Research Projects

Carbon nano-onions (CNOs): synthesis and surface modification for environmental remediation applications

In this project, CNOs are used for the removal of organic molecules from water solutions. Currently activated carbon is used due to its sorption properties for hydrophobic/lipophilic contaminants, like organic dyes and other contaminants of concern considering their bioaccumulation potential (i.e., triclosan–an antimicrobial component in personal care products such as toothpaste). Recent studies promote the use of activated carbon as an effective adsorbent of hydrophobic contaminants, even when such molecules are present at low concentrations. This is attributed to the high surface area and porosity of the carbon substrate. The problem with utilizing activated carbon is the later removal of the small particles from the treated water. To circumvent the problem, novel approaches have focused on functionalizing the activated carbon with magnetic materials, like magnetite Fe3O4 nanoparticles. In this way, the resulting material is an effective adsorbent and also susceptible to magnetic removal from the treated water solution. In the case of CNOs, the quasi-spherical shape (maximized surface area) of the material and its small size (i.e., 20 – 30 nm in diameter) makes it a promising candidate as an adsorbent of chemical pollutants. This is because the non-polar surface of the CNOs can cause the hydrophobic/lipophilic contaminants to cluster around them, concentrating them into a large particle that could be easily separated from the water solution by filtration or decantation. Also, the incorporation of magnetite nanoparticles into the surface of the CNOs can lead to a composite having magnetic properties, thus facilitating its extraction via magnetic removal.

FUNDED GRANT

Principal Investigator: Enhancing Undergraduate Research Experiences and Creative Activities - FAST Award - Synthesis of magnetite carbon nano onions composites for environmental remediation applications, 2021. Funding: $6,000.

Principal Investigator: College of Science and Engineering Technology - Summer Research Award - Carbon nano-onions (CNOs): synthesis and surface modification for environmental remediation applications, Sam Houston State University, 2019. Funding: $2,500.

Reformed Organic Chemistry Laboratories (ROC-Labs): an academic environment supported by cooperative learning and project-based experimentation

The goal of this project is to design an academic environment that introduces students to authentic experimental learning opportunities in Organic Chemistry. In this environment, learners will be able to experiment and not simply go through the motions of reproducing procedures in verification lab activities. This project responds to calls by expert and authoritative advising entities and agencies (e.g., National Research Council (NRC) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)) to transform laboratory instruction and realize its pedagogical potential. More specifically the project is expected to achieve desired goals such as those put forth by the NRC in 2005, for example, development of scientific reasoning, understanding of the nature of science, developing practical skills, and developing team working skills. The design of the program will be guided by the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) framework on performance expectations, cooperative learning, and project-based instruction. The proposed strategies have been adopted from recognized literature and are supported by evidence.

FUNDED GRANTS

Principal Investigator: Pilot Studies for Future Funding Program - Reformed Organic Chemistry Laboratories (ROC-Labs): an academic environment supported by cooperative learning and project-based experimentation, Sam Houston State University, 2021 – 2022. Funding: $14,400.

Principal Investigator: SHSU Individual Scholarship Internal Grant - Reformed chemistry laboratories: cooperative and project-based experimentation, Sam Houston State University, 2019 – 2020. Funding: $5,000.

Principal Investigator: College of Science and Engineering Technology - Summer Research Award - Design of novel lab experiences for Organic Chemistry at SHSU, Sam Houston State University, 2018. Funding: $2,500.

Improving student learning via active practice-oriented performance expectations in General Chemistry

Chemistry is an experimental science; consequently, extensive involvement with laboratory work provides an opportunity for learners to develop deeper connections between theoretical ideas and practical skills. This project aims to improve student learning of the core ideas and scientific skills needed to understand chemical phenomena. The project proposes a thoughtful design of novel in-class activities and assessments for the General Chemistry courses to meet its goal. The project will create a suite of active-learning in-class simulations and virtual laboratory experiences to promote data analysis and interpretation using available resources (i.e., virtual labs and simulations). All activities will have an assessment component to determine the impact of student learning activities and the potential benefit to students’ overall performance in the course. This project’s outcomes will provide a deeper understanding of the effectiveness of virtual chemistry experiences in chemistry teaching, thus contributing to undergraduate chemistry education.

FUNDED GRANTS

Principal Investigator: STEM Center at Sam Houston - Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: Integration of virtual chemical experiences into General Chemistry II via ChemCollective Labs. 2020. Funding: $1,800.

Principal Investigator: Teaching Innovation Grants (TIGs) - Implementation of self-explaining-based learning in Chemical Quantitative Analysis: improving conceptual understanding and scientific skills via active learning and performance expectations, Sam Houston State University, 2018 – 2019. Funding: $5,400.

Principal Investigator: Teaching Innovation Grants (TIGs) - Redesign of course, instruction, and assessment of chemical kinetics in General Chemistry II: improving student learning via active, practice-oriented performance expectations, Sam Houston State University, 2017 – 2018. Funding: $6,000.

A Comprehensive Model for Improving the Success of STEM Majors through the STEM Center

The STEM Center at SHSU seeks to increase the number and quality of STEM graduates by establishing a strong foundation for learning using innovative teaching practices and supporting students in finding research and internship opportunities and building lifelong skills needed for advancement and leadership in STEM careers.

fUNDED gRANT

Educational Assessment Specialist – Senior Personnel: “A Comprehensive Model for Improving the Success of STEM Majors through the STEM Center.” DUE - IUSE-DevelopmenT & Implem Institut & Comm Transform, 2017-2022. Funding: $2,028,798. Weblink