Wheaton, IL, United States

Wheaton College at Illinois

Wheaton, IL, United States
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Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Navy | Program: STTR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 79.99K | Year: 2015

This effort, led by WElkins, LLC and its research partner, Wheaton College, proposes to develop and test a next generation SDV human thermal interface system with major technical improvements in three areas: the thermal interface garment, umbilical connections, and fluid delivery system. To improve the thermal interface garment, WElkins proposes replacement of the current generation tube suit with a multi-zone printed circuit heat exchanger, which provides a larger and more effective surface area for heat exchange; this next generation heat exchanger will feature enhanced passive insulation and be integrated directly into the dry/wet suit for improved wearability. Improvement of the umbilical connectors will leverage WElkins experience developing custom hydraulic-pneumatic connectors for its medical devices; innovations will target ease-of-use and reliability in low-visibility, limited-dexterity conditions. On the fluid delivery system, this effort proposes enhancements to the fluid delivery lines and couplings to improve thermal efficiency across the system; again, WElkins medical device R&D experience and current technology will support the proposed improvements. Following requirements definition and preliminary concept, WElkins and Wheaton College will model, simulate and evaluate the feasibility of the proposed improvementsboth as independent elements and a comprehensive systemusing computerized fluid and thermodynamic tools.

Francis S.H.,Vanderbilt University | Busch J.L.,Wheaton College at Illinois | Corbin J.D.,Vanderbilt University
Pharmacological Reviews | Year: 2010

To date, studies suggest that biological signaling by nitric oxide (NO) is primarily mediated by cGMP, which is synthesized by NO-activated guanylyl cyclases and broken down by cyclic nucleotide phosphodiesterases (PDEs). Effects of cGMP occur through three main groups of cellular targets: cGMP-dependent protein kinases (PKGs), cGMP-gated cation channels, and PDEs. cGMP binding activates PKG, which phosphorylates serines and threonines on many cellular proteins, frequently resulting in changes in activity or function, subcellular localization, or regulatory features. The proteins that are so modified by PKG commonly regulate calcium homeostasis, calcium sensitivity of cellular proteins, platelet activation and adhesion, smooth muscle contraction, cardiac function, gene expression, feedback of the NO-signaling pathway, and other processes. Current therapies that have successfully targeted the NO-signaling pathway include nitrovasodilators (nitroglycerin), PDE5 inhibitors [sildenafil (Viagra and Revatio), vardenafil (Levitra), and tadalafil (Cialis and Adcirca)] for treatment of a number of vascular diseases including angina pectoris, erectile dysfunction, and pulmonary hypertension; the PDE3 inhibitors [cilostazol (Pletal) and milrinone (Primacor)] are used for treatment of intermittent claudication and acute heart failure, respectively. Potential for use of these medications in the treatment of other maladies continues to emerge. Copyright © 2010 by The American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: MAJOR RESEARCH INSTRUMENTATION | Award Amount: 36.18K | Year: 2011


This Major Research Instrumentation grant supports acquisition of an ion chromatograph (IC) to support research and undergraduate education at Wheaton College, a non-Ph.D granting institution. The IC will support PI and student research that will benefit from the ability to measure low concentration (sub ppb) anions and cations in natural water samples. Example research projects that will benefit include studies of CO2 and solute fluxes from hot springs in the Nepal and the Bhutan Himalaya, examination of the impacts of sea-ice cover on biological productivity in the Amundsen Sea, and investigation of the impacts of permafrost degradation on stream and river biogeochemistry across East Siberia. The IC will also support PI high school outreach efforts using the IC through an extant Milton Academy ? Wheaton College high school environmental science summer watershed impact study.


This project will further understanding of ocean-ice-atmosphere interaction around the Jakobshavn Isbrae and Disko Bay region of west Greenland, with a particular focus on the role of sea surface temperature and sea ice variability in modulating past outlet glacier behavior and ice sheet/cap mass balance (snowfall and melt) over the past two centuries. The PIs will reconstruct past environmental conditions in the Disko and Baffin Bay region based on new glaciochemical and stratigraphic records from three 100-m deep ice cores, several firn cores, and geophysical studies from three sites surrounding Disko Bay. Their field activities will commence in 2013 with the primary ice coring activity in 2014 and lab and computation work following to derive climate reconstructions from the cores. The results will complement recent glaciological studies of regional ice dynamic behavior, as well as recent paleoceanographic and glacial geologic reconstructions of conditions from this area and era. Das and Frey will each supervise a full-time PhD student, and Evans will supervise undergraduate research assistants and senior theses. A high school science teacher will also participate in the field work and interact with students at his school in Massachusetts as well as from the ice.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 141.17K | Year: 2012

In this project, Prof. Maria T. Buthelezi and her students at Wheaton College receive support under the auspices of the Research in Undergraduate Institutions (RUI) activity from the Chemical Structure, Dynamics and Mechanism (CSDM) program of the Division of Chemistry to investigate the thermosolvatochromism and photochromism of spiropyran inclusion complexes with cyclodextrins and cyclophanes. In addition to the fundamental scientific appeal of studying this process, photochromic conversion of spiropyran (SP, closed ring form) to merocyanine (MC, open ring form) may be used in the development of on-and-off optical switching applications and materials for photochromic switches, photochromic lenses (optometry), fluorescent biomarkers, nanothermometers, and drug delivery devices. However, these photo- and thermal-interconversion processes are solvent dependent and thermally unstable, which have slowed the pace of application development using this system. In this project, systematic investigation of the impact of host compound structure and solvent composition on spiropyran/merocyanine interconversion will be investigated using steady-state optical spectroscopy, nanosecond time-resolved optical spectroscopy, calorimetry and computational methods. These studies are expected to identify combinations of host compound and solvent that stabilize the spiropyran/merocyanine system.

Spiropyran is a photochromic and thermochromic molecule. Under visible light, spiropyran (SP) solutions are colorless, but when subjected to ultraviolet light, the solutions become colored as merocyanine (MC) is formed. When MC solutions absorb visible light, MC is converted back to SP molecule and the solution color disappears. This interconversion can be initiated with heat in some solvent mixtures. Conversions like this can be used in many important applications such as eyeglasses that adapt to varying light levels and optical digital storage devices. Utilizing this specific conversion in these kinds of applications requires a thorough understanding of how the solution components affect the conversion process. Prof. Buthelezi and her students will investigate this process under many conditions and using many methods in an effort to develop that understanding. The undergraduate students at Wheaton College will be involved in all aspects of this project and the hands-on experience gained from the proposed project will impact significantly their professional outlook and prepare them to pursue graduate or health professional studies and for eventual employment in academia, government laboratories, and industry.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: CERAMICS | Award Amount: 264.78K | Year: 2011

NON-TECHNICAL DESCRIPTION: This three-year research project is investigating a promising class of materials for use as lighting and/or laser applications. The materials of interest are oxides containing the rare earth ions praseodymium and terbium, which give off red and green light, respectively. These materials are interesting because there exists a quantum state that allows ultraviolet energy to be put into the system efficiently. Subsequently, that energy can be transformed to red or green light. By changing the composition of the materials, it is possible to alter the characteristics of this quantum state to maximize the energy input and extract light at the desired color. The goals of the project are to: (1) gain insight into the physical and chemical properties of this state, and (2) to optimize the visible light output of these systems for applications to phosphors used in solid-state lighting and in display materials, and for solid-state laser applications.

TECHNICAL DESCRIPTION: This three-year research project investigates a charge transfer state of d0 transition metal oxides doped with rare-earth ions (praseodymium and terbium) using the techniques of luminescence spectroscopy. The project includes an experimental study into the fundamental properties of the charge transfer state, and into its role in the dynamics of the relaxation processes that lead to emission from the rare earth ions. The energy of the charge transfer state is being tuned to maximize the luminescence efficiency of the specified rare earth ions. This tuning is being accomplished by changing the composition of the materials and by altering the particle size down to the nm-scale. The project provides significant training to undergraduates, giving them hands-on experience in the laboratory, allowing them to present their work at scientific conferences, and by collaborating with scientists at other universities.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 299.36K | Year: 2013

The Chemical Measurement and Imaging Program supports the collaboration of Profs. Daniel Burden and Lisa Keranen Burden at Wheaton College (IL) to investigate novel modifications of single protein nanopores. The research systematically explores a series of chemical additions to alpha hemolysin, a nanopore-forming protein with potential applications in ion and small molecule sensing, polymer characterization, DNA sequencing, and biomedical analyses. The interdisciplinary work gains broad impact by addressing fundamental questions in single-nanopore transport theory, membrane protein structure and dynamics, synthetic biochemistry, and protein purification. A host of biophysical techniques, including atomic force microscopy, single-molecule fluorescence microscopy, single ion-channel electrophysiology, Langmuir trough monolayer measurements, and cell lysis assays are employed to characterize the structure and function of the nanopore constructs. Computer modeling tools are used to generate a theoretical understanding of novel nanopore design principles.

Because certain proteins form small holes or pores in cell membranes, scientists have recently begun devising ways to detect various chemicals as they pass through the pore interior. This project advances the field of nanopore sensing by investigating the relationship between structural changes to the nanopore and molecule transport. Beyond contributions to nanopore science and engineering, the program enables high quality undergraduate research education by creating a unique environment that fosters integration among students and faculty from different scientific disciplines, including chemistry, biology, physics and computer science. The work has potential commercial relevance for biomedical sensing and involves under-represented minorities from the greater Chicago area. Aspects of the program will be incorporated into the undergraduate curriculum, including courses in biochemistry, advanced analytical chemistry, and the general biology laboratory.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 119.82K | Year: 2012

In the aftermath of the recent financial crisis, housing market bust, and recession, there has been increased scholarly interest in trends in geographic mobility in the U.S., and especially in the behavior of mobility during times of economic fluctuation. Mounting evidence points to a downward trend in geographic mobility in the U.S. exacerbated in multiple ways by the economic downturn. Recent work indicates that, since World War II, mobility has typically declined during recessions and that over the past several years housing market factors such as negative equity, mortgage lock-in, and property tax lock-in exert a strong negative effect on household mobility.

If indeed the Great Recession has seen a cyclical fall in geographic mobility, it would shed light on the slow nature of the current recovery in employment growth and carry important implications for policy-making. For instance, since late 2009, there has been in increase in the ratio of job openings to unemployed workers. In normal times, an increase in the number of job openings would be accompanied by a fall in the unemployment rate, but for the past two years there has been essentially no associated fall in unemployment. One hypothesis suggests that this may be evidence of mismatch in the labor market: an inability of firms to hire workers who would otherwise move to find work, due to an unusually strong reduction in mobility rates brought on by the unusually strong recession. Determining the importance of mismatch in explaining the slow recovery of unemployment rates in the past three recessions, and especially the Great Recession, is a significant ongoing subject of economic research.

The aim of this research project is to understand the effects of the Great Depression on geographic and occupational mobility in the U.S. during the 1930s. This research project will contribute to our understanding of the economics and history of the Depression itself and to our understanding of the effect of economic fluctuations on mobility generally by exploring the effects of the Great Depression on geographic and occupational mobility in the U.S. during the decade of the 1930s. To achieve these goals, the PI along with a team of undergraduate research collaborators will construct and analyze a rich new data source that will allow us to explore these issues in fundamentally new ways. What is currently known about geographic mobility during the Depression comes from the population censuses of the early twentieth century, an imperfect source for studying mobility and migration, as it depends on the observation of childrens birthplaces to infer changes of location; and is therefore restricted to married men with young children. This group is not representative of the entire population, or of the sub-population with highest mobility rates: the young, single, and/or childless.

Recently, new data sources and empirical techniques have dramatically increased our ability to study mobility in an historical time frame. The research project proposed here would exploit these new techniques and new data from the 1940 census that has become available in the spring of 2012 in order to construct linked panel datasets spanning the Depression decade and the two previous decades.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 255.87K | Year: 2011

With this award from the Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) Program, Professor Maria Buthelezi from Wheaton College and colleagues John Collins and Xuesheng Chen will acquire a pulsed laser/detection system with a tunable dye laser system, a detection system, and a cryogenic refrigerator system. The award will enhance research training and education at all levels, especially in the areas of (a) studies of host/guest interactions of photochromic molecules, and (b) luminescence properties of solid state materials.

