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Christian S

- Research Program Mentor

PhD Doctor of Philosophy candidate


chemistry, biochemistry, microbiology, biotechnology, infectious disease, how drug-resistant bacterial "superbugs" emerge, how we can discover new drugs in medicinal plants

Project ideas

Project ideas are meant to help inspire student thinking about their own project. Students are in the driver seat of their research and are free to use any or none of the ideas shared by their mentors.

Understanding Traditional Medicinal Plants through Modern Science

The field of ethnobotany takes inspiration from plants used in traditional medicines as a starting point for further research. This project would begin by picking a traditional culture with documented medicinal plants. I would help the student find some plants of interests based on the traditional use and then survey the literature for what kinds of molecules are found in the plant. From there, these different classes of molecules could be further studied using current scientific literature to hypothesize which chemicals in the plant might be responsible for its therapeutic capabilities. This could culminate in a final report walking through the process of discovery. Through this project, students would be able to learn more about other cultures, how to search the scientific literature, and how to form scientific hypotheses.

Microcrobes, Mutations, and Me

"Variants," "mutations," and "superbugs" are all words we might read in the news, but what do they mean? Bacterial infections are frighteningly becoming resistant to antibiotics. From HIV to SARS-CoV-2, viral mutations can affect severity of infection and drug resistance. Through this project, students would be able to select a microbe of interest (e.g. a bacteria, a virus, etc.) and then study how DNA mutations in its genome affect its ability to infect humans or other hosts. I would help students learn how to analyze DNA using open-source web programs. Students would then study the mutation using scientific literature searches to understand the public health ramifications. This project would culminate in a report and a mock infographic on the mutation(s) or variant(s) similar to ones circulated by the WHO and CDC.

The Backyard/Kitchen Table Scientist

How much scientific equipment do you have lying around? You might be surprised. I would help the student think outside the box and design a research project that can be completed from the comfort of their own home. From chemistry to ecology, the possibilities are limited only by creativity, not the resources available. Students would learn how to collect data with appropriate controls, create figures, and present scientific results in written and presentation-style formats.

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