Inside Rensselaer
* Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies

Endowed funds enabled several undergraduates to remain on campus over the summer to participate in research in the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies and other labs on campus. Photo by Scott Barrow

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School of Science Funds Undergraduate Summer Researchers

A select group of Rensselaer undergraduates in the School of Science spent their summer in the labs of science faculty working on some of the most pressing scientific issues facing society — from the search for new medications to the hunt for the origins of our planet.

To support opportunities for undergraduates in the lab like this, several alumni and their families, as well as friends of Rensselaer, have created endowed research funds, specifically to help support undergraduates in science who wish to stay on campus over the summer and do research. This summer, five students took part in the summer undergraduate research program.

Funding for the research comes from the Carol and Samuel C. Wait Jr. ’53 Undergraduate Research Scholars Fund, the John L. Marsh ’58 Research Scholars Fund, and the Miriam and Milton Prince ’34 Undergraduate Research Support Fund. These awards have been matched by their respective research advisers, bringing the total to $3,500 each for the summer.

Anna Peterson, a junior in biology, worked with Assistant Professor of Biology Patrick Maxwell to study the relationship between genetic damage and lifespan. The research will help develop a basic understanding of what causes aging in human cells.

Peter Mattingly, a junior in biology, worked with Assistant Professor of Biology Lee Ligon to study the modification of an important part of the cytoskeleton of the cell called microtubules.

Katherine Manz, a junior in chemistry and chemical biology, worked with Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology K.V. Lakshmi and William Weightman Walker Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology Linda McGown. Her research project will focus on the creation of new guanosine gels, or G-gels. Such gels can be used for better chemical and biological separations, bioencapsulation, and formation of nanodevices.

Lauren Zwetolitz, a senior in chemistry and chemical biology, worked with Robert Linhardt, the Ann and John H. Broadbent Jr. ’59 Senior Constellation Professor of Biocatalysis and Metabolic Engineering, to help sequence complex carbohydrates called glycosaminoglycans or GAGs. GAGs are involved in signaling and cell-to-cell interaction and form the basis for many powerful medications such as the blood thinner heparin.

Sebastian Mergelsberg, a senior in earth and environmental sciences, worked with Institute Professor of Science E. Bruce Watson to study the diffusion of the elements carbon and sulfur in quartz and apatite minerals. Such inquiries prove important clues into the history of our planet and its formation.

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Inside Rensselaer
Volume 5, Number 13, September 9, 2011
©2011 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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