Life Sciences Laboratories
The biodiversity/ecology group engages in research aimed at elucidating the importance, protection and status of biodiversity and ecology in terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems. Ecosystem function and services of biodiversity, economic benefits of biodiversity, costs of biodiversity loss, and ecosystem degradation and remediation are being explored. The ultimate goal is to promote the protection of biodiversity and ecosystems through education, training and research.
Natural Products Laboratory
The natural products collaboration is focused on studying the properties of compounds that occur naturally in various plants and organisms such as green tea, algae and others, using approaches from microbiology, virology, biochemistry and chemistry. The discovery of novel substances with antibacterial, antiviral and anticancer activities is the aim of this research. New compounds will be isolated from their natural sources, chemically characterized, and examined in a variety of assays and experiments to determine how they affect bacteria, viruses and cell cultures. New compounds will be studied on a molecular level to examine their mechanism of action.
Sokol Institute Laboratory
The Sokol Institute supports a variety of interdisciplinary research efforts including the development of drugs for treating parasitic disease, new computational approaches for virtual drug screening, a new computational approach to identify new uses of existing drugs to treat infectious disease, the design of nanocarrier-based novel drug delivery systems for breast cancer therapy, and computational approaches for assessing clinical outcomes in obesity trials. Modern pharmaceutical research is generally a transdisciplinary effort bringing together scientists from varied disciplines such as medicinal chemistry, biotechnology, materials science, computational science, etc. The Institute’s Fellows Program promotes such research by providing direct monetary support to Montclair State faculty from separate disciplines collaborating on a common research goal.
Medicinal Chemistry Laboratory
The interdisciplinary medicinal chemistry research team is developing a detailed understanding of the chemistry that underlies the beneficial effects of particular medicinal compounds used in treating disease. Studies include how enzymes speed up chemical reactions in the human body, focusing on those enzymes that are important targets of pharmaceutical inhibitors (drugs). Efforts are focused on understanding the forces that dictate binding between a small molecule and its protein partner, thus revealing quantitative structure activity relationships between proteins and their ligands. Novel approaches will be developed to predict the binding between small molecules and proteins. This work includes both experimental and computational approaches to research that is fundamental to drug discovery and development.
Environmental Forensics Laboratory
The environmental forensics interdisciplinary group investigates substances in the environment and the source of these materials. Environmental forensics is a new field that is developing rapidly with new legal mechanisms and regulations concerning identification and sources of compounds in environmental samples. The researchers take samples, identify the source apportionment of compounds, and provide data for use in prosecuting those who have broken particular laws. Environmental forensics methods for understanding the sources of materials include chemical and biological methods and approaches. This research also includes data mining and prediction in order to understand better what is happening in the environment.
The geodynamics group investigates the large-scale physical and chemical processes of the Earth’s surface, crust and interior through experiments, mechanical modeling, and the analyses of the composition of solid Earth and planetary materials. Areas of expertise include astronomy, remote sensing, rock magnetism, petrology, stratigraphy and hydrology. Researchers study the mechanics of shear flow, surface runoff and groundwater flow, and the composition of meteorites, synthetic planetary materials and rocks derived from natural archives of Earth’s geodynamic evolution. The research laboratory facilitates measurements of the dynamics of fluids and melts, rock magnetic properties, whole rock geochemistry, sediment radioactivity and mineralogy. An understanding of the natural processes in the planetary system addresses such important questions as the origin and history of the Earth and the solar system, the occurrence of earthquakes and volcanism, the origin and preservation of water and mineral resources, and the variability in the distribution of large polar ice masses and related sea-level effects.
Environmental Quality / Remediation Laboratory
The transdisciplinary environmental quality and remediation research group is engaged in characterization and quantification of various physicochemical processes that determine the fate of inorganic and organic contaminants in soils and sediments and the relevant processes and interrelationships among them over a wide range of spatial and temporal scales. Long-term goals of this group, supported by the robust analytical facilities available, are to develop a comprehensive understanding of system behavior based on experimental and theoretical investigations, as well as to design control and remediation technologies, such as chemical, microbial and phytoremediation methods to clean up contaminated environment, both sustainably and cost-effectively. Researchers also estimate ecological and human health risk for environmental decision making, especially those involving protective and clean-up standards for contaminants already in the environment.
