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29 th Puerto Rico Interdisciplinary Scientific Meeting 44 th ACS Junior Technical Meeting ABSTRACTS 2009
29 th Puerto Rico
Scientific Meeting
44 th ACS Junior Technical Meeting

44 th ACS Junior Technical Meeting 29 th Puerto Rico Interdisciplinary Scientific Meeting (PRISM)


University of Puerto Rico Río Piedras Campus March 14, 2009

Puerto Rico – Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (PR-LSAMP) American Chemical Society – Puerto Rico Section Resource Center for Science and Engineering Univesity of Puerto Rico – Río Piedras Campus


44 th ACS Junior Technical Meeting 29 th Puerto Rico Interdisciplinary Scientific Meeting (PRISM) University of Puerto Rico Río Piedras Campus March 14, 2009



















































44 th ACS Junior Technical Meeting 29 th Puerto Rico Interdisciplinary Scientific Meeting (PRISM) University of Puerto Rico Río Piedras Campus March 14, 2009



Dr. Manuel Gómez Dr. Ana C. Piñero Ms. Ana M. Feliciano Prof. Javier Figueroa Ms. Sara Ines Rivera Mr. Hector Mendez Mr. David Vega Ms. Tashira Marrero Ms. Jenny Rivera Sr. Jose Muñoz Sr. Jose Miró Sr. Osvaldo Casiano


UPR-Río Piedras

Dr. Brad Weiner Dr. Michelle Borrero Dr. Noemi Cintrón Dr. Ivelisse Rubio Mrs. Elsa Cordova Sr. Nestor Pacheco Sr. Samuel Suleimán Sr. José Terrón

Dr. Raphael Raptis, President Dr. Nilka Rivera, President Elect Dr. Elba Reyes, Secretary Dr. Jorge Colón, Treasurer Dr. Nestor Carballeira, Northwest Chairperson Dr. Brenda Ramos, Southeast Chairperson Dr. Ingrid Montes, Councilor Dr. Juan López, Alternate Councilor


44 th ACS Junior Technical Meeting 29 th Puerto Rico Interdisciplinary Scientific Meeting (PRISM) University of Puerto Rico Río Piedras Campus March 14, 2009


Dr. Rigoberto Hernández Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry Georgia Tech

Using Chemical Tools to Make Sense of Molecular, Economic And Social Networks


An old adage says that the whole is bigger than its parts. In social networks in cyberspace it is not just the number of people that are members of the network that matter but the degree and breadth to which they are connected. Economies function through transactions between pairs of clients, but their strength lies in the whole of the infrastructure. The question of how money or information flows through these system is analogous to the function of molecular networks. Ignoring such complex emergent structures has worked well in treating the thermodynamics of ideal gases and ideal solutions as they can be described by the same theory no matter how small or how large the sample. Unfortunately, this additive approximation often breaks down due to molecular scale interactions and how they add up to create emergent nonadditive properties. We will illustrate these emergent nonadditive properties in molecular networks using examples from my own research asking how molecules move on a surface, how solutes diffuse through a swelling colloidal sample, how molecular-scale structure in gas-expanded liquids can be controlled using large-scale knobs, and how biomolecules restructure themselves between different folds. The implications of this work will then be connected to biological, economic, and social networks.


44 th ACS Junior Technical Meeting 29 th Puerto Rico Interdisciplinary Scientific Meeting (PRISM)

University of Puerto Rico Río Piedras Campus March 14, 2009


7:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.

Registration / Breakfast (Lobby Teatro UPR)

9:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.

Welcoming Remarks (Theater) Dr. Brad Weiner, Dean of Natural Sciences University of Puerto Rico in Rio Piedras

Dr. Raphael Raptis, President ACS Puerto Rico Chapter 2009

Dr. Manuel Gómez, Director University of Puerto Rico Resource Center for Science and Engineering

Dr. Gladys Escalona de Motta, Chancellor University of Puerto Rico in Rio Piedras

Antonio García Padilla, Esq., President University of Puerto Rico

9:30 a.m. – 9:45 a.m.

