Undergraduate Research in CBE

Students are encouraged to consider undergraduate research to enrich their educational experience. Undergraduate research is conducted as an individual arrangement between a student and a faculty member. Students should contact faculty who direct research in areas that match their interests. There are three different designations for research.


When you should do it

Students are encouraged to think about doing research in the spring of their sophomore year, possibly leading to work over the summer, advanced undergraduate research in their junior year, and thesis research in their senior year. Although students have done research earlier in their studies, it is generally a good idea to master the material in their courses first - and then apply the knowledge gained to their research.

How to pick an advisor

In general, the best way to find an advisor is to do some research on what projects are going on in the department. You should look through this research, and determine who is doing work which most closely matches your interests. Once you have identified a few possibilities, contact the professor and see if there are any opportunities available for undergraduates in their research group (the answer is usually yes, although some of the more popular projects may become oversubscribed). Once you and the faculty member have reached agreement on the project outlines and expectations, notify Lisa Ellam [lellam@nd.edu] in the CBE office to obtain the necessary waivers, and sign up for CBE 48901.

Current Research Areas

To make your search a little easier, I've attached a set of links which (provided the Google Scholar search engine is working properly), bring up lists of recent papers by our faculty. Using the "Find Text" link, you can read the papers...

Basar Bilgicer Basar Bilgicer
Associate Professor
Recent Publications
Office: 205C McCourtney Hall
Phone: 574.631.1429
Email: bbilgicer@nd.edu
Multivalent biomolecular interactions are very important in biological systems. A deeper understanding of the thermodynamics and kinetics of multivalent interactions in biological systems is imperative in the development of new diagnostic and therapeutic agents. My lab focuses on both understanding the basic dynamic principles of multivalent biomolecular interactions, as well as design of multivalent therapeutic and diagnostic molecules which will deliver novel solutions to complex diseases (e.g. cancer, autoimmune diseases, and allergies).
Paul Bohn Paul Bohn
Schmitt Professor
Recent Publications
Office: 301 Cushing Hall
Phone: 574.631.1849
Email: pbohn@nd.edu

Dr. Bohn's research interests include: (a) integrated nanofluidic and microfluidic chemical measurement strategies for personal monitoring, (b) chemical and biochemical sensing in mass-limited samples, (c) smart materials, and (d) molecular approaches to nanotechnology.
Merlin Bruening Merlin Bruening
Recent Publications
Office: 140C McCourtney Hall
Phone: 574.631.3024
Email: mbruenin@nd.edu

Ion Separations with Polyelectrolyte Multilayer Membranes. In this project we deposit polyelectrolyte multilayer films on ion-exchange substrates to create membranes with monovalent/divalent ion selectivities >1000. Current work focuses on understanding the factors (selective partitioning, electrostatic exclusion, and selective diffusion) that create these remarkable selectivities, as well as increasing membrane stability for long-term applications. Undergraduates may participate in simulation of ion transport or synthesis of new membranes and studies of ion transport.

Membrane-based Protein Digestion and Analysis. This work focuses on developing membranes for selective capture and sequencing of antibodies. We immobilize antibody epitopes in porous membranes to capture specific antibodies from matrices such as human serum. Subsequent elution may lead to new methods for analyses of therapeutic antibodies. We are also developing protease-containing membranes to controllably digest antibodies for de novo sequencing by mass spectrometry. Undergraduates may participate in all aspects of the project.

Hsueh-Chia Chang Hsueh-Chia Chang
Bayer Professor
Recent Publications
Office: 118B Cushing Hall
Phone: 574.631.5697
Email: hchang@nd.edu

We develop portable molecular diagnostic devices for global health care. Instead of using expensive equipment like real-time PCR, we design low-cost biochips that can be powered by a laptop and can allow Cloud data transmission and analysis, thus providing advanced medical diagnostic technologies to remote areas with low resources. We are currently working on devices for diagnosing dengue fever, sepsis, oral cancer and other diseases.
Patricia Clark Patricia Clark
Concurrent Professor
Recent Publications
Office: 445 Stepan Chemistry
Phone: 574.631.8353
Email: pclark1@nd.edu

Professor Clark's research interests include: (a) protein folding and aggregation, specifically the mechanisms by which beta-sheet-rich proteins avoid misfolding, (b) the development of novel biomaterials constructed from controlled assembly of beta-sheet proteins into structural scaffolds (c) protein translation by the ribosome, specifically the influence of appearance of the nascent protein from N-to-C-terminus on its folding mechanism, and (d) secretion of proteins across the outer membrane of Gram-negative bacterial pathogens, specifically the autotransporter (Type Va) secretion mechanism.
Thomas Degnan Thomas Degnan
Recent Publications
Office: 240C McCourtney Hall
Phone: 574.631.2617
Email: tdegnan1@nd.edu

My research involves three areas :

(1) the use of heterogeneous catalysis to convert low value hydrocarbons, including light alkanes and heavy residua, to more valuable petrochemicals. Particular focus is on the confluence of heterogeneous catalysis (supported metal catalysts and zeolites) for the conversion of products from hydrocracked reservoirs (light alkanes and long chain alkanes).

(2) Synthesis of new microporous and mesoporous materials and application of these materials as adsorbents and catalysts for hydrocarbon conversions and environmental applications.

(3) analyses of disruptive technologies and business models for the petroleum and petrochemical industries. The focus of this research is on cases in the past where the two “related” industries been forced to make major changes. The goal is to try to develop technical or business triggers that could anticipate major changes / disruptions in the future.

Alex Dowling Alex Dowling
Assistant Professor
Recent Publications
Office: 123A Cushing Hall
Phone: 574.631.4041
Email: adowling@nd.edu

In the Dowling Lab, we seek to develop novel mathematical modeling and computational frameworks to optimize energy technologies across materials, devices, and systems length and timescales, as well as in the context of infrastructures. This multiscale perspective naturally facilitates both bottom-up and top-down thinking such as:
  • Rapidly assess the potential of new materials to impact devices, systems, and infrastructures.
  • Use infrastructure level goals (e.g., renewable adoption, emission reductions, limited water use, etc.) to set design priorities for material, device, and system-level metrics.
  • Discover new materials, devices, and systems that can help mitigate uncertainty and lead to more resilient infrastructures.
David Go David Go
Concurrent Associate Professor
Recent Publications
Office: 370 Fitzpatrick Hall
Phone: 574.631.8394
Email: dgo@nd.edu

Dr. Go's research group examines a number of aspects of fluid, energy, and charge transport. Active areas of research include the development of atmospheric pressure plasma sources for electrochemical applications, nanomaterial synthesis, and energy applications, the development of microfluidic and aerosol spray techniques for chemical and biological analysis, and various topics in heat transfer including nanoscale effects and building energy efficiency.
Rulian Guo Ruilan Guo
Assistant Professor
Recent Publications
Office: 205E McCourtney Hall
Phone: 574.631.3453
Email: rguo@nd.edu

Dr. Ruilan Guo's primary research interests are focused on development and characterization of novel polymeric materials with applications in the areas impacting both energy and the environment. Topics of her research include studies on molecular design, synthesis and characterization of new copolymers for cleaner energy production (fuel cells), high performance polymer membranes for gas/liquid separations and water purification, structure-property relationship of polymer networks/gels, atomistic study on polymer free volume, and polymer coatings.
Jason Hicks Jason Hicks
Associate Professor
Recent Publications
Office: 240B McCourtney Hall
Phone: 574.631.3661
Email: jhicks3@nd.edu

Our research group is primarily focused in the area of heterogeneous catalysis. We seek to understand how the properties and structures of catalysts affect activity and selectivity for specific reactions. We couple our experimental results with detailed characterization of the heterogeneous catalysts to develop relationships between the catalyst structure and the resulting catalytic activity. We currently have projects focused on the synthesis and characterization of new catalytic materials for biofuels applications. For these reactions, we examine many catalytic processes to convert biomass to biofuels: catalytic pyrolysis, catalytic liquefaction, and gasification. In other projects, we are employing new synthesis procedures to enhance the stability of metal-organic framework catalytic materials.
Davide Hill Davide Hill
Associate Professor
Recent Publications
Office: 173 Fitzpatrick Hall
Phone: 574.631.8487
Email: hill.1@nd.edu

Professor Hill's research focuses on the physics of polymers and liquid crystals, with emphasis on microstructure and rheology. The study of elasticity-induced, particle-particle interactions in liquid crystalline media, offers fertile grounds for new discoveries on fundamental and technological importance. Successful utilization of newly-synthesized liquid crystal polymers (LCPs) hinges on careful control of molecular orientation within the material. Molecular orientation at solid boundaries can be influenced by particular surface treatments.
Prashant Kamat Prashant Kamat
Concurrent Professor
Recent Publications
Office: 206 Radiation Lab
Phone: 574.631.5411
Email: kamat.1@nd.edu

Our research efforts in recent years have focused on the topics related to semiconductor & metal nanoclusters, photoresponsive organic-inorganic hybrid nanoassemblies, solar cells and surface photochemistry and radiation chemistry. The main emphasis of our research is to elucidate the mechanistic and kinetic details of charge transfer processes in heterogeneous assemblies with an objective to improve energy conversion efficencies. Our recent work in the area of chromophore functionalized metal nanoparticles and improved catalytic activity of semiconductor-metal-graphene composites is a significant contribution towards the development of novel heterogeneous systems for light energy conversion.
Jeffrey Kantor Jeffrey Kantor
Recent Publications
Office: 176 Fitzpatrick Hall
Phone: 574.631.5797
Email: kantor.1@nd.edu

Dr. Kantor is interested in the analysis and optimization of integrated financial and process operations using methods of stochastic control, convex optimization, and quantitative finance.
Peter Kilpatrick Peter Kilpatrick
Professor and Dean of the College of Engineering
Recent Publications
Office: 257 Fitzpatrick
Phone: 574.631.5534
Email: pkilpat1@nd.edu

Dr. Kilpatrick's research interests focus on the self assembly of molecules at fluid interfaces and their associated properties in emulsions, thin films, and other soft matter micro and nanostructures. Applications include the stabilization of emulsions in a number of industries, including the petroleum, food, and cosmetics industries.
Tanyel Kiziltepe Tanyel Kiziltepe
Assistant Research Professor
Recent Publications
Office: 105 Cushing Hall
Phone: 631.1603
Email: tkiziltepe@nd.edu

Pre-clinical drug validation in cancers
Nanoparticle based drug delivery
Biochemical stabilization of biomolecular therapeutics
David Leighton David Leighton
Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies
Recent Publications
Office: 240E McCourtney Hall
Phone: 574.631.6698
Email: dtl@nd.edu

Particles in suspensions will migrate across streamlines due to mechanisms including inertia, deformation, stress gradients, and flow curvature. These migration phenomena are important in processes as varied as cell separation systems, blood flow through arteries, injection molding of filled polymer composites, and fabrication of solid rocket motors. Our research is focused on a fundamental investigation of the causes and implications of this migration in complex flow geometries, and exploration of the ways it may be used to design novel separation processes.
Edward Maginn Edward Maginn
Professor and Department Chair
Recent Publications
Office: 171 Fitzpatrick Hall
Phone: 574.631.5687
Email: ed@nd.edu

The research in our group focuses on developing a fundamental understanding of the link between the physical properties of materials and their chemical constitution. Much of our work is devoted to environmentally related applications, both in remediation and environmentally benign chemical processing (i.e. prevention). The main tool we use is molecular simulation. In this approach, a detailed geometric and energetic model of the material of interest is created and then simulated using large scale high performance computing. By subjecting the resulting molecular conformations to statistical mechanical analysis, macroscopic properties may be computed.
Mark  McCready Mark McCready
Professor and Senior Associate Dean for Research
and Graduate Studies
Recent Publications
Office: 240G McCourtney Hall
Phone: 574.631.7146
Email: mjm@nd.edu

Multiphase fluid flows in confined geometries
CO2 absorption and reaction in multiphase systems
Micro fuel cell technologies Fundamentals of phase change processes
Paul McGinn Paul McGinn
Recent Publications
Office: 178 Fitzpatrick Hall
Phone: 574.631.6151
Email: pmcginn@nd.edu

Professor McGinn's primary research interests are in the areas of the processing and properties of advanced materials. Current research programs are aimed at developing the processing tools and screening instrumentation for combinatorial materials development and discovery. The combinatorial approach to materials research employs parallel (or automated serial) processing to create large "libraries" of material compositions, followed by parallel (or automated serial) testing to characterize the compositions for a specific property of interest. Much of the potential of the combinatorial approach rests on the development of rapid means to screen libraries for a property of interest. Over the past several years his group has developed and put in place a wide range of automated processing and characterization tools for combinatorial research. These are being applied to develop new fuel cell electrocatalysts, proton conductors, battery electrode materials, among other materials
Alexander Mukasyan Alexander Mukasyan
Research Professor
Recent Publications
Office: 310 Cushing Hall
Phone: 574.631.9825
Email: amoukasi@nd.edu

