We are currently seeking undergraduate students for the Winter 2015 and Spring 2016 quarters for the projects listed below. Undergraduate researchers can receive credit for this work by enrolling in 199. Students should contact Dr. Kim Prather (kprather@ucsd.edu) directly regarding placement in the lab.

Project 1. Filter prep and analysis on Orbitrap LC/MS

1. Does your undergraduate research assistant need to have taken any specific courses or have any specific skills, or do you require that they have a GPA higher than 2.7?

The undergraduate must have completed Chem 100A and be enrolled in or completed Chem 100B.  The student will be trained and vetted thoroughly before working with actual samples.  However, this project requires meticulous and careful wet-lab chemistry work, and as such the undergraduate should have a detail-oriented personality and be able to follow instruction precisely. A student who has completed more than two upper division wet-lab chemistry courses are preferred. In addition, because of the significant time investment required for training a student who can take 199 for 4 credit hours for both the Winter and Spring quarter is desired.

 

2. What type of activities will you assign to your research assistant? *

Analytical chemistry: wet-lab sample preparation, chemical instrument operation, data analysis

The Prather lab has a number of filter samples that need to be prepared for quantitative analysis on a state-of-the-art Orbitrap Elite Liquid Chromatograph/Mass Spectrometer system. The student will be personally trained by a graduate student on the sample preparation protocol and must yield satisfactory results from a set of spiked filters before proceeding onto environmental samples.  After the wet-lab work, the student would be introduced and taught how to operate the Orbitrap Elite LC/MS system, under the supervision of the graduate student project lead. Given their interest, the student could be introduced to high-resolution MS data analysis including molecular formula generation, Van Krevelen Diagrams and Kendrick Mass Defect. This project should be of interest to any students interested in pursuing a career in analytical or instrumental chemistry, whether in industry or academia.

 

Project 2. Assistance with BioATOFMS

1. Does your undergraduate research assistant need to have taken any specific courses or have any specific skills, or do you require that they have a GPA higher than 2.7?

The undergraduate must at least be in their third year.  The project centers around instrument development and validation and as such the student must be comfortable working on a “hands-on” project which likely requires the daily use of tools and handling of expensive instrumental components. In addition, attention to detail, as well as good organizational skills are essential.

2. What type of activities will you assign to your research assistant? *

Instrumental chemistry: instrument development, assembly, and validation

The undergraduate student will be involved in assisting a graduate student on the development, assembly, and validation of a benchtop fluorescence chamber to be integrated into a bio-aerosol time-of-flight mass spectrometer. The fluorescence chamber will be able to detect biological particles by laser induced fluorescence which will be detected by a photomultiplier tube.  The undergraduate will also help the graduate student acquire components for and create a sample introduction system.  After assembly of the chamber is complete the undergraduate would work more independently and be responsible for running an array of standard samples to test the functionality of the assembly and to create a library of fluorescence signals to be later used in environmental analyses. 

 


Project 3. Implement automated counting of cells from microscope images

1. Does your undergraduate research assistant need to have taken any specific courses or have any specific skills, or do you require that they have a GPA higher than 2.7?

The undergraduate must at least be in their second year and have some experience or coursework in two dimensional image processing. Students who have completed CSE 166, ECE 172A, or a comparable class with at least a 3.0 are preferred.

 

2. What type of activities will you assign to your research assistant? *

Computer science: develop and validate image processing macros

The undergraduate student will be involved in developing image processing macros and procedures to accurately and automatically count bacterial cells and viruses in epifluorescence microscopy images. The undergraduate will be responsible with choosing whether to use available automated cell counting software or to develop new tools in the language of their choosing.  If the undergraduate is able to develop satisfactorily accurate macros for counting bacterial cells and viruses they will be asked to address more complex problems, such as distinguishing between clumped, chain forming, and free bacteria.  A library of images already exists, and as such this project involves no laboratory work and will be completed entirely on a computer.  While a graduate student will guide the undergraduate on project goals and direction, the undergraduate will work largely independently and will not receive significant assistance on the actual development of the macros or code.

 

Project 4. Develop LabView software for CCN and sizing instruments

1. Does your undergraduate research assistant need to have taken any specific courses or have any specific skills, or do you require that they have a GPA higher than 2.7?

The undergraduate must have passed the certified labview associate developer exam or taken and received at minimum a 3.0 in CSE-40834, CSE-41141, MAE 170, or a comparable class.

2. What type of activities will you assign to your research assistant? *

Computer science: develop LabView software for instrument automation and data acquisition

The undergraduate student will be responsible for developing LabView software to control a commercial condensation cloud nuclei counter (company) such that data acquisition can occur autonomously without supervision from a user.  LabView software exists which is compatible with older versions of the instrumentation, however it needs to be updated and improved to be compatible with newly purchased hardware. This student will work largely independently, with a graduate student CCN expert to advise on the desired functionalities of the software but not on the development of the code itself.  If the CCN software is complete before the end of the Spring quarter the undergraduate will be given other LabView projects for automating lab processes as time allows.  This project would provide excellent experience for engineering or environmental systems students.   

 

Project 5. Spot Sampler comparison to impinger

1. Does your undergraduate research assistant need to have taken any specific courses or have any specific skills, or do you require that they have a GPA higher than 2.7?

The undergraduate must at least be in their third year and have completed at least two upper division (100 level) wet-lab biology or chemistry courses. This project requires careful time-sensitive wet-lab chemistry work, and as such the undergraduate should have a detail-oriented personality, be able to follow instruction precisely, and have good time management skills. In addition, because of the significant time investment required for training, a student who can take 199 for 4 credit hours for both the Winter and Spring quarter is desired.

 

2. What type of activities will you assign to your research assistant? *

Analytical Chemistry and Biology

The undergraduate will be working closely with a graduate student to optimize the collection of enzyme containing sea spray aerosol and microbial cells using the Aerosol Devices Spot Sampler.  This state of the art instrument collects aerosols into a small liquid volume, generating a final sample concentrated in aerosol content. Comparison will be made to the more traditional method of impinging aerosol into solution.  Undergraduates will assist with experimental design and setup and be trained to complete enzyme activity measurements and to prepare samples for cell enumeration with an epifluorescence microscope.