Faculty Research, Funding & Awards

  1. Toward a Systematic, High-Throughput Screening of the Toxicity of Various Organophosphate Compounds. Dr. Seong Seo (PI), Dr. Byung-Hoon Kim (Co-PI), Dr. Yong Lee (Co-PI) and Dr. Shayla Williams (Senior Researcher), $353, 763.00 contract (for year one), Department of Defense, MSI Research & Development Consortium.
  2. National Institute of Health-Supporting Competitive Research (NIH-SCORE), “Understanding Noncovalent Interactions in Carbon Nanotube-anticancer Drug Conjugates”  PI: Dr Yixuan Wang  5/2014-03/2018  $420,640
  3. National Science Foundation “Targeted Infusion Proposal: Course-embedded model utilizing nanoscience and nanotechnology to integrate research based projects into the science curriculum” PI: Dr. Louise Wrensford, Co-PI: Drs. Yixuan Wang, Kim, and Saha.   7/2014-06/2017    $399,892
  4. Oommen and Dr. Okafor co-PIs with Dr. Lee (PI) $637,000- National Institute of Justice –Microbiome in forensic science trace evidence
  5. DNA Specific Sensor for Prostate Cancer Biomarkers. Dr. Amir Saheb (PI). Hampton University’s Minority Men’s Health Initiative (MMHI) through a grant awarded by the National Institute On Minority Health And Health Disparities of the National Institutes of Health. 11/2014-5/2018 $283,375
  6. Environmentally friendly high performance perovskite with fortified stability, PI: Dr. Liqiu Zheng, 05/2017-04/2020, $299,914.
  7. Arun Saha, K.C Chan, Georgia Space Grant, Project title “Design, Construction and Test of Human Powered Rover Vehicle for Space Exploration” $10000, 01/2017 – 07/2018
  8. Arun Saha, E2: Energy to Educate Grant, $28,600, 11/2016 – 10/2017


Dr. Seong Seo

My research expertise is primarily in the area of synthesis, characterization, and processing of nanomaterials including microgels and nanoparticles on two research streams: (1) developing sensors for chemical nerve agents, organophosphorus compounds, and explosive compounds (2) developing prodrugs for pancreatic cancer and breast cancer.

Dr. Mandouma Ghislain  

Benzo[c]cinnoline and its halogenated derivatives constitute a special class of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) that have shown potential as anticancer agents in several recent clinical studies. Our laboratory has specialized, for many years now, in the synthesis of this interesting class of compounds. Many PAHs are considered to be significant environmental carcinogens. Conversely, these planar ring systems have been found to intercalate with DNA base pairs, thus leading to numerous chemotherapeutic drugs in use. Cancer is the leading cause of death for people under the age of 85 in the United States, and mortality from this disease is still on the increase. The search for development of novel and diversified therapies aiming at decreasing that mortality trend is therefore imperative.

Our aim is to synthesize gram quantities of halogenated derivatives of benzo[c]cinnoline, specifically compounds 4-7 below using an innovative, solvent- and catalyst-free green approach. Halogenated derivatives of benzo[c]cinnoline will be subsequently transformed into different functionalities as analogs become needed for cytotoxic evaluation on a small panel of cancer cell lines.

Dr. Xiaomei Zheng

My research interests are the design, synthesis, characterization and applications of novel transition metal catalysts with an emphasis on catalytic olefin polymerization and the control of polyolefin stereochemistry and molecular weight. My research is interdisciplinary, addressing problems at the interface of   inorganic, organic, organometallic, and polymer chemistry.

Dr. Yixuan Wang 

My major research interests lie in the areas of computational chemistry with recent emphasizes on molecular modeling and simulations of bio-carbon nanotube systems as well as Pt-based bi- and tri-metallic nano-catalysts for direct ethanol fuel cells. The projects aim at gaining a fundamental understanding of the underlying and controlling scientific phenomena thorough careful theoretical analysis and atomistic simulations, and then establish a firm guideline for the design of corresponding functional materials. The principal tools will be a variety of state-of-the-art theory and computational methods such as ab initio/density functional theory, and classical as well as quantum molecular dynamics.

