Bonnie Newman’s days kept coming up purple.
Before she could get to complex chemical research, she had to get the first step down. She had to make tiny pieces of gold called nanoparticles. Gold oxidizes quickly, and to make sure that she made the pieces the right size approximately 5000th the diameter of a hair—she combined it with a dye that would show up as red if it were right.
But for about a month, her gold specks were purple.
“Everybody, I think, has research on a pedestal when you first come to it,” she said.
It seems like a break is near and instead there’s waiting and reading and work, she says. But then “one beautiful day,” it turns out right.
On Thursday, July 25, at West Virginia University’s The Erickson Alumni Center, more than 90 undergraduates participating in WVU-based research programs will show the community what they’ve been able to accomplish in the last eight to 10 weeks of research.
At 11 a.m. WVU Provost Michele Wheatly will give a keynote address with undergraduate poster presentations from 12:30-2:30 p.m.
This summer they were in a wide variety of programs involving faculty from biology and health, agriculture and environment, physical sciences and engineering and nanosciences.
Like Newman, they all had a goal, a process and a mentor. Newman studied under Terry Gullion in the chemistry department and his graduate students to use nuclear magnetic resonance to assess the bond between the gold nanoparticles and biological materials such as amino acids.
Students will present on topics that range from shale gas development and its role on home list prices; the development of a platform for wireless vehicle-to-vehicle communication; the effects of consuming different protein and oil sources on development and progression of polycystic kidney disease in rats; and the effect of extended nitrogen fertilization on soil respiration within Appalachian forest ecosystems.
Newman will be discussing how amino acids did have a varying connection to the gold nanoparticles and peptides can have a strong connection based on the location of that connection.
Newman, a junior at Geneva College in Pennsylvania, said that she had done some summer research before, but hadn’t participated in the in-depth, cutting-edge research available at WVU through the Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) site run by Michelle Richards-Babb. Newman’s adviser during the undergraduate experience, Gullion, invented the rotational-echo, double-resonance method in nuclear magnetic resonance.
A math and chemistry major, Newman was particularly excited to work in nanotechnology, a burgeoning field that has applications in biomedicine.
“I feel like that’s where the future’s heading,” she said.
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