MNT-CURN Research Program

Micro Nano Technology Collaborative Undergraduate Research Network (MNT-CURN)

Gain hands-on research experience and build nanotechnology technical education skills through the MNT-CURN undergraduate research program.

In this playlist, you will hear and see nanotechnology and microtechnology professors presenting about their own research and work -- from biosensors to underwater drones to nanomaterials. Each one covers a different specialty or niche area that you might decide to learn about and pursue as an exciting undergraduate research project.

Fall 2022 Cohort is Full. See "Apply to MNT-Curn Info Box below."

The Micro Nano Technology Collaborative Undergraduate Research Network (MNT-CURN) is a unique undergraduate research program for community college students. During an academic-year and two-week summer capstone research experience, you will have the opportunity to work and learn from faculty mentors, baccalaureate research universities and industry partners from across the nation.

Program Highlights

  • Work either remotely or on your respective campus sites

  • Visit a 4-year partner campus during the summer capstone research experience

  • Work with faculty mentors, using strategies that will provide you with challenges that will serve as a growing e-portfolio

  • Progress of research will be tracked by the Evaluate UR program

Apply to MNT-CURN

MNT-CURN welcomes applications from traditionally underrepresented groups in STEM. We encourage members of the Black, Latinx, Native American, and women to consider applying for this opportunity.

The MNT-CURN Student Application is now full for the Fall 2022 Undergraduate Research program. If you have questions about this program or want to inquire about future applications, please contact janet@micronanoeducation.org.

Meet the Students

Current MNT-CURN Student Participants

MNT-EC

Benjamin Bekey

Benjamin Bekey is a non-traditional student taking STEM classes at Pasadena City College to explore possible fields of study for graduate school. His academic interests include biotechnology and materials science, especially using informatics and computational approaches. He is interested in the relationship between structure and function, and how interactions at the micro level affect systems at the macro level.

Henry Brezzard

Henry Brezzard

Henry Brezzard is Chemical Engineering  major at Pasadena City College.

Research Activities, Interest, and Experiences:

My goal is to get involved in the production of renewable energy, in particular, solar power. It is a branch that encompasses math, physics, chemistry, and biology. Renewable energy is a field with promising benefits for sustainability to present and future generations. An opportunity to grow in the clean energy field presents me with a platform to better my society through technology, innovation, and invention. I intend to undertake a green energy project that incorporates artificial intelligence to control solar panels and batteries.

Current Job/Career Activities

Blink Charging operates a network of electric vehicle automotive charging stations primarily located in the United States. I am a bilingual support agent. I assist customers in troubleshooting and resolving common issues encountered while using EV charging stations. My position shows me the necessity of a strong and reliable energy grid.

Kyaw Ya

Kyaw Ya

Kyaw Ya is an electrical engineering technology major, having completed his associates at Ivy-tech Community College, Fort Wayne. Kyaw is currently researching packaging kits to be used for storing and micro pressure sensors. He hopes to pursue his bachelor’s degree to be able to gain enough experience to get a career in the field. 

Brandon Wong

Brandon Wong

Hello everyone, my name is Brandon Wong. I graduated high school in 2021, then applied to the Community College of Philadelphia. I am a double major in Criminal Justice and Biological Sciences. Criminal justice was my first major. In 2022 I just added Biological Sciences. Right now, I have known research activities or experiences. But doing the MNT-CURN Student every Friday on zoom seems very interesting. 

MNT-EC

Jade Roman

Jade Roman is a biochemistry major at Pasadena Community College. Jade is interested in nanotechnology, specifically the role of nanotechnology in bioconjugation. She conducts research on gold and silver nanoparticles and their ability to act as a novel cancer therapeutic. Jade hopes to pursue a career in biomedical research.

MannieLopez_Pic_12-6-21

Mannie Lopez

Mannie Lopez

I am currently a student at Alamo Colleges in San Antonio, TX finishing up my internship class currently to obtain my Nanobiotechnology Level 1 certificate.  While I continue to work on my core science classes to transfer to University I will also be working on the Nanoengineering and Nanobiotechnology A.A.S. My research is creating nano-vessels as drug delivery/removal tools to pick away and dissolve plaque inside of the human body to prevent stroke and heart attacks.  I hope through this website and program to meet those like-minded individuals to accomplish this goal.

