STEM Summer Research - Glasgow Courses

You will earn 6 research credits over 6 weeks, conducting faculty-supervised, hands-on, directed study research projects with results that will culminate in the preparation of a research paper. You will complete a minimum of 240 hours on 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.

  • Make sure your courses transfer back for credit with your home school – this is your responsibility.

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

Requirements of entry to Life Science Projects:

  • Eligible students must have ideally completed 2nd year of the Undergraduate Degree, majoring in a Biological Science. A good grasp of written and verbal English is required. A GPA of 3.0 for American Students or a B grade average equivalent. Students having completed their first year of undergraduate studies may be considered for entry, this will be at the course convenors discretion.
  • Background knowledge of microbiological, molecular and microscopy techniques is desirable but not essential, training can be provided.

Requirements of entry to Chemistry projects:

  • Majoring in Chemistry or a related discipline.
  • Applicants should normally have successfully completed their sophomore year.

Requirements of entry to Psychology projects:

  • Eligible students must have ideally completed 2nd year of the Undergraduate Degree, majoring in Psychology.
  • Students having completed their first year of undergraduate studies may be considered for entry, this will be at the course convenors discretion.

Summer 2020 Research Projects


Mesophiles and Thermophiles in the Urban Environment.

Discipline: Life Sciences
Supervisor: Dr. Sonya Taylor

The project will use conventional microbiological techniques to sample from a range of urban environments that present thermal challenges 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 the 16s rRNA gene. Students on the project will develop skills in microbiology and molecular biology. and the project will offer substantial opportunities for independent investigation.


Bacteria in Freshwater: A Historical Record of Past Pollution?

Discipline: Life Sciences
Supervisor: Dr. Sonya Taylor

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, determine if any are pathogenic to humans, and then to attempt detection of bacteriophage. Students on the project will develop skills in environmental monitoring, microbiology and molecular biology.


Using Caenorhabditis elegans as a Model Organism for Genetic Screens.

Discipline: Life Sciences
Supervisor: Dr. Sonya Taylor

The aim of this project will be to establish an experimental system with C. elegans 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. In addition, C. elegans is an excellent model organism for the study of addiction to compounds such as alcohol and caffeine, areas that can also be investigated during the project. This is a very exciting project as the outcome is unknown and it may lead to the identification of a new mutant phenotype.


Investigating the reliability of Daphnia as a model to study the autonomic control of heart rate.

Discipline: Life Sciences
Supervisor: Dr. Sonya Taylor

The project will use neuropharmacological techniques to investigate the receptor system responsible for controlling the heart rate and will seek to compare that to what is known about our own autonomic nervous control of heart rate. It is known that the Daphnia HR will slow in response to parasympathetic stimulation using Acetylcholine and conversely increase by sympathetic stimulation, but there is limited information regarding the receptor systems involved and the pharmacology of the controlling system. The project will involve basic manipulation Daphnia under dissection microscopes such that their hearts can be easily viewed, and heart rate determined. Once proficiency in this technique is established, a systematic pharmacological investigation of the neural control of heart rate in the Daphnia will be conducted.


Co-creating inquiry-focused experiments for the Organic Chemistry Teaching Laboratory

Discipline: Chemistry
Supervisor: Dr. Ciorsdaidh Watts

The School of Chemistry has designed and implemented online pre- and post-lab interactive activities for organic laboratories over the past two years. These have proved extremely popular with students and their introduction has led to significant increases in student confidence, technical ability, and satisfaction. While these outcomes are encouraging, undergraduate students continue to express frustration that in-lab practicals seem disconnected from lecture courses and do not promote team-working or inquiry-focused skills. Students have identified these skills as important graduate attributes, and it is therefore vital that we address these concerns where possible, including in the design of practical experiments.

Therefore, the aim of these projects, is to research, design, optimize, inquiry-focused organic practicals, to enhance the student learning experience. The projects will provide participating students with valuable experience in organic synthesis, experimental techniques and equipment use, as well as problem-solving, team-working, and communication.

Specifically, the projects will involve re-designing experiments that are currently part of the organic laboratory course in Glasgow. Students will explore key organic synthetic strategies, such as the use of Grignard reagents, Suzuki couplings (catalytic cycle shown below), the Wittig and Dieckmann reactions, amongst others. Participating students will also be trained in core techniques, including the use of column chromatography, distillation, TLC analysis and IR and NMR spectroscopy. Work will be undertaken in a working lab setting and will be supervised directly by Dr. Ciorsdaidh Watts.



3D Printing of Gels

Discipline: Chemistry
Supervisor: Prof. Dave Adams

Hydrogels prepared from low molecular weight gelators are formed as a result of hierarchical intermolecular interactions between gelators to form fibers, and then further interactions between the self-assembled fibers via physical entanglements to give a network. These interactions can allow hydrogels to recover quickly after a high shear rate has been applied. This means that it is possible to 3D print these gels (see figure). We are interested in directly being able to 3D print gels for a number of applications, but to be able to do this effectively, we need to understand the link between the networks formed and how effective the printing is. In this project, we will investigate a number of different gels that have different networks to determine which gels are best printed under a number of conditions.


