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Research Projects

Asefa, Tewodros (Teddy)

Project Description

The research programs for undergraduate students in Asefa lab are intended to teach and train the students with various research topics and concepts on fundamental and applied chemistry and materials science. Furthermore, projects in Asefa lab are designed to enable undergraduate students obtain research experience related to nanomaterials, nanoscience, nanotechnology and nanobiotechnology. Specific applications of interest of the works they do include developing novel nanocatalysts for transformation of raw materials and fine chemicals into synthetic materials and pharmaceuticals as efficiently as possible; novel nanomedicines for cancer treatment and diagnostics; and nanomaterials for solar cells. The following two projects for undergraduates are currently undergoing:

(i) Multifunctional Nanomaterials for Targeted Delivery of Anticancer Drugs

This project focuses on developing novel multifunctional nanostructured materials (or nanomedicines) for cancer treatment. The nanomaterials are designed and synthesized in such a way that they have improved adsorption capacity for the drugs and controlled release properties to targeted cancer cells. This project is part of one of the most important and rapidly growing research areas in nanobiotechnology today. The development nanomaterials that efficiently and controllably perform drug delivery to targeted cancer cells is among the most burgeoning research areas in cancer treatment as current chemotherapy treatment methods are still far from being ideal. Specifically, undergraduate students in Asefa lab develop new classes of functionalized nanoporous organosilica materials and demonstrate their potential for improved adsorption of anticancer drug, cis-platin, and studied its release properties by changing temperature and pH in the solution. The students design and synthesized nanostructured materials with different terminal and bridging organic groups and investigate the effects of the functional groups on the adsorption and release properties of the materials to the drug molecules at different temperatures and pH. They also determine the biocompatibility, bioactivity and potential therapeutic properties of the materials using various cancer cell lines. Many of the students involved in these projects have co-authored at least one paper, if not more.

(ii) Synthesis of high-surface area multifunctional nanoporous materials for catalysis and photocatalysis
Students involved in this project synthesize different novel ordered nanoporous inorganic metal oxides using supramolecular self-assembly of surfactants with different metal oxide precursors. They then functionalize the materials with different catalytic active organic functional groups and/or with metallic and bimetallic nanoparticles by post-synthetic modification. They then investigate the synergistic catalytic properties by two or more catalytic active groups confined within the nanopores of the materials. In addition, they study the adsorption of the materials as ‘sponge’ and photocatalytic degradation of organic pollutants from waste water. Many students have also been involved in this project and were become part of some articles the group published


GPA: 3.2 and above

Course Experience: must have taken basic chemistry courses and a few laboratory courses including general chemistry (preferable if they have done organic chemistry labsas well or previous research experience at other labs of places)

Current Undergraduate Researchers

  • Stephanie Hayes (Just left for Johns Hopkins University to study Nursing, but may be available to answer questions)
  • Yesha Kathrani 
  • Nicjholas Pasquale

(In addition, the best ones to answer questions would be my two graduate students who mentored some of my undergraduates in the near past: Sayantani Das and Rafael Silva)

Publications with Undergraduate Co-authors

Undergraduate names underlined;
† Indicates that these students were also involved as REU summer researchers with the PI when the PI was at Syracuse University

Hayes, S.; Wang, G.; Das, S.; Zhang, M.; Minko, T.; Tao, Z.; Asefa, T.* “Accelerated Oxidation of Caffeine and Isocaffeine by Mesoporous Silica Nanoparticles and their Enhanced Antitumor Activity” ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces., 2011, Submitted and under Review.

Vathyam, R.; Wondimu, E.; Zhang, C.; Das, S.; Hayes, S.; Tao, Z.; Asefa, T.* “Improving Drug Adsorption and Release Properties on Nanostructured Materials with Temperature” J. Phys. Chem. C, 2011, 115, 13135-13150.

Duncan, C. T.; Fleitsch, S.†; Asefa, T.* “Efficient Nanoporous Silica-Supported Zn-Tropone Heterogeneous Catalyst for Intramolecular Hydroamination Reaction” ChemCatChem, 2009, 1, 365-368.

Wang, G.; Otuonye, A.†; Blair, E. A.†; Denton, K.†; Tao, Z.; Asefa, T.* “Functionalized Mesoporous Materials with Improved Adsorption Capacity and Release Properties for Different Drug Molecules: A Comparative Study” J. Solid State Chem., 2009, 182, 1649-1660.

Asefa, T.*; Wang, G.; Blair, E. A.†; Otuonye, A.†, Denton, K.† “Multifunctional Nanoporous Materials for Adsorption and Controlled Drug Release” Adsorption, 2009, 15, 287-299.

Asefa, T.*; Sharma, K. K.; Anan, A.; Vathyam, R.; Buckley, R. P.†; Dam, H. M.†; Xie, Y.; Quinlivan, S.†; Wang, G.; Duncan, C. “Efficient and Selective Nanoporous Catalysts by Placing Multiple Site-Isolated Functional Groups on Mesoporous Materials” Invited Book Chapter In “Nanoporous Materials” (A. Sayari and M.  Jaroniec, eds.), World Scientific Publ. Co., Singapore, 2008, pp. 497-508.

Sharma, K. K.; Buckley, R. P.; Asefa, T.* “Optimizing Cooperative Acid-Base Bifunctional Mesoporous Catalysts for the Henry Reaction: Effects of Separation Distance of Site-Isolated Groups on Cooperative Catalysis”, Langmuir, 2008, 24, 14306-14320.

Xie, Y.; Quinlivan, S.†; Asefa, T.* “Tuning Metal Nanostructures within SBA-15 by Changing Metal Complexes Reduced In-situ with Grafted Imines and Hemiaminals” J. Phys. Chem. C., 2008, 112, 9996-10003.

Sharma, K. K.; Anan, A.; Buckley, R. P.†; Ouellette, W.; Asefa, T.* "Towards Efficient Nanoporous Catalysts: Controlling Site-Isolation and Concentration of Grafted Catalytic Sites on Nanoporous Materials with Solvents and Colorimetric Elucidation of their Site-Isolation" J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2008, 130, 218-228.

Otuonye, A.†; Asefa, T.* “Efficient and Selective Nanoscale Catalysts by Solvent-Assisted Site-Isolated Grafting (SASIG) of Multiple Functional Groups on Mesoporous Materials” Chemtracts Inorg. Chem., 2007, 20, 85-93.

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