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The MSI Undergraduate Internship Program wrapped up its 19th summer last month. Twelve undergraduates from colleges and universities around the country worked on projects in chemistry, physics, geophysics, astronomy, biochemistry, medicinal chemistry, and drug design. In this annual program, undergraduate interns participate in the research groups of MSI Principal Investigators on projects using high-performance computing environments, especially visualization and computer gr aphics; they prepare a report and give a presentation about their work. The graphic at left, from the presentation of in tern Robin Weiss of Macalester College, depicts convection in the earth’s mantle. More information about the 2009 intern program can be found in the Summer 2009 issue of the MSI Research Bulletin. Information about the Summer 2010 intern program will be posted here later in the fall.
The new I-35W bridge, which replaces the one that collapsed in 2007, includes sensors to investigate its structural behavior. Professors Catherine French, Carol Shield, and Henryk Stolarski of the Department of Civil Engineering are using MSI resources for a key aspect of the data interpretation, which is the development of a detailed finite element model (FEM) to investigate the static and dynamic properties of the bridge, including time-dependent effects. Monitoring the bridge should lead to a better understanding of the behavior of post-tensioned concrete bridges in the state of Minnesota and potential improvements in the methods for analysis and design of these systems, as well as to recommendations for instrumentation of future bridges.
Every two years the students on the University of Minnesota’s Solar Vehicle Project design, build, and race a solar car against 20 or 30 other teams from all over the world. The team, led by Dr. Jeffrey M. Hammer, Department of Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics, uses the computational fluid dynamics program Ansys CFX, available at MSI, to create simulations of the effects of aerodynamic drag and crosswinds on their design configurations. The group’s work will be highlighted in the upcoming Summer issue of the Supercomputing Institute Research Bulletin.
Researchers from the psychiatry and psychology departments are using MSI resources to process MRI data they obtain as part of their studies of the structural and functional characteristics of the human brain. Professor Kelvin O. Lim, Department of Psychiatry, and his group study the brain in relation to psychiatric illnesses such as schizophrenia. Associate Professor Monica Luciana, Department of Psychology, studies how the brain develops normally during adolescent and early adulthood. After capturing brain images with the 3 Tesla MRI scanner at the Center for Magnetic Resonance Research, Professors Lim and Luciana use complex image analysis and statistical algorithms to process and analyze their data.
See the Spring 2009 issue of the MSI Research Bulletin for more information about this research (pg. 5).
Assistant Professor Elizabeth A. Amin, Department of Medicinal Chemistry and MSI Associate Fellow, and her research team are using molecular modeling techniques as part of their research into ways of counteracting the anthrax toxin lethal factor (LF) enzyme, which is chiefly responsible for anthrax-related cytotoxicity. Weaponized anthrax is a biological warfare and terrorism threat, and LF can remain in the human system for days after the anthrax bacterium has been killed with antibiotics. This residual LF can cause fatal toxemia, and there is currently no clinical therapy against it.
The Amin group is investigating compounds that may be used for future drug designs targeting LF. An article about this work will appear in the upcoming Spring 2009 issue of the MSI Research Bulletin.