senior project and research

Very often, when Cal Poly students look for a senior project, they end up simply stepping into an established research program, working on a project (or subproject, or subsubproject) created and assigned to them by a research advisor. This graduate school model works particularly well for those students who have little idea of what to do or where to start and has many merits.

My philosophy is different. I like to collaborate with students who want to attempt something different, where both student and professor learn a bit of a new subject or a new application. A 21st century undergraduate curriculum in chemistry and/or biochemistry, with a shrinking number of free electives amidst increasing mandated requirements, unfortunately leaves little room for creativity and exploration for the student. It is my goal to assist motivated students to explore regions of science that they've only read about, heard about or wondered about.

My major areas of expertise are complexity and chaos theory, computational chemistry, and general biophysics. I am always eager, however, to further develop the overlap between physical science and art, microbiology, pyrotechnics and even things I don't know very much about. Yet.

If you have a germ of an idea for a project, and you are a sophomore or above, feel free to stop by my office and talk to me about it or just send me an email.

A sampling of some senior project topics from the last couple of years:
  • Producing permanent "photographic" images with sound
  • Continuously driven chemical oscillators in two dimensions
  • The possible role of quantum mechanical tunneling in biological mutation
  • Construction of a novel form of fire whistle
  • Optimization of metal powder mixtures in a pyrotechnic monolith
  • Spontaneous pattern formation in starved bacteria colonies
  • Molecular modelling of the dynamics of octaphenylcubane
  • Computer-based animations of calcium ion channels
  • Creation of a photofluorescent spatiotemporal oscillator
  • Fractal patterns produced by electrostimulated polymer growth
  • Growth methods of magnetic bacteria on solid substrates
  • Studies of random walkers with acquired characteristics
  • Development of novel ferrofluids