Presentation of Plenary Speaker Dr. Manuel Gomez

9:45 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.

Plenary Conference Dr. Rigoberto Hernandez Georgia Tech

10:45 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.

Coffee Break (Lobby NCN Building)

11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Late Registration (Lobby NCN Building)

11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Concurrent Scientific Sessions (Natural Sciences Buildings and Architecture Building)

11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Lunch –“Centro de Estudiantes de Rio Piedras”

1:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Poster Set-up (Halls of NCN)

1:45 p.m. – 3:25 p.m.

Concurrent Scientific Sessions (Natural Sciences Buildings and Architecture Building)

2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Poster Session (Halls of NCN)

3:25 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Reception (Poster Session Area and Lobby of NCN)




44 th ACS Junior Technical Meeting 29 th Puerto Rico Interdisciplinary Scientific Meeting (PRISM)


(Arranged in alphabetical order by field and presenter’s last name)

Agricultural Sciences Chemistry Computer Sciences Education Electronics Engineering Environmental Science Geosciences Life Sciences Mathematics Physics


Agricultural Sciences

Ramos, Laurie T, UPR-MAYAGUEZ; Abner A. Rodríguez, Department of Animal Industry, University of Puerto Rico - Mayagüez; Elide Valencia, Department of Agronomy and Soils, University of Puerto Rico - Mayagüez

[Agricultural Sciences 1]

Effects of On-Field Application of Liquid Urea on Intake and Digestibility of Guinea-Grass Hay

Previous pilot-scale experiments have shown that liquid urea (LU) application improves the chemical composition and nutritive value of tropical grasses hay (TGH). However, information on large scale use of LU on TGH composition and quality is limited. This experiment evaluated the effect of LU application on crude protein content (CPC), intake, and digestibility of guinea-grass hay (Panicum maximum, GGH) by sheep. The LU was applied as a fertilizer to GGH at three different concentrations: No application (T1), 205lt/ha (T2), and 807lt/ha (T3). Forage was harvested at 56d of growth, preserved as hay, and analyzed to

at 56d of growth, preserved as hay, and analyzed to determine CPC. Nine native rams (BW

determine CPC. Nine native rams (BW =30.4 kg) were utilized as experimental units to evaluate the effect of LU on GGH intake and digestibility. Animals were fed during three consecutive periods each consisting of 7-d of diet adaptation and 5-d of data collection. Data were analyzed according to a 3 x 3 Latin Square design. Crude protein content was 6.1, 8.1 and 9.9% for T1, T2 and T3, respectively. Daily forage intake was similar for the three diets (T1= 1129 g, T2= 1148 g, T3= 1047 g). On-field application of LU to GGH did not improve forage dry matter digestibility (T1 = 61.61%, T2 = 58.64, T=57.10%), however, a higher crude protein digestibility was observed in rams under treatments containing LU (T1= 48.41%, T2= 55.75%, T3= 65.01%). In summary, on-field application of liquid urea improved the CPC and crude protein digestibility of guinea-grass hay harvested at 56d of growth.

KEYWORDS: Liquid Urea, tropical grasses, animal performance

Santiago, Nydmarie, UPR-MAYAGUEZ; UPR-Mayaguez

[Agricultural Sciences 2]

Zapata, Mildred, Crop Protection,

Characterization of Bacillus Spp. From Coffee Plants and Insects: Potential Biocontrol Agents Of The Coffee Berry Borer (Hypothenemus Hampei Ferrari Coleoptera: Scolytidae)