Dave Emdine

Dave Emdin

My name is Dave Emdin. I am enrolled in Community College of Philadelphia, and I will graduate with an Associate’s Degree in Biology by 2023. I hope to gain professional experience to help with a career in biomedical science.

Research Activities, Interest, and Experiences: I am working on a blockchain research project related to molecular dynamic simulations chaired by Professor Strachan of Purdue University

Janet-Teng_Student-Photo_1-21-22

Janet Teng

Janet Teng is a Chemical Engineering major at Pasadena City College. Janet is interested in understanding the relationship between a material and its underlying chemical and physical properties for real life applications. Janet is currently working with polymer chemistry at Caltech and plans to pursue research in the future. 

Mark Conteh

Mark Conteh

Hello, my name is Mark Conteh. My major is Computer Information - Systems Information Technology at the Community college of Philadelphia I am interested in Cyber security or anything that has to deal with computers. I work for UPS right now because they help pay for school. Right now I’m open minded, for anything that deals with computers.

MNT-EC

Demi Garcia

Demi Garcia is a recent Biotechnology graduate from Finger Lakes Community College in Canandaigua, NY. Demi is currently enrolled as a biology major at SUNY Empire College to earn a bachelor’s in their Science, Math, and Technology degree program. At this time Demi is involved in a submerged fermentation of two strains of “Rishi” mushrooms; Ganoderma lucidum and Ganoderma tsugae. The goal of the research project is to produce exopolysaccharides into a powder for multiple supplemental uses. Currently Demi is an access associate in the emergency department at one of the local hospitals after 7 years as a phlebotomist and specimen management tech. After earning her bachelor’s degree Demi wants to work in research as a lab analyst.

Kahneef-Martin_Student_Photo_12-20-21

Kahneef Martin

Hello, my name is Kahneef Martin. I currently hold a degree in Health Care and only have four courses left to complete a Nursing degree. I am a preschool teacher and I seek to learn more about Nano technology. I know that the knowledge I obtain from my internship will help me be more successful on my career path.

Melemoala Tuifua

Melemoala Tuifua

My name is Melemoala Tuifua and I currently attend El Camino College, majoring in Biology. Despite the challenges that online school brings, I continue to stay involved in school programs such as MESA and the Honors Transfer Program. I am grateful to be currently involved in the Micro-nano technology program.

Frank Alas

Frank Alas

Frank Alas is an Aerospace Engineering major at Pasadena City College. He is interested in conducting research in crop production using nanotechnology to improve its efficiency and adaptability in today’s climate crisis, as well as its application for long-distance space travel. He is currently involved with the Marine Advanced Technology Education (MATE) Competition in building an underwater robotic submarine to help understand and create a more sustainable future for our oceans.

Keon Hayes

Keon Hayes

Keon Hayes is a computer science major at Penn State.

Nathan-Antwi_Student-Photo_2-24-22

Nathan Antwi

Nathan Antwi is a junior attending Rutgers University-Camden studying computer science. Hailing from Irvington, New Jersey, Nathan has a strong interest in cybersecurity and artificial intelligence as he is studying for her Comptia Net+ Certification. He is a proud fellowman of Groove Phi Groove Social Fellowship Incorporated as he is an avid volunteer at community service organizations such as Chosen300 where he helps serve the homeless community of Philadelphia. Although Nathan has a strong technical background, he actually is an intern for a political organization named the Working Families Party as he works to make Philadelphia a more progressive city. His hobbies include learning about Ancient African Civilizations, watching anime, going out for runs, and volunteering. 

Nathan Reid

Nathan Reid

Nathan Reid is a Liberal Arts major at Community College of Philadelphia

I was born in west Philly but growing up I moved around a lot to places like New York, California, and Atlanta. I'm a very open-minded person when it comes to careers/jobs. The 2 quotes that I Live by are "life is what you make it" and "you only got 1 life to live so do what you want and not what somebody makes you do" both quotes are self-explanatory. 

