STEM Summer Research - Glasgow Courses

You will earn 6 research credits over 6 weeks in the summer, conducting a faculty supervised, hands-on, directed study research project with results that will culminate in the preparation of a research paper.

The Biology projects are considered team projects, with a maximum of three students per group.

You will complete a minimum of 240 hours of research in and out of the laboratory.

Faculty mentors will work closely with you to direct your continued growth and knowledge development in the chosen research topic discipline.

  • Please review your project with your academic or study abroad advisor to ensure it will transfer back to your home school and that you are following your home school’s policies.

Choosing Your Research Project

  • Review Project titles and descriptions below.
  • List 3 (in order of preference) in your personal essay.
  • Program is highly individualized, with limited enrollment.
  • You will need to complete a brief Literature Review in consultation with your research supervisor prior to departure before the start of the program. More details here.

  • We encourage you to contact Arcadia’s Assistant Dean of STEM programs, Dr. Jessie Guinn, to discuss your particular research interests further.

Biology, Chemistry, Geography & Earth Sciences, Physics, Psychology

Course ID Title Credits Syllabus
SCOT RSLW 392S International Independent Research in STEM Fields 6 PDF

2018 Research Projects

This is an incomplete list of available projects. More projects will be added as they are available. Please contact Assistant Dean Jessie Guinn for additional information.

Chemistry
3D Printing and Chemical Robotics
Protein-Engineering
Using Self Assembly to Build Molecular Architectures
The Origin of Life
Design and Implementation of Additional Resources to Support an Interactive Online Lab Environment
Electrochromic Materials fro Optical Devices
Computational Design Methods to Identify Small Cyclic Peptides
Redox Mediators for the Electrochemical and Electrocatalytic Reduction of Nitroarenes
Life Science
Mesophiles and Thermophiles in the Urban Environment
Using Caenorhabditis elegans as a Model Organism for Genetic Screens
Viruses and Bacteria in Freshwater: A Historical Record of Past Pollution?
Psychology
Autism and intersubject correlation of brain activity while watching dance
Impression management with Selfies
Drivers for development of gender stereotypes
 

Description of Research Projects

Mesophiles and Thermophiles in the Urban Environment

Faculty from the School of Life Sciences

Microbes are able to colonize natural environments in which extremes of temperature, pH or osmolarity are found. Members of the Archaea are particularly notes for these attributes. Modern domestic and urban environments can present equally challenging conditions yet the ability of microbes to exist in these niches and the substrates that they utilize for growth are much less well understood.

The project will use conventional microbiological techniques to sample from a range of urban environments that present thermal challenge and seek out mesophilic and thermophilic organisms able to survive and grow in these conditions. The properties of these bacteria will be analyzed and identification will be attempted by sequencing of genes that encode ribosomal RNA. Students on the project will develop skills in microbiology and molecular biology and the project will offer substantial opportunity for independent investigation.

Desirable background: Some basic knowledge of microbiology and aseptic technique would be useful but training can be provided.

Using Caenorhabditis elegans as a Model Organism for Genetic Screens

Faculty from the School of Life Sciences

The nematode Caenorhabditis elegans has achieved great utility as a model organism for the biology of multicellular organisms. Despite its simplicity – typically, the animal comprises just over 1000 cells – it has a sophisticated nervous system and all the neuronal pathways have been mapped. Today, C. elegans is used to study a much larger variety of biological processes including apoptosis, cell signalling, cell cycle, cell polarity, gene regulation, metabolism, ageing and sex determination. Many key discoveries, both in basic biology and medically relevant areas, were first made in the worm

As an experimental system, Caenorhabditis elegans, offers a unique opportunity to interrogate in vivo the genetic and molecular functions of human disease-related genes. For example, C. elegans has provided crucial insights into fundamental biological processes such as cell death and cell fate determinations, as well as pathological processes such as neurodegeneration and microbial susceptibility. The C. elegans model has several distinct advantages including a completely sequenced genome that shares extensive homology with that of mammals, ease of cultivation and storage, a relatively short lifespan and techniques for generating null and transgenic animals.

 The aim of this project will be to establish an experimental system with C. elegans in which these topics can be explored using a forward genetic approach. Using ethylmathanesulforate (EMS), a mutagen that induces direct mutations in DNA, such as missense and nonsense mutations you will screen populations of C. elegans looking for any phenotypic changes that may be biologically interesting and attempt to further characterize the mutants. This is a very exciting project as the outcome is unknown and it may lead to the identification of a new mutant phenotype.

Students on the project will develop skills in molecular biology and the project will offer substantial opportunity for independent investigation.

Desirable background: Some basic knowledge of molecular biology or biochemistry would be useful but training can be provided.