Coffee is a primary product in world trade and fundamental base of the economy of many countries. Around seventy coffee producing countries have significant losses due to the coffee berry borer, Hypothenemus hampei or “broca”. This insect feeds only on the coffee berry in which it completes its whole life cycle, spoiling the harvests by affecting the yield and grain quality. Effective insecticides are highly toxic. Hence, biological control agents would be of great importance for economical, environmental, and public health safety. Endophytic bacteria, such as Bacillus live inside coffee plant tissues but are not detrimental to it and are not harmful to vertebrates, humans, or the environment. These endophytes produce a wide spectrum of secondary metabolites like antimicrobial agents or insecticidal toxins. In this study, Bacillus pumilus (Bp) and Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) strains, collected from coffee plants and insects, were characterized on their colony, spore formation, growth curves and plasmids. Attempts were made to distinguish differences in plasmids between strains of plant versus insect origin. A bioassay was performed to determine the potential of Bacilluss spp. to control the insect inside the seeds. Differences in colony form and margin were observed within the Bt strains from plant versus insect origin but none within the Bp strains. Plasmids from insects were bigger than those of plant origin in both species. Bacillus spp. treatments applied externally on seeds with broca showed no differences in the control of the adult inside the seeds indicative of the importance of a preventive control treatment.


Almenas, Mariangely, UPR-RIO PIEDRAS; Flores, Giselle, Chemistry, University of Puerto Rico Rio Piedras Campus; Pagán, Miraida, Chemistry, University of Puerto Rico Rio Piedras Campus; Griebenow, Kai, Chemistry, University of Puerto Rico Rio Piedras Campus

[Chemistry 1]

Mechanism of Moisture-induced Solid-phase Aggregation and Stabilization of Proteins

The employment of proteins as biotherapeutic agents has gained increased interest due to their chemical selectivity and catalytic efficiency when compared to small molecules. Solid protein pharmaceuticals often suffer from instability problems due to moisture adsorption thus hampering their successful therapeutic application. One frequently formulated hypothesis is that partial protein hydration from moisture adsorption increases protein structural motions leading to protein unfolding and aggregation.


To test the hypothesis, lyophilized α-chymotrypsin powder was incubated at various relative humidities for different time intervals. Formation of buffer insoluble and soluble aggregates was monitored for these samples. To detect unfolding/refolding events occurring to the solid protein, these were analyzed by FTIR and circular dichroism spectroscopy after incubation. Results showed that the protein forms aggregates upon storage in humidity chambers. Furthermore long-term storage of the proteins at increasing levels of residual moisture increases the formation of aggregates with this effect also increasing with storage time. Moreover results showed that the protein looses its native-like structure after storage for one week. This suggests that high moisture levels cause detrimental events in the protein such as, structural perturbations. This study has showed that residual moisture plays an important role in the denaturation and aggregation of protein.

Previously published results revealed that the protein structural dynamics can be decreased after surface chemical modification with polymers by reducing protein- water contacts thus resulting in less degradation of the protein. To that effect, chemical modification with glycans (Dextran and lactose) was performed to test if glycosylation could decrease protein unfolding and aggregation. Initial results have shown a decrease in aggregation levels and an increase in residual activity in the solid-state upon the modification.

Alonso, Cristina, TURABO UNIV

[Chemistry 2]










Sulfate-reducing bacteria are important in the sulfur cycle. They are anaerobic microorganisms and also found in a several different anoxic environments, such as caves and forest soils. We hypothesize that soils from the botanical garden harbor sulfidogenic communities scarce in their prevalence, diversity, and distribution for the terrestrial microniches comprised within the tropical botanical garden. The objective is to study the presence and the diversity of the sulfate- reducing bacteria across microniches of the Botanical Garden in Puerto Rico. Sample of soil were collected from the various sites at the botanical garden, University of Puerto Rico (Río Piedras, Puerto Rico). Genomic DNA was extracted from each sample for PCR amplification of the dissimilatory sulfite reductase (dsrAB) gene and terminal restriction fragment length polymorphisms (TRFLP) analysis. Sulfidogenic communities showed to be diverse across the microniches examined through the botanical garden. Relative abundance of phylotypes varied among the samples. Their highest abundance was found for sediments of aquatic plants (85 phylotypes) followed by soils surrounding Eucalyptus trees (45 phylotypes). Several more samples remain to be analyzed


to assess the overall richness of sulfidogens. Diverse sulfate-reducing bacteria have been found on a place not expected, the botanical garden of the University of Puerto Rico, and may harbor novel taxa. This outcome will expand our understanding of the microbial ecology in the tropics. [NSF-RIG: Richness and endemicity of sulfate-reducing bacteria in Neotropical environments (MCB-


