Faculty in the Department are engaged in research in a variety of sub-fields in chemistry, physics and astronomy. At Purdue University Northwest, the faculty are encouraged to pursue research actively as part of their regular work activity. Our faculty members are experts in a wide range of fields.
Reynaldo D. Barreto, Ph.D.
- Environmental Chemistry-Photocatalysis,
- climate change,
Glynn E. Bricker, Ph.D.
- Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS)
- Early Solar System Evolution
Dr. Bricker’s Cosmogenic Nuclides in Early Solar System Materials: Implications for Early Solar System Evolution research is as follows:
Meteorites have fascinated all cultures around the world for as long as man has been able to look towards the heavens and contemplate his place in the universe. Meteorites represent samples of the solar system that have fortuitously arrived on earth making difficult and expensive space expeditions unnecessary. Dr. Bricker’s research is an attempt to constrain early solar system evolution with these samples from the time the solar system was forming.
Dr. Bricker’s research tackles early solar system evolution on two fronts. First, Dr. Bricker and his colleagues at Purdue developed a model to explain the high abundance of radionuclides found in calcium-aluminum-rich inclusions in primitive meteorites. This model has proven to be viable and is accepted by the meteoritic community. Secondly, radionuclide measurements taken at Purdue Rare Isotope Measurement Lab of refractory inclusions called chondrules found in primitive are taken to constrain solar cosmic ray exposure history. These measurements are ongoing.
Purna Das, Ph.D.
- Surface spectroscopy,
- Nano particles,
- Density Functional Theory
Dr. Das’ areas of research are Theoretical Solid State Physics and Chemical Physics. He is involved in theoretical investigations of the spectroscopic properties of adsorbed molecules on or near small metal particles and surfaces. Possibilities exist for motivated students to conduct research in this and other areas of physics, including laboratory improvement and experiment design, which may lead to presentations at national and regional meetings and publication in scientific journals. The primary aim is to give the interested students the opportunity to supplement their course work experience with research that supports the positive relationship between what they are learning and its application.
For further information, contact Dr. Purna Das.
Dawit Gizachew, Ph.D
- Analytical Chemistry – Food Safety;
- Bioanalytical Chemistry – Biomarkers
Dr. Gizachew has research interest in Food Safety and Biomarkers. Food safety is a major concern globally including in the USA. His studies include the analysis of mycotoxins in animal feed, dairy and crops using various analytical techniques. Also identification of biomarkers for risk assessment and human disease.
His research also includes the studies and analysis of metabolites and proteins, particularly in the area of cancer. Metabolites represent a diverse group of low molecular weight structures including lipids, amino acids, peptides, nucleic acids, organic acids, vitamins, thiols and carbohydrates. As personalized medicine is becoming important to treat patients effectively, identification of biomarkers for patients using different analytical techniques to determine efficacy of drugs and to develop new biomarkers is very important. For more information, contact Dr. Dawit Gizachew.
Meden Isaac-Lam, Ph.D.
- Biomedical Organic Chemistry
Robert Kramer, Ph.D.
- Energy systems;
- Nuclear physics engineering
Current research efforts include:
- advanced control schemes utilizing neural networks and fuzzy logic in a feed forward configuration for industrial as well as commercial and building applications;
- wireless communications and control;
- production of liquid transportation fuels, fertilizer, coke, and bulk hydrogen from coal;
- biological production of hydrogen; control of large industrial loads to improve electric transmission system reliability;
- combined heat and power;
- industrial energy efficiency;
- building energy efficiency;
- renewable energy systems;
- nuclear reactor engineering analysis;
- electric, thermal, and renewable energy system design, integration, and optimization of energy systems for large data centers;
- thermal coating design and efficiency
- optimization and production of hydrogen from an aluminum-water process
Assessment and optimization of new lighting technology is ongoing with 9 municipalities. Testimony regarding LED lighting technology was recently presented by Dr. Kramer in support of 4 rate proceedings before the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC).