Viruses and Bacteria in Freshwater: A Historical Record of Past Pollution?

Faculty from the School of Life Sciences

Many species of bacteria present in natural environments act as hosts for viruses (“bacteriophage”) that enter, replicate and destroy the microbial host. Vast numbers of these viruses are found in aquatic and marine environments – typically each milliliter of seawater contains 10 million of these agents – and they play important roles in regulating bacterial populations, driving bacterial evolution and in consequence, impacting upon multiple ecosystems.

Although viral infectivity can decline with time depending upon the virus, ambient temperature, pH and other parameters, they remain an important indicator of water quality. But can they persist in the absence of the bacteria in which they grow? Can they provide a historical record of past pollution?

The aim of this project will be to characterize the bacteria of faecal origin in a local watercourse, to establish which indicator organisms are present and which are absent, and then to attempt detection of bacteriophage for both groups of microbes. Students on the project will develop skills in environmental monitoring, microbiology and molecular biology.

Desirable background: Some basic knowledge of ecology and microbiology would be useful but training can be provided.

3d Printing and Chemical Robotics

One of the great challenges in synthetic chemistry is to effectively discover, synthesise and apply new molecular entities to a range of problems e.g. drug discovery. However it is clear that exploring this parameter space can be limited. We have been exploring the idea of combining the concept of merging the reaction with the reactor by fabricating the reactor with incorporated reagents using a 3d-printer. In this project we will design new reactionware for drug-discovery and to see if we can take complex multi-step organic synthetic reactions and deploy them into a 3d printed reactionware matrix. 

Protein-Engineering

Proteins are the ultimate catalysts, evolved by nature, and highly effective, but the post synthetic modification of proteins has been limited to the incorporation of ‘new’ amino acids or post translational modification of the amino acids.  In this project we will examine the idea of incorporating cluster-hybrids with pendent amino-acids to link into a protein e.g. take AA-AA-AA-AA à AA-AA-POM-Cluster-AA-AA and look at protein folding, function to make the first truly bio-ionic protein.

Using Self Assembly to Build Molecular Architectures

The problem with chemical synthesis is that the concept of designing a complete blue-print for a complex functional molecule.  However, by using ‘self-assembly’ it is possible to build very complex architectures very quickly if the ligand building block is designed correctly.  In this project we will be examining the influence of ligand design (using simple organic chemistry) to grow and build complex architectures that involved many tens of thousands of atoms in a single growth process.

The Origin of Life 

Understanding the origin of life is a vast challenge. In biology the ribosomal machinery is responsible for producing almost all the complex molecules of biology but where did it come from?? In this project we will be using complex-network flow systems to produce complex molecular systems and structures. The aim is to produce a range of new organic, inorganic and hybrid molecular systems of vast complexity that simply cannot be achieved on a reasonable timescale in the laboratory using conventional synthetic techniques. 

Design and Implementation of Additional Resources to Support an Interactive Online Lab Environment

The School of Chemistry at the University of Glasgow, in collaboration with Learning Science Ltd, has been working to design and develop a blended learning undergraduate lab experience. This virtual learning environment allows students to explore interactive technical simulations online, before in-lab practical work begins. It also introduces post-lab auto-graded reports using students’ own lab data (Figure 1 below). Combined, these dynamic virtual lab resources promote learning through practice, and provide instant and personalised feedback for each student.

 This work continues to develop, and will be the main focus for the Arcadia summer student. The student will respond to initial results and feedback on these resources, identify areas that require additional support, and be involved in designing and developing these changes to curriculum. Specifically, the Arcadia student will design a new, Year 3 organic undergraduate experiment, that matches intended learning outcomes, links with lecture material, and can be used in partnership with the online materials. This project will therefore involve lab-based work, curriculum design, and technology development.

Figure 1 – Screenshot of some of the questions posed in an auto-graded online report

Electrochromic Materials for Optical Devices

My work focuses on the design and synthesis of self-assembled electrochromic materials for the use in optical devices. These devices are used as sensors and as displays, where a fast-reversible change in colour is required. This technology works by using materials that change colour quickly upon the application of a small specific voltage, then by applying another voltage the material returns back to the original colour (Figure 1.). This reversibility is essential, as the device will need to go through many colour change cycles without fatigue or decrease in colour intensity. Other functionalities can be added onto the molecules to make the multi-stimuli responsive, creating devices which can be used in multiple applications. The project will include the design and synthesis of small molecules and then assembling them into supramolecular structures. These structures will then be studied using rheology, electrochemistry, UV-vis absorption spectroscopy and spectroelectrochemistry. This will determine the conditions needed to change the colour of the molecules for use in the device. The system will be then optimised for specific applications.