Self-assembly in Polyoxometalates

Discipline: Chemistry
Supervisor: Dr. Laia Vilà-Nadal

Research in LVN group centers on understanding self-assembly. The strategies that nature employs to construct assemblies of polynuclear clusters are still unclear. During her career Dr. Vilà-Nadal studied the assembly process of metal oxide clusters– and described – in several publications, see below – that despite the great number of controlling factors, within the small nuclearity range, these systems can be understood combining theoretical simulations (e.g. DFT, MD, CPMD, etc.) and experimental methods (e.g. ESI-MS experiments, NMR, UV vis, etc.). In this research, we aim to understand, control and apply self-assembly to a wide range of molecular-based systems leading to control of assemblies made from a variety of hard, soft, and hybrid materials using theory. Initially, we will focus on two main applications of these newly designed molecules, firstly to improve existing complementary metal-oxide-semiconductors (CMOS) technology and secondly as all-inorganic porous materials (POMzites). The use of oxide-based materials in electronics provides a way to further increase the circuit density in electronic devices, beyond the limitations of lithography. POMzites conceptually, bridge the gap between zeolites and metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) and establish a new class of all-inorganic metal oxide frameworks that can be designed using topological and reactivity principles similar to MOFs. To start this work, we will leverage Dr. Vilà-Nadal ‘s experience in molecular metal oxides, or polyoxometalates (POMs) since they offer a route to achieve this control at a molecular level, and she has been working in the field for over 10 years.


Chemistry of the F-Elements

Discipline: Chemistry
Supervisor: Dr. Joy Farnaby

The f-elements (Ln and An) have wide applications in materials science as a result of their unique electronic, photo-physical, magnetic and nuclear properties. The processing of nano-structured materials from molecular precursors is increasingly important in the pursuit of lowering cost and increasing performance with device miniaturization. We are an inorganic group focusing on the synthesis of molecular f-element complexes and their transformation into materials.

We can offer projects in:

  • Luminescence Imaging
  • Catalytic Nanoparticles
  • Materials Synthesis
  • Ligand design
  • Molecular Synthesis
  • All projects will include synthetic air-sensitive coordination or organometallic chemistry (Schlenk-line, Glovebox) and characterization techniques (multinuclear NMR, EPR, XRD, UV-vis, IR, Electrochemistry).

Please contact me for further details.


Luminescence Switching using Plasmonics

Discipline: chemistry
Supervisor: Dr. Affar S. Karimullah

With the advent of technologies such as quantum computing and quantum radars, the need for new devices to control quantum states of materials is emerging. Luminescence is a property directly linked to the quantum state of a molecule. Using luminescence as a read-out mechanism we aim to control quantum states of organic molecules using plasmonics in an effort to create all light-based transistors. Our initial experiments have shown how the Purcell effect can be used to potentially achieve this goal. Specific plasmonic resonances have been able to trigger certain luminescent processes in organic molecules. The project will involve working with various nanofabricated plasmonic samples coated with specific organic molecules and measuring the changes in fluorescent properties with respect to the plasmonic design parameters.


Block copolymer self-assembly and polymer particles

Discipline: Chemistry

Polymer self-assembly is one of the major methods to synthesize defined polymer particles that can be utilized for various applications, e.g. as filler materials, for biomedical applications or optical applications. In our projects, we synthesize novel polymer particles from biocompatible polymers to achieve various structures in an aqueous environment, e.g. capsules or hydrogel particles. The particles will be used to encapsulate biomacromolecules (proteins or enzymes) as well as small molecules (dyes or drugs) or as a reaction environment (nano reactor). With the specific design of our polymers, we can introduce additional properties like degradability, stimuli-response or targeted delivery, which will be tailored according to the envisioned application. In the end, we target to utilize the particles in biomedical applications for example drug-delivery or enzyme therapy.


Psychology of behavior change: Healthy and sustainable food choices.

Discipline: Psychology
Supervisor: Dr. Jude Stevenson

This project will develop tools to promote food choices that benefit people and planet health. We will examine how people cognitively represent plant-based foods, and how these representations can be shifted to increase the desire for such foods. Working on this project will develop skills in a literature review, experiment design, running an online or field study, understanding qualitative and quantitative data, and presenting results to varied audiences.


Exploring adolescent wellbeing in the #sleepyteens research project

Discipline: Psychology
Supervisor: Dr. Jude Stevenson

This project involves working with survey data from thousands of Scottish adolescents in the national #sleepyteens research project, which includes measures of wellbeing, sleep and social media experiences. Students will be supported to review and present current research literature in this field. Students will develop skills in data wrangling and reproducible data analysis. 


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