Energy in a Bottle
Student funding sources: Provost’s Undergraduate Research Fellowship and Women in Science and Engineering
|Graduate student researcher:
Physics Doctoral Student
As a research assistant in Moh El-Naggar’s lab, Julia Lazzari-Dean regularly prepares solutions filled with microbes, which she studies closely with her collaborator Ian McFarlane.
The clear liquid grows into a yellowish-orange mass overnight. What look like bottles of pulpy orange juice are actually containers of arsenic sulfide, and they could hold a key to creating new nanomaterials that do jobs not yet imagined, explained El-Naggar, assistant professor of physics.
El-Naggar’s lab looks at how charges move in biological systems and finds ways to harness and apply them. Lazzari-Dean and McFarlane’s study — McFarlane’s dissertation project — could potentially generate nanosized structures useful for constructing solar panels or other technologies.
“If it works like I think it could, we could make cheap solar material in a bucket,” McFarlane said.
The study’s interdisciplinary nature demands collaborations that bring together scientists with different backgrounds, El-Naggar said. “With Julia’s interest in chemistry and Ian’s in biophysics, they ask different questions, which is how you push this sort of project forward.”
Studying chemistry as an undergraduate, Lazzari-Dean says she’s benefiting from working with colleagues who have different areas and levels of expertise.
“With Ian, I learn how to do various procedures and we talk about what we’re doing at each step,” Lazzari-Dean said. “Professor El-Naggar is a wonderful adviser because he’s so involved. I have the benefit of regular group meetings with him and one-on-one meetings in which I get to talk more about what the research means and where it’s going.”
In March, Lazzari-Dean and McFarlane presented findings from their study at the 2012 national meeting of the American Chemical Society in San Diego, Calif. Lazzari-Dean also presented her work to date in Spring 2011 and Spring 2012 at USC’s Undergraduate Symposium for Creative and Scholarly Work.
“Every time I present, I get more excited about my research,” Lazzari-Dean said. “It’s always really interesting to hear what kind of questions people ask.”
Related News Items
- In Memoriam: Howard Taylor, 79 May 22, 2015
- Guided by ‘What If?’ May 13, 2015
- Symposium Synergy April 29, 2015
- Strength of Spirit and Mind April 29, 2015
- USC Dornsife Recruits Leading ‘Click Chemist’ April 27, 2015
- Lauda Receives Simons Fellowship April 14, 2015
- Internet-like Networks Revealed April 7, 2015
- The Winner in Climate Change? April 7, 2015
- A Change of Heart April 1, 2015
- Hidden Costs March 30, 2015
- Bucky-Balls Become Buckybombs March 27, 2015
- Ehrenreich and Ralph Earn Sloan Fellowships March 4, 2015
- Just Getting Warmed Up March 3, 2015
- Irani Pledges Support for Residential College March 2, 2015
- Unlocking Pain Relief February 20, 2015
- On Our Best Behavior February 20, 2015
- Waterman Awarded Prestigious Dan David Prize February 11, 2015
- Better Cures, Better Care February 5, 2015
- Partners in Sustainability and Environmental Studies February 3, 2015
- Thompson Hailed as Innovator December 16, 2014