Programs: Brian Kovaric Fund
This annual summer support fund has been established by the Kovaric family in memory of Brian (Haverford Chemistry ’05.) The fund will support one first year / rising sophomore as a summer research student in the natural sciences for a 10 week appointment.
The student is required to present a poster at the end of the summer and to write a letter of thanks to the family (which can be sent through the Provost or Institutional Advancement).
To reflect Brian’s contributions to our community, we consider students who are original thinkers and who love science.
Department faculty are asked to consider nominations for the Brian Kovaric Fund, with a deadline in mid-February. The nominees then will be asked to submit their transcript and a short paragraph answering the following question: "Write a paragraph or two describing why you would like to be part of a research lab at Haverford this coming summer, and how this experience could benefit you in your future studies and in life after Haverford." We will consider the applications and make a decision about the award shortly after the deadline.
Geoffrey Martin-Noble, '16 (Schrier laboratory)
During his Kovaric Fellowship, Geoffrey worked in Professor Joshua Schrier’s computational and theoretical chemistry lab, where he collaborated with two other students (David Reilley ‘16 and Luis Rivas ‘16) on improving and expanding a closed-form method for assigning discrete charges to the atoms in metal organic frameworks (MOFs). He ran ab initio calculations on a number of MOFs using computational time granted on two super computers—the National Science Foundation’s Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE) and the United States Department of Energy’s National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC)—to determine the three-dimensional charge density of a number of MOFs. Using atomic charge motifs he created based on ground-state electronic configurations, he partitioned this density onto individual atoms in the structures using the Iterative-Hirshfeld technique. He then compared the Iterative-Hirshfeld charges to those calculated using the Extended Charge Equilibration Method (EQeq) developed by Christopher Wilmer that uses electron affinities and ionization energies to find approximate charges in linear time. A pairwise correction factor modeled on a Pauling’s covalent bond order was added to the EQeq method with the empirical parameters for each atom optimized to fit the Hirshfeld charges. He was able to reduce this optimization to a linear regression problem, allowing the parameters to be calculated in a few minutes using a python script he wrote by adapting the thesis work of Matthew Smith ’13. This modified EQeq method (EQeq+C) can be used to quickly calculate fairly good charges for MOFs for which an ab initio calculation is infeasible. These charges can further be used to model the carbon dioxide adsorption properties of each MOF, and in this way a large number of MOFs can be quickly evaluated for potential as green-house gas adsorbents. Geoffrey will continue working on this project, hopefully resulting in publication, and others in Professor Schrier’s lab during the year of 2013-14.
Matthew Holmes, '15 (Schrier laboratory)
During his Kovaric Fellowship, Matthew worked with the Chemistry Department’s Professor Joshua Schrier, a computational chemist. Under Professor Schrier’s mentorship, Matthew worked with a number of theoretical nanoporous graphene structures previously theorized by the Schrier group. He used quantum molecular modeling methods – including the Vienna Ab initio Simulation Package (VASP) – in order to determine mechanical properties of these structures. He was able to study this exciting and emerging field in materials science by utilizing supercomputing resources at the United States Department of Energy’s National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC). Using these resources, Matthew simulated the application of strain along perpendicular axes in the plane of different two-dimensional carbon sheets. He then analyzed these three-dimensional data sets in order to determine the in-plane stiffness and Poisson’s ratio of these structures. For summer 2013, Matthew was selected into a NSF funded REU program to study plant and plant pathogen biology at the University of California Riverside’s Center for Plant Cell Biology.
Ishita Dhawan, '14 (Hoang and Londergan laboratories)
As a Kovaric fellow, Ishita spent the summer working in Casey Londergan’s physical chemistry laboratory on two projects. Ishita explored the functionality of an azide in different solvent environments through infrared spectroscopy as well as temperature dependent infrared spectrometers, and her work combined with other students’ efforts published a paper in the Journal of Physical Chemistry. Ishita also worked on a project meant to study the conformational changes in calcium bound calmodulin, which is expressed in many cell types and mediates several bodily functions. Since her time as a Kovaric fellow, Ishita has joined Rachel Hoang’s developmental biology laboratory as an HHMI scholar for the summers of 2012 and 2013 and for her subsequent senior research as a biology major. In the Hoang lab Ishita has been studying the genetics of cell shape change during the early embryonic development ofDrosophila fruit flies and Anopheles mosquitoes to gain insight into the evolution of the molecular pathways that control cell movements. She has worked on a project using in situ hybridization to analyze the level of expression of the T48 gene involved in Drosophila gastrulation. This work was included in a manuscript that has been submitted for publication. Ishita is currently working on a project to clone gastrulation-related gene homolgoues of Drosophila genes from the Anopheles gambiae mosquito.
