CURE Examples


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Community Flood Risk Assessment from Rising/Surging Seas Project
Kevin Kupietz, Elizabeth City State University
Globally 634 million people, 10% of the world's population, live in coastal areas less than 10 meters above sea level. According to 2010 census data, 123 million people, 39% of the United States population, live in coastal counties with an estimated increase to this number by 8% in the 2020 census. As natural disasters have been seen to increase in frequency and severity in the past five years coupled with expected sea rises from climate change it is important that anyone involved with the safety and resiliency planning of their organization/community have an understanding of how to scientifically assess risk from flooding in order to mitigate and recover from the effects. This project allows students the ability to develop skills to utilize computer modeling systems and to apply the data to real world communities in examining risk to structures as well as different groups in the community.

Discipline: Environmental Science, Geoscience:Hydrology, Environmental Science:Sustainability, Land Use and Planning, Oceans and Coastal Resources, Geoscience:Ocean Science, Geoscience, Computer Science, Engineering, Social Sciences, Sociology, Psychology, Environmental Science:Global Change and Climate, Natural Hazards, Ecosystems
Core Competencies: Developing and using models, Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering), Planning and carrying out investigations, Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering), Using mathematics and computational thinking, Analyzing and interpreting data
Nature of Research: Applied Research
State: North Carolina
Target Audience: Major, Non-major, Upper Division
CURE Duration: A full term

Synthesis of the Intermediate of a Catalytic Reaction: An NHC-Stabilized, First-Row Transition Metal Complex
Meng Zhou, Lawrence Technological University
The advanced synthesis laboratory course object allows students to study the synthesis, purification, and characterizations of a new diamagnetic organometallic complex of a first-row transition metal. The air-stable complex is stabilized by an N-heterocyclic carbene spectator ligand. It also bears an actor ligand and therefore, is potentially a reactive intermediate of a catalytic reaction. The synthesis of a reactive intermediate is the key to elucidate the mechanism of catalysis. The instructor chooses the first-row transition metal and the actor ligand based on his or her interests. The CURE starts from an NHC-ligated complex that does not bear this actor ligand but is otherwise similar. In our CURE, an anion ligand-replacement reaction was used to install the actor ligand, but an instructor may choose other approaches. The students will evaluate their results by standard spectroscopic analyses using UV-vis, FT-IR, and proton NMR (60 MHz or above) analysis.

Discipline: Chemistry:Organic Chemistry, Inorganic Chemistry
Nature of Research: Basic Research, Wet Lab/Bench Research
State: Michigan
Target Audience: Upper Division, Major
CURE Duration: A few class periods

Laser spectroscopy of atmospherically relevant molecules and clusters in helium nanodroplets
Paul Raston, James Madison University
Superfluid helium nanodroplets present an ideal medium for the study of chemical dynamics at the molecular level. Their low temperature, enormous heat conductivity, and weakly interacting nature allow for the investigation of various things, such as how molecular rotation is effected by a solvent, and how molecules interact with each other. These two topics will be addressed in the lab by (1) measuring the spectra of unexplored molecules in helium nanodroplets and determining their rotational constants; this data will then be used to test known models describing the interaction between the molecule and helium solvent, and (2) synthesizing and characterizing unexplored molecular clusters in an effort to better understand molecular solvation; students will solvate the "unexplored molecule" with an atmospherically relevant species (O2, N2, H2O), and investigate the resulting clusters with laser Stark spectroscopy.

Discipline: Chemistry:Physical Chemistry
Core Competencies: Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering), Using mathematics and computational thinking, Planning and carrying out investigations, Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering), Analyzing and interpreting data, Developing and using models
Nature of Research: Basic Research
State: Virginia
Target Audience: Non-major, Upper Division, Major
CURE Duration: A few class periods, Multiple terms

Design2Data
Ashley Vater, University of California-Davis
The D2D program is centered around an undergraduate-friendly protocol workflow that follows the design-build-test-learn engineering framework. This protocol has served as the scaffold for a successful undergraduate training program and has been further developed into courses that range from a 10-week freshman seminar to a year-long, upper-division molecular biology course. The overarching research goal of this CURE probes the current predictive limitations of protein-modeling software by functionally characterizing single amino acid mutants in a robust model system. The most interesting outcomes of this project are dependent on large datasets, and, as such, the project is optimal for multi-institutional collaborations.

Discipline: Chemistry:Biochemistry, Life Sciences:Molecular Biology, Chemistry
Core Competencies: Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering), Using mathematics and computational thinking, Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering), Analyzing and interpreting data, Developing and using models, Planning and carrying out investigations
Nature of Research: Wet Lab/Bench Research, Basic Research, Applied Research
Target Audience: Non-major, Upper Division, Introductory, Major
CURE Duration: Multiple terms, A full term

Race & Incarceration in The USA Overtime: Analysis of Trends & Forecast
Shyamal Das, Elizabeth City State University
The course in Race and Ethnic Relations examines the evolving nature of America's social and cultural diversity in terms of different race and ethnic groups (Whites, Blacks, Hispanics, Asian-Americans, and American-Indians), and the issues of racial prejudice, hatred, and discrimination in the country. In so doing, students complete the final paper based on research on the relationship between race and incarceration. The research utilizes arrest data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics website. Students derive the research questions and corresponding hypotheses based on their review of literature. Based on their data analysis, they attempt to explain or interpret the arrest data on the relationship between race and the arrest rates by types of crimes. There two steps: (1) individuals complete data gathering and analysis as well as interpretation in the first place; and (2) groups will be formed by at least three students in each. The groups will prepare the final group paper and present the findings in the class. The current assignment illustrates on the Step 1 of the final project. Each student will select an assigned crime type (see the Assignment Topics) from the Bureau of Justice Statistics database, and run the graphs to show the trends by race. Assess whether students can explain the arrest rates by race. Then each student runs another analysis to forecast the arrest rates for the coming ten to fifteen years. The final group outcomes will be presented in the class. The proposed CURE incorporates a STEM component into social science as students run forecasting models for an important social problem in the USA.

