Dr. Lu proposes developing a new integrated, inquiry-based course involving all levels of undergraduate students, from freshmen to seniors, with the theme of the role of chemistry in life and society. The course will help recruit, motivate, and retain minority students as science majors. The course will be a single class that spans the four-year undergraduate education; students may take up to one semester per year. First-time students will attend lectures as well as presentations by other students. They will also choose an open-ended topic to research. The second time students take the course, they will give a literature seminar on their chosen topic. The third time, they will give a proposal seminar on how they will investigate their topic and resolve problems. The fourth time, they will give a seminar to report the results of their investigations.
Students at all levels who have similar topics will be put into groups to work together; seniors will be expected to act as mentors to the more junior students. In addition, each group will be assigned a more senior mentor, such as the instructor, a teaching fellow, a graduate teaching assistant, or a research assistant. The goal of the course is to interest students who may not otherwise choose science courses or a science major. In addition, to recruit minority students from other universities, the course will be offered in the summers and fellowships will be provided to defer expenses.
Dr. Lu's research interests are in bioinorganic chemistry. His group is investigating the role of metal ions in biological systems. Metal ions or minerals (such as calcium, copper, and iron) can be important for maintaining a healthy life. Other metal ions (such as lead, mercury, and cadmium) can be toxic. On the one hand, they are studying why and how beneficial metal ions help maintain healthy life, with a particular interest in the design and engineering of proteins containing these metal ions, which play important roles in respiration, and in bioremediation of aromatic pollutants such as polychlorinated biphenyls. On the other hand, they are interested in how toxic metal ions exert their effects on humans and how to prevent or eliminate toxicity. Toward the latter goal, his lab is designing highly sensitive and selective metal ion sensors, which have potential applications in the fields of environmental monitoring, developmental biology, clinical toxicology, industrial process monitoring, and assessment of natural and accelerated bioremediation research. Furthermore, they are exploring the design and engineering of artificial metalloenzymes for environmentally benign asymmetric transformations and the use of DNA/RNAzymes as antiviral pharmaceutical agents. Recently, they have succeeded in designing DNA for directed assembly of inorganic nanomaterials.
Last updated October 2002