Hello everyone! We are Amy Conte, Grace Grimaldi, and Colin Scano, biology and biochemistry majors who work in Dr. Cornely’s lab thanks to the funding of Walsh Fellowships and Undergraduate Research Award grants. We are excited to share our work on knocking out genes in viral DNA and constructing recombinant plasmids. We hope that our research will contribute to the growing field of phage therapy — a promising method that uses mutant phages to treat bacterial diseases, such as tuberculosis. Before we get into the science, we would like to focus our first post on introducing ourselves.
Colin: I am a senior biochemistry major at Providence College. In the rare times I am not studying, I like to fill my free time with friends, playing piano, and reading. This is my first summer doing research for Dr. Cornely, so I am very excited to complete our project.
Grace: I will be a senior this fall, and I am a biology major and a math minor. Elsewhere on campus, I’m on the club field hockey team. I’m so excited to be working this summer with Colin and Amy on creating mutant phages!
Amy: I am an upcoming senior biochemistry major/math minor from South Kingstown, Rhode Island. At PC, I am a research student, teaching assistant, the treasurer of Sigma Xi, and a volunteer for the StepUP mentoring program. Outside of doing schoolwork, I enjoy running, listening to music, traveling, and going to the beach.
We hope you check back throughout the summer to see what we’re up to!
Hello everyone! We are Amy Conte, Grace Grimaldi, and Colin Scano, biology and biochemistry majors who work in Dr. Cornely’s lab thanks to the funding of Walsh Fellowships and Undergraduate Research Award grants. We are excited to share our work on knocking out genes in viral DNA and constructing recombinant plasmids. We hope that our […]MORE
It’s been a week since I finished summer research and life is different. It feels weird not being in the lab every day. I miss all the fun moments I had in the lab with the research team. I miss listening to hip-hop and R&B while working up a reaction. I miss getting lunch with my lab mates almost every day. Bianca, Matt, Gersham, Kyle, Yazan & I became so close that we all developed a special bond. We became so comfortable with each other that we would talk about anything. I would look forward to our lunch dates every day. We went to a lot of great restaurants Providence has to offer like The Abbey, Anthony’s, and many others on Thayer St., like East Side Pockets.
In the last few weeks of research, our biggest adventure was the 10th Annual Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) Conference at the University of Rhode Island. The SURF program funds most of the research conducted over the summer throughout Rhode Island. In turn, researchers funded by SURF attend the conference and present their work. Our group presented our work by assembling a poster containing all the projects we worked on this summer. The conference was great because the team and I got to present all our hard work and got to see many other chemists, biologists, and biochemists. We were also hands-down the best dressed group at the conference! See the picture for yourself. We kept on receiving compliments from multiple people on how well dressed we were. It was nice to get dressed up and not wear sweatpants all day for once.
I am close to finishing my project which is a-carboline synthesis. I completed the final step of my project the day before the conference, and I produced high yields! Although summer research is over, that doesn’t mean my research is over. I plan on continuing my research in the fall. I’m looking forward to completing my project and all the chemistry that awaits me in the year to come! I’d like to thank Dr. Mulcahy and the Providence College Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry for granting me the opportunity do research this summer. I have learned a lot, and I can’t wait to continue learning in the upcoming semester. I’d also like thank all of you for reading my blog and keeping up with all the exciting events that happened this summer.
It’s been a week since I finished summer research and life is different. It feels weird not being in the lab every day. I miss all the fun moments I had in the lab with the research team. I miss listening to hip-hop and R&B while working up a reaction. I miss getting lunch with my lab mates almost every […]MORE
It’s finally starting to feel like summer here in Friartown. The sun is out, the days are longer, and everyone wants to be at the beach! For the first couple weeks of research, it was raining and always cold outside, as if it were October. One of my lab mates, Yazan, who is from Jordan, asked us in lab one day “Is this how summer is here in Rhode Island?” We told him that the weather we experienced the first few weeks of research was very unusual, especially for May and June. We also told Yazan that New England weather is very unpredictable and to always be ready for anything.
I have completed my first five weeks of research and I feel like the time is flying by. I feel like 2017 is flying by, and I will be graduating in no time. Now that I am halfway done with summer research, I now have a good feel for the lab and I know where almost everything is. I run experiments on my own, and Dr. Mulcahy does not have to shadow everything I do anymore. It feels great to do the work on my own and to know that whenever I have questions Dr. Mulcahy, is around to help. In the remaining five weeks, I will be running completely new chemical reactions and doing completely new science. I’m excited to be doing new science and it is one of the many joys of research. Be on the lookout for some new chemistry coming your way soon!
On another note, there is a lot of construction happening on campus this summer, but the project I’m most excited about is the construction of the new science complex. When I walk to lab every day, I pass the construction site and see all the hard work being done. In fact, where my lab is located, I have a perfect view of all the construction that is happening to the science complex. However, it can be frustrating to work while there is construction. One time I was trying to weigh out one of my reagents for a reaction and I could not get a steady number for the weight. It was due to the construction workers who were taking out a sidewalk and causing the ground to shake. Then, one other time this summer the construction triggered the fire alarm and everyone had to evacuate the building. Minor things like that are not a big deal because when the science complex will be finished, it will all be worth it in the end. The science complex will open fall 2018 – the fall semester of my senior year. I’m looking forward to working in the new labs and doing work in the new complex.
