The short-term goal of the research is to gain a better understanding of the widely debated mechanisms of this ostensibly non-intuitive behavior of polar molecules, peptides and proteins in cell membranes, and in particular, understand the role of water in this process, Patel said.
Longer-term applications, he said, might be to use cell-penetrating peptides as a way to deliver drugs to the cells, either by themselves, or in conjunction with other platforms such as nanomaterials, research that is currently being pursued in numerous laboratories.
In addition to supporting research, the NSF grant will fund Patel's proposal to engage high school students in science and show them the importance and usefulness of learning about a variety of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) disciplines. By reaching out to high school students, Patel said, he hopes to interest them in various science disciplines, technology and math even before they arrive on a college campus and to demonstrate how scientific problems can often be solved only by using knowledge from many different disciplines.
At Newark High School, biology and environmental science teacher McDowell and chemistry and physics teacher Dotts will be working with Patel to develop the curriculum for the new course. A feature will be its use of computer modeling, with the NSF grant funding new equipment for the school.
"This project fits right in with the importance that's being placed on STEM, and it will allow kids to see that the various disciplines are all part of it," McDowell said. "That's the message we want to give studentsthat science is a big, broad field and all its parts are interrelated."
Having a course with University involvement and a co-teacher like Patel who conducts actual research using high-performance computers will be a benefit in engaging high school students, Dotts said. "I feel that anything we can do to brin
|Contact: Andrea Boyle Tippett|
University of Delaware