Research Activities, Interest, and Experiences:

Giving back, being a light for people, writing poetry.

Connection to Personal Interests or Passions; and Current Job/Career Activities:

I'm a part of an organization called Center for Male Engagement (CME) and they help young minorities with life goals.

Oneal-Douglin_Student-Photo_12-27-21

Oneal Douglin 

I am a student at Pasadena City College studying Computer Science and transferring to UCLA. In Fall 2021, I worked on a blockchain research project chaired by Professor Strachan of Purdue University. I also learned how to use Large-scale Atomic/Molecular Massively Parallel Simulator (LAMMPS) to run molecular dynamics simulations.

Pascal Kanyanduga

Pascal Kanyanduga

My name is Pascal Kanyanduga. I am currently a sophomore pursuing an Associate of Science degree in Engineering. I will be graduating in December 2022, and I am planning to transfer to Purdue Fort Wayne University to pursue a bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering. I am currently conducting a research project about protecting microelectromechanical system (MEMS) devices from the environment through physical enclosures, which is also known as MEMS packaging, my goal is to find the most suitable package for MEMS pressure sensors. I plan to pursue a career in the automotive engineering industry to contribute to the availability and adoption of advanced technology solutions in the auto industry.

Phil Simmons

Phil Simmons

Phil Simmons is a Viticulture and Enology major at Cornell University. Phil is an alumni of Finger Lakes Community (FLCC), receiving an associate's degree in Viticulture and Wine Technology and Biotechnology in 2020. Phil is currently using submerged fermentation at FLCC to research ways of optimizing production and extraction of beta-glucans from Ganoderma lucidum fungus.

Rachael-Orkin_Student-Photo_1-21-22_Resubmit

Rachael Orkin

Rachael is a microbiology major at Los Angeles Pierce College. She is interested in researching infectious diseases, particularly their structural biology, genetics, and its applications to clinical treatment. Rachael plans to attend medical school to become a pathologist or clinical geneticist.

Skor Campbell

Skor Campbell

Hello my name is Skor Campbell whose academic goals are to complete my BS for computer science at Temple University or another accredited university with a warmer climate. I am from Philadelphia and previously attended Temple for Engineering directly out of High School and therefore would see it as a great accomplishment to complete a degree there. I see myself studying quantum physics, astrophysics, thoroughly diving into electromagnetism to fit my personal endeavors. I feel as though the sky is the limit and would like to be able evaluate the emerging forms of technology. I plan to continue with MNT-CURN Nanotechnology internship and work with some professors on their procedures. My high school project was about Cryonics. The issue with this, is it is still theoretical physics, I say that in the sense that the process for cryogenically preserving a human is more or less understood, but the process for revitalizing one back to the traditional state is somewhat lost to the current pace of technology. There are searches into Nanotechnology for the answer and I presume thorough research into human biology, nanotechnology and computer science would be required to complete this. If someone's gotta do it, why not me. "

Tajanna Mosley

Tajanna Mosley

My name is Tajanna Mosley, I attend Community College of Philadelphia. My Major is Digital Video Production.  I became Interested in learning about research, what I can do with it and what it is. Since I am a digital video production major I never really got a chance to learn about different forms of research and nanotechnology. Since I joined this STEM program It has opened up my mind to so much. I have become more interested in the different subjects they've been discussing about. I know some of these topics  have nothing to do with my major but I wanna find a way where I can incorporate them in some way. It’s such a big topic and there is so much you can learn about. I am ready to soak up as much as I can.

Trinity Chung

Trinity Chung

Trinity Chung is a data science major at Pasadena City College. She is collaborating with the Biocomplexity Institute at Indiana University aiding the development of cell simulation software. Trinity hopes to pursue a career in biotechnology or space exploration.

Xiaoyun Sun

Xiaoyun Sun

Xiaoyun Sun is a Biology major at Pasadena City College, expecting transfer to a University of California for Bachelor of Science in Human Biology and Clinical Nutrition and graduation in 2025. Xiaoyun Sun is currently participating in a nonprofit organization as a Heath Science articles writer, intending to raise awareness for global health issues. 

