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Room 205, Mechanical Engineering Building

Confessions of a cunning collaborator: Strategies for sustaining a successful research agenda at a PUI


Professor Kristi Kneas
Elizabethtown College

Hosted by: Professor Jim Demas

Are you considering a career in academia and curious to learn more about the nature of research at a predominantly undergraduate institution (PUI)?  Strategies that have proven effective in sustaining a robust scholarly agenda while also affording opportunities to establish rich mentoring relationships with undergraduate students will be shared.  Approaches have included collaboration with partners in academic, industrial, and non-profit sectors; integration of fundamental research questions into courses and curriculum; and direction of a traditional research laboratory group staffed by undergraduate students.  The benefits and challenges of both student-driven and faculty-directed models of undergraduate student research will be highlighted, as will some significant research successes.  Particular emphasis will be placed on recent results that have emerged from the undergraduate research group as the team has worked in collaboration with colleagues in organic and inorganic chemistry:

Luminescence-based sensing approaches continue to be exploited in clinical, environmental, and industrial applications because of desirable characteristics which include relatively low cost, high sensitivity, good selectivity, and ease of portability.  In our lab we have sought to extend the possible analytes for measurement by developing new classes of luminescence-based sensors in which analyte-selectivity is shifted from the luminescent reporter molecule to the support matrix.  Specifically, an environment-sensitive luminescent reporter is incorporated into either a smart hydrogel or a metal-organic-framework which is selective for the analyte of interest, and changes in emission response are monitored upon uptake of the analyte into the support matrix.  Results to date for both hydrogel-based sensors and luminescent-metal-organic-framework-based sensors will be reported, and collaborative efforts to synthesize and characterize novel fluorophores and luminescent transition metal complexes for use as environment-sensitive luminescent reporter molecules will be discussed.