Alvarez, Narahi, UPR-MAYAGUEZ; Pacheco, Leonardo, Chemistry, University of Puerto Rico- Mayaguez; Hernandez, Samuel, Chemistry, University of Puerto Rico

[Chemistry 3]

Inclusion of Ag into TiO2 by Reverse Phase Separation

Titanium dioxide is useful in industry and many devices are made with this material. It is present in nature in many forms: rutile, Anatase, titanium oxide II and titanium (III) oxide. The experiments consisted of inserting silver atoms into titanium dioxide crystalline structure. This meticulous procedure involved several steps. First, silver nitrate was added to a small glass vessel and dissolved in ultra high purity water. Phase separation was accomplished by an adding organic solvent such as cyclohexane. Sample preparations consisted of attaining a colorless solution, assisted by mixing the phases (aqueous and organic) with a surfactant. The equipment needed for sample analysis consisted of a tube to connect a dry nitrogen source, a cooler and a mixer. In a later step, isopropanol was cooled with the use of an iced water bath and titanium isopropoxide was added slowly. Sample was kept under agitation for a twenty four hour period. Further sample treatments included mixing with sodium borohydride in ethylene glycol, centrifugation, rinsing with isopropanol/acetone/water, and filtration to obtain the final product. Raman spectroscopy was utilized to characterize final product structure, Anatase. UV-VIS spectrophotometry was used to obtain absorption spectra of samples in order to characterize the presence of silver in titanium dioxide. Experimental data showed positive results. Subsequent analyses intend to compare samples of titanium oxide with silver at different TiO 2 to Ag molar ratios: 1:10, 1:100, and 1:1000.

Keywords: Phase separations, UV-VIS spectrophotometry, Anatase, Ag-TiO 2

Alvarez, Michael, UPR-HUMACAO; Fasoli, Ezio, Department of Chemistry, UPR-Humacao; Bromberg, Lev, Department of Chemical Engineering, MIT; Barletta, Gabriel L., Department of Chemistry, UPR-Humacao

[Chemistry 4]

Polymer Catalyzed Transesterification of Sunflower Oil for Biodiesel Production


Polymers functionalized with basic moieties were synthesized and tested as catalysts for the transesterification of sunflower oil with methanol for biodiesel production. This work focused on the optimization of the reaction conditions and the reusability of the catalysts. Poly(hexamethylene biguanide) (PHG) was one of the best catalyst among the ones studied, however to ease its recovery and to facility its reusability it was cross-linked with 4,4'-methylenebis (N,N- diglycidylaniline). The cross linked PHG (CLPHG) obtained had a particle size that permitted its recovery by simple vacuum filtration. The catalytic activity of CLPHG versus PHG showed that the heterogenization of the system by cross linking decreases the activity for the same polymer in the homogeneous phase. CLPHG showed structural stability at high temperature (70 °C) and also after several cycles of reuse as indicated by the NMR spectra obtained before and after the reaction. The reusability of the catalyst however was hampered by protonation of the biguanide moieties, possible by acidic impurities present in the oil used. The reaction conducted with refined sunflower oil and under nitrogen atmosphere improved the reusability of the polymer catalyst. The amount of catalyst was found to be optimum at a 5% mol/mol ratio. The activation energy (E a = 15461 Cal/mol) calculated from k’ values obtained at different temperatures was found to be in agreement with the average values for most heterogeneous and homogeneous systems suggesting.

