While Hall Memorial Blg Is Updated, Students Travel to Learn

Over the summer, nine science students from Gallaudet University interned away from campus while the University continued to upgrade the Hall Memorial Building laboratories. This allowed them to immerse themselves in fascinating, in-depth research within various learning environments.

Giovanna Vazquez, Jeronimo Ocampos, and Brandon Call traveled to Minnesota with Dr. Daniel Lundberg, associate professor of chemistry, where they studied the watershed of various lakes; Christopher Mbochwa and Amelework Habtemichael interned in Cambridge, Massachusetts where they worked on nanotechnology projects at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT); Mandy Houghton and Brandt Marceaux conducted similar research at Howard University in Washington, D.C.; and Amberlin Hines spent the summer in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia, analyzing mussels and snails.

Vazquez, Ocampos, and Call’s summer in Minnesota as part of a partnership between Central Lakes College (CLC) and Gallaudet. This collaboration, now in its second year, began when Lundberg met Kent Montgomery, a natural resources instructor at CLC. “We both shared a vision for our students- from both Central Lakes College and Gallaudet University- to work together on limnology-related projects,” said Lundberg.

Limnology is the study of inland waters and is the division of environmental science on which the Gallaudet interns focused. Accompanied by Lundberg, the students spent 10 weeks in the Brainerd Lakes area, working with Montgomery and CLC students in analyzing eight different lakes; their research will help guide lake officials to develop a watershed management plan. They presented their studies to the Agate Lake and Crow Wing Lake associations, the two lakes on which the students did the most research. Additionally, the three will share their findings at the University of Maryland- Baltimore County Undergraduate Research Symposium in the Chemical and Biological Sciences in October and also at Gallaudet this fall.

Montgomery was pleased with the exposure that his students experienced through the partnership with Gallaudet. “It’s cool to get hearing and deaf students together,” Montgomery said. “That access to a new group of people helps CLC students understand Deaf Culture better, all while learning more about watershed.”

Lundberg and his students were recognized for their work in a July 30 article in The Westbank Journal, an online publication of CLC. The team also led a weekend summer camp for youths who are deaf or hard of hearing or children of deaf adults.

A vast departure from the natural backdrop of Minnesota, Mbochwa and Habtemichael spent their summer in Cambridge, Massachusetts, home to Harvard and MIT. It was on the grounds of these two universities that they worked as undergraduate interns for the Science and Technology Center for Integrated Quantum Materials (CIQM). The center, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), is led by Harvard and operated in collaboration with MIT.

Dr. Paul Sabila, associate professor of chemistry at Gallaudet, explained Mbochwa and Habtemichael’s work: “The internship was on nanotechnology, where they worked on a new technique for exfoliation of graphene in Professor Pablo Jarillo-Herrero’s lab at MIT.”

Their research was a continuation of their work last summer when they teamed up with Sabila on the “Growth of Molybdenum Disulfide Films on Silicon Wafers” project. Mbochwa and Habtemichael had studied molybdenum disulfide nanomaterials with the hopes of being able to find a replacement for silicon when designing transistors and semiconductors. “The goal is to create the new generation of electronic devices using nanomaterials, which will make phones and computers more efficient,” said Habtemichael.

Mbochwa and Habtemichael were able to share their experience with middle school students from Horace Mann School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. Both fielded questions about and advised on how to prepare for college. The Horace Mann students toured the grounds where Mbochwa and Habtemichael interned and attended a presentation by Dr. Bill Wilson, executive director of the Center for Nanosystems, where they learned about the research of nanofabrication and nanoscale technology.

Also working on nanotechnology projects this summer were Houghton and Marceaux, who worked on projects with Sabila and Dr. Henry Snyder, a professor of chemistry and physics at Gallaudet. Houghton, supported by a Partnership in Reduced Dimensional Materials (PRDM) grant, focused on the chemical exfoliation of molybdenum disulfide and gave a poster presentation of her research at Cornell and Harvard universities in August. Marceaux, supported by a Center for Quantum Materials (CIQM) grant, aimed to synthesize bismuth telluride by chemical exfoliation. This material has the potential to be used for constructing devices that generate electricity from heat.

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