Nanotechnology and novel alternative energy sources, including synthesis of Nano-Materials, Fuel Cells, Hydrogen Production and Storage.
Casey O'Brien Casey O'Brien
Assistant Professor
Recent Publications
Office: 240D McCourtney Hall
Phone: 574.631.5706
Email: cobrie23@nd.edu

Catalytic surface structure and composition

Membrane spectroscopy
William Phillip William Phillip
Assistant Professor
Recent Publications
Office: 205F McCourtney Hall
Phone: 574.631.2708
Email: wphillip@nd.edu

The Water purification and Advanced Transport Engineering Research (WATER) Laboratory examines how membrane structure and chemistry affect the transport of solutes and solvents across a variety of membranes. Our understanding of the connection between functionality and property is used to design and fabricate next-generation membranes that provide more precise control over the transport of chemical species. These material advantages are then leverage to design systems capable of enhancing chemical separations at the water-energy nexus. These principles are the motivation behind ongoing research projects.
Jennifer Schaefer Jennifer Schaefer
Assistant Professor
Recent Publications
Office: 205G McCourtney Hall
Phone: 574.631.5114
Email: jschaef6@nd.edu

Batteries are used everyday in our portable electronics. More advanced energy storage technologies are required to enable alternative energy solutions and defense applications. We study the fundamental ion transport and reaction mechanisms in electrochemical energy storage materials.
William Schneider William Schneider
Professor and Director of Graduate Admissions
Recent Publications
Office: 123B Cushing Hall
Phone: 574.631.8754
Email: wschneider@nd.edu

The Schneider group uses first-principles, quantum mechanical models to compute chemical properties, like the shape and energy of molecules and their reaction pathways, at the molecular scale. These are computationally intensive models carried out on large computer clusters. Current interests are in studying process of importance to heterogeneous catalysis of environmentally important molecules, like the destruction of nitrogen oxides or the chemical conversion of carbon monoxides.
Matthew Webber Matthew Webber
Assistant Professor
Recent Publications
Office: 205B McCourtney Hall
Phone: 574.631.4246
Email: mwebber@nd.edu

The Webber Lab applies principles from molecular engineering to the design of new technologies, materials, and engineered systems. Specifically, we are interested in a rational design approach that leverages highly defined supramolecular interactions to create things that are tunable, dynamic, and responsive. We extend this fundamental perspective in the bottom-up design of materials to solving important problems in the areas of medicine, energy, and environmental remediation. Using a multidisciplinary approach that intersects the fields of chemistry, materials science, biology, and translational medicine, we aim to develop, test, and establish these technologies as highly controllable and highly functional solutions to inherently complex and important problems. Our dynamic team combines many skill sets and interests in a highly collaborative environment to create and evaluate fundamentally new technologies.
Jonathan Whitmer Jonathan Whitmer
Assistant Professor
Recent Publications
Office: 122 Cushing Hall
Phone: 574-631-1417
Email: jwhitme1@nd.edu

  • Equilibrium and Nonequilibrium Polyelectrolytes
  • Liquid Crystalline Gels, Elastomers, and Sensors
  • Colloidal Clustering and Assembly
  • Jeremiah Zartman Jeremiah Zartman
    Assistant Professor
    Office: 205D McCourtney Hall
    Phone: 574.631.0455
    Email: jzartman@nd.edu

    Developing new strategies for building tissues and treating degenerative tissue diseases requires investigating animal development from an engineering perspective. Probing animal development with quantitative tools can potentially improve traditional methods of tissue engineering as well as inspire completely novel methods for creating synthetic organs. In the Zartman lab, we are focused on the systematic analysis of chemical and mechanical signaling at the tissue scale, including developing computational models of how cells self-organize into organs of the correct shape and size. We address these questions using experiments and modeling in systems such as Drosophila that are amenable to sophisticated genetic approaches, live imaging and in vitro culture. The main objective of the lab is to synthesize mechanistic models of two fundamental processes during development: 1. the control of organ growth, and 2. the organization of cellular sheets into three-dimensional structures.

    Chemical and biological engineers can contribute significantly toward understanding how organ size and shape are regulated by utilizing a diverse toolkit of skills: solving reaction-diffusion and transport problems, utilizing control and decision theory toward the reverse engineering of transcriptional networks, applying quantitative and statistical methods in the optimization of next-generation growth media for organ development in vitro, and employing experimental knowledge in the analysis of soft materials.