Earth Systems Laboratory
The Earth Systems and Climate Change research team examines how environmental changes induced by human activities can be quantified and separated from changes forced by naturally occurring mechanisms. Research activities include the monitoring of Earth’s surface processes from the ground, air, ocean and space. Remote sensing tools, field measurements and natural archives such as sediment and soil are used to record Earth’s regularly repeating cycles, positive and negative feedbacks, and abrupt events. These processes affect Earth’s surface temperature, the chemistry of the atmosphere and ocean, soil moisture, surface water systems, and the size and stability of ice sheets, which in turn affect societal communities through sea level rise and fall, the frequency and intensity of storms, the type and extent of vegetation, the availability of water resources, and changes in the geographic range of flora, fauna and pathogens. The interconnections between Earth systems and humans will only increase as the human population grows and the magnitude and extent of climate change increases.
The Computational Science research group in the CELS laboratories will focus on work in interdisciplinary areas where the principles of computer science are useful in proposing solutions to domain-specific problems. In the research projects addressed by the students and faculty working in these areas, new computer science techniques will be proposed, and existing ones will be refined to address challenging scientific problems. The nature of the research will be such that it will make contributions to both computer science as well as the concerned domain(s). Some areas addressed here from a computer science perspective will be data mining, machine learning, image processing, human/computer interaction and bioinformatics. Some domains of interest will include biology, environmental management and chemistry. The projects in the Computational Science group will involve researchers from multiple departments bringing their expertise to provide cutting-edge solutions. This lab will be a dry lab with computers and other peripherals in cubicles and closed offices for faculty and students.
Remote Sensing Laboratory/Geographic Information Systems Laboratory
Geographic information (or geospatial) sciences make use of remote sensing data and geographic information systems (GIS) to address environmental problems at local to global scales. Remote sensing from satellites and aircraft provides source data for many kinds of geographic, environmental, and Earth Science investigations, while GIS combines locational information with associated attributes to manipulate and analyze information spatially. These capabilities are new and increasingly integrated into public life (e.g., cell phone GPS navigation and mapping), as well as enhancing research in physical, social, economic and health sciences. The geospatial sciences are intrinsically transdisciplinary, requiring skills and knowledge in aspects of computer science (e.g., programming, data management), statistics and geostatistics, physics (spectroscopy, atmospheric science, scattering theory), mathematics (modeling, minimization algorithms) and application-specific disciplines (e.g., ecology, forestry, hydrology, geology and many others). Faculty in these labs have recognized expertise in remote sensing, GIS, geostatistics, terrestrial ecology, land use, urban geography, surface hydrology, geology and physical geography. The Remote Sensing Laboratory has hosted international visiting scientists and postdoctoral researchers. It supports graduate and undergraduate research focused on mapping the physical structure of shrub and forest canopies and aboveground biomass in terrestrial ecosystems in environments as diverse as desert grasslands and Arctic tundra, with research programs supported by external grants from NASA.
Electron Microscopy Center
The Electron Microscopy Center houses two Hitachi scanning electron microscopes and one Hitachi transmission electron microscope, all equipped with X-ray microanalysis systems and support space for sample preparation. Since opening its doors in January 2009 the Electron Microscopy Center has been heavily used by faculty and students from across the College of Science and Mathematics. With support from the National Science Foundation Ocean Drilling Program and Antarctic Drilling Program, CSAM researchers have used the facilities to analyze nanotubes, microfossils, deep crustal materials and synthetic meteorites. The Electron Microscopy Center offers a variety of courses that allow students to learn and implement electron microscopy techniques, including Scanning Electron Microscopy, Transmission Electron Microscopy, Histology, X-ray Microanalysis, and Instrumental Environmental Analysis.
Two laboratories will be devoted to acting as incubators for start-up science-based companies and offering shared research with newly starting companies. These laboratories will be created through the joint vision of members of industry. These incubators will allow our students to become comfortable with how industry laboratories work and allow faculty to work side by side with industry scientists on strongly applied research. These laboratories will also prepare our students for applied externships by modeling what they will find in industry.
Pharmaceutical Incubator Laboratory
The pharmaceutical incubator laboratory will have transdisciplinary capabilities to study a variety of diseases, with flexibility to respond to emerging clinical needs. Such a laboratory will share students as interns, as well as host pharmaceutical researchers. The facilities will reflect state-of-the-art technology employed at major pharmaceutical corporations. This technology will include facilities for molecular modeling, chemistry and biochemistry, and cellular and molecular biology. Successful research programs leading to the discovery of a novel therapeutic agent could lead to collaboration with a pharmaceutical company to develop the agent for a new drug application (NDA) to the Food and Drug Administration.
Environmental Incubator Laboratory
The environmental incubator laboratory will be generic in nature and nurture new approaches to environmental management, such as reclamation of dredged sediments, analysis, and cleansing of contaminated soils, consideration of brownfield restoration, etc. CSAM has already built relationships with environmentally concerned companies, research groups and government agencies concerned with these topics. New approaches by start-up companies dealing with contaminated sediments, water purification, fire suppression, etc., could find their way into this facility.