Faculty and Projects

Chemistry & Biochemistry

For additional information on research in Chemistry & Biochemistry, see:

Analytical Chemistry

Anne Co
There are several energy materials related projects available this summer in the Co lab. Summer students will learn how to synthesize materials for battery anodes, cathodes or catalysts for fuel cell applications. Students will also learn how to assemble, test the materials they made, and assess their performance.


Jane Jackman
Molecular Biology and Enzymes
The Jackman lab investigates the biochemical mechanisms of enzymes that catalyze key reactions during the maturation of the critical non-coding RNA molecule, tRNA. We study enzyme that utilize unusual chemistry for biological reactions, and use the tools of mechanistic enzymology (kinetics, protein engineering, biophysical structural approaches) combined with the power of model organism genetics to make new discoveries about the molecular mechanisms and biological functions of these unusual enzymes in living cells

Thomas Magliery
Protein Engineering
The Magliery lab studies the sequence basis of protein stability and other physical properties using high-throughput, statistical, and rational approaches. Summer students could participate in fundamental studies in protein stability or in applied protein engineering for diagnostic or therapeutic purposes.

Karin Musier-Forsyth
Molecular Biology & Enzymes
Projects in the Musier-Forsyth lab are focused on characterizing protein-RNA interactions involved in HIV-1 replication and fidelity mechanisms in protein synthesis. Undergraduate students will learn techniques such as protein and RNA purification, enzyme kinetic assays, RNA structure-probing, and characterizing RNA-protein binding interactions.

Dehua Pei
Peptide Chemical Biology
Discovery and applications of cell-penetrating peptides for drug delivery; Development of macrocyclic peptides against intracellular protein-protein interactions as research tools and therapeutics

Inorganic Chemistry

Christine Thomas
Research in the Thomas laboratory focuses on the design of functional catalysts using Earth-abundant transition metals for the development of more sustainable and environmentally friendly technology. The summer project will involve the synthesis and characterization of new transition metal complexes and their use as catalysts for both the activation of naturally abundant small molecules (e.g. carbon dioxide, water, oxygen) and/or organic transformations. Over the course of the summer project, students will learn how to synthesize and manipulate air and moisture-sensitive inorganic and organometallic complexes using glovebox and Schlenk techniques, as well as a variety of spectroscopic and analytical methods such as NMR, IR, and UV-Vis spectroscopies and cyclic voltammetry.

Casey Wade
Inorganic Synthesis and Materials
Research in the Wade Lab encompasses molecular inorganic/organometallic chemistry and materials science. Summer projects will focus on the design and study of new metal-organic frameworks for applications in heterogeneous catalysis and CO2 capture. Students will gain experience in the synthesis of organic, inorganic and organometallic compounds as well as several small molecule and materials characterization techniques. These include X-ray diffraction, gas porosimetry, thermogravimetric analysis, ICP-OES, cyclic voltammetry, and NMR, IR, and UV-Vis spectroscopies.

Shiyu Zhang
Inorganic Synthesis and Energy
We are a group of chemists utilizing synthetic inorganic chemistry to tackle unmet challenges at the frontiers of energy storage and energy conversion. Group members can expect to gain experience in the synthesis of organic, inorganic, and organometallic compounds, characterization of air-sensitive/temperature-sensitive complexes, spectroscopy, electrochemistry, and battery fabrication techniques.

Organic Chemistry

Craig Forsyth
The Ohio Five-OSU Summer Undergraduate Research Experience in the Forsyth Lab will involve the synthesis and characterization of novel anticancer compounds. Cyclic depsipeptides related to the apratoxin natural products (e.g., J. Chen and C. J. Forsyth, “Total Synthesis of the Marine Cyanobacterial Cyclodepsipeptide Apratoxin A,” Proc. Nat’l Acad. Sci., USA 2004, 101, 12067-12072) will be assembled via advanced organic synthesis and tested against human cancer cell lines.

Christo Sevov
Research in the Sevov lab focuses on the development of catalytic organic reactions that are driven by electrical energy. Students participating in the summer program will be exposed to electrochemistry, organometallic catalysis, and synthetic organic methods development.

Physical Chemistry

Rafael Bruschweiler
Computational Protein Science
The Bruschweiler Group welcomes undergraduate students with an interest in computational protein science to apply for a summer research position. Specific topics: computer simulation of protein structure, dynamics, thermodynamics, and function; prediction of protein properties (loop dynamics, stability, conformational entropy, spectroscopic parameters, including NMR parameters, protein-protein interactions); simulation of intrinsically disordered proteins and their interaction properties; validation of molecular mechanics force fields. Interested students should have at least some experience in: computer programming (using Matlab, Phython, HTML, Java, and/or C/C++); basic understanding of peptide and protein structure (primer, secondary, tertiary), hydrogen bonding, salt bridges, hydrophobic effect.

