2012 Award Winners-Environment at CMU - Carnegie Mellon University

2012 Meeting of the Minds Undergraduate Environmental Research Award

First Place:

Masanari Kato Chemical Engineering

Advisors: Robert Tilton Chemical Engineering | Newell Washburn Chemistry

"Synthesis and Surface Tension Reducing Performance of a Bacitracin-Derived Molecule"

Recent efforts in the development and production of "green" surfactants have been on the rise. This research focuses on the synthesis procedure and surface tension lowering performance of a potentially "green" and efficient bacitracin-derived surfactant. Its "green" quality is predicted by its biodegradable design, which comprises of bacitracin, a commonly used antibacterial peptide, coupled to C12 hydrophobic tails. In order to obtain these molecules, hydrazide linkages were formed by reacting dodecyl hydrazines and aspartic acid residues present in the peptide. The resulting products were then tested for surface tension reducing properties utilizing the Du Nuoy Ring to provide comparative results to unmodified bacitracin samples. Positive results from these measurements in surface activity can indicate possible antiseptic applications of the surfactant.

Runner Up:

Sophie Grodsinsky Civil and Environmental Engineering

Advisor: Elizabeth Casman Engineering and Public Policy

Nanomaterial Measurement Consistency

This research project aims to better unify nanomaterial risk research by identifying the important factors and properties affecting observed nanomaterial toxicity in published experiments involving different nanoparticle types and different living organisms through compilation of all existing experimental findings into a database to allow for enhanced analysis. Specifically, the data base will help by enabling meta-analysis of the results to more easily identify the best factors and properties indicative of toxicity risk of the many that are being researched currently by allowing for more efficient comparison between existing data. This work of collecting and manipulating data to become coparable and then coding it into the database for further analysis and comparison could significantly advance the current field of nanomaterial risk research. By making research more efficient in sharing the knowledge that has already been found along with highlighting the most important and least important properties to be included in risk models could progress the field beyond where it is now.

Runner Up:

Raphael Astrow Information Systems, Mallory Hayase Self-defined

Advisor: Randy Weinberg Information Systems

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