 

Figure 1. Picture of the transparent material at a positive potential (left) and at a negative potential (right).

Computational Design Methods to Identify Small Cyclic Peptides

Research in the Thomson group seeks to probe the relationship between shape and function in small peptides. In particular, we are interested in how computational methods can be used to guide experimental studies in order to design new linear and cyclic peptides that have unique functions. This project will seek to use computational design methods to identify small cyclic peptides that can act as host molecules for small molecule. This project will allow the student to gain experience of solid phase peptide synthesis and purification, as well as an appreciation for computational techniques and methods of analysis such as NMR and UV-vis spectroscopy.

 

Redox Mediators for the Electrochemical and Electrocatalytic Reduction of Nitroarenes

The Symes group are interested in fundamental aspects of energy conversion, specifically the production of fuels and chemical feedstocks by electrochemical methods. In particular, we have focussed on the electrochemical oxygen and hydrogen evolution reactions and the electrochemical generation of ammonia (including the correct techniques to employ to characterise these processes). We are also interested in the effects of ultrasound on chemical and electrochemical processes (for the activation and conversion of small molecules), and in developing electrochemical techniques for use in non-standard media, such as microwave-generated plasmas. In addition, we maintain an interest in synthetic chemistry for the production of our own metal-ligand coordination complexes as electrocatalysts for the interconversions of the nitrogen oxides (major players in the natural nitrogen cycle with impacts on environmental pollution and healthcare). 

In this project, the student will explore the use of redox mediators for the electrochemical and electrocatalytic reduction of nitroarenes to their aniline derivatives. Anilines find a range of uses in the manufacture of dyes, plastics and other commodity goods, but their current syntheses from nitroarenes are not especially efficient. This project will therefore employ electrochemistry in an attempt to develop a more sustainable synthetic route to these important compounds.

Autism and intersubject correlation of brain activity while watching dance

This project involves analysing a set of brain data acquired while typical individuals and those on the autism spectrum were scanned using fMRI while viewing short videos of ballet dance.  The hypotheses to be explored involve examining whether differences in either motion or social brain areas exist in autism.  Analysis will be conducted with the Intersubject Correlation Toolbox run under Matlab.  Intersubject Correlation reveals regions of the brain where brain activity is correlated between a group of observers and provides a model-free means to examine how perception drives brain activity.  It is expected that the student will learn essential skills in the analysis of fMRI data and the use of Matlab for data analysis.

Impression management with Selfies

Research has shown that selfies are taken for one of four main reasons: attention seeking, communication, archiving, and entertainment (Sung, Lee, Kim, & Choi, 2016). In particular, the attention seeking and communication are particularly relevant when examining the choices in selfies as Facebook or dating profile display pictures. The need for impression management is perhaps somewhat different when in search of a friend in comparison to looking for a significant other (Ellison, Heino, & Gibbs, 2006; Miguel, 2016){Ellison, 2006, Managing impressions online: Self‐presentation processes in the online dating environment;Miguel, 2016, Visual intimacy on social media: From selfies to the co-construction of intimacies through shared pictures}.  Previous research has shown that there is a gender preference in how people take selfies. Males have a tendency to take selfies from lower down to appear taller and more dominant whilst females display a tendency to take them from a higher angle to appear smaller and more attractive. However, there appears to be an opportunity for research as to whether members of the opposite sex are actually drawn to this stereotype (for example that males prefer pictures of females taken from a high angle) rather than just a preference for taking the picture in this way.  In this project we will look further into this phenomenon, looking at how others view your selfie and also at possible gender stereotypes represented in selfies by both adults and children.

Drivers for development of gender stereotypes

Gender stereotyping is prevalent in society and research has shown that this stereotyping can affect child development, self-esteem and academic self-belief. Gender stereotypes are beliefs about the characteristics and behaviour of being male or female and research suggests that children as young as 12 months show gender stereotypical behaviour (girls preferring dolls and boys preferring cars). The stereotypes are believed to be a consequence of gender identity (sense of own gender) which develops in children after reinforced and modelled behaviours by parents and society. Gender stereotypes are present in almost all aspects of a child’s life from the way that they interact with their parents to the media with which they engage. Therefore, the aim of my study is to investigate how the different stereotypes that are present in a child’s life can affect their explicit and implicit gender stereotypes, and associated mediating factors.

Grade Scale for University of Glasgow - AACRAO EDGE

Grade Range Description Suggested U.S. Equivalent
A1-A5 First Class A
B1-B3 Second Class Upper B+
C1-C3 Second Class Lower B
D1-D3 Third Class/Pass C
E1 and below Fail F
INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY COPYRIGHT AACRAO EDGE