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Faculty & Student Research Profiles

Dr. Gustavo Lopez, Department of Chemistry

Research interests

Dr. Gustave LopezMy research group has been working in the development and application of computational techniques to describe systems in condensed phase. Examples of such systems are atomic and molecular nanostructured materials, confined fluids, polymeric materials, and proton wires. In recent years, we have been working in the computational study of biomolecular systems in different biological environments.

Dr. Sarah Ohmer, Department of Latin American and Puerto Rican Studies

Research interests

Dr. Sarah OhmerA recent Fulbright Scholarship recipient, my Fulbright proposal, Witnessing Black Women's Traumas: Ritual and Creativity-Based Activism in Sao Paolo and Rio de Janeiro, took me to Brazil, where I research the arts as therapy for trauma.

Dr. Sandra Levey, Department of Speech-Language-Hearing

Research interests

Dr. Sandra LeveyMy research efforts have centered on sound production and perception, with a focus on multilingualism and ethnicity. I have received research grants for language studies in Kano, Nigeria and Bratislava, Slovakia. In 2009, I expanded my bilingual research to include research on multicultural differences in noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL), educating portable music player users in safe listening levels.

Dr. Stephen Redenti, Department of Biological Sciences

Research interests

Dr. Stephen RedentiThe loss of neural retina due to trauma or degenerative diseases like retinitis pigmentosa or age-related macular degeneration is a tragic and largely untreatable problem. Stem cell transplantation may someday be used to repair the damaged retina. Previous work has isolated embryonic stem cells and retinal progenitor cells, grafted these cells into diseased host retina, and demonstrated new cell incorporation into host retina. Using a tissue-engineering approach, stem cells can be combined with biodegradable polymers to increase survival for improved delivery during transplantation. The goal of our research is to further develop practical cell replacement strategies for repair of damaged retinal and other neural tissue.

Dr. Prabodhika Mallikaratchy, Department of Chemistry

Research interests

Dr. Prabodhika MallikaratchyWe are interested developing novel targeted therapeutic agents based on DNA aptamers against cancer and autoimmune disorders. DNA aptamers are small DNA sequences (typically <80mer), which can fold into 3-dimentional structures. These folded DNA aptamer structures have the ability to specifically recognize epitopes on receptor proteins expressed on membrane proteins in cancer cells. The method of selecting aptamers is called systematic evolution of ligands by exponential enrichment (SELEX). Our laboratory is focused on two major areas of aptamer research: 1. Investigation of novel SELEX technologies to select aptamers against biologically important cellular targets specifically expressed in cancer cells. 2. Design and synthesis of novel multivalent, multifunctional aptamer scaffolds for biomedical applications. We are also interested in structure-activity relationships of monomeric and multimeric aptamers.

Dr. Renuka Sankaran

Research interests

Dr. Renuka SankaranMy research interests include whole plant mineral nutrition and homeostasis, interaction of metal contaminants such as Cd with mineral nutrients in terms of ion transport, and the transfer of these minerals through the food chain. Research in the lab focuses on long distance translocation of inorganic ions via the xylem/phloem as well as short distance transport of these ions across various cellular and organellar membranes. The long term goal of this research is to help in developing strategies to enhance nutritional quality of plant foods while trying to mitigate Cd accumulation in these foods. Current research incorporates different physiological, molecular and biochemical tools in trying to gain understanding of the different molecular signals regulating the partitioning of both the essential and non essential ions to edible tissues.

Dr. Naphtali O' Connor

Research interests

Dr. Naphtali O' ConnorMy current research focus is the development of materials for biomedical applications. We recently developed a method for preparing polysaccharide-polyamine crosslinked hydrogels. We are currently exploring their application as anti-microbial and wound healing materials. We are also working on the development of curcumin based biomaterials as antibacterial agents and cancer therapeutics.

Student Profiles