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Undergraduate researchers receive awards

Mohammed Nasrullah, postdoctoral researcher, Pooja Thapliyal and Erica Pfarr, undergraduate students at NDSU's Center for Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE), presented posters at the Sixth Annual Northwest Regional Undergraduate Affiliate Network Meeting and Undergraduate Research in the Molecular Sciences held Oct. 29-30 at Concordia College, Moorhead, Minn. Undergraduate student Adlina Paramarta held an oral presentation at the event.

Pooja Thapliyal, a senior in biotechnology at NDSU, received the Outstanding Undergraduate Presentation travel award for the poster presentation titled “Oxidative cleavage of erucic acid for the synthesis of brassylic acid.” Poster co-authors include Mohammed Nasrullah, Erica Pfarr, Nicholas Dusek, Kristofer Schiele and James Bahr. 

Erica Pfarr, a junior in biochemistry and molecular biology, presented a poster titled “Estimation of brassylic acid by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry.” Co-authors include Mohammed J. Nasrullah, Pooja Thapliyal, Nicholas Dusek, Kristofer Schiele, Christy Gallagher-Lein and James Bahr. Dusek is a junior studying pharmacy. CNSE co-authors include: Schiele, a research engineer; Bahr, senior research engineer; and Gallagher-Lein, a research specialist.

The research presented at the meeting explores the oxidative cleavage of unsaturated fatty acids derived from oilseeds producing long chain (9, 11, and 13 carbon atoms) dibasic and monobasic acids. These are known commercial feedstocks for the preparation of nylons, polyesters, waxes, surfactants and perfumes. The Combinatorial Materials Research Laboratory at CNSE uses high-throughput methods to speed up the preparation and exploration of fatty acids. Using automated robotic methods, researchers can screen and test a large number of parameters simultaneously. The research was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

Adlina Paramarta, a junior in chemistry working in the Department of Coatings and Polymeric materials, received Honorable Mention for her oral presentation titled “Synthesis and photopolymerization of highly functional acrylated biobased resins.” The work was co-authored with Xiao Pan, a graduate student in coatings and polymeric materials and Dean Webster, professor of coatings and polymeric materials. 

The meeting was sponsored by The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Red River Valley Section of the American Chemical Society, with support from NDSU, Minnesota State University Moorhead, Concordia College and Aldevron. Attended by more than 50 undergraduates and faculty in Minnesota and North Dakota, the two-day meeting included oral and poster presentations by undergraduate students, keynote lectures and workshops. 

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