Available URAP Projects Beginning Fall 2015


Apply for URAP by March 10 

Available projects

Dr. Cathy SariskyNew Drugs in the Dirt
Dr. Catherine Sarisky, Chemistry

The long-term goal of this project is to find novel soil bacteria and to identify and characterize their secondary metabolites for antibiotic properties.  The URAP scholar will use molecular biology, microbiology, genomics, biochemistry, enzymology, and analytical chemistry to search for and characterize novel antibiotics from soil bacteria.

Dr. Catherine Sarisky earned a B. A. in chemistry from New College of Florida and a M. S. and Ph. D. in chemistry from the California Institute of Technology, where she worked on protein structure and design with Dr. Stephen Mayo.  Her current research interests are the biosynthesis of purine molecules in archaea and in disease-causing microorganisms and the production of antibiotics by soil bacteria.

Dr. Tim JohannInvestigations into the Mechanisms of Antibiotic Resistance in Mycobacterium Tuberculosis
Dr. Tim Johann, Chemistry

Tuberculosis is a terrible disease that is responsible for more than one million deaths each year (World Health Organization).  The management of this disease has been complicated by the infectious agent developing resistance to many of the antibiotics used to treat it.  We aim to produce, purify, and characterize proteins that contribute to the various resistances demonstrated by this bacterium.  By doing so, we hope to gain understanding that would help other research groups produce better antibiotics or use current antibiotics in a more effective manner.

Dr. Johann received his B.A. from Hamline University in biology and chemistry.  He earned his Ph.D. in chemistry from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech).  He had a seven year career in biotechnology where he was a scientist, project manager, and the director of a research group.  After leaving industry, he taught for four years at Radford University and is now pleased to be a member of the Roanoke College Department of Chemistry.  His hobbies include cooking, reading science fiction, playing games with his 8 year old son, and reading to his 2 year old daughter.

Self-Healing Polymers: Fundamentals of the Diels-Alder Reaction
Dr. Gary Hollis, Chemistry

Polymers are giant molecules made up many, many repeating chemical units, and these compounds are used to make most of the materials you use on a daily basis.  The properties of polymers depend on their repeat units and the bonds which hold these repeat units together. This project will explore an area called self-healing polymers.  As these polymers degrade, applying heat can result in a mended polymer matrix.  We will be looking at using a cycloaddition reaction, called the Diels-Alder reaction, to do the chemical mending. Students will learn fundamental skills in synthesis, purification, and characterization of organic molecules.

Dr. W. Gary Hollis, Jr., Professor of Chemistry, received both his B.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill.  His dissertation described his work on the synthesis of Milbemycin D, a naturally-occurring macrolide with anthelmintic properties.  Since coming to Roanoke College in 1995, he has collaborated with more than 25 students to pursue synthetic projects using photochemical methods, organoboranes, metallocenes, perfluorinated hydrocarbons, and Diels-Alder polymers.  His research has been published in The Journal of the American Chemical Society, Tetrahedron Letters, Organometallic Chemistry, The Journal of Fluorine Chemistry, The Journal of Organic Chemistry, and The Journal of Chemical Education among others.

Studying the Supreme Course Justices and Their Law Clerks
Dr. Todd Peppers, Public Affairs

Dr. Peppers is looking for a URAP student to work on a host of different projects, including several projects studying the Supreme Court justices and their law clerks as well as a screenplay on the Supreme Court.  These projects require a student who can (1) help review and organize the personal papers of Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun, (2) conduct historical and legal research, and (3) assist in the updating of a data base on Supreme Court law clerks.

Todd C. Peppers earned his B.A. from Washington and Lee University, his J.D. from the University of Virginia, and his Ph.D. from Emory University.  After graduating from law school, he clerked for federal judges in Omaha, Nebraska and Roanoke, Virginia.  Prior to coming to Roanoke College, Dr. Peppers was a senior associate at the Atlanta-based law firm of Hawkins & Parnell.  His research interests include judicial institutions (especially the Supreme Court) and the death penalty.  Dr. Peppers is the author, co-author, or editor of two books and fifteen articles on the Supreme Court, Supreme Court law clerks, and the lower federal courts.  He is also the co-author of Anatomy of an Execution: The Life and Death of Douglas Christopher Thomas.

Apply for URAP by March 10

Other Opportunities to do Research (Non-URAP)

You may already know that taking part in student research is a great way to build a resume, develop relationships with professors and learn through firsthand experiences. But did you know that the science division is not the only one offering excellent research opportunities? Or that taking part in student research can help establish relationships with people located off campus?

Student research creatively blends hands on learning with a person's areas of interest, creating a convenient outlet for students to get involved while gaining knowledge and networking with others. Ranging from sociology to psychology and beyond, many departments at Roanoke College offer some form of student research opportunity. Our history department, for example, is currently working with Camp Powhatan as they try to uncover the history behind the camp through interviews and archeological digs. If you would like to take advantage of these great learning opportunities or would like to find out more about the student research being conducted in various departments, ask a professor or contact the Director of Student/Faculty Research at research@roanoke.edu.

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Science Giants

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Deadline: March 1st

(High School Students: You should apply during the winter of your senior year.)

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