University of Calgary

Summer research program attracts chemistry undergrads with right formula

UToday HomeAugust 14, 2013

By Mark Lowey

Anita Ludwar in labChemistry undergrad Anita Ludwar developed a lab session to help first-year students work on a real-world application to treat wastewater. Photo by Riley BrandtAnita Ludwar’s summer of research will improve the educational experience for first-year chemistry students at the University of Calgary.

She is among 35 undergraduate students – local, national and international – working for the summer in research laboratories in the Department of Chemistry in the Faculty of Science.

Fourteen of the students will present their research at the department’s annual Undergraduate Research Symposium this Friday, from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The event, in Science A building, room 106, is free and open to the public.

“This summer research program is really neat,” says Ludwar, who’ll start her fifth year this fall of a combined degree in chemistry (honours) and microbiology.

“You get to see a lot of different areas of chemistry within one project, and then also find a way to fine-tune these areas and apply them to an experience that other students can benefit from,” Ludwar says.

Her supervisors in the Department of Chemistry are associate professor Belinda Heyne, instructor Julie Lefebvre, and instructor Vivian Mozol.

Ludwar has been working with professors to enhance the learning experience for first-year chemistry students, by making links between their classroom material and “real-world” applications in the laboratory.

She has developed a lab session for the upcoming academic year that will enable students to synthesize magnetic nano-sized particles in the laboratory, and then use these particles to remove dye from solution – a real-world application used to treat wastewater.

Ten of the 14 undergrads presenting their research this Friday are from the University of Calgary. There is also one student each from the University of British Columbia, University of Western Ontario, University of Madras in India and Jilin University in China.

Yilin Zhao is a 22-year-old chemistry student at Jilin University, in the city of Changchun in northeast China. His summer research internship at the University of Calgary is sponsored by Mitacs Globalink, a competitive program for international undergraduates who want to do research in Canada.

“I love the city,” Zhao says of Calgary. “The air here is very fresh and I like this blue sky.”

Zhao’s summer research project involves a computational study of the decomposition kinetics of organosilicon molecules. His supervisor here is Yujun Shi, associate professor of chemistry.

Roland Roesler, associate professor of chemistry, says the summer research program enables undergrads to get research experience and apply the knowledge acquired in courses and laboratories to solving practical challenges. International students experience a different culture and university, while improving their English language skills.

Friday’s symposium will include presentations on the various areas of chemistry represented in the Department of Chemistry, including organic, inorganic, analytical and physical. Graduate students will judge the presentations and award prizes.

“The focus is to give the undergrad students who’ve done research the opportunity to practise research presentations, at the standard expected at an international conference,” Roesler says.

List of presentations confirmed for Friday:

  • “Theoretical study on transformation of metallic thin films into nanoparticle arrays using a pulsed laser,” Zeus Forero, Yujun Shi, Department of Chemistry, University of Calgary
  • “Characterization of organics in boiler blow down water,” Parvathy Gopakumar, Cooper Langford, Department of Chemistry, University of Calgary
  • “Synthesis of core modified alkynyl dithiaporphyrins for organic photovoltaic applications,” Ryan Jansonius, Ashley Bromby, Todd Sutherland, Department of Chemistry, University of Calgary
  • “Abstraction of cadmium from human serum albumin to gain insight into its distribution process to target organs,” Steven Boshart, Nishita Bahl, Jennifer Keir, Jürgen Gailer, Department of Chemistry, University of Calgary & Department of Chemistry, University of Western Ontario
  • “Magnetite nanoparticles: nanoscopic magnets to enrich undergraduate chemistry labs,” Anita Ludwar, Belinda Heyne, Julie Lefebvre, Vivian Mozol, Department of Chemistry, University of Calgary
  • “Enhancing proton conduction in a water-stable metal organic framework by isomorphous metal replacement,” Andrew S. Lee, George K. S. Shimizu, Department of Chemistry, University of Calgary & Department of Chemistry, University of British Columbia, Vancouver
  • “Design and synthesis of novel chelating N-heterocyclic carbenes,” Michael Lim, AnjanPreet Mahrok, Felix Pröhl, and Roland Roesler, Department of Chemistry, University of Calgary & Department of Chemistry, Friedrich-Schiller-University of Jena
  • “Click chemistry for patterned assembly at surfaces,” Simon Trudel, Casey Platnich, Department of Chemistry, Department of Chemistry, University of Calgary
  • “Towards pyrene imidazolium salts for organic semiconductors,” Chase Radford, Samantha N. Keller, Todd Sutherland, Department of Chemistry, University of Calgary
  • “Metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) for the dehydration of ethanol,” Sebastian Sessarego, G.K. Shimizu, Department of Chemistry, University of Calgary
  • “Synthesis of nanostructures of high spin polarization materials for spintronics applications,” Priyank Shyam, Simon Trudel, Department of Chemistry, University of Calgary, & Department of Physics & Nanotechnology, SRM University, India
  • “A theoretical study on the decomposition of 1,1-dimethyl-1-silacyclobutane,” Yilin Zhao, Yujun Shi, Department of Chemistry, University of Calgary & Department of Chemistry, Jilin University, China


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