Multiple commercial and industrial energy audits, conducted with participation of students, are in process or were performed to enhance the value of energy as well as considering methods to optimize total energy value through the use of combinations of renewable and conventional energy options
Maria O. Longas, Ph.D.
- Carbohydrate Chemistry,
- Alzheimer’s Disease
Dr. Longas has many research projects.
- Project 1 – Understanding Alzheimer’s Disease.
- Project 2 – Hyaluronic Acid in Aging and Disease.
- Project 3 – Heparin in Atherosclerosis.
- Project 4 – Dermatan Sulfate and Kelloid Formation.
- Project 5 – Oligoxylans and HIV.
If you are interested in any of these projects, please contact Dr. Maria Longas.
Jerry M. Mostek
- Earth Science Education,
- Environmental Education,
- Plate Tectonics,
Neeti Parahsar, Ph.D.
- Experimental particle physics,
- High Energy Physics
Dr. Parashar is the leader of the high energy physics program at Purdue University Northwest, Hammond Campus.
Her research activities are primarily performed at Fermilab located in Batavia, Illinois, and the European Center for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva, Switzerland. At Fermilab, she collaborats on the DZERO (“Dee-Zero”) experiment, while at CERN she works on the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) experiment. This research is funded by the National Science Foundation. Purdue University Northwest is a full membership institution to both of these experiments.
Dr. Parashar is also the faculty mentor for the Purdue University Northwest Hammond Campus QuarkNet center – an education and outreach program in high energy physics.
Dr. Parashar, was a contributing author to the “Discovery of the Higgs Boson”, which validated the theory proposed by the 2013 Nobel Prize winners in Physics, Dr. Peter Higgs and Dr. Fancois Engleret.
Libbie S.W. Pelter, Ph.D.
- Organic Chemistry
Michael W. Pelter, Ph.D.
- Organic Chemistry,
- Polymer Chemistry,
- Chemical Education
Harold W. Pinnick, Ph.D.
- Organic Chemistry,
- Drug Design,
- Organic Synthesis
The Pinnick research group works in many different areas of organic chemistry, but the main goals are the synthesis of various organic compounds. These include components and analogs of cannabinoids and selected alkaloids. The primary prerequisite is to target molecules with significant pharmacological activity as potential new drugs or agricultural activity for use in improving crops. Additional projects focus on rearrangement of strained ring compounds, particularly 3- and 4-membered rings. Student researchers gain extensive experience and critical thinking skills from working in the lab and evaluating products. Interested students are welcome to stop by and discuss possible projects.
Adam Rengstorf, Ph.D.
- Observational Astronomy
Dr. Rengstorf is the Director of the Northwest Indiana Robotic (NIRo) Observatory. Since NIRo’s dedication in 2011, 21 undergraduate students, mainly physics and some engineering students, have participated in NIRo research projects. Most recently, Dr. Rengstorf and his undergraduate research students have been using the NIRo telescope to watch things in the sky that change in position and/or brightness over time – near-Earth asteroids and eclipsing binary star systems. Full details on his research can be found on the NIRo webpage.
Near-Earth Asteroid Monitoring
Beginning in 2013, we have been monitoring small solar system objects classified as Near-Earth asteroids (NEAs). Under the auspices of the International Astronomical Union, the Minor Planet Center, housed at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, keeps track of all known asteroids and confirms newly discovered objects. The subset of NEAs that are larger than about 100 meters in diameter and whose orbits bring them within 0.05 AU of Earth’s orbit are classified as Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs). (For a sense of scale, the Moon is about 0.0025 AU from Earth on average.)
Currently (Aug 2017), there are over 16,000 NEAs and more than 1,800 PHAs that have been identified and confirmed. Even though some of these objects have been known and well studied for decades, there is a continual need for ongoing observations and new data. All the MPC can do is predict where these objects should be. Astronomers have gotten pretty good at doing that and their orbital predictions are very precise, at least for a little while. But as time goes on, the chance of small orbital deflections steadily increases, so there’s a continual call for new observations in order to keep the orbital predictions up to date and accurate.
