WPI’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry is hosting undergraduate students from around the country at a new NSF-sponsored Research Experience for Undergraduates site. You will participate in projects ranging from membrane biochemistry to bio-inspired materials synthesis all geared toward solving important problems in biology. WPI undergraduates are not eligible for the REU, but can obtain support for summer research through the SURF program.

PROGRAM SUPPORT—Students will receive a stipend of $5,000, a free WPI dormitory room in housing dedicated to participants in various WPI REU sites, and a travel subsidy.

ACADEMIC PROGRAM—In addition to research activities, students will have the opportunity to participate in a weekly seminar series with topics that include career development, scientific ethics and students research presentations.

CONFERENCES—Students will participate in a summer research conference with other WPI REU sites and 2 students will have the opportunity to present at an ACS National Meeting.

SOCIAL EVENTS—Throughout the summer, various social events will be planned including cookouts, a whitewater rafting trip, hiking excursions, a trip to Boston, a classical concert at Tanglewood, and opportunities to attend sporting events.



You will provide as part of the application process your top three choices from the projects listed below where you will pursue your research in a group of scholars. Several of these projects are 2 students/2 mentor projects, in which each of 2 REU students will work with a different mentor on separate aspects of a larger project.

Apply to be part of the REU program!

For full consideration, all application material needs to reach us by March 1, 2017.

C-C Bond Formation Project

Join the Emmert and Mattson groups in conversion of ions to medicinal agents. The project goals are dedicated toward understanding how silanediols, a new family of non-covalent catalysts, can enable useful reactivity patterns for drug discovery. Participants investigating this project will get hands-on mentoring from both Marion and Anita in a variety of areas, including organic synthesis, mechanistic studies, and scientific communication.

Channelrhodopsin-2 Project

Optogenetics is a rapidly emerging field which utilizes light-activated proteins to spatially and temporally control cellular functions. Channelrhodopsin-2 (ChR2) is a light activated membrane protein which has a unique dual functionality as it can function both as an H+ pump and as an ion channel. Students will develop light-activated channelrhodopsin-2 constructs with improved properties using molecular biology, heterologous protein expression in X. laevis oocytes, and two electrode voltage clamp. The Dempski group runs this project. 

Membrane Morphology Project

Membrane bilayers are built from hundreds of different species of phospholipids.  The types of lipids within membranes control their most basic properties, such as permeability and fluidity.  However, we do not yet understand the mechanisms that control what types of lipids are included in a given membrane.  The aim of this project is to use mass spectrometry- and microscopy-based methods to explore how the membrane phospholipids are regulated and how the types of lipids present impact membrane function. This project is a collaboration between the Gericke and Olson labs.

Metal Ion Transport Proteins Project

Transition metals such as copper, zinc and iron play central roles in biology as catalytic and structural components of proteins. Proteins that move metals across the biological membranes are necessary to maintain the correct metal concentrations in cells. We combine computational modeling and experimental biochemistry to understand how these transporters select specific metals translocate them across membranes.  Our experiments include making 3D proteins models, theoretical calculations of metal binding, mutation of amino acids important for transport, and biochemically testing the transport by mutated proteins. This project is hosted jointly by the Argüello and Kaminski groups.

Phospholipase Protein Interactions Project

The enzyme phospholipase Cbeta (PLCb, depicted in blue) binds to the plasma membrane of cells to transmit signals from hormones and neurotransmitters that cause the cell respond in some way, such as movement or division. We found that PLCb will also bind to another protein C3PO (in orange). This binding causes PLCb to move off the membrane to reduce signals from extracellular agents and cause the loss of production of specific proteins.  The goal of this project in the Scarlata lab is to develop of reagent that will compete with the association between PLCb and C3PO using mass spectrometry and fluorescence spectroscopy. This reagent can then be used to control the response of cells to stimuli.

Porous MOFs Project

Porous metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) can be used as host materials for molecular sorption, gas storage, and guest detection. MOFs are crystalline 3D-coordination polymers that exhibit permanent porosity, high thermal stability, and feature open channels with high surface areas and large pore volumes. We are developing new MOF scaffolds that can trap molecular guests by screening new organic ligands. We are also synthesizing photoreactive capping groups to trap the guests inside the MOF particles until we use light to trigger the molecule's release. There are many possible applications for this light-based delivery technology, but ff particular interest is delivery of drug and other bioactive molecules. The metal organic framework will protect and facilitate transport of a therapeutic payload, and the photocaged capping group will control the temporal and spatial release. This project is a joint effort between the McDonald lab, and the Burdette group.