Samantha Strasser is awarded the Chemistry of Life Processes Undergraduate Research Grant

Samantha Strasser was recently awarded a Chemistry of Life Processes Undergraduate Research grant. The $1,000 grant is designed to provide a student with support for multidisciplinary scientific research through fall and winter quarters of the 2009-10 academic year. This grant was made possible through a generous gift from the American Undergraduate Research Society (AURS).

As a member of Vadim Backman's laboratory since January 2008, Samantha has been obtaining transmission electron microscopy (TEM), atomic force microscopy (AFM) and near-field scanning optical microscopy (NSOM) measurements. The grant will support Samantha's research on two synergetic projects. Her first project focuses on the development of a novel technique to measure intracellular refractive index and macromolecular concentration with nanoscale sensitivity based on the near-field scanning optical microscopy (NSOM). Her second project is focused on the understanding of alterations of cellular nanoarchitecture in early carcinogenesis using electron microscopy.  Both of Samantha's projects address highly significant questions from both basic science and technology development perspectives. She will present her research as a poster presentation at the Chicago Area Undergraduate Research Symposium in April. Samantha is a junior in the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science with a double major in biomedical engineering and applied mathematics. She is involved in the Midwest Microscopy and Microanalysis Society and is a student liaison for the Executive Council. Upon graduation, Samantha plans on pursuing a Doctorate in the sciences with the long-term goal of being a tenured full professor in a major research university.

The American Undergraduate Research Society (AURS) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that actively encourages and promotes undergraduate scientific and engineering research through the joint efforts of many of the top research universities across the country. The program aims to bring together undergraduate researchers studying at  American universities in order to give them an opportunity to share their research ideas and accomplishments with others in annual regional interdisciplinary research symposia. Additional information is available at:

The Chemistry of Life Processes Institute draws together Northwestern's strengths in chemistry, engineering, biology and medicine, with the goal of fostering a new wave of innovation, and providing both basic and real world scientific outcomes derived from the molecular basis of life. The Institute supports undergraduate research that offers students hands-on experience and creates an in-depth understanding of multi-disciplinary research, methodologies and approaches. Additional information is available at: