Research Capabilities

· Agilent GC

· Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry (GC/MS)

· High-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC)

· Atomic absorption spectroscopy (AAS)

· UV-Vis spectrophotometer

· TECAN microplate reader system

· Fluxion BioFlux Automated system

· Zeiss AXIO Observer Inverted Microscope

· Z™ Series COULTER COUNTER® Cell Counter

· BUXTON Model 9200 GP Sterilizer

· Atomic Force Microscopy

· Osmometry

· Dynamic Light Scattering and Zeta Potential

· Custom-built fluidized-bed flour reservoir and electrostatic separation chamber

· High-voltage generator dual polarity

· Keithley Electrometer

· Faraday Cup, 2 5/8” diameter

· Flow-meters, 1 LPM – 50 LPM

· Clinical 200 Large Capacity Centrifuge

· Gravity Convection oven, 38” x 38” x 40”

· Micro-Kjeldahl digestor unit

Research Funding

· National Science Foundation

· US Department of Energy

· Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, LLC

· US Environmental Protection Agency

· ExxonMobil

Research Initiatives

Biomolecular Assemblies and Nanomechanics (BAN) Laboratory

PI: Dr. Preethi Chandran

The Biomolecular Assemblies and Nanomechanics (BAN) Laboratory is interested in the engineering design behind self-assembled nanoscale structures of semiflexible biopolymers (DNA, aggrecan, and collagen, etc), and in using these nanostructures as physical containers for drug delivery and tissue regeneration. Research efforts have resulted in the development of an integrated approach to study these bioassemblies, from the single-molecule interactions to the group polymer dynamics to the nanomechanics of the final complex. Techniques like Atomic Force Microscopy, Dynamic Light Scattering, and Rheology allow the investigation of the biomolecule physics at different stages of self-assembly. The lab is also engaged in developing a multi-scale modeling theory for semi-dilute biopolymers. This theory is based on our string-of-continuous-beams polymer model. The theory makes it possible to model coarse-grain biopolymer self-assembly at reduced cost but with high orders of polymer interaction.

Physical/Chemical Environmental Processes Laboratory

PI: Dr. Ramesh Chawla

Several products and by-products of industrial processes are very toxic and hazardous to the health of terrestrial and aquatic life forms. Industrialization has helped advance technology but at the cost of contaminating the natural environment. Wastewater and other industrial effluents leach through the earth crust, adsorb on to the surface of soil particles and contaminate subsurface aquifers resulting in the pollution of ground water and many drinking water sources. The laboratory focuses on fundamental and applied studies to remove these environmental contaminants or reduce them to non-toxic forms. Recent remediation efforts have targeted Hexavalent Chromium, Cr(VI), and Trichloroethylene, TCE, which have been classified by the USEPA as known carcinogens. Our group has investigated the reductive degradation of co-contaminant medium of TCE and Cr(VI) as well as the kinetics of their simultaneous transformation, using atomized iron powder.

Nanomaterials Processing Laboratory

PI: Dr. James W. Mitchell

The characterization and reaction chemistry of high-technology materials, especially those required in unprecedentedly high states of purity, are investigated using any of the appropriate analytical tools and methods. In the case of photonic and electronic materials, research activities cover a broad range, which includes assessing the state of purity of materials by developing novel analytical methods and instruments for extreme trace elemental analysis, devising new approaches for ultrapurification of analytical reagents and process chemicals through elucidation of chemical reaction pathways of trace elements, and innovating new contamination-free processes for generating precursors for synthesizing thin film materials and devices. Specific areas of research interests include 1) Nanomaterials Characterization Chemistry and Processing Research and 2) Synthesis and Processing of Ultrapure Reagents and Materials.

Bioprocess Engineering Laboratory

PI: Dr. Solmaz Tabtabaei

Expanding our energy supply sources with less environmental impacts requires creating more sustainable and secure energy systems. The laboratory research activities are mostly focused on developing novel catalytic processes for the sustainable production of advanced biofuels and biochemical from biomass resources. Experimental and theoretical approaches are used to understand the fundamental processes governing biomass conversion. The goal is also to develop environmentally clean bio-separation technologies for concurrent recovery of high-quality food and biofuel from plant-based materials with the aim of addressing major issues in sustainable energy, human nutrition, and the environment.

Bioenvironmental Engineering Laboratory

PI: Dr. John Tharakan

Areas of research interest to the laboratory include environmental engineering and biotechnology, appropriate technology development and education, and sustainable development. Bioenvironmental engineering research focuses on the use of biological technologies for the remediation of contaminated environmental media. Appropriate technology research has had specific focus on technologies for water treatment and conservation, renewable energy production using solar and biomass resources, and waste management and resource recovery. Collaboration with Engineers Without Borders student chapter also covers research work on appropriate water, sanitation and energy technology implementation in developing communities in Senegal, Kenya and El Salvador.


Bio-nano Interfaces, Functional Materials & Biotechnologies Laboratory
PI: Dr. Tao Wei

The laboratory focuses on fundamental studies of interfacial phenomena (adsorption, docking, charge transfer, self-assembling and complex gas-surface or liquid-surface chemical reactions), especially those related with bio-nano hybrids, for the purpose of developing functional materials and biotechnologies to tackle challenges in health, energy and environment. To achieve process-structure-function design, house-developed multiscale simulation framework (quantum, atomistic, mesoscopic and continuum scales) are combined with theories (Statistical Mechanics and quantum) and experiments at the interface between chemistry, physics and biology. Bthe fundamental studies, the lab is working on four specific areas: 1) biomaterials (peptide mimics/proteins, DNA/RNA/nucleic acids and lipids) and biotechniques (biosensors, drug delivery, bioremediation and bioenergy); 2) polymer-nanoparticle composite materials for water treatment and semiconducting polymers for polymer photovoltaics; 3) materials at severe conditions (such as high temperature and high pressure) for energy applications; and 4) low-dimensional or nanoporous materials (such as graphene sheet(s), CNT, zeolites and MOFs) for biosensing, energy and pollution control (water/air).

Biofilm Engineering and Drug Discovery (BEDD) Laboratory
PI: Dr. Patrick Ymele-Leki

The BEDD research program focuses on (i) the development and implementation of high‐ and low- throughput screening assays for the identification of novel small molecules with antimicrobial activity, (ii) the development and characterization of physiologically and industrially relevant multispecies in vitro biofilm models for the identification of potential drug targets, and (iii) the in vivo assessment of cytotoxicity and pharmacokinetics parameters and hypothesis‐driven validation of antimicrobial drug targets for site colonization related to biofilm formation. Long-term research goals are to enhance current antimicrobial arsenal and further understanding of complex microbial communities. Current work and collaborative research projects include (i) the investigation of the impact of biofilm structural features (i.e., porosity, diffusional distance, biomass, and biovolume) and physical fluid forces on the efficacy of known antimicrobial agents; (ii) the evaluation of potential antimicrobial challenge mechanisms as a strategy for in situ biofilm control; and (iii) the identification of novel chemical probes and microbial targets and development of novel drug delivery strategies in biofilm settings.