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Academic Research

As a Loyola student, you have the opportunity to work alongside our talented professors to partner in collaborative research. Learn more about some recent research and projects currently underway.

Synthetic Organic Chemistry

Dr. Stephenson focuses on the synthesis of sensors based on supermolecular interactions, utilizing synthetic organic chemistry to form useful new materials; in other words, his main interest is in studying the interaction of molecules in order to make biocompatible sensing materials. Specifically, Dr. Stephenson's projects work to synthesize and study new sensors based on xanthene dyes such as rhodamine B.  The sensors are formed by modifying existing dyes to have specific functions.  

 

Organic Superconductor Synthesis

Students working under Dr. Qin will have the opportunity to synthesize novel charge transfer complexes based on sulfur-rich, aromatic, heterocyclic molecules; students will then test these compounds as new organic conductors and superconductors that could help form the basis for superconducting power grids.

Nearly one-tenth of all electrical power is lost as it travels from the electric generators to the final consumers. A superconducting power grid would eliminate this wastage and have tremendous economic and environmental benefits. The best intermetallic superconductors have achieved Tc’s (the temperature at which superconductivity occurs) as high as 100 K, which allows them to operate at liquid nitrogen temperatures, but they are brittle, dense solids—a serious shortcoming for power cables. In contrast, organic materials tend to be lighter in weight and more pliable than inorganics, making them promising components of superconducting power grids.

Although inorganic chemists and physicists have dominated the field of superconductor discovery, superconductivity was first observed in organic molecules in the late 1980s. Despite this fact, this field is under explored, and there are very few classes of organic superconductors. Dr. Qin hopes to further the field and help solve the problem of energy waste.

Physical Chemistry

Our ultimate goal is to better understand the balance of forces that determine the vast array of observed crystal structures. This knowledge can be used to build desired nanoscale architectures. Students who work in the Koplitz lab learn to use a variety of programs to visualize molecules and crystals. They also use differential scanning calorimetry to precisely characterize melting points and other thermodynamic properties of isomeric pyridinium and anilinium salts that they have made themselves. Since 2003, the Koplitz group has published thirteen new crystal structures. Students frequently present their research results at national and regional scientific conferences and over the past decade, ten students have co-authored peer-reviewed publications.

Nanomaterial Synthesis

Dr. Heinecke’s research interests focus on nanomaterials synthesis and their applications in biomedicine and electronic devices. She is interested in 1) developing cationic nanomaterials as a platform for multivalent display of host defense peptides as novel antibiotic agents and 2) building defined molecular assemblies of these small materials for electron transport properties. This type of multidisciplinary research will afford students the opportunity to learn a wide variety of scientific techniques.

Biochemistry

Dr. Walkenhorst is a physical biochemist whose research involves studying the structure, function, and stability of peptides and proteins in solution.  He uses chemical, biological, and instrumental techniques to study several classes of proteins.  His most recent project involves studying the effect of environmental factors such as pH, ionic strength, toxic ions, and surface type on the activity of a new class of membrane active antibiotics called antimicrobial peptides.  He conducts research with undergraduate students interested in careers in biochemistry and medicine.  Dr. Walkenhorst is a founding member of the New Orleans Protein Folding Intergroup (NOProFIG) which began in January 1999 and meets every two weeks to discuss research results of local researchers in related fields.

Dr. Walkenhorst's work has been published in journals such as Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, Biochemica Biophysica Acta: Biomembranes, Biochemistry, Journal of Molecular Biology, Protein Science, Journal of the American Chemical Society, Analytical Chemistry, and Protein Engineering.

For more information, contact William Walkenhorst, Ph.D., at walken@loyno.edu

Atmospheric Chemistry

Undergraduate students are involved in all aspects of our research in atmospheric physical chemistry, including designing and building new instrumentation, running experiments, and analyzing data.  Dr. Underwood's research students frequently have the opportunity to present their results at regional and national conferences.  For more information regarding this research, please contact Dr. Joelle Underwood at jsunderw@loyno.edu