College of Science Students Researching Muscular Dystrophy, Nuclear Accidents, and More

This summer, College of Science students are researching topics from muscular dystrophy to accident tolerance in nuclear reactors under the college’s Undergraduate Summer Research Stipend program. The program provides the selected students with $5,000 for 10 weeks of research with Illinois Tech faculty, and allows them to gain invaluable hands-on research experience, explore their interests, and prepare for their future careers. All of the winners were nominated by faculty.

Anthony Fleck (CS 2nd year) with Xian-He Sun, Distinguished Professor of Computer Science, is expanding on Sun’s NASA-funded research to determine whether Open Ethernet Drives can be as effective as single nodes in a cluster at performing common computing tasks and more cost effective than other common systems. Using this research experience, Fleck plans to then build a simulator that will allow others to test the capabilities of OEDs, as well as allow configuration of different processors with more cores, more random access memory, and more storage.

Adam Kiolbassa (PHYS 3rd year) is on an Illinois Tech team that is trying to make nanoelectrofuel flow batteries for electric vehicles a reality. In the lab of Carlo Segre, Duchossois Leadership Professor of Physics, Kiolbassa is studying the optimal reaction conditions to prepare nanoparticles of manganese dioxide. The goal is to attempt a new way to produce these nanoparticles for flow batteries, which could revolutionize the electric vehicle business.

Sydney Lamerand (BCHM/PSYC 1st year) is working alongside Jialing Xiang, professor of biology, to expand Xiang’s ongoing research into anti-cancer proteins. Their project this summer aims to study preliminary information about the newly discovered BaxΔ2 function in neurons—primarily special neurons like Purkinje neurons, which are the source of output for the entire cerebellar cortex.

William Limestall (BS PHYS/MHP 3rd year), with Jeff Terry, professor of physics, is working with a team that is developing fuel claddings that can tolerate the kind of accident that led to the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Their project will provide detailed information regarding the interaction of fission products with silicon carbide in tri-structural isotropic fuel particles, i.e., they will check the properties of radioactive elements in silicon carbide under loss of coolant accident conditions.

Shreyas Moudgalya (CS 2nd year) and Ioan Raicu, assistant professor of computer science, are exploring a new scalable distributed graph processing system, Graph/Z, in an attempt to simplify the system’s design and implementation. Their research project has the potential to improve the scalability and performance of graph processing systems. Moudgalya will have a poster and present his research at the Supercomputing/SC16 Conference in the fall.

Akalanka Tennekoon (CHEM/CHE 2nd year) is working on a project with Adam Hock, assistant professor of chemistry. Tennekoon, who has been working in Hock’s lab for the past year, designed a reactor for performing catalytic testing at Illinois Tech. This summer, he is using his reactor to test catalysts he has prepared and characterized for butane dehydrogenation activity.

Evelyn Thomas (BCHM 3rd year) is doing her summer research in the lab of Nick Menhart, associate professor of biology. Thomas’ interest in orthopedics led her to Menhart, who does research on Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a debilitating disease affecting muscles. This summer, Thomas is determining the role and clinical relevance of exon skipped motifs of the dystrophin rod, which is the protein defective in DMD.