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Welcome to the 2017 UMaine Student Symposium: Research and Creative Activity electronic event program. This electronic program includes student abstracts, student presentation style descriptions, and presentation schedules. It also includes a map of the venue layout, schedule of the entire day’s events and programs, as well as details and information regarding our sponsors and selected university programs.

We hope you enjoy a full day of student presentations, guest speakers, award ceremonies, and the chance to network with UMaine students, faculty, staff, as well as local and state industry and community leaders! 
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Monday, April 24 • 1:00pm - 2:15pm
Poster Presentations – Physical Sciences

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Robert Arthur

Chemistry, 1:00PM-2:15PM
Mechanisms of Photocatalytic Degradation of Ibuprofen | | Renewed interest in deep space travel has created a need for support systems that can sustain human life for long periods of time. One critical component will be energy efficient water purification systems. Due to closed loop recycling systems pharmaceuticals have the potential to accumulate over time in water supplies and have negative health effects on astronauts. Removal of these compounds is critical for mission success, but since energy availability is limited in space, an energy efficient solution must be adopted. Recently, photocatalysis has emerged as an effective method for elimination of pharmaceuticals from water. Photocatalysis utilizes semiconductor materials that absorb ultraviolet and visible light to generate reactive radical species that oxidize and break down pollutants. The Patterson Group has been investigating the photocatalytic degradation of ibuprofen by two different photocatalysts: titanium dioxide (TiO2) and bismuth oxychloride (BiOCl). We have observed that... Read More →

Aaron Bissonnette

Chemical Engineering, 1:00PM-2:15PM
Synthesis of Carbohydrate Chains | | Carbohydrates, sugars, are a type of important biological macromolecule. In order for carbohydrates to be utilized in diagnosing, preventing and curing diseases, scientists need large enough samples of the carbohydrates to study. It is difficult to obtain adequate samples of specific carbohydrates, since they are complex molecules that have many different ways in which the atoms and chemical bonds can be positioned and orientated. | | In order to investigate the automation of carbohydrates, an attempt to efficiently synthesize carbohydrate chains was undertaken. By tethering the carbohydrates together, we hypothesize that more efficient and selective reactions can be conducted. To investigate this hypothesis, glycosyl thiols were synthesized from the reducing sugar in 3 step and 41% yield. They were reacted with halo-silylethers obtained from precursor alcohols in 3 steps and 10% yield. The desired precursors were obtained in... Read More →

Antonia Carroll

Chemistry, International Affairs, 1:00PM-2:15PM
Tungsten oxide as an electro-catalyst for the electrolysis of water and the reduction of carbon dioxide | | The electro-catalytic properties of tungsten oxide (WO3) were analyzed for the electrochemical reduction of CO2. Techniques for the synthesis of hexagonal WO3 nanocrystals were first explored. Hexagonal nanowires with surface areas exceeding 100 m2/g and possessing both... Read More →

Calvin Chen

Chemistry Pre-Pharmacy Concentration, 1:00PM-2:15PM
OPTICAL MEMORY BEHAVIOR IN GOLD CORE – SILVER SHELLED NANOPARTICLES | | The demand for higher information digital storage ability has been increasing over the years. Current methods used in storage information contain problems such as a lack of electromagnetic radiation resistance and short life spans. Optical memory, a third potential form of information storage, has the potential to improve upon these cons. However, optical memory lacks acceptable mediums (compounds) that could be used to improve digital storage capabilities. This study is done to further explore and understand additional mediums for potential in optical memory devices. Photoluminescent studies of gold core silver shelled nanoparticles are reported. Laser excitation of 280 nm for gold core silver shelled nanoparticles at 78 K results in a decrease in luminescence intensity with increasing laser exposure time indicating the creation of non-luminescing species. A series of particles with varying sizes are reported with varying intensity reductions upon laser excitation dependent upon silver shell sizing. Increasing the sample temperature to 25 K results in the non-luminescing species going back to the original gold core silver shelled nanoparticle. | | Faculty Mentor: Howard... Read More →

Kevin Dietz

Chemistry, 1:00PM-2:15PM
Sythesis and Characterization of Tungsten Oxide Nanowires | | Hexagonal phase tungsten oxide nanowires (hex-WO3) were synthesized and found to have high activity for converting glucose to hydroxymethyl furfural (HMF) and Lactic Acid platform chemicals that are promising for p... Read More →

Graham Van Goffrier

Physics, Electrical Engineering, Minor: Mathematics, Minor: Nanotechnology, 1:00PM-2:15PM
Investigating a Correlation between Minimal Surfaces and Relativistic String Dynamics | | In bosonic string theory, the solutions to the string equations of motion may be expressed as two-dimensional manifolds in a relativistic spacetime. This research project sought to investigate the correspondence between these... Read More →

Laura Hartman

Quaternary and Climate Studies, 1:00PM-2:15PM
Frozen Volcano: Quantitatively Sourcing Ice Core Tephra Paleoclimate reconstructions from multiple ice cores rely on an accurately developed time scale. The best ice core dating method available is based on annual layer counting, which can be verified by radiometric dating and volcanic-based time markers. Volcanic time markers are identified in ice cores as sulfate peaks that coincide in time with known tropical volcanic eruptions. It is assumed that a large sulfate signal represents a section of the ice core that also contains volcanic particulates. To verify the affiliation of large sulfate peaks in ice cores with specific volcanic sources, geochemical fingerprinting of volcanic particles (tephra) extracted from ice cores is a common method. However, recent studies have suggested that there is a disconnect between the expected sulfate aerosol source and the tephra geochemical fingerprint. In this study we focus on the development of new methodology to improve quantitative geochemical measurements of very fine ( | | Faculty Mentor: Andrei... Read More →

Muhammad Hossen

Chemistry, Bioengineering, 9:15AM-10:30AM, 1:00PM-2:15PM
Dry & Wet Stiffness Increase and Structure Stabilization of Cellulose Nanofibrils (CNF) Aerogels in Aqueous Environment (Room 4 Presenter 3, 9:15AM-10:30AM) | | Porous cellulose nanofibrils (CNF) based aerogels are capable of absorbing and storing a significant amount of liquid inside the 3D structure. As the porosity of the CNF aerogels goes higher, the amount of liquid absorption increases linearly. One of the biggest problems of 3D CNF aerogels with high porosity is that the structure breaks down very rapidly in aqueous environments. Here we describe a method to overcome this deficiency by adding methacrylate functionalized carboxymethyl cellulose (MetCMC) into the CNF system followed by crosslinking between the methacrylate groups of MetCMC. The resultant polymer composite matrix successfully maintains a robust 3D structure without collapsing when rewetted and stored in aqueous environments. When rewetted CNF-MetCMC composite is freeze dried it maintains its size and shape whereas air drying causes shrinkage of the volume. Air dried CNF-MetCMC swells and increases in volume to some extent when rewetted. A greater mass fraction of CNF in the whole composition stabilizes the air dried structure against swelling in an aqueous environment. Cross-linking between methacrylate groups enhances the dry and wet modulus of CNF-MetCMC aerogels | | Co-authors: Alexander Lafrance, Matthew Talbot, Michael D Mason | | Measurement of Porosity of CNF Aerogels Using Silicone Oil (Section A Poster 27, 9:15AM-10:30AM) | | Freeze drying of aqueous slurries of cellulose nanofibrils (CNF) with different wt% of water generates CNF aerogels with different porosities. Measurement of CNF... Read More →

Jacquelynn Miller

Earth and Climate Sciences, 1:00PM-2:15PM
GROUND PENETRATING RADAR AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITE DELINEATION: QUANTIFYING RAPIDLY ERODING SHELL MIDDENS ALONG THE COAST OF MAINE | | Approximately 2000 aboriginal shell middens along the coast of Maine archive a unique record of cultural and climatic change, but these archaeological sites are lost to the sea through climate-driven coastal erosion and sea-level rise. Coastal middens are the result of pre-European accumulation of centimeters to meters of clam and/or oyster shells, with associated artifacts and faunal remains, and are records of past lifeways and environmental conditions. Additionally, analysis of faunal remains from these sites chronicles 5,000 years of Gulf of Maine coastal paleoenvironmental conditions. Currently, Maine lacks an informed plan of shell midden site monitoring and rescue because characterization has focused on expensive and destructive archaeological excavation. This project employs ground penetrating radar (GPR) to obtain high-resolution site extent and stratigraphic data using an efficient, cost-effective, and nondestructive survey method. GPR records below surface stratigraphy by noting differences in the electrical properties of the material that reflect variations in layer composition, compaction, grain size, or water content. A traditional geographic information system (GIS) comparison of aerial photography time-series allows quantification of shoreline erosion through time, but results indicate the need for an improved technique to understand rates of midden loss. This research will lead to the creation of a monitoring, preservation, and rescue plan for coastal shell middens in the state of Maine. As sea level continues to rise, and sites and the information they hold are currently disappearing, the need for the application of GPR and shoreline change studies of coastal shell midden sites in Maine is critical. | | Faculty Mentor: Alice... Read More →

Matthew Moyet

Biology, Chemistry, 1:00PM-2:15PM
Photodegradation of the Harmful Pesticide Carbaryl using Bismuth Nanoparticles | | We explore the use of bismuth nanoparticles and study their effect on the photodegradation of the pesticide carbaryl. Current methods of water treatment are ineffective at removing this harmful contaminant. Use of photocatalytic compounds allow treatment facilities to operate more efficiently and at lower operating costs. Industrial standards such as titanium dioxide were ineffective at degrading carbaryl using ultraviolet irradiation. Bismuth oxyhalides proved to be an effective alternative due to their increased conductance within the band gap. Bismuth nanoparticles were hypothesized to be more efficient due to a smaller band gap in the absence of electron-donating ligands. We synthesized a series of Bismuth nanoparticles and tested their photocatalytic capacity in the photodegradation of the harmful pesticide carbaryl. Nanoparticles were characterized using TEM, Raman, and X-Ray Diffraction. To monitor the degradation of carbaryl, we utilized luminescence spectroscopy to measure the rate of degradation over time. | | Faculty Mentor: Howard... Read More →

Dadoo Nayereh

Chemistry, 1:00PM-2:15PM
Cellulose nanofibrills (CNFs)-based hydrogels for biomaterials applications | | Hydrogels are 3D polymeric networks with high water content and are widely being investigated for biomedical applications such as tissue engineering and drug delivery. Polysaccharides have been used to fabricate hydrogels due to their natural abundance, biocompatibility, and immunogeniety. Additionally, polysaccharide-based hydrogels can provide mechanical and biological cues similar to those of the natural environments. Native cellulose nanofibrils (CNFs) are prepared in large scales from pulp by mechanical grinding methods in low cost. CNF hydrogels has been reported previously as scaffolds for tissue engineering because their fibrillar structure mimics the fibrous components of the extracellular matrix (ECM). Even at low polymer concentration, strong hydrogen bonding leads to physically cross-linked CNF hydrogels that lack stability and mechanical strength. Therefore, covalent cross-linking is need to provide the required stiffness and stability to the hydrogel. Current methods to covalently cross-link CNF suffer from either low cell viability or long gelation time. Also, these methods do not allow for spatiotemporal modification of the scaffold. Regarding these issues, CNF was functionalized with norbornene groups followed by light-induced thiol-norbornene cross-linking reaction to form hydrogels. Thiol-norbornene reaction is a fast and specific reaction and it is benign to live cells. Using this method, CNF-based hydrogels with tunable mechanical properties have been made and characterized. Enzymatic degradation of CNF, functionalized CNF, and CNF-based hydrogels have also been studied. | | Faculty Mentor: William... Read More →

Aaron Nicholas

Chemistry, 1:00PM-2:15PM
Microfabrication Design of Copper-Iodide Nanoparticle Based Sensors for Hostile Chemical Environments Copper (I) iodide (CuI) films have been previously reported as viable chemical sensors in the detection of volatile and harmful chemicals such as nerve and blister agents. In practice these films suffer from slow reaction times and high limits of detection. Modern sensors must be tailored for the unique demands of military operations, space travel, and industrial manufacturing and so must be flexible in design, wearable, reusable, and adaptable to new situations. For this project we envision the construction of a wearable sensor prototype using a highly controlled microfabrication synthesis of CuI nanoparticles. Because the nanoparticle microfabrication process can be automated, it is possible to remotely design sensors and digitally transfer sensor blueprints to field computers for printing. This technique allows for on demand printing of sensors utilizing a simple remote printing method. We have completed the Phase I of this project by synthesizing a series of CuI nanoparticles and exposing them to a variety of nucleophiles. Results show that these nanoparticles mimic their CuI cousins by emitting at different wavelengths depending on the chemical exposed. These nanoparticles outcompete previous CuI films but emitting brighter and changing color at a faster rate making them excellent candidates for Phase II sensor design. | | Faculty Mentor: Howard... Read More →

Hathaithep Senkum

Chemistry, 1:00PM-2:15PM
Synthesizing Amphiphilic Block Copolymers to prevent Marine Biofouling | | Adhesion of marine fouling on surfaces such as ship hulls, pipelines, and fishing nets causes higher fuel consumption and maintenance costs. Previously, tributytin-containing paints were used to prevent the marine settlement effectively, but they were toxic to marine animals. More environmentally friendly, amphiphilic block copolymers phase separate in nanoscale to reduce marine fouling. These amphiphilic coatings consist of both hydrophilic and hydrophobic regions on the surface that play a role in inhibiting protein adhesion and releasing fouling, respectively. Bottlebrush amphiphilic block copolymers have dense branches of a hydrophilic domain and a hydrophobic domain off of the polymer backbone. In this research, the bottlebrush amphiphilic block copolymer of hydrophobic polystyrene (PS) and hydrophilic poly(2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate) (PHEMA) side chain by using grafting-through ring opening metathesis polymerization (ROMP) approach are synthesized. Both side chains are synthesized via reversible addition fragmentation chain transfer (RAFT) polymerization, which have oxanorbornene functional groups for subsequent polymerization of the polymer chain backbone through ROMP. For the result, the polystyrenes with degree polymerization of 8, 31, 48, 60, and 82 are synthesized via RAFT technique with low dispersity. The bottlebrush polymers containing polystyrene side chain with DP of 8 and 31 are successfully synthesized through ROMP approach with low dispersity. | | Faculty Mentor: William... Read More →

Anushka Vithanage

Chemistry, 1:00PM-2:15PM
Synthesis & Ring opening polymerization of 6-alkoxymethyltetraydro-2-pyrone monomers to yield polyesters | | High consumption of fossil-based thermoplastic polymers have raised economic and environmental concerns, highlighting the need for renewable alternatives. Recent commercial renewable polyesters such as polylactic acid have delivered moderately comparable properties to certain fossil-based polymers, but suffer from several drawbacks such as low moisture resistance, brittleness and low working temperature. These limitations decrease their water barrier properties and make them unsuitable for high strength, high temperature applications. To overcome these limitations, novel renewable polyesters that have improved properties over existing material are needed. This work presents ring opening polymerization of a new, renewably sourced monomer, 6-alkoxymethyltetrahydro-2-pyrone, which is a lactone molecule bearing an alkoxy side group. This side functionality can potentially be altered to include aromatic moieties or changed from less to more bulky, yielding a library of monomers. Upon ring opening polymerization, these monomers can yield a series of polymers with enhanced and tunable properties. This research, therefore, spans three phases, which are monomer synthesis, polymerization, chemical and physical analysis. Currently, the 6-methoxymethyltetrahydro-2-pyrone have been successfully synthesized and the control of its polymerizability along with kinetic and thermodynamic aspects are being evaluated using gel permeation chromatography (GPC) and hydrogen nuclear-magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H NMR) for molecular weight and chemical characterizations. Polymers that display molecular weights up to ~5000 g/ mol in GPC have already been prepared. Overall, this novel synthesis approach enables fine-tuning of physical properties via a simple step of chemically changing the side group, and is anticipated to deliver versatile polyesters with widespread uses. | | Faculty Mentor: William... Read More →

Sarah Wheatley

Quaternary and Climate Studies, 1:00PM-2:15PM
Ancient Ashes: Pushing the limits of geochemical tephra analysis from ice core samples | | Analyzing ice cores offers a unique insight to paleoclimate studies. When the ice core is correctly dated, paleoclimate proxies can provide invaluable information about past climate shifts, perturbations or interactions of various climate forcers. In addition to other dating methods, it is common to use volcanic sulfate signals as independent time markers to which the ice core timescale is forced. However, recent studies have shown temporal disconnects between volcanic sulfate and tephra deposition from the same volcanic eruption. In a number of ice cores, some sequences show a lack of a sulfate aerosols signal where a layer of volcanic ash is present. Because of sample preparation and mounting limitations, only the geochemical composition of ash particles... Read More →

Colin Whitton

Chemistry, 1:00PM-2:15PM
Acid/Base Defect Sites on Tungsten Oxide Clusters | | Acid/Base Defect Sites on Tungsten Oxide Clusters | Colin Whitton, Francois Amar, Brian Frederick | | Faculty Mentor: Brian Frederick | | Co-authors: François Amar | | Exploration into the uses of woody biomass to synthesize alternative biofuels is a topic currently getting a lot of attention in the scientific community. We have demonstrated that tungsten oxide based materials can catalyze the removal of oxygen from bio-oil compounds to produce alternative biofuels with higher energy density. We are using density functional theory to calculate the adsorption of probe molecules, including ammonia and pyridine, to characterize the Lewis and... Read More →


Monday April 24, 2017 1:00pm - 2:15pm