John Herbert
Computational Chemistry and Theory
Research in the Herbert group focuses on electronic processes in large, wet, messy, condensed-phase systems.  Students have the opportunity to do both software and algorithm development as well as applications. Current projects include vibrational spectroscopy of proteins, metastable anion resonances and their role in DNA damage, and both electronic spectroscopy (excited-state dynamics and photochemistry) and photoelectron spectroscopy of aqueous solutes.

Christopher Jaroniec
NMR Spectroscopy
One of our current major projects deals with providing a molecular and structural basis of the amyloid strain and transmissibility barrier phenomena for a family of mammalian Y145Stop prion protein variants. To this end we are undertaking the structural studies of supramolecular amyloid fibril aggregates composed from these proteins by using advanced multidimensional solid-state NMR spectroscopy techniques supplemented by additional biochemical and biophysical experiments. Other major research directions in the group involve studies of chromatin structure and dynamics by solid-state NMR, and the development of new solid-state NMR methods for protein structure determination based on paramagnetic tagging.

Hannah Shafaat
Bioinorganic Chemistry
Undergraduate students in the Shafaat lab learn a wide array of techniques ranging from standard protein biochemistry to inorganic synthesis to different kinds of spectroscopy. The student will learn how to manipulate and design metalloproteins and characterize activity for CO2 fixation, O2 activation, and CO activation reactions. Along the way, protein electrochemistry and electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopy will be used for characterization.

Alexander Sokolov
Computational Chemistry and Theory
Research in the Sokolov lab deals with development of computational methods and models for simulating spectroscopic properties of molecules. Students participating in the summer program will learn how to use simulations to study properties of molecules in electronically excited states and how to write computer programs using the Python language to analyze the results of simulations.



For additional information on research in Mathematics, see:

Ghaith Hiary
Computational Number Theory
We will use computational methods to study “arithmetic biases” in the prime numbers. The prime numbers are the building blocks of all the natural numbers using multiplication. A highly successful approach to understanding the primes is to model them using random variables that are fair. “Bias” occurs when it is discovered that actual behavior of the primes does not conform to our fair random model. An example of this is the so-called Chebychev bias. And there are other surprising examples discovered in the last few years. The discovery of such biases is interesting because the well-known Riemann hypothesis tells us that the primes should in a sense be randomly-behaved. Prior familiarity with elementary number theory and some mathematical software would be useful, but not essential.

Corey Jones
Tensor Categories and Quantum Symmetries
Tensor categories provide a useful algebraic description of emergent particle phenomenon in low dimensional condensed matter physics and quantum field theory. Usually the relevant tensor categories always describe particles that have anti-particle duals. This project will focus on the construction and study of new examples of tensor categories arising from graphs that don’t have anti-particle duals. The only requirement is a strong background in linear algebra.

David Penneys
Operator and Quantum Algebra
One of my areas of research is diagrammatic quantum algebras and their relation to topological phases of matter. Summer projects will focus on diagrammatic algebras like the Temperley-Lieb-Jones algebras and the Levin-Wen string-net model in theoretical condensed matter physics. The only prerequisite is a solid background in finite dimensional linear algebra and inner product spaces.



For additional information on research in Physics, see:

Ralf Bundschuh
Bioinformatics and Statistical Physics
The Bundschuh lab studies the interactions between nucleic acid molecules (DNA and RNA) and proteins using computational methods from Statistical Physics and biological sequence analysis. High throughput sequencing has made it possible to obtain exquisitely detailed information on nucleic acids protein interactions but it requires the analysis of large data sets in order to extract biological knowledge from the sequencing data. Students will learn how to perform such data analysis on one (or more) of several experimental collaborators’ data sets and hopefully discover new insights into the Biology involving nucleic acid protein interactions.

Jay Gupta
Ultrafast Laser Spectroscopy
We are constructing a novel instrument to study the laser/matter interaction on ultrafast time scales (10-15s) and with atomic spatial resolution (10-10m). Initial targets will be to study how surfaces are modified under intense laser irradiation, with a goal to image individual atomic vacancies and other defects as a function of laser fluence, time etc.  We have recently been awarded funding from the Air Force Office of Research to purchase components and develop this instrument. During the summer, we anticipate completing the system integration. Anticipated work items will be to characterize the performance of the ultrahigh vacuum chamber that houses the instrument, atomic resolution imaging of test surfaces to characterize microscope noise performance, testing of optical components, general lab setup, other component purchasing and CAD hardware drawings to confirm system integration. We anticipate that the summer REU student would work closely with a team of 2-3 other students, both graduate and undergraduate. We would also encourage the REU student to take advantage of professional development opportunities provided through the universities’ SROP program, and the Physics Departments’ CEM REU program. These include report writing, presentation, preparation for graduate school etc. These ongoing programs also provide a network and community for summer students outside of the lab.

