Students Remained on Campus This Summer to Conduct Research in a Variety of Areas
Chemistry majors Hardler Servius ’20, Mathusa Lakuleswaran ’20, and Ari Fleischer ’19, are conducting sophisticated research under the mentorship of Hofstra professors as part of the Dr. Bruce and Doris Lister Endowed Fellowship in Chemistry Research.
The fellowship gives the students financial support to spend the summer working in the Berliner Hall Their selection was based on academic achievement, research potential and demonstrated interest in pursuing a career in scientific research.
Servius, of Westbury, NY, is also an American Chemical Society Scholar Award winner. He is working with Assistant Professor Scott LeFurgy on the structure of enzymes that cause antibiotic resistance. “By understanding the three-dimensional structure of these proteins, we can design more effective, antimicrobial drugs,” Servius said.
Lakuleswaran’s research is focused on wastewater-based epidemiology. She and her mentors, Margaret Hunter, associate professor of engineering, and Kevin Bisceglia, assistant professor of chemistry, are piecing together a picture of community health and behavior by analyzing wastewater.
Summer Research Partners
The Lister Scholars aren’t the only students busy in the Berliner labs this summer. Here is a sample of other research that chemistry majors are conducting:
Sahar Caravan ’21
I am working on e-cigarette research with Dr. Huang and Dr. Bisceglia. Our research demonstrates direct sample injection (DSI) GCMS/MS can be used to explore the potentially harmful thermal degradants of e-cigarette and vape fluid. We simulate the conditions of the e-cigarette devices in the DSI enclosure, and then analyze the chromatograms. We manipulate the recipes for mock e-cigarette fluids, and vary the temperature conditions. We hope that this research can show that the DSI GCMS/MS is a viable method of analyzing e-cigarette fluids.
Rachel Glasser ‘20
I am working to understand how bacteria evolve antibiotic resistance toward new drugs. I am comparing two proteins, one that can break down a certain drug rapidly and one that cannot, to see what structural differences cause this.
Nicole Homburger ‘19
Dr. Huang and I are developing a new screening method for designer opioids using Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR). NMR is a rapid, nondestructive technique that requires minimal sample preparation, making it a powerful tool for efficiently identifying different compounds. We hope that this tool will help law enforcement fight the opioid epidemic.
Chase Laxdal ‘20
I’m doing research on turtle shells to work on a cheap and effective method to find toxic metals in the turtles. Some toxic metals occur naturally in the seawater in varying amounts. The turtles get it in their shells by eating other creatures who already have the toxic metals in them.
By monitoring biomarkers in sewage they able to measure the extent of drug use in a community. “We are using a technique called solid phase extraction to separate and concentrate the drug biomarkers,” said Lakuleswaran, who is from Dix Hills, NY
Fleischer, of Bedford Hills, NY, is working on the synthesis of an inhibitor for the AasS enzyme with Assistant Professor Kara Jaremko and fellow student Madeline Currie ’20. “The emergence of multidrug resistant bacteria demands the development of new pharmaceuticals,” said Dr. Jaremko. “The acyl-acyl carrier protein synthetase [AasS] enzyme is a potential antibacterial target, because it allows bacteria to recycle fatty acids, which are essential for their survival.”
The synthesis involves performing a series of organic reactions, purifying the products, and analyzing them by thin layer chromatography (TLC) and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR). Ultimately, the inhibitor will be tested against the enzyme in bacteria cells, and hopefully be a good lead for drug discovery.
The Lister Fellowship was established in 2013 with a $250,000 gift from Dr. Bruce Lister and his spouse Doris Lister. Selected students receive a $4,000 stipend and a grant to cover half of their on-campus housing costs. The purpose of the fellowship is to give students the financial freedom to immerse themselves in classwork and research over the summer.