry curriculum is research.  In today’s world, students intending to pursue post-baccalaureate training in PhD graduate programs, medical school, pharmacy school, etc. are not competitive without a significant undergraduate research experience.  Moreover, it is evident that research experiences at the undergraduate level (as well as in high school) are an essential aspect of encouraging talented students to pursue advanced degrees and careers in chemistry.  Research experiences teach students critical thinking and educates them with regard to the “scientific process and method,” allowing them the opportunity to see for themselves how science is created and how it evolves. 

There are several ways to get involved in research in the chemistry department at SSU:

  • Attend seminars Fridays at noon. Check out the Chemistry Seminar schedule and room each semester. 
  • Join a research group. Check out faculty research projects listed below.
  • Take the research class CHEM 315.
  • Participate in summer research either at SSU or through the National Science Foundation.

Faculty Research Projects

My main area of research involves developing and utilizing ring contracting sulfur extrusion routes for the carbazole ring structure. An interesting use of these new desulfurization methods would be generating a general synthesis routes to natural products with the carbazole ring structure.

Another area of my research interests involves grafting polymer chains from the surface of organic crystals to form core/shell nanoparticles. These polymer encapsulated organic nanocrystals could provide new methods for drug delivery and film formation.

Research in the chemical biology of small molecule activation including HNO, NO, CO and H2S.  

The Lares lab is working on identifying key interactions between the B-cell-activating factor receptor (BAFF-R) protein and a RNA aptamer that specifically binds BAFF-R. BAFF-R is expressed on B-cells and overexpressed in non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. When BAFF-R's ligand, B-cell-activating factor (BAFF), binds, proliferation and cell survival increase allowing the cancer to spread faster. Aptamers are capable of binding their targets with high specificity and affinity and have recently been investigated for their therapeutic advantages over antibody-based approaches. An RNA aptamer has been identified that efficiently binds BAFF-R, thus preventing binding of its ligand. The RNA aptamer has also been used to deliver therapeutic reagents that kill the cell. We are working on identifying the specific amino acids of BAFF-R that are responsible for the binding of the aptamer using site-directed mutagenesis. We also want to identify the nucleotides of the RNA aptamer that specifically bind BAFF-R using RNase protection assays. Understanding the specific interactions between BAFF-R and its aptamer would allow us to increase specificity, reducing off-target effects, and facilitate this therapeutic approach through clinical trials.

My research group is focused on nanotechnology, Raman spectroscopies, and chemical education.  We are dedicated to the development of new plasmonic substrates for surface-enhanced Raman scattering spectroscopies and the application of these substrates to the study of chemistry at the nanoscale.  We also spend our time developing novel chemistry educational experiences for students of all ages. 

Our group studies the impact of anthropogenic pollution on our local atmosphere. Our projects include measurements of: trace pollutants in our atmosphere by Gas Chromatography - Mass Spectrometery, aerosol optical thickness ("haze"), and ozone. These measurements are used along with computer modeling programs, to understand the types of processes that cause atmospheric pollution and to design control strategies for our unique local region.

Recently we have also been using ion chromatography to quantify pollutants in river water, in order to understand and limit our University's impact on our local watershed.