Wake Forest Physics
Profiles in Wake Forest Physics
Claire McLellan, an undergraduate working with Professor Oana Jurchescu, conducts research on Plastic Electronics at the Center for Nanotechnology and Molecular Materials of Wake Forest University. She is investigating organic (plastic) electronic devices based on novel soluble pentacene derivatives. These materials are very attractive for low cost, flexible electronic devices, such as organic thin film transistors. Claire's research is focused on correlating chemical structure with the crystal structure and electronic properties of thin films based on novel organic semiconductors. Claire has presented her results at The Southeast Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics (SCUWP), Duke University, January, 2010, and at the Spring joint meeting of the Society of Physics Students and the NC Section of the American Association of Physics Teachers, Elon University, April 2010. In October 2010, she will be presenting a poster at the "Plastic electronics week" meeting in Dresden Germany.
Matthew Gottbrecht, a former undergraduate student at Wake Forest University, performed research on protein structure and protein active site analysis with Professor Jacquelyn Fetrow in the Computational Biophysics Group. Matt's project involved identifying the structural components that give rise to the different active site chemistry and substrate specificities found in the large enolase protein family. He was also involved in the Wake Forest rugby team and currently attends medical school. Matt presented his research as a poster at the Keystone Conference on Computational Drug Discovery in April 2008. During the summer of 2008, Matt participated in a medical internship program. Matt has the following observation about undergraduate research: "It's definitely a really cool feeling when you actually put to use the stuff you learn in the classroom-it actually motivates you to study harder so you know the material as well as possible."
Daniel David, a junior undergraduate physics and economics major, conducts research at the Center for Nanotechnology and Molecular Materials of Wake Forest University under the supervision of Professor Oana Jurchescu. He uses state-of-the-art computer software and laboratory techniques, and his research aims to generate a basis from which new, electronically enhanced organic molecules will be created, for the use in low-cost plastic electronics applications. He is investigating the correlation between molecular packing and electrical characteristics of novel organic semiconductors in thin-film transistors. Danny's project is interdisciplinary: he collaborates with Professor John Anthony from the Department of Chemistry at University of Kentucky and Professor Laurie McNeil from Department of Physics at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He will present his work in October 2010 at Plastic Electronics Week in Dresden, Germany.
Recent graduate Pamela Wang worked with Professor Daniel Kim-Shapiro studying how the protein hemoglobin binds to the small molecule nitrite. Nitrite is a key regulator of vasodilation. Kim-Shapiro and Wang hypothesized that the binding of nitrite to hemoglobin is a key intermediate in allowing delivery of nitrite to vascular tissues to cause the vasodilation. They used EPR spectroscopy to measure the extent to which nitrite binds to hemoglobin in different buffers. Wang double majored in physics and chemistry. She presented some of her work as a co-author on a poster in the NIH nitrite meeting in September, 2007. Wang says the meeting was exciting because she "got to see how her research related to what other people were doing." Besides participating in undergraduate research, Wang also volunteered in the emergency room at Baptist Hospital.
Katelyn Goetz is a senior at Wake Forest and a physics major. She is performing research on single crystals of novel organic semiconductors, in the Organic electronics group of Professor Jurchescu. Single crystals are highly ordered systems which allow for better understanding of charge transport in organic semiconductors, as well as the effects of molecular structure, organic/metal and organic/dielectric interfaces. Katelyn collaborates in her research with Prof. Salleo (Stanford University), Prof. Anthony (University of Kentucky), and Prof. Conrad (Appalachian State University); in addition, she is also working on spin injection and collection in organic single crystals in collaboration with Dr. Curt Richter's group at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. She will present her results at the "Plastic Electronics Week" meeting in Dresden Germany, October 2010.
Undergraduate Jack Owen works with Dr. Jurchescu on development of low-cost, high performance organic thin-film transistors. One of his projects aims to discover a novel fabrication method for organic electronic devices, which will allow for fast and low-cost deposition over large areas. His project involves deposition of organic semiconductors by spraying; this has important implications on the commercialization of organic (plastic) electronics. Jack was successful in demonstrating high performance transistors fabricated by spray-deposition of a variety of pentacene and thiophenes derivatives and his results were recently submitted for publication. Another project he is working on is in collaboration with Rob Coffin (Dr. Carroll's group) on investigation of small band-gap polymers for ambipolar transistors.
Recent WFU graduates Patrick Nelli and David Rosile worked together with Professors Martin Guthold and Keith Bonin to develop a new aptamer discovery method. Aptamers are a new group of three-dimensional DNA or RNA molecules that have the capability of binding very tightly and specifically to a target molecule. Thus, aptamers have enormous potential as novel therapeutic and diagnostic molecules. Patrick and David used a combined Atomic Force Microscopy/Fluorescence Microscopy technique and PCR to select single aptamer species from a very large pool (109 molecules) of candidates. These students attended the North Carolina Biophysics symposium and the Biophysical Society conference in Long Beach (CA) to present their research. Both are award winners--Patrick was awarded the prestigious Goldwater scholarship and David the Wake Forest University Hearn leadership scholarship.
Professor Jed Macosko is a major proponent of entrepreneurship in the sciences. His freshman seminar class, "Harnessing Life's Molecular Machines: From AIDS Tests to Hydrogen Cars," encourages students to look at the molecular level of cells for new product and process ideas that can be developed into entrepreneurial ventures. Last year six freshmen were so intrigued by this first-year seminar that they started a company, BioBotz, which aims to produce an educational interactive online game, an animated television series and ancillary stuffed toys and action figures starring characters based on the amino acid chains that operate like tiny robots inside human cells.
The students involved in this venture are Mike Metzmaker, of Massachusetts, Sara Branson of West Virginia, Ashley Edwards of Texas, Michael Epstein of Connecticut, Jane Lee of New Jersey and Elizabeth Newman of Ohio. None of the six students knew each other prior to attending the class, but after Macosko encouraged them to consider turning their classroom assignment into reality, they stayed in touch over the summer, developing the characters and storyline that will drive the company's products. These students are now meeting weekly with Macosko to plot strategy for the week. The company's ultimate goal is to help young children get a head start on understanding cell and molecular biology.
Christine Carlisle, a recent Ph.D. recipient, worked with Professor Martin Guthold. Christine studied the mechanical properties of fibrin fibers, which are the major structural component of blood clots. In this project, Christine used a combined atomic force/fluorescence microscopy technique to study the mechanical properties of different types of fibrin fibers. Her research provided new insights into the wound healing process and into such diseases as heart attacks and strokes. Christine has presented her research as a poster at the 2008 Biophysical Society meeting (Long Beach, CA) and she gave a talk at the NanoMedicine conference in Winston-Salem in April 2008. Christine was also awarded a prestigious pre-doctoral fellowship from the American Heart Association for her proposal entitled "The mechanical properties of native and variant fibrin fibers."
For other profiles, please visit our Profiles in Physics archives.
100 Olin Physical Laboratory
Wake Forest University
Winston-Salem, NC 27109-7507
Phone: (336) 758-5337, FAX: (336) 758-6142