Amaro-Ortiz, Alexandra, UPR-RIO PIEDRAS; Cai, Minying, Department of Chemistry, University of Arizona; Hruby, Victor J., Department of Chemistry, University of Arizona

[Chemistry 5]

Identification of the Binding Site of Melanocortin Receptors via its Ligands

The human melanocortin system consists of five receptors hMC1R-hMC5R of the GPCR family; their ligands are a group of pituitary peptide hormones and neurotransmitters[1]. Melanocortin receptors and their ligands have a diverse set of physiological processes [2]. There is an industrial interest in drug development by several companies but it is important to first identify a lead melanocortin to study its physiological effects. MT-II and SHU9119 derivatives, allowing studies for designing selective analogues of melanocortin receptors, were tested to determine their binding affinity and selectivity in cell lines with high expression of hMC5R, using binding affinity and cAMP assays. The derivatives of SHU9119 and MT-II were found to have binding affinities to hMC5R. SHU9119 derivatives increased cAMP concentration in the hMC5R but the drugs in the assay were not consistence with the concentration used in the binding assay. The period of this project was not able to compare the peptides in the cell lines with high expression of hMC1R-hMC4R to test their selectivity and specific binding site. This study provides insight in structure-activity relationship that allows us to keep


working on the synthesis of analogues that exhibit higher receptor selectivity. This study needs to be repeated with the same concentration of drugs taking care of the cells and the standards concentration solution of the peptides according with this project. The design and biological evaluation of these peptides allows us to carefully plan to further relationship studies of the physiological and pharmacological actions of these hormones, neurotransmitters and receptors.

Bermudez, Lorianne, UPR-HUMACAO

[Chemistry 6]

Asymmetric Reduction of thiocromanes and benzofuranes with Borane using the Spiroborate Ester Derived from (S) - Diphenyl Prolinol as Catalyst

Though numerous chemical and biological methodologies are known for the synthesis of secondary alcohols, difficulties still remain in attaining high enantiopurity easily. In our laboratory, some stable chiral spiroborates esters derived from ethylene glycol and diphenyl prolinol has been developed as catalysts for the enantioselective reduction of ketones efficiency. Based on the high selectivity of these catalysts for the reduction ketones in our laboratory, it has been decided to apply them for the reduction of ketones that are important in the synthesis of biologically active compounds. Two of these compounds are thiocroman-4-one and benzofuran-3(2H)-one. For that reason, a reduction are reported in order to study the efficiency of our reactions using complex EG-DPP and borane as catalyst, in order to obtain secondary alcohols. Optically active alcohols were obtained using 1-10mol % of catalyst, in where furanone reduction result in an enanatioselectivity of 75% with 1% mol of catalyst and 95% with 10% mol of catalyst, while thiochromanone results in 99% ee.


R' R


Ph Ph O O B H N O H 1 Cat. 1/ THF, rt 0.7
H 1
Cat. 1/ THF, rt
0.7 eq. Borane
results in 99% ee. O R' R 4 Ph Ph O O B H N O







Berrios, Grace, UPR-MAYAGUEZ; Juan Lopez-Garriga, University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez Campus

[Chemistry 7]

Myoglobin encapsulation in Sol-Gels

Hemoglobin I (HbI) from the clam Lucina pectinata reacts with hydrogen sulfide to form the ferric sulfide complex. The interaction between HbI and H 2 S will be studied using Sol-Gel encapsulation methods. Since Sol-Gel is a transparent crystalline polymer it allows obtaining UV spectra from the encapsulated proteins interacting with the bond ligand. The UV spectroscopy was used to determine the optimum concentration for the reaction. This concentration was determined by the linear relation between the absorbance and the concentration (Beer-Lambert Law).

Casiano, Rosa, UPR-MAYAGUEZ; Melendez, Enrique, Quimica, UPR- Mayaguez; Vera, Jose, Quimica, UPR-Mayaguez; Acevedo, Deborah, Quimica, UPR-Mayaguez

[Chemistry 8]