Meet the Mentors

As a research participant you will work alongside Faculty and Student mentors.

Student Mentors

BrianLeff

Brian Lee

Dr. Brian Lee works as a postdoctoral researcher with Professor Strachan at Purdue University. I am currently working on investigating explosive materials using computer simulations. I have majored mechanical engineering for my PhD degree and chemistry for my bachelor’s degree.

Justice robinson

Justice Robinson

Justice Robinson is a senior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill pursuing a B.S. in Neuroscience with minors in Chemistry and Biology. She graduated with an Associate degree in Biology from Tulsa Community College in Tulsa, Oklahoma as an Honors Scholar and Barry Goldwater Scholarship recipient. She holds a current position as a Research Assistant with the Frohlich Lab at UNC School of Medicine where she assists in studying neural oscillations and psychiatric illnesses. 

Paula Kirya_Student Mentor_ Photo_3-25-22

Paula Kirya

Paula Kirya is an undergraduate bioengineering student at UC San Diego. She transferred to UCSD in Fall 2020 from Pasadena City College. There under Dr. Ashcroft, she engaged in a research project studying the interdisciplinary applications of structural color in Morpho wing nanostructures to develop an educational module that can be incorporated into classrooms. Paula’s interest in biomimicry and nanotechnology prompted her to pursue a summer research internship at Penn State University in 2019, in which she aided in research developing a self-healing material from squid ring teeth proteins. Her previous research experiences led to her acceptance as an undergraduate representative at the 2021 Posters on the Hill Conference. Paula joined the Nanophotonics for Global Health lab at UCSD in August 2021 and is working on characterizing and quantifying the optical behavior of nanostructures and developing new applications of structural color in colorimetric metasurfaces to detect disease in biological tissue. 

Shivam Tripathi

Shivam Tripathi

Shivam Tripathi is a post-doctoral fellow in the School of Materials Engineering at Purdue University. My research interests are atomistic and molecular simulations, machine learning, shape memory alloys, and thermal transport.

Sophia Barber

Sophia Barber

Sophia Barber is a Junior Neurobiology major at University of California, San Diego. She spent her time at Pasadena City College co-leading the NanoBio mAB for Cancer Therapies project, the Analysis of Remote Research in COVID-19 project, and the Student Engagement and Statistical Analysis team. Additionally, she tutored Biology, Chemistry, and Physics, was the External Vice President of the Pi Club, the Vice President, Event Coordinator, and ICC Representative for the Caduceus Club, was an active member of the Alpha Gamma Sigma Honors Society, a Dean’s Honors student, and also served her community by sitting on the Academic Commission Committee, the Student Services Committee, and the ICC Funding Committee. Sophia is currently studying chemotherapy induced peripheral neuropathies at the Wu lab at UCSD, volunteers at UC San Diego Health, is co-chair for the Goldwater Scholars Community Social Events committee, is a founding member of the CASAs for Kids club at UCSD, and is a Student Research Mentor with the Micro Nano Technology Education Center. Sophia hopes to continue on to graduate school with the ultimate goal of studying and finding treatments for the hereditary neurological condition Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) disease.

Faculty Mentors

Alejandro Strachan

Alejandro Strachan

Alejandro Strachan is a Professor of Materials Engineering at Purdue University, the Director of the MURI Center for Predictive Chemistry and Physics of Materials at Extreme Conditions (PCP@Xtreme) and the Deputy Director NSF’s Network for Computational Nanotechnology and nanoHUB. Before joining Purdue, he was a Staff Member in the Theoretical Division of Los Alamos National Laboratory and worked as a Postdoctoral Scholar and Scientist at Caltech. He received a Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1999. Among other recognitions, Prof. Strachan was named a Purdue University Faculty Scholar (2012-2017), received the Early Career Faculty Fellow Award from TMS in 2009 and the Schuhmann Best Undergraduate Teacher Award from the School of Materials Engineering, Purdue University in 2007 and 2017. Prof. Strachan’s research focuses on the development of predictive atomistic and multiscale models to describe materials from first principles and their application to problems of technological importance. His group uses these tools to understand how materials work and seeks to translate this insight into the design of new materials combining simulation and experimental results with data science tools. Application areas of interest include: high-energy density and active materials, metallic alloys for high-temperature applications, materials and devices for nanoelectronics and energy, as well as polymers and their composites. His scholarly work also includes the development of cyber-infrastructure to make modeling and simulation pervasive in research and education.

