REU Students


Meet our Two REU Researchers
(Research Experience for Undergraduates May 26-July 31, 2015)

Alani Johnson is from Sykesville, Maryland and presently attends the University of Delaware. While participating in the UK REU program, her research advisor is Prof. Bhattacharyya (Dr. DB) and Ph.D. student lab mentor is Sebastián Hernández. As a sophomore, she is majoring in Chemical Engineering. Her plans in fall of 2018 are to attend graduate school, possibly here at the University of Kentucky. She stays active by dancing and participating in Zumba classes. In winter this year she will travel abroad at Ruhr University, Bochum, Germany via the institute of Global Studies. Alani explains: This summer’s REU research work has been conducted on immobilizing enzymes, specifically Laccase, within the membrane domain using a technique known as layer by layer assembly. Laccase is an enzyme found in fungi and is known for its abilities to degrade phenolic compounds such as 2,4,6-trichlorophenol, which can be found in wastewater and is toxic in large quantities. Immobilizing the enzyme within the membrane domain increases the enzymes stability while allowing reuse. Enzymatic activity and flux data was studied to characterize functionalized membranes.

During the NSF REU research poster competition on July 30, 2015, Alani's poster was awarded 3rd place.

Jordan Wells is from Indianapolis, Indiana attending Kentucky State University in Frankfort, Kentucky. While participating in the UK REU program, her research advisor is Prof. Bhattacharyya (Dr. DB) and Ph.D. student lab mentor is Andrew Colburn. Jordan Wells' NSF REU research is supported by NSF KY EPSCOR Membrane Pillar Program and by NIH-NIEHS-SRP. She is junior majoring in Chemistry. She would like to attend graduate school at Howard University to continue developing her interest in biomed or organic chemistry; but now after her REU experience she may consider coming back to the University of Kentucky. Jordan is a part of the fraternity Alpha Phi Omega representing leadership, friendship and service. She explains her research: “My summer REU research goal was to make membranes with varying properties through phase inversion and interfacial polymerization. Primarily, cellulose acetate polymer was used for synthesis of these membranes and work included immobilization of graphene quantum dots in cellulose acetate membranes. Characterization of membrane properties was done through microscopy, elemental analysis, measurement of contact angle, and flux analysis.”