Research Opportunities

Dr. Ahlgren-Beckendorf’s Research Group

  • “Peripheral Functionalization of Azabodipy for 2D and 3D Assemblies” with David Mckinzey, UMHB Senior.
  • Extraction of the Pigment from Postharvest Yellowed Rice with Mackenzie Brooks Sautter, UMHB Junior, and Melanie Taylor, UMHB Senior.This research project was to extract the pigment that forms when rice is stored in an environment that has high humidity and heat.

Dr. Gao’s Research Group

  • “Preparation of Platinum-Ruthenium Nanoparticles as Methanol Fuel Cell Catalysts,” with David Mckinzey, UMHB Senior.
  • “Cost-Effective and Sensitive Immunosensor Derived from Electrochemical Measurements and Self-Assembled Monolayers” with Savannah Robinson, UMHB Senior, and John Lawrence, UMHB Junior. An electrochemical approach is used for developing an economical and sensitive immunosensor for detection of antigens. This is accomplished by covalent coupling using the concept of self-assembled monolayers or SAMs onto a gold electrode. Our ultimate goal is to search for robust SAMs with high sensitivity and long life.
  • Assessment of Energy Consumption and Emissions of Natural Gas Fuels, with Billy Zheng, UMHB Senior.

 Dr. Murphy’s Research Group

  • The Effect of Caffeine on the Viscosity of Coffee,” with Ashley Hastings, Fall 2016.
  • “The Effect of 3-Dimensional Shape and Intermolecular Forces on the Viscosity of Butylamine’s Isomers” with John M. Coats, UMHB Senior.  Summer I and II, 2016.
  • “The Viscosity Studies of Amines,” with Weikang Jiang, UMHB Senior.  Fall 2015.
  • “Gravimetric Analysis of Total Dissolved Salts in Water from Hot Water Heaters as a Function of the Appliance’s Age” with Christine B. McKenna, UMHB Senior.  Fall 2015.
  • “Viscosities of Amino Acids in Aqueous Solutions” with Grace Motz, UMHB Senior.      Summer 2015.
  • “Aqueous Ketone Solution Viscosities as Simulations of Their Effects on Blood Viscosity of Diabetes Patients” with Lindsey Roberts, UMHB Senior.   Ketones in the body can be very harmful and even life-threatening for diabetics.  In this research the effect of the viscosity of ketones in the blood stream was simulated by studying aqueous ketone solutions of known mole fraction concentrations.  These viscosity data were collected using an Ostwald viscometer.  Spring 2016.
  • “Viscosities of Aqueous Solutions of Sugars,” with Alvaro Noriega Ramirez, UMHB Senior.  Fall 2016.
  • “Generating The Viscosities of Different Types of Milk Samples: Got Milk?TM” with Michelle Robbins, Texas Bioscience Institute student.  Summer 2016.
  • “Viscosities of Natural Oils” with Tamika Stith, UMHB Senior.  Fall 2016.
  • “Carbon Number to Viscosity Relationship of Normal, Single Chain, Alkyl Alcohols” with Michael Yarberry, UMHB Senior.  The first ten normal, single chain, alkyl alcohols were used in this experiment.  The densities were found experimentally and used to find the relative viscosities at 25 deg C, which were then used to investigate an equation between the number of carbons and the viscosity of the alcohol.  Spring and Fall 2016.

Dr. Primrose’s Research Group

  • “Purification of Anthracene Using Sublimation: A Needed Technique for the Task” with Alex Lanoux, UMHB Senior. Anthracene is a polyaromatic hydrocarbon that with light is known to dimerize and is also readily oxidized to anthraquinone when exposed to oxygen. The goal of this research was to develop a straightforward physical method to purify anthracene from anthraquinone and other possible impurities. The two main methods of purification that were investigated included soxhlet extraction and sublimation. Characterization techniques used during this research included thin layer chromatography, mass spectrometry, UV irradiation, and nuclear magnetic resonance.
  • “Trismethylene” with David Mckinzey, UMHB Junior.  The goal of this research is to design a new undergraduate organic chemistry experiment that exposes students to the recent advances made in controlled radical polymerization methods.  This is achieved by tailoring a current method of controlled radical polymerization to fit both the tools available in a standard undergraduate organic chemistry lab and the common techniques used at this level. 
  • “Tris(2-pyridylmethyl)amine Synthesis Using an Imidazolium-Based Ionic Liquid as a Solvent” with Trey Reyner, UMHB Senior. Tris(2-pyridylmethyl)amine (TPMA) is a very common ligand for copper-mediated radical polymerizations. A safer and easier means of synthesizing pure TPMA was pursued.  To make the reaction ready for use in an undergraduate organic lab two major changes were investigated; replacement of a volatile halogenated solvent with a non-volatile ionic liquid and replacement of a strong base with a weaker base. 
  • “Benzoin Synthesis Using an Anionic Derivative of an Ionic Liquid in Place of Cyanide” with John Sorensen, UMHB Senior. The work to form benzoin from benzaldehyde using a safer, ionic liquid based catalyst has only recently been reported in literature. Previous methods used to form benzoin have often included use of potassium or sodium cyanide. This is of course of great concern given the possible formation of hydrogen cyanide. Work was carried out to tailor an undergraduate organic chemistry lab modeled after the safer and more recently reported method for benzoin synthesis.  

Departmental Contact: Dr. Ruth Ann Murphy (rmurphy@umhb.edu)
Address:  900 College Street, UMHB Station Box 8013, Belton, TX 76513
Phone: (254) 295-4542