Hello everyone, It’s finally starting to feel like summer here in Friartown. The sun is out, the days are longer, and everyone wants to be at the beach! For the first couple weeks of research, it was raining and always cold outside, as if it were October. One of my lab mates, Yazan, who […]MORE
Welcome back, guys!
Well, the biologists won the wiffle ball game 11–10. I, however, think that the chemists had a better spirit, and we should have gotten bonus points for having professors participating on our team.
The last week of research consisted of finishing up summer trials and preparing for research in the fall semester. For many of the researchers, that also included preparing a poster to present at the 9th Annual RI SURF Conference. SURF, or the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship program, helps undergraduate researchers in Rhode Island fund their summer research, and most research students in Rhode Island come together with faculty and guests to share their work at the end of the summer. I presented my research last year and had a complete blast.
This year, however, I did not make a poster for the conference (we’re saving our findings for the American Chemical Society conference in San Francisco!), but I still made an appearance and learned what everyone was up to in Al Mag this summer. Here’s a picture of the chemistry kids wearing something other than sweatpants for the first time in two months.
I also learned about what the other departments were up to – from tracking circadian rhythms in rats to isolating predatory bacteria, Providence College researchers sure got a lot done!
To celebrate the success of the SURF Conference, Dr. Mulcahy invited the undergraduate research chemists, the professors, and their families to his house for a barbecue/potluck! Even though I made a poor showing by just bringing some lemonade, the day was filled with burgers, homemade guacamole, hot-pockets, and Oreo-themed dessert! We also managed to play a few rounds of Spike-Ball despite our incapacitated stomachs.
Then, unfortunately, it was time to say goodbye to the summer crew; but a goodbye for scientists usually never lasts more than a few weeks! Unlike other fields of study where research occurs primarily in the summertime, research in Albertus Magnus continues year-round. I’ll continue my research with Dr. Breen as well; you won’t be able to kick me out of that lab until I graduate. Looking forward, I’m going to be researching how cell membranes interact with plastic nanoparticles, keeping in line with my ocean-themed research.
To cap off the summer, I’m going to leave you with an insight from one of our chemistry professors that I think captures the essences of what goes on in Friartown when the rest of campus has gone home: “If we knew what we were doing, it wouldn’t be research” – Dr. Overly
Research is all about reaching out into uncharted territory in creative and practical ways. You hardly ever know the answer or if there is going to be an answer; and sometimes that can get frustrating, but it’s a small price to pay for being a part of the community set to solve the world’s problems and uncover mysteries that the Earth has left buried for us to find.
Thanks to everyone who kept up with my adventures in and out of the lab in the summer. If you need to find me, I’ll be reading science-y books and lounging by my pool until they let me back in the Fall!
Welcome back, guys! Well, the biologists won the wiffle ball game 11–10. I, however, think that the chemists had a better spirit, and we should have gotten bonus points for having professors participating on our team. The last week of research consisted of finishing up summer trials and preparing for research in the fall semester. […]MORE
After more than a month of wandering around Al Mag, I’m finally moving into my renovated lab! That means I’m going to spend the majority of the day carting chemicals back and forth and attacking things with a label maker. Unpacking boxes also means finding objects that have been hiding in a lab for 20 years and attempting to find a spot for them. How am I supposed to categorize an old computer mouse, a pink geode crystal that looks like it was purchased from an aquarium, and a mysterious wooden box labeled ‘government property?’
Max is not having nearly as much fun as I am this summer — he suddenly entered a coma during one of our trials. He refused to respond and is currently in New Jersey seeking treatment.
Although this tragedy set us back quite a bit, Roger Williams University down the road in Bristol, R.I., offered for us to come down and use their fluorometer while Max is recovering. We’ve also spent some time at URI this summer — proving that science really is about collaboration. That chemistry collaboration also exists within the Providence College Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. There’s actually so much collaboration that I convinced my fellow researchers in the department to star in a little video that I decided to make one afternoon as a spoof of The Office.
Despite taking group trips to the grocery store, going on coffee runs to several different places, and hanging out with friends and seeing Finding Dory (in addition to shooting and editing that entire video), I promise I do actually get work done in lab. We just finished collecting all of the data for the Extended Lipid Hypothesis project last week and are slowly chipping away at writing the paper. I consolidated all of the data into graphs for the easiest display and wrote the “experimental,” or the procedure, so far. Hopefully it’ll be published in time for me to apply to graduate school!
Since I’m done collecting data for that project, I’m focusing more heavily on my second project while the paper is coming together. The second project I’m working on consists of radiating different plastics, specifically polystyrene and PMMA (polymethyl methacrylate) with UV light and observing how their chemical structure changes as a result. When plastics come in contact with UV light for an extended period of time, the UV light breaks weaker bonds in the structure of the plastics and creates substances with odd-numbered electrons known as free radicals. These free radicals then react with the other particles of plastic and with each other — altering the chemistry of the plastic.
We monitor the plastics, furthermore, in water, and eventually hope to study this degradation of plastic in a mock-ocean environment. That way we can hope to better understand how plastics in our ocean affect the environment so we can work on preventing those effects!
That’s all for now. Stay tuned for more information on my summer research in Friartown (and the much more important Chemistry vs. Biology wiffle ball game rumored to happen this weekend)!
Hi guys! After more than a month of wandering around Al Mag, I’m finally moving into my renovated lab! That means I’m going to spend the majority of the day carting chemicals back and forth and attacking things with a label maker. Unpacking boxes also means finding objects that have been hiding in a lab […]MORE