Synthesis and Characterization of ç5-C5H5)2Mo(2-amino-6-mercaptopurine)]Cl2

Molybdenocene dichloride like some other metallocene dihalides Cp2MX2 (M = Ti, V, Nb, Mo and X = halides) show high antiproliferative properties against a wide range of murine and human tumors. They also exhibit less toxic side effects than platinum antitumor agents. It has been found that these metallocene complexes (Cp2MCl2, M = Ti, V) transfer the metal to the transferrin (Tf) and to human serum albumin (HAS). (1) Human serum albumin (HSA) is a 66.5 kDa with an impressive array of binding sites capable of binding a wide variety of ligands. In this work we present the synthesis of [(η5-C5H5)2Mo(2-amino-6- mercaptopurine)]Cl 2 which was characterized by FT-IR, NMR and elemental analysis. In future works we are going to study the interaction between [(η5- C5H5)2Mo(2-amino-6-mercaptopurine)]Cl 2 and human serum albumin. The interaction is going to be monitored by NMR, cyclic voltammetry, and UV-VIS.


Chaparro, Francisco, UPR-MAYAGUEZ; Wilson, Rebekah, Chemistry, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Chainani, Edward, Chemistry, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Beck, Geoffrey, Chemistry, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Scheeline, Alexander, Chemistry, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

[Chemistry 9]

Microfluidic System to Deliver Aqueous Superoxide

Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are natural by-products of cellular metabolism

which are highly reactive chemicals containing oxygen. Superoxide radical (O 2 - ),

is one such ROS, and can be generated in aqueous solution in many ways, most

commonly by using the enzyme xanthine oxidase to reduce oxygen to superoxide. However, superoxide attacks xanthine oxidase which eventually decreases the production of superoxide and generates hydrogen peroxide instead. Another drawback is that xanthine oxidase in the presence of xanthine suffers a suicide reaction after two hours. Also, superoxide reacts with itself and

dismutates rapidly to hydrogen peroxide (H 2 O 2 ) and molecular oxygen (O 2 ), with

a pH-dependent rate constant. Potassium superoxide (KO 2 ) in highly alkaline

solutions, where the rate of dismutation is very slow, has been demonstrated to be a stable source of superoxide. We have found that with our method, superoxide is maintained at high pH for five days, surpassing the half-life of the xanthine oxidase method. To be useful experimentally, superoxide must be brought to biological pH while avoiding its dismutation. In a microfluidic device under development, alkaline KO 2 is introduced into a channel, where a two step buffer system rapidly drops the pH to around 7-8 at the outlet. Immobilized catalase in the flow path removes hydrogen peroxide produced by dismutation, providing a concentrated source of superoxide. The device aims to provide concentrated superoxide on demand to biological systems where oxidative stress

is implicated such as cell cultures for investigating aging, inflammation, neurological disorders, heart disease, as well as hearing loss.

Claudio, Karla, UPR-CAYEY; Ospina Claudia, Chemistry UPR Cayey; Pagan Mayra, Chemistry UPR Cayey; Hernandez Janibeth, Biology UPR Cayey

[Chemistry 10]

Cytotoxic Screening of Tropical Plants using Brine Shrimp Lethality Test

Artemia salina better known as Brine shrimp is commonly used for cytotoxic screening. Previous studies had identified some compounds on plants which have been involucrate in cytotoxicity and anticancer activity. The purpose of this


research is to identify compounds with cytotoxic activity in endemic and native plants from Puerto Rico. The plants were collected in three different areas of the island. The extractions of the plants were done with a solution of dichloromethane/ methanol (CH 2 CL 2 /CH 3 OH) and specific concentrations were prepared between 500 µg/ml – 3.91 µg/ml for the bioassay. The brine shrimps were incubated in a saline solution prepared in the laboratory and kept under light source. The bioassay was done in a microwell plate on which all of the samples have specific concentrations and similar quantity of brine shrimps. The data were collected by calculating the proportion of death shrimps. The analysis was conducted using Finneys Probit. Three of the analyzed crude samples were active with a LC 50 of 200 µg/ml. These species will be considered as cytotoxic, therefore is necessary to conduct more research in order to identify the compounds responsible of this effect.

Colón, Carla Stephanie, UPR-CAYEY; Cayey

[Chemistry 11]

Rivera, Frances, Chemistry, UPR-

Bioassay-Guided Fractionation of Methanolic Extract of Costus sp.