Cait Cramer

Cait Cramer

Cait Cramer is the Assistant Program Chair of Mechanical Engineering Technology at Ivy Tech Community College-Northeast in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Cait earned a Bachelor of Science in Engineering for Chemical Engineering from the University of Michigan in 2012 and moved to Phoenix, AZ to work at Intel as a Process Engineer in Chemical Vapor Deposition & Quality Engineer in Defect Metrology. After taking a year off to serve as an AmeriCorps VISTA member, she returned to school to complete a Master of Science in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Washington. Her research involved roll-to-roll printing of flexible solar cells, screen printing of metallic inks for semi-transparent electrodes and electrode grid optimization. Now in her fifth year of teaching at Ivy Tech, Cait manages several research projects related to microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) including MEMS packaging design and prototyping, strain gauge printing and optimization, and the development of hands-on kits for data acquisition of MEMS sensors.

Dominic Salerno_Mentor Photo_3-4-22

Dominic M. Salerno

Dr. Dominic M. Salerno is a tenured assistant professor of biology at The Community College of Philadelphia. He also serves on the Biotechnology committee, which seeks to develop further training and research capabilities at CCP. He continues to pursue a program of research and training through grant funding and collaborations. Through a recent Department of Defense Grant, CCP Foundation Grant, and a Department of Education RISE (Raising Interest in Science and Engineering) Grant, he developed a research training course which aims to retain students in STEM fields of study as well as investigate the effectiveness of using a research based laboratory courses. Dr. Salerno has served as the academic coordinator of The Biomedical Technician Training Program since 2018. He serves as academic coordinator, mentor, and also trains students directly in the laboratory. He currently is (2021) serving as Co-PI on an NSF grant entitled “Expansion, Curriculum Evolution, and Enhancement of Biotechnician Training” which seeks to improve this already outstanding program.

Research Activities, Interest and Experiences:

Research Activities, Interest, and Experiences: The role of P-TEFb on HIV replication and T Cell activation, antigen presentation using a mouse model of smallpox, innate immunity and inflammation in a mouse model of septic shock. Currently interested in studying the microbial composition of surface waters in Philadelphia county. Connection to Personal Interests or Passions: Interested in training the next generation of scientists and building undergraduate research programs. Loves to cook, garden, ski, snorkel and travel.

James Hewlett_Faculty Mentor Photo_2-25-22

James Hewlett

Professor Hewlett currently serves as the Director of Biotechnology/ Biomanufacturing at Finger Lakes Community College in Canandaigua, NY.  In addition to teaching, he serves as the Executive Director/Principal Investigator for the Community College Undergraduate Research Initiative (CCURI) and a Co-PI on the InnovATE BIO National Center for Biotechnology Education.

Professor Hewlett serves on the Editorial Board of the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science and the Editorial Board of The American Society of Cell Biology's CBE Life Sciences Education journal.  He serves on the Advisory Board for Rochester Institute of Technology's Center for Bioscience Education and Technology (CBET) and is a member of the Steering Committee for the University of Georgia's RCN-UBE Course-based Undergraduate Research Experiences Network (CUREnet).

The current research in Professor Hewlett's lab focuses on optimizing the production of fungal exopolysaccharides using a submerged fermentation of fungal mycelium in stirred-tank reactors.

James Smith_Faculty Mentor Photo_3-18-22 (1)

James Smith

Dr. James Smith works at Princeton University as a materials science lecturer for the Princeton Institute of Materials. In his previous role at the University of Utah, he spent six years as an instructor and educational specialist in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. He also spent seven years as an assistant professor in the engineering group at Salt Lake Community College. Dr. Smith has years of experience developing educational experiences for students using cleanrooms and microscopy facilities. He developed the first nanotechnology and microscopy certificate programs in the state of Utah, and a general engineering associate’s degree at Salt Lake Community College, and works with the Micro Nano Technology Education Center supporting development of national educational and professional development opportunities.