Dr. O. A. Vanderpuye

A549 and SW-13 Cell Biomarkers for 'Spice" Cannabinoid Drugs

‘Spice’ refers to designer drugs consisting of plant materials spiked with different synthetic mimetics of delta tetrahydrocannabinol, a psychoactive compound in marijuana. The toxicology and bioactivity of many synthetic cannabinoids are unknown including Spice brands: Barely Legal, Brain Storm and Voodoo. It was hypothesized that the ‘Spice’ brands Barely Legal, Brain Storm and Voodoo Child contain different compounds, overlap in biological activities with delta THC and affect cell physiology and morphology. This study sought possible biomarkers for the effects of ‘Spice’. Fluorescence microscopy detected cannabinoid receptor type 2 proteins but not type 1 receptors on A549 and SW-13 cells. The complement system regulatory proteins CD46 and CD59 but not CD55 were detected on A549 and SW-13 cells. Glycoconjugate profiles on these cells were characterized by lectin binding. Exposure to delta THC and Barely Legal Spice caused stronger Con A lectin binding to A549 lung cells than did exposure to Brainstorm Spice or control media. This study is the first description of the complement regulatory protein profile of adrenal gland cells and provided carbohydrate structure profiles of A549 and SW-13 cells as detected by lectin binding. The results will facilitate more detailed analysis of the toxicology and bioactivities of spice.

Dr. Saha, Arun K

Characterization of cancer cells is necessary to understand the heating effect of cancer cells when exposed to microwave radiation. The heating effect which causes the death of cancer cells, results from the imaginary part of the complex permittivity of cancer cells interacting with electromagnetic fields.  In this research, the permittivity of cancer cells is determined by the reflection/transmission method, which is shown to be more accurate in dielectric material characterization. Cancer cells are homogeneously mixed into isotonic agarose gel at a low volume fraction and then exposed to microwave signal placing the composite in a metallic waveguide. The work is divided into two parts – simulation and experiment. Simulation work is performed to establish a relationship between cell-gel composite permittivity and cell volume fraction and this relationship is utilized to determine cell permittivity experimentally. In this characterization process of biological cell, obviously, the gel medium is supposed to play an important role which is ignored by biomedical researchers. In this investigation (by simulation and experiment), gel materials are prepared using various concentrations of Agarose powder to ensure various permittivities to gel materials. For each of gels, cell permittivity is extracted against corresponding gel medium and a conclusion is drawn on what type of gel medium is best for biological cell characterization. Additionally, role of sample (gel or cell-gel mixture) container on cell permittivity is also equally important in this overall biological cell characterization.

Dr. Amir Saheb

“DNA Specific Sensor for Prostate Cancer Biomarkers”.  Hypermethylated DNA can be detected in body fluids from prostate cancer patients and may be a useful biomarker as opposed to PSA which is relatively unspecific. The goal of this project is to analyze altered strands of DNA which are prevalent in prostate cancer patients, such as the hypermethylated GSTP1 promoter, to allow for a more selective and sensitive screening tool for prostate cancer. A novel electrochemical sensing technique will be developed and utilized for the detection of the methylated strands of DNA specific to prostate cancer patients. This will allow for a low-cost, fast and specific detection tool for prostate cancer screening versus current techniques which are considerably more costly, slow, non-specific and invasive. Undergraduate students will be involved directly with the research project in from the development of the electrochemical sensor to analysis of data and publication of results.

Dr. KC Chan

Dr. Chan’s current research interests are:

  1. Mechanism and designs of 2D mechanism mechanical;
  2. Dimensional behaviors of rubberband;
  3. Application of 3D in the teaching of physics.

Dr. Liqiu Zheng

Solar energy project.  My research is mainly focused on how to apply various nanomaterials (carbon nanotubes, graphene, Zinc Oxide nano-rods and so on) in solar energy field to improve the overall performance of perovskite-based solar cells, such as their efficiency and stability.

Dr. Richard Mason

“Synthesis, Electrochemical and Optical Absorption Properties of New Imidazo[1,5-a]pyridines”

Applications for imidazo[1,5-a]pyridine derivatives have recently emerged in areas including organic photovoltaic devices and field-effect transistors. Imidazo[1,5-a]pyridines are known as promising building blocks for electron-transport sensor materials. Unfortunately, very few electron-transport sensor materials derived from imidazo[1,5-a]pyridines meet the air-stability, solution processiblity and performance criteria for real world-applications.  To address this challenge, novel imidazo[1,5-a]pyridines have been synthesized utilizing a simple yet efficient design strategy starting from  2-benzoylpyridine , aromatic aldehydes,  ammonium acetate, and glacial acetic acid.  This approach leads to the formation of the imidazo[1,5-a]pyridine moiety in only  one step and the use of metal catalysts, highly sensitive Lewis acids or air sensitive reaction conditions is not needed.  Preliminary data indicates that the reaction is applicable to a variety of aromatic aldehyde substrates all which lead to imidazo[1,5-a]pyridines in good to excellent yields. To better understand the photophysical properties of the new imidazo[1,5-a]pyridine compounds,  absorption and emission spectroscopy experiments are currently in process.