2014 Undergraduate Summer Research

Application process opens January 13, 2014 and will close February 7, 2014

General Information for Summer Research 2014

Summer research is limited to students attending Harvey Mudd College OR students from other colleges and universities who are past or current participants of the Upward Bound college preparatory program, Project SEED,  or similar programs.

Students will engage in an intensive 10-week research project under the mentorship of a Harvey Mudd College faculty member. Our undergraduate research program begins tentatively May 27 – August 1, 2014 (May 26 and July 4 are holidays).

Stipends will be set depending on class year. Applicants will receive notice of their status (accept/decline/wait list) by February 21, 2014.

Harvey Mudd College is a private, undergraduate college of science and engineering located in Claremont, California, about one hour east of Los Angeles. Questions should be directed to: kimberly_young@hmc.edu

Summer 2013

Summer 2014 Opportunities
Professor 2014 Brief Research Titles Extra information
Bob Cave In our group we use quantum mechanics to understand the structure and reactivity of atoms and molecules. In the coming year projects will range amongst:

  1. Studies of the excited states of short-chain polyenes in order to compare with puzzling experimental results
  2. Studies of electron transfer in non-aqueous solvents
  3. Detailed theoretical studies to provide accurate thermochemical results for molecules that are difficult to treat experimentally, and
  4. Studies of photochemically initiated reactions.
Email Dr. Cave for more information.

Ron Grimm

Surface science of solar energy conversion materials

The Grimmgroup is interested in studying and ultimately improving the solar energy conversion performance of semiconductors.  Materials such as cuprous oxide show great performance if produced in a high-temperature energy-intensive synthesis, but we’d like to know what the performance is like from copper oxide synthesized by electrodeposition.  Students in the Grimmgroup will use electrochemistry for synthesis, SEM for characterization, and non-aqueous photoelectrochemistry to quantify Cu2O’s energy conversion ability.

The Grimmgroup is also interested in Earth-abundant sulfide materials such as stibnite, Sb2S3.  Stibnite has an energetic band gap well matched for efficient tandem solar absorbers, and early studies have shown energy conversion efficiencies as high as 7%! But, no one has synthesized high quality single crystals and characterized the solar performance of that material. This spring and summer, we will use glassblowing and solid state synthesis techniques to make high quality crystals of Sb2S3, and we will characterize its performance with non-aqueous photoelectrochemistry. We will also characterize they ways in which different doping methods affect bulk and surface properties as well as how these methods affect solar energy conversion performance.

Email Dr. Grimm for more information.

Lelia Hawkins

Atmospheric chemistry: Characterization of light absorption and total organic carbon content of Los Angeles aerosol

The Hawkins lab has a sampling system to collect atmospheric aerosol particles (like smog), measure the UV/vis absorption spectrum of discrete samples, and measure the total organic carbon content of the particles.  Student(s) will (1) test the system to ensure no contamination from in-house air and (2) measure particles from the LA air for a continuous period of time. A literature-based research project will support the analysis process to aid in understanding how brown carbon aerosol forms.

Atmospheric chemistry: Using force microscopy for analyzing atmospheric aerosol particles

Single-particle morphology and composition for atmospheric aerosol are critical for understanding how particles impact climate (and climate change). We have begun to use Atomic Force Microscopy to measure individual particles here at HMC. Student(s) will use Atomic Force Microscopy to probe particle material properties as a function of temperature and composition. In addition, students will collect ambient particles to analyze.

Atmospheric chemistry: Developing a “fog” chamber to learn how fog formation and evaporation impact particulate matter composition

Many studies have shown that the presence of overnight fog can alter the chemical composition and mass of particulate matter. Sulfate in aerosol particles is elevated when air containing sulfur dioxide passes through clouds. Aqueous processes like this also impact the organic components of particles, but are less well understood. The Hawkins lab would like to develop a way to simulate fog conditions so that ambient (atmospheric) particles can be exposed to fog and then sampled. These particles can be compared to non-fog particles to learn more about the role of fog. Students will help test a super-saturation chamber to make fog in the lab.

Email Dr. Hawkins for more information.

Adam Johnson

Organometallic chemistry and asymmetric catalysis

My research involves the design and synthesis of amino alcohol ligands with tunable steric and electronic properties in order to develop better organometallic catalysts for interesting organic transformations. We use the standard techniques of organic synthesis as well a glove box or Schlenk line for working with air sensitive transition metal complexes. Our work uses variable temperature one- and two-dimensional NMR spectroscopy, kinetics experiments and theoretical modeling. I anticipate three main avenues of research for summer 2014: synthesis of new ligands, synthesis of new substrates, and mechanistic studies.

Email Dr. Johnson for more information

Rachel Levy

Surfactant Spreading on Thin Viscous Films

Our group studies the way surfactants, which lower surface tension, spread on thin liquid films. Currently we are testing mathematical models by conducting physical experiments and numerical simulations. Students can focus on the experiments, mathematical modeling and simulation or both.

Email Dr. Levy for more details.

Kathy Van Heuvelen

Bioinorganic chemistry investigates the role of metals in biological systems

Research in my group centers on two types of unusual reactivity exhibited by the nickel-containing cofactor F430 (found in the enzyme methyl-coenzyme M reductase, shown at right) and the cobalt-containing cofactor cobalamin (found in Vitamin B12). First, both cofactor F430 and cobalamin catalyze the dehalogenation of chlorinated pollutants in the environment. Second, cofactor F430 can catalyze the oxidation of methane, which is a major component of natural gas as well as a potent greenhouse gas. We will synthesize and characterize synthetic model compounds that reproduce key features of cofactor F430 and cobalamin in order to learn more about this unusual reactivity.  To this end we employ a variety of experimental tools, including standard inorganic synthetic techniques, spectroscopy (UV-visible, IR, NMR), and computational chemistry.

Email Dr. Van Heuvelen for more details.

Hal Van Ryswyk

Design, synthesis, and characterization of zinc porphyrin dyes for use on nanostructured zinc oxide photoanodes in dye-sensitized solar cells

Email Dr. Van Ryswyk for more information.