This research program aims to examine the potential of less studied botanicals and medicinal plants used by Hispanic communities in Puerto Rico as a significant complement to improve minority health. We have developed a panel of in vitro bioassays for the therapeutic category, diabetes, using models for the disease to identify possible metabolic targets (inhibition of aldose reductase) and therapeutic solutions (increase in antioxidant capacity and inhibition of protein glycation).

The panel have been tested with methanolic and aqueous extracts of Costus sp (insulina), Tapeinochilus ananassae (insulina), Rhoeo spathacea (sanguinaria) and Syzygium jambos (pomarosa del río). Extracts of Costus sp. were fractionated to test the panel with the fractions. TLC analysis of the fractions obtained will be presented and discussed based on possible biomarkers of proposed activities.

Colón, Lauren, UPR-RIO PIEDRAS; Mayol-Bracero, Olga L., Institute for Tropical Ecosystem Studies, University of Puerto Rico, San Juan, PR; Formenti, Paola, Laboratoire Interuniversitaire des Systèmes Atmosphériques (LISA) en Paris, France; Mazzei, Federico, University of Genoa, Italy

[Chemistry 12]

Atmospheric Aerosols in the Guánica Dry Forest


Aerosols posses a substantial influence over the development and alteration of climate dynamics on the Caribbean. Among the principal sources of particulate matter that influence this region are the North African desert area, from which dust particles are usually transported by the trade winds, and anthropogenic activities that involve the combustion of fossil fuel. These types of aerosols have the potential to alter forests, among other multiple environments. This study focuses on the effects this type of aerosols can exert on Guánica’s Dry Forest (GDF) in Puerto Rico. The GDF is one of the most intact mature dry forests in the Caribbean, is a place that has been chosen as the Atlantic Neotropical core site in the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON), and is an UNESCO Man and Biosphere Reserve.

To chemically characterize the aerosol inputs to the GDF, aerosol samples were collected using Stacked-Filter Units. Samples were analyzed using a thermal/optical analyzer (EC/OC analyzer) to determine the concentrations of organic and elemental carbon. X-ray Flourescence (XRF) and Inductively coupled plasma (ICP) were also used to determine the elemental concentrations of different ions species.

Preliminary ICP results showed the presence of Al, Na, Mg, Fe, and Ca in higher concentrations in the coarse than in the fine fraction, suggesting the influence of mineral dust. This was confirmed by back trajectory analyses using the NOAA HYSPLIT model. The EC/OC analyses showed low OC concentrations during African dust events, which was expected since African dust particles are mainly inorganic. Elemental Carbon concentrations were also very low, showing that the study site had little anthropogenic influence. Results related to the elemental composition as determined using XRF and ICP analyses will also be presented at the meeting.

Cotto, Lizbeth, UPR-CAYEY; Estevez, Juan, Chemistry, UPR-Cayey; Cortes, Zolimarie, Chemistry, UPR-Cayey; Ramos, Vanessa, Chemistry, UPR-Cayey

[Chemistry 13]

Computational Study of keto/enol Equilibrium and enol-a/enol-b Equilibrium of trifluormethy-â- diketones (R1COCH2COR2) with R2= -CF3 using semi-empirical Method AM1

There has been an increase in experiments of compounds that contain fluorine. Recently, J.C. Sloop has developed triflurometyl-β-diketones but not computational method has been used to study these compounds. We have initiated a computational study of the keto/enol equilibrium in 16 species of β- diketones with the group R2 = -CF3. we have calculated the keto and enol forms a, (R1COH=CHCOR2), b (R1COCH=COHR2) using the Semiempirical Method AM1 that is included in the HyperChem computational package. The chemical


species are assumed in gas phase. We calculated the energies with Geometry Optimization. The results confirm the experimental data that enol form predominates. The differences in energies for the keto/enol equilibrium are between -2.006 Kcal/mol and + 0.593 Kcal/mol for the chemical species established in the title.