Christopher Orban
Physics Education Research
There is a growing consensus that computer science should be integrated into high school and early college courses like physics and math, but there has been relatively little research performed to determine the best way to do this. The STEMcoding project, led by OSU Physics faculty Prof. Chris Orban adn University of Mt. Union faculty Prof. Richelle Teeling-Smith, exists to fill this void by building science and math-focused coding activities and creating and validating assessments of student learning. In order to encourage sciences and math teachers to experiment with coding activities in their courses, the STEMcoding project also has a YouTube channel (https://youtube.com/c/STEMcoding) where they post coding tutorials and other helpful content. The focus of the internship will be education research, but students will have the option of contributing to the YouTube channel, as well.

Michael Poirier
Chromatin Biophysics and Single-Molecule Spectroscopy
The Poirier lab investigates the physical properties of the human genome and how these properties regulates gene expression. Undergraduate Students will participate in studies that could include the preparation of DNA-protein complexes that mimic how genomic DNA is organized in chromatin, preparation and application of DNA origami nano devices for studying chromatin structural dynamics, and application of single molecule fluorescence and force measurements to characterize chromatin structure dynamics and function.


Statistics (including Biostatistics and Epidemiology)

For additional information on research in Statistics, see:


Rebecca Andridge
High-Dimensional Biological Data
This project is part of a larger study whose aim is to quantify the similarity of the gut microbiome between married or co-habiting couples and factors that impact this similarity. In this project, the student will learn about how microbiome data are generated (16S genetic sequencing) and the various cutting-edge approaches to processing these data. S/he will learn how to use R to manipulate microbiome data and calculate various diversity indices, both within-subject measures (alpha diversity) and between-subject measures (beta-diversity). S/he will use data derived from two different processing pipelines to calculate these measures, and compare the results.

Bo Lu
Causal Inference
My primary research area is causal inference with observational studies, which involves evaluating a treatment/intervention/policy/program when randomized experiments are not feasible. Commonly, propensity score adjustment through either matching or weighting is used which has many important applications in public health, including evaluation of health insurance policy, estimating the impact of smoking cigarettes/smokeless tobacco/e-cig on health, etc. Students with methodological aspiration will be exposed to developing statistical test or estimation strategies for causal inference; students with computing background may be involved in simulation studies or statistical software programming.

Eben Kenah & Greg Rempala
Infectious Disease Modeling
In their recent work, Drs. Rempala and Kenah are developing new ways to analyze and predict disease transmission. The summer research project will involve analyzing data from a small Ebola outbreak in 2012 in the Democratic Republic of Congo using concepts from survival analysis and epidemic modeling. Basic knowledge of statistical concepts and the programming language R are a plus but not strictly necessary as appropriate training will be provided.

Patrick Schnell
Experimental Data Analysis
In this project, the student will design and execute simulation studies to evaluate the performance of various analysis strategies intended to prevent or remedy linear mixed model fits that nonsensically estimate one or more variance parameters to be zero. The student will learn how to use R to produce simulated datasets, fit simple linear mixed models, and evaluate the performance of possible approaches to analyzing data. If time and interest permit, the student may propose their own strategies for data analysis, or investigate ways to prevent nonsense estimates at the time of experimental design.


Ashley Felix
Cancer Epidemiology
As a cancer epidemiologist, my work focuses on identifying risk factors for heterogeneous endometrial cancer subtypes, investigating the molecular mechanisms that underlie risk factor associations, and identifying modifiable factors that can improve prognosis among endometrial cancer patients. Examples of funded projects include a study of inflammation changes in endometrial tissue among morbidly obese white and black women undergoing intentional weight loss; a study of patient-reported outcomes among endometrial cancer survivors; and an investigation of vaginal tampon and blood samples from patients diagnosed with endometrial cancer to identify molecular biomarkers for disease recurrence.

Kathy Lancaster
Substance Use Interventions
We currently several ongoing projects that focus on the implementation and evaluation of substance use reduction interventions within Ohio and globally. Over the summer, students will have the opportunity to work on literature reviews, primary data collection with study participants, and data management and analysis.

Shawnita Sealy-Jefferson
Social Epidemiology
The mission of the Social Epidemiology to Eliminate Disparities (SEED) Lab, led by Dr. Sealy-Jefferson, is to conduct high quality epidemiologic research to find solutions to the disproportionate burden of infant mortality among African American women. Specifically, Dr. Sealy-Jefferson’s work empirically documents associations between systems of oppression and adverse birth outcomes, with the hope of informing intervention studies, social activism, and policy change. The SEED Lab welcomes summer students who are members of historically underserved and under-represented groups, and/or who have a passion for the elimination of racial disparities adverse birth outcomes.


David Sivakoff
Among the most convenient models of physical processes are cellular automata (CA). Broadly understood, a CA describes evolving configurations on a fixed network, which update using a local rule that is the same across time and space. CA are used to model natural phenomena and gather insights into fundamental organizational principles in many scientific fields. Motivated by studying self-organization, the proposed project involves evolution of a given deterministic rule from a random initial state. The tools used will encompass probability theory, combinatorics, and computer simulation.