Discipline: Statistics, Social Sciences:Sociology
Nature of Research: Basic Research
Target Audience: Non-major, Upper Division, Major
CURE Duration: A full term

Metabolic Engineering of terpene and cannabidiols in hemp cell culture
Jennifer Normanly, University of Massachusetts-Amherst

Random gene mutagenesis for gene identification linked to prodigiosin production in Serratia marcescens
Verena Carvalho, University of Massachusetts-Amherst
This lab course is designed to provide course-based undergraduate research experiences. You will learn how to prepare, execute, and interpret your own experiments. While all of you will conduct the same techniques in the course, each of you will create their own sets of mutant strains and study different features of your bacterium. We will study Serratia marcescens, an opportunistic, nosocomial pathogen, and is particularly linked to catheter-associated bacteremia, urinary tract infections, and wound infections. It is responsible for 1.4% of hospital-acquired infection cases in the United States. These bacteria are commonly found in the respiratory and urinary tracts of hospitalized adults, and in the gastrointestinal systems of children. Many strains of S. marcescens have a bright red colony color (a tripyrrole pigment called prodigiosin), while pigment production is often temperature-dependent. Prodigiosin is a secondary metabolite, and its expression is thought to be related to phosphate limitation. It was also identified as a natural bioactive substance with high potential for antibiotic and anti-cancer applications. It currently receives renewed attention for its wide range of potential applications, including activities as antimalarial, antifungal, immunosuppressant, and antibiotic agents. It is also prominently known for its capacity to trigger apoptosis of malignant cancer cells, and high activity against stationary phase Borrelia burgdorferi, the causative agent of Lyme disease, has been demonstrated. Given its diverse effects, the exact mechanisms are currently not elucidated, and may be highly complex, including phosphatase inhibition, copper mediated cleavage of double stranded DNA, or disrupting the pH gradient through transmembrane transport of H+ and Cl- ions. Clearly, prodigiosin is a highly promising drug candidate, and is currently in preclinical phase study for pancreatic cancer treatment. In this course, we will use the transposon Tn5 to generate random mutations in the chromosome of Serratia marcescens. The transposon will be provided by a plasmid hosted in a donor E. coli strain, and transferred into your test bacterium via conjugation. We will then first select for successfully transposed mutants by testing for antibiotic resistance, and screen for your mutants that are altered in their pigment production. To identify the gene where the mutation has happened, we will remove the chromosomal DNA from the mutant strains, perform restriction enzyme digest, and generate self-circulating DNA. These plasmids are transformed into an E. coli strain that can replicate the fragment of genomic DNA that contains the transposon, and we can sequence the insertion site with the transposon DNA as anchor. In summary, in this course you will gain hands-on experience with modern genetic and biotechnological techniques, you will gain insights into bioinformatics and into working with public databases, which are all essential skills in modern microbiological research.

Discipline: Life Sciences:Microbiology
Core Competencies: Planning and carrying out investigations, Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering), Analyzing and interpreting data
Nature of Research: Wet Lab/Bench Research, Basic Research, Applied Research
State: Massachusetts
Target Audience: Major, Upper Division
CURE Duration: A full term

Water in Gen Chem
Ruthanne Paradise, University of Massachusetts-Amherst

Discipline: Chemistry:Environmental Chemistry, Chemistry, Environmental Science:Water Quality and Quantity, Environmental Science, Chemistry:Analytical Chemistry
Core Competencies: Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering), Planning and carrying out investigations, Analyzing and interpreting data
Nature of Research: Applied Research
State: Massachusetts
Target Audience: Major, Non-major, Introductory
CURE Duration: A full term

PHYS 102 Modern Physics with CURE/PBL
Pei-Chun Ho, California State University-Fresno
A component of course-based research experience (CURE)/ Project-Based Learning is implemented in this course. Students (two per group) will have to choose and design a project based on Modern Physics to perform research-style activities. Students will work on a project over a semester to engage in solving a real-world problem or answering a complex question. As a result, students can develop deep content knowledge as well as critical thinking, creativity, and communication skills in the context of doing an authentic, meaningful project. Examples of proposed projects can be thermal radiation related, such as solar cell, dye-sensitized-solar cell, heat-load analysis, and thermal-imaging analysis. In the end of semester, each group need to make a poster to showcase the results. The outcome of CURE is to prepare students for academic, personal, and career success and readies them for the challenge of our environment on Earth and global competition.

Discipline: Physics:Thermodynamics, Quantum Physics
State: California
CURE Duration: A full term