Cruz, Leishla, UPR-MAYAGUEZ; Valentín, Keren, Department of Chemical Engineering, UPR-Mayaguez; Vázquez, Natalia, Department of Chemical Engineering, UPR-Mayaguez; Ortega, Mario, Department of Chemistry, UPR- Mayaguez, Vega, Carmen, Department of Chemistry, UPR-Mayaguez

[Chemistry 14]

Development of a Biosensor Using HbI of Lucina Pectinata and Characterizing It Using Electroanalytical Technique

The hemoglobin HbI is produced by Lucina pectinata, a clam that uses it to transport H 2 S. This protein is intended to be use as a biosensor to detect the presence of H 2 S and, in order to do it, is important to study its electrochemical properties. The Cyclic Voltammetry technique is an electrochemical method used in analytical chemistry and various industrial processes, which was used to study the electrochemical properties in several biomaterials. Cyclic Voltammetry measures the faradic current while the potential is varied when oxidation and reduction processes occurred. This method was used to analyze the electron transfer kinetics of four different proteins: Cytochrome-c, Hemoglobin, Myoglobin and HbI using Glassy Carbon (GC) electrode as working electrode. Multi-Walled Carbon Nanotubes (MWCNT) were used to improve the signal obtained from the proteins in the cyclic voltammograms. The carbon nanotubes absorb the protein into their surface producing an interaction, which facilitates the electron transfer, giving better signals. Also, this work reports the purification methods for recombinated HbI and HbI/Sol-gel (TMOS) electrode, arranged by intermolecular interactions of the recombinant hemoglobin I from Lucina pectinata and TMOS (tetramethyl orthosilicate) in a carbon paste electrode. The spectra UV-Vis revealed that the protein is highly purified, showing recognized bands for two hemoglobin species. On the other hand, a pair of well-defined redox peaks for HbI[Fe(III)–Fe(II)] was obtained at the prepared electrode by direct electron transfer between the protein and sol-gel. Electrochemical parameters of immobilized hemoglobin such as formal potential (E°’), charge transfer coefficient (α) and apparent heterogeneous electron transfer rate constant (ks) were estimated by cyclic voltammetry and nonlinear regression analysis. The results suggested that the redox process was an adsorption-controlled and the immobilized hemoglobin was stable. Biocatalytic activity will be exemplified at the prepared electrode for redox process of hydrogen sulfide in future works and electron-transfer process in sol-gel still under investigation.


David, Amanda, UPR-RIO PIEDRAS; Díaz, Agustín, Department of Chemistry, University of Puerto Rico; Colón, Jorge L., Department of Chemistry, University of Puerto Rico

[Chemistry 15]

Structural Analysis

Inorganic layered materials (ILM), are nanostructured compounds of great interest because of their size, structure, and possible biomedical applications. These materials have been studied in recent years as matrices for several chemical processes such as ion exchange materials and drug delivery systems, among others. Among the most studied ILM are the zirconium phosphates (ZrP) and their different phases. Zirconium phosphates are acidic, inorganic cation exchange materials with layered structures. We are focused in the study of the ability of these nanostructured materials to serve as drug carriers of intercalated biologically active molecules of a hydrated phase of ZrP (10.3 Å-ZrP). Particularly, we are interested in the study of how these properties are affected in the nanoenvironment of the intergalleries and how the intercalated materials might be used in biosensors and drug delivery systems. I will present the characterization of insulin intercalated-zirconium phosphate. The synthesis of the 10.3 Å-ZrP phase and the intercalation of insulin were successful. The intercalation of insulin into the zirconium phosphate layers produced a new phase with a ca. 49 Å interlayer distance, as determined by X-ray powder diffraction (XRPD) data and the FTIR spectrum showed the characteristic bands of insulin in the intercalated material. The XPS data showed that insulin is present in the ZrP galleries and the UV-vis spectrum shows the characteristics bands with a slight red shift. The complete characterization of these materials using analytical techniques such as XRPD, XPS, UV-vis spectrophotometry, and FTIR spectroscopy, among others, will be presented. These materials will be used to develop insulin carriers.

Diaz-Laboy, Michelle M, UPