Six undergraduate students from colleges and universities in New York State
have been selected by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) from Brookhaven
National Laboratory to compete in the first annual Science and Energy Research
Challenge (SERCh). This national undergraduate research competition, sponsored
by DOE, will be held at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee on November
9-10, 2008. The students will compete against 79 other undergraduates for cash
awards and a $10,000 grand prize in six categories: life sciences, energy, computational
science, engineering, environmental science, and physical sciences.
Elizabeth Altman of Patchogue, a junior studying psychology at Stony Brook
University, will present her research comparing an objective measure of aggression
in various situations to self-reported aggression in males. She completed this
work in the Community College Institute program with mentor Nelly Alia-Klein,
a psychologist at Brookhaven Lab.
Elizabeth Millings from Central Islip, a junior studying chemistry at Stony
Brook University, researched the creation of a specific radiotracer -- a compound
that can be tracked by positron emission tomography scanners to monitor the
movement and interactions of a wide range of chemicals in the human body. She
worked in the Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internship (SULI) program with
Brookhaven chemist Jacob Hooker.
Erica Palma of Mastic Beach, a sophomore studying biomedical engineering at
Stony Brook University, will present her research on using DNA to guide the
formation of three-dimensional crystal structures of gold nanoparticles -- particles
on the order of billionths of a meter. The ability to produce these ordered
structures is vital to taking advantage of potential useful properties at the
nanoscale, including enhanced magnetism and increased catalytic activity. She
studied this in the SULI program with Brookhaven physicist Oleg Gang.
Joseph Heard of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, a junior studying applied mathematics
and statistics at Syracuse University, worked in the SULI program with Brookhaven
physicist Carol Scarlett. He researched various conditions affecting experiments
concerned with determining the composition of dark matter, which is thought
to make up 90 percent of the universe but does not produce measurable radiation.
Michael Estrella of Ridgewood, a chemistry and biology graduate of St. Francis
College, worked in the SULI program with Brookhaven chemist Jose Rodriguez.
He investigated the behavior of a specific catalyst used to produce hydrogen
through a water-gas shift, a chemical reaction between carbon monoxide and water
that produces hydrogen and also carbon dioxide.
Mohammad Moin Baig of Brooklyn, a senior in biology, worked at Brookhaven in
the Faculty and Student Teams program with biologist Ann Brown of Medgar Evers
College. He will present his research on the crystal structure of protein derived
from the bacterium Klebsiella pneumoniae, which is normally found in the human
gut but can infect the respiratory tract and cause pneumonia or bronchitis.
These six students spent 10 weeks participating in Brookhaven Lab’s 2008
summer research program managed by its Office of Educational Programs. Their
time here culminated in poster and oral presentations attended by scientists,
administrators, politicians, and representatives of graduate schools and foundations.