A tunable laser is a laser whose wavelength of operation can be altered in a controlled manner. The dye laser uses an organic dye as the lasing medium giving a system that can be used over a broad range of wavelengths. Some of the dyes can be large molecules that emit light via fluorescence. The tunable dye laser/detection system will enable excited-state lifetime and time-resolved fluorescence measurements that are important to the investigation of several processes that occur in molecular complexes: radiative decay that leads to conformational states, non-linear energy transfer processes, and fluorescence quenching mechanisms. This instrumentation will also foster the interdisciplinary curricular and research interactions between chemistry, physics and biology at Wheaton College.

Eggimann, Becky L.

GOALI: Collaborative Research: Development of transferable force fields and Monte Carlo algorithms and application to phase and sorption equilibria

The development of sustainable processes in the chemical and biotechnology industries and of novel formulations in the personal care and detergent industries is of tremendous commercial and environmental importance. Molecular-level knowledge is essential for moving from trial-and-error based approaches to knowledge-driven design of these chemical processes and formulations. To this extent, accurate molecular models and efficient simulation algorithms will be developed by a collaborative team led by Siepmann, Eggimann, and Koenig to advance molecular simulation as a tool for high-fidelity property prediction and for providing molecular-level insights on phase and sorption equilibria. Specific applications relevant for biofuel production and detergent formulations will be addressed.

Intellectual Merit:

Model Development. The TraPPE (transferable potentials for phase equilibria) family of force fields will be extended at multiple levels of resolution. TraPPECG (coarse-grain) will include polymers, asphaltenes, and water; TraPPE?UA (united-atom) will add siloxane and vinyl chloride polymers; TraPPEEH (explicit-hydrogen) will address environmental pollutants and fermentation inhibitors. The range of systems and processes amenable to predictive simulations will be enlarged through the parameterization of TraPPE salt for inorganic ions and TraPPE zeo for porous zeolite frameworks. A web interface will be designed to increase the accessibility of the TraPPE force fields
for other research groups. Algorithm Development. Novel Monte Carlo algorithms will be developed that can improve the sampling of phase transfers (e.g., in liquid-liquid equilibria and sorption isotherms from solution phases) and spatial distributions in microheterogeneous fluids (e.g,, surfactant systems). Applications. Molecular simulations using the TraPPE force fields will be employed as an engineering tool to predict thermophysical properties of a variety of complex systems, thereby adding to the available experimental database. The simulations will provide a wealth of microscopic-level insight into how molecular architecture and composition determine macroscopic phenomena. Specifically, simulations will be carried out to investigate (i) the solvent-based extraction of ethanol from fermentation broths, ii) the sorption isotherms of oxygenates and fermentation inhibitors from aqueous solution, (iii) the adsorption of surfactants at interfaces and to polyelectrolytes, (iv) the capacity limit of organics in micellar surfactants, and (v) the phase coexistence in mixed surfactant bilayers.

Broader Impacts:

Integration of Research and Education. Because the excitement of discovery is a significant motivating factor in student learning, computational exercises and topical results from molecular simulation research are routinely integrated by Siepmann and Eggimann in their classroom teaching (spanning from of a freshman seminar on the material world to graduate-level statistical mechanics). Hands-on science classroom for third graders have been taught by Siepmann and a full day of activities centered around computational chemistry is organized for UMNs Exploring Careers in Engineering and Physical Sciences Program. An active undergraduate research program is leveraged by Eggimann to promote general scientific literacy and research-as-teaching pedagogies. Development of Human Resources. This university industry partnership uniquely advances the education and training of the graduate students and postdoctoral associates by allowing for extensive interactions with industrial chemists and experience with real-world surfactant applications. Additionally, this project will foster the participation of undergraduate and high school students, with special efforts made to recruit these students from traditionally underrepresented groups. Impact on Science and Engineering Infrastructure. The microscopic-level understanding afforded
by the proposed computational investigations will be highly beneficial for the design of improved separation processes for biofuels and surfactant systems. The computing infrastructure is advanced by the development of the TraPPE force fields, the associated cybertool, and the MCCCS (Monte Carlo for Complex Chemical Systems) molecular simulation package, which are freely distributed.

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