Marjon Zamani, '13 (Amador Kane and Smith laboratories)
During her Kovaric fellowship, Marjon researched the solar cell activity of self-assembled porphyrin nanowires. Porphyrins are abundant in nature; examples include the photoactive portion of chlorophyll and the core of hemoglobin. We have found that a particular porphyrin variant self-assembles into nanowires when the solution pH is lowered. These nanowires show a weak solar cell effect, which is very surprising, given that there is no designed-in asymmetry. Marjon has shown that the required asymmetry can be imparted by applying a bias voltage across the nanowires. This apparently rearranges trapped charges, either within the nanowires or in the underlying substrate, and the charges stay in place for hours after the bias voltage is removed. Marjon continued this research during her sophomore academic year, and it is now the subject of the senior thesis of another student, Katherine van Aken. Beginning in summer 2011, Marjon began a new area of research with Prof. Suzanne Kane, studying the behavior of birds as they hunt in the field and form flocks. Along with Alyssa Mayo '13, Marjon performed a field study using a novel combination of bioacoustics and video methods to determine how chimney swifts use calling to initiate the formation of flocks. She is currently finishing her senior thesis project on a topic that she conceived of and carried out on her own with Prof. Amador Kane, a comparative study of how avian predators use saccadic head motions during foraging and hunting. Marjon has shown that five different genera of raptors (birds of prey such as hawks, falcons and eagles) use saccadic head motions that obey the same characteristic frequency distribution, although on different timescales. Her results prove that this data can be modeled with the LATER model of saccades formulated by R.H. Carpenter. By using data from raptors wearing miniaturized head-mounted videocameras, Marjon was able to obtain results for birds hunting in the field, not simply in laboratory environments, and to quantify how the angular changes during saccades and their frequency depends on time and on the presence of environmental stimuli in natural settings. In spring, 2013, Marjon won a National Institutes of Health Postbaccalaureate Intramural Research Training Award. This program "provides recent college graduates who are planning to apply to graduate or professional school an opportunity to spend one or two years performing full-time research at the NIH. Postbac IRTAs/CRTAs work side-by-side with some of the leading scientists in the world, in an environment devoted exclusively to biomedical research." She will continue her research career in this program after graduating from Haverford with a major in physics and a biophysics concentration.
Samuel Blau, '12 (Norquist laboratory)
During his Kovaric fellowship, Sam studied the use of chiral organic amines for the preparation of new noncentrosymmetric gallium fluorophosphates. Specifically, he probed the relationship between compounds containing racemic and enantiomerically pure amines, and studied the nonlinear optical activities of two new functional materials. Sam continued to study a range of organically templated metal oxides in the Norquist laboratory using both experimental and theoretical techniques. Specifically, Sam studied physical phase transitions in templated gallium phosphates and formation mechanisms of both centrosymmetric and noncentrosymmetric vanadium tellurites and vanadates. Working jointly with Prof. Norquist and Prof. Schrier, Sam performed some of the first calculations of electron localization functions and iterative-Hirshfeld partial atomic charges for templated metal oxides. His work has resulted in five peer-reviewed publications. Sam was an HHMI scholar during the summers of 2010 and 2011. Sam performed his senior thesis work in Schrier's laboratory, in which he developed a lattice density functional theory for the Hubbard model of graphene nanoparticles. Sam was awarded the prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (declined) and U.S. Department of Energy Computational Science Graduate Fellowship, and is currently a doctoral student in the Chemical Physics program at Harvard University.
Asha Mahajan, '11 (Punt laboratory)
As a Kovaric fellow, Asha worked in the Punt lab in the summer of 2008 delving into the biochemistry of a phosphatase that is believed to regulate life and death decisions in T cells. Her work became an integral part of the research of two senior thesis students (2010 graduates) who incorporated her findings that immature and mature T cells expressed different regulatory subunit. Asha became a Chemistry major and Biochemistry concentrator with a continued interest in biomedical research. She was a successful applicant for a summer internship program in 2010 at the University of Pennsylvania, where she pursued her interest in immunology with one of Punt's colleagues, Dr. Terri Laufer. She presented this work to us at our Summer Research Symposium on October, 2010. Asha is currently enrolled in the School of Medicine at NYU.
- Martin Blood-Forsythe, '10 (Smith Laboratory)
During the summer supported by his Kovaric fellowship, Martin worked on construction of a system for measuring the photoelectronic properties of organic nanowires, with variable temperatures and variable wavelength illumination. The system can reach temperatures from 100 K to 350 K, with illumination from 380 nm to 1200 nm, under a vacuum of better than 10-10 Torr, and can measure current flowing through the sample with a noise level of less than 0.01 pA. Martin also used atomic force microscopy to image samples of porphyrin nanotubes provided by our collaborators. We are now using the system Martin helped to build, examining the photoconductivity of self-assembled porphyrin nanowires. Martin is now a Churchill Scholar at Cambridge University, and next year will begin the Ph.D. program in physics at Harvard.
Justin Meyerowitz, '09 (Wagner Laboratory)
During his Kovaric fellowship, Justin used yeast as a model for gaining insight into aging and cancer in humans. He studied a protein factor in yeast that controls cell growth that has a human homolog. He worked in the Fairman laboratory for his senior thesis project, developing spectroscopic probes for the study of a peptide model system of Huntington's disease. The title of his thesis is "Developing Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy to determine the mechanisms of polyglutamine aggregation". Justin was also an HHMI scholar and graduated from Haverford with honors in Biology. He is currently an MDPhD student in the MSTP program at UCSF, and is pursuing his PhD in the Chemistry and Chemicial Biology graduate program. He is serving as the UCSF Chapter President for the American Medical Association.