Matt Pleil_Faculty Mentor Photo_3-12-22

Matthias W. Pleil

Matthias Pleil, Ph.D. is the Principal Investigator of the Support Center for Microsystems Education (SCME), an NSF funded Advanced Technological Education Center located at the University of New Mexico’s Manufacturing, Training and Technology Center (MTTC). Dr. Pleil is a Research Professor and Senior Lecturer III of Mechanical Engineering at the University. Dr. Pleil has teaches Engineering Design, Microsystems (MEMS) Fabrication and Design. He has over 12 years experience in Semiconductor Manufacturing as a senior process and equipment engineer, and engineering manager in Photolithography, Yield and Metrology. Dr. Pleil received his Ph.D. in Physics in 1993 from Texas Tech University where he completed original research on Time Resolved Fluorescence Spectroscopy. He currently leads the Micro Nano Tech Education Special Interest Group (MNTeSIG) and provides week-long hands-on cleanroom microfabrication experiences for students and faculty with online short courses, kits and educational materials.

Neda Habibi

Neda Habibi

Dr. Neda Habibi has a PhD in Nano-biotechnology specializing in Bionanomaterials and drug delivery. She received her PhD degree from the University of Genova, Italy in 2012. From 2012 to 2016, she was Assistant Professor with Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials Institute at Isfahan University of Technology, Iran.

She is an alumna of the Division of Engineering in Medicine and Renal Division of Medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital at Harvard University where she was visiting Assistant Professor at Dr. Shafiee’s Laboratory. From 2016, she has been a research assistance professor with Biomedical Engineering Department at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA). Prior to join UNT, she was coordinating a Nano-engineering program at Northwest Vista College in San Antonio.

Her works have been published in prestigious journals such as NanoToday, Advanced Functional Materials, Journal of Biomedical Materials Research and Collides and Surfaces. As a program coordinator, she has been involved in couple of grants from National Science Foundation NSF as both PI and Co-PI with more than $9.3M in total, towards variety of different academic activities such as interacting with graduate and undergraduate students, establishing her research area, collaboration with other faculty members as well as industrial partners. 

Tanya Faltens

Tanya Faltens

Dr. Tanya Faltens is the Assistant Director of Community Engagement for the Network for Computational Nanotechnology (NCN), which created the open access nanoHUB.org cyber-platform. Her technical background is in Materials Science and Engineering (Ph.D. UCLA 2002). Dr. Faltens taught materials engineering courses and mentored undergraduate research students while at Cal Poly Pomona. Now at Purdue University, she runs the NCN Undergraduate Research Experience (NCN-URE) Program, and has worked with over 130 undergraduate research students.

Peter Kazarinoff_Faculty Mentor_ Photo_3-18-22

Peter Kazarinoff

Dr. Peter D. Kazarinoff is a full-time faculty member in Engineering at Portland Community College in Portland, Oregon. Peter earned a PhD in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Washington and a BA from Cornell University. He teaches courses in Engineering, Materials Science, and Manufacturing at Portland Community College. Teaching at a community college is his dream job. Peter is passionate about bringing a diverse group of problem-solving technicians into the workforce. He is an open education resource textbook author, a podcast producer and the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Advanced Technological Education (J ATE).

Yu Chung Chang

Yu Chung Chang

Yu-Chung Chang-Hou obtained her Ph.D. in mathematics from UCLA. During her postdoc at New York University and at Caltech, she co-developed a level-set method for computing multi-phase flows, which has generated a lot of excitements in the computational fluid dynamics community. Besides teaching mathematics at Pasadena City College, she has devoted herself to developing effective teaching and learning strategies. Encouraging students to showcase their STEM learning with real life applications, she has initiated and led the annual Pi Day Student Conferences at Pasadena City College since 2013. She has participated in the Undergraduate Research program at PCC in STEM fields since 2020. Currently, she is participating in a blockchain research project in molecular dynamics led by Professor Strachan at Purdue University, and the MATE ROV team of Pasadena City College.