Kathryn L. Rowberg, Ph.D.
- Computational Chemistry
- Art and Artifact Conservation
Dr. Kay Rowberg’s research group is actively predicting chemical toxicity based on physico-chemical features of molecules. We are focusing on two types of toxicity: aquatic phototoxicity of substituted polyaromatic hydrocarbons as determined by molecular orbital energies and endocrine disruption of estrogenic compounds as determined by steric, electrostatic and lipophilic descriptors. This work is largely computational and quick, and, therefore, is extremely useful in predicting toxicity or activity before in vivo testing.
A recent research endeavor is to provide physical and chemical characterization of objects of art and historic artifacts. For example, our group examined a vellum indenture document in the Purdue Northwest archives with the purported date of 1715. We used nondestructive methods (spectroscopy and a paper test) to provide evidence of authentication. Interested students are welcome to stop by and talk to Dr. Rowberg about possible projects.
Dan Suson, Ph.D.
- Computational Physics,
- High Energy Astrophysics,
- Physics Pedagogy,
- Theoretical Physics
Dr. Suson’s research interests focus on theoretical astrophysics and physics pedagogy. He has been a member of the Fermi Gamma-Ray Space Telescope since 1994 and has worked with students on various simulation and data analysis projects relating to the telescope. He is currently applying techniques involving spherical harmonic power spectra analysis to other astrophysical maps.
Other recent work has focused on applications of quantum field theory to variable speed of light theories and on using quantum entanglement to extract information from black holes. In terms of physics pedagogy, Dr. Suson’s research group has concentrated on developing undergraduate laboratory experiments that can be operated remotely. If you are interested in working with Dr. Suson on any of his projects, or on another project in his areas of interest, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jessica A. Thomas, Ph.D.
- Intramolecular Interactions in Peptides;
- Chemistry Education
The Thomas Group seeks to understand how intramolecular interactions in peptides stabilize structures. Students first use Purdue’s supercomputers to perform molecular dynamics simulations. Promising structures resulting from the simulation are then optimized using density functional theory calculations with dispersion correction potentials. Recent research in the group has compared the nine dipeptides with two aromatic amino acids to determine whether hydrogen bonding in the backbone or dispersion interactions among the side chains dominate among low energy structures. Students are now increasing the length of the peptide chain to determine whether increased flexibility changes the results. If you are interested in learning more, please contact Dr. Thomas at email@example.com.
Annette J. Tomory, Ph.D.
- Science Education,
- Education Technology
Laura L. Unger, Ph.D
- Chemistry Education,
- Biophysical Chemistry,
- Analysis of Medieval Paint Pigments
Aaron Warren, Ph.D.
- Physics Education,
- Computational Astrophysics,
- Theoretical Physics
Dr. Aaron Warren works with undergraduate students in numerical relativity, conducting simulations of binary compact object mergers involving neutron stars and black holes.
Such mergers provide the most likely source of gravitational waves that are detectable by current laser interferometers, such as the merger of two black holes which produced the first successful detection by LIGO in 2015 and which marked the official birth of gravitational wave astronomy. Executed on computer clusters hosted at West Lafayette, Dr. Warren’s simulations employ fully relativistic models of the gravitational and magnetohydrodynamic evolution of merging compact objects.
The results of the simulations are used to study how the gravitational waves produced by these mergers depend on various uncertain physical parameters, such as the neutron star equation of state and associated nuclear and sub-nuclear interactions. These dependencies provide mechanisms by which upcoming gravitational wave detections may be used to infer or constrain the actual properties of the source objects.
Additionally, details of the merger and of the accretion disk that often forms from these mergers can suggest explanations for various types of gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) that are observed by telescopes such as the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope. Students of all levels are welcome to contact Dr. Warren to learn more and to become involved.