Chemistry Projects 2012
From the Periodic Table to the Kitchen #5 - Investigation of household chemicals for
incorporation into the middle and high school curricula
Faculty Mentors - Drs. Samuel Hudson, David Saiki
All too often, chemistry and chemical research is seen as a mysterious activity relegated to obscure labs
using black-box type instruments not to really be understood by the public or especially students. The purpose
of this project has been to strip-away some of the veils that get in the way of understanding this "central
science." In this project, students and teachers will develop a series of demonstrations and experiments that use
cheap, commonly available items that ably demonstrate many scientific principles. In addition, teachers and students
will work together to create a lab manual to take back to school and home. This manual will address California Science
Standards for each demonstration and is intended to be a resource that teachers and take and use in the classroom.
This year's demonstrations include experiments that cover topics such as: Clock Reactions, Crushing Cans, Egg in a
Bottle, Disappearing Ink, Sunken Ice Cubes, Cartesian Divers, Low-Temperature Boiling, Fog Machines, and Chemical Fountains.
Participants in this project will also be able to suggest additional experiments.
Metabolic Profiling of Peppers (Capsicum sps) and Evaluation of Capsaicinoids as Potential Antibiotics
Faculty Mentor - Dr. Roy LaFever
Peppers have been used extensively throughout human history for both culinary and medicinal uses. Peppers produce a variety of secondary natural products. In particular, pepper fruit accumulates several compounds known as capsaicinoids and leaf and root material accumulates a diterprene known as capsidiol. Little is known of the coordinated production of these two classes of secondary metabolites. The focus of this research is two-fold. First to examine the constituents of several pepper species through chemical means, and secondly to screen the pepper extracts for important biological activities. This type of research is ideally suited for a small group, or team. A group of secondary students and a team leading educator will cultivate peppers in the greenhouse and produce extracts from the plants for chemical analysis. This analysis will identify and quantify the isolated constituents in preparation for carrying out biological activity assays. The assays will examine antibacterial activity and insecticidal potential of the pepper extracts. The skills obtained from this research will include basic chemical skills and laboratory techniques as well as hands-on experience utilizing sophisticated analytical instrumentation. In addition, the assays designed to screen for biological activities will expose the team to a highly interdisciplinary project that bridges the disciplines of chemistry, biochemistry, and biology.
Characterization of Coenzyme A Persulfide Reductase from the Archaeon Pyrococcus horikoshii
Faculty Mentor - Dr. Karlo Lopez
Coenzyme A persulfide reductase (CoAPR) is a sulfur reducing enzyme from the archaeaon Pyrococcus horikoshii. This organism was originally isolated from deep sea vents and is optimized to survive in high temperature environments. As a result, the enzymes isolated from this organism tend to be robust and function outside of “normal” biological conditions.
CoAPR is of particular interest because it has a robust nature and can reduce sulfur, a major component in diesel fuel. Currently, a 15 ppm sulfur content in diesel is the EPA standard for highway diesel. In order to achieve this standard, sulfur is removed from diesel using a process that involves adding hydrogen to the diesel in a closed chamber at high temperatures. While research is currently underway to improve on this process, a potential breakthrough in sulfur reduction could be envisioned using enzymes to process the sulfur. In order to further investigate an enzymatic approach to sulfur reduction, CoAPR will be tested for sulfur activity in organic solvents. The enzyme will be produced in vitro using recombinant protein overexpression techniques.
Teaching Through Experiment: Hands-On Strategies for Meeting the Science Content Standards for California Public Schools
Faculty Mentor - Tiffany Pawluk
The state of California has developed science content standards for all students in grades K-12. While these standards dictate what students must learn, they do not prescribe the specific means to teach the content. The purpose of this project is to develop experiments suitable for hands-on investigation and experimentation to complement the science curriculum of participating teachers with an emphasis on elementary and middle school content. We will select experiments in physical sciences, life sciences, and earth sciences that align with both the state standards and the specific curriculum of participating teachers. Teachers will take back to their classrooms a set of experiments that relate directly to their textbook and grade level standards. Teachers from grades K-8 are particularly encouraged to apply. High school students joining this project will gain experience working in a lab and will learn techniques for chemical handing and lab safety.
Development of Greener Synthetic Methods for the Synthesis of Pharmaceutically Relevant Heterocycles
Faculty Mentor - Dr. Danielle Solano
Nine out of the top 10 best selling drugs in the pharmaceutical industry contain organic compounds known as heterocycles. Unfortunately, methods used to prepare many of these important organic compounds use toxic solvents and/or reagents. This project will utilize synthetic organic chemistry and techniques used in drug discovery to work towards a more environmentally friendly method for the preparation of heterocycles that are important to medicinal and biological research.
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for the respective projects. Please feel free to contact the program director with any
questions you might have.