Chemistry major Annastasia Gallo ’13 received a prestigious Research Experience for Undergraduates award (REU), to participate in a 10-week summer internship in collaboration with the Center for the Environmental Implications of Nanotechnology (CEINT). The award, given by the American Chemical Society, includes travel, accommodations and a stipend.
Gallo will take part in a project at Carnegie Mellon titled, Physicochemistry of Nanomaterials: Effect of Non-equilibrium Adsorption of Organic Macromolecules on Nanoparticle Surface Properties and Behavior in the Environment and Organisms, overseen by Dr. Robert Tilton, Professor of Chemical Engineering:
Organic biomacromolecules such as proteins, DNA, and natural organic matter (NOM) will adsorb to nanoparticle surfaces. These adsorbed molecules will affect their behavior in the environment as well as in an organism. Adsorption of macromolecules is not an equilibrium process so the order to exposure to various organic macromolecules will affect the overall impact of the adsorbed layer. Understanding the potential for displacement of adsorbed NOM by proteins or enzymes in the body is needed to determine the impact of nanoparticles once inside the body.
Students working in the Tilton laboratory will perform experiments with carbon and metal oxide nanoparticles and various organic macromolecules including NOM, bovine serum albumin, and polysaccharides. Adsorption isotherms and displacement of previously adsorbed macromolecules will be measured to assess the potential for proteins and sugars to displace NOM, and vice versa. The modified nanoparticles will be characterized to understand the impacts of such displacements on the nanoparticle surface properties. Students will learn a variety of surface chemistry principles and become practiced in techniques for probing adsorptive interaction of molecules with nanoparticles.
"I chose this project because it is an opportunity to bring various fields of chemistry together in a research laboratory [and] improve my skills and knowledge," says Gallo. "I am looking forward to working with new techniques and making new connections with professors at Carnegie Mellon."
Additionally, Gallo has been involved in research investigating "The Faraday Effect: Exploring the Magneto-Optical Phenomenon," under the mentorship of Jon Orr, Lab Manager for the Chemistry and Physics Department, which was recently presented at the February meeting of the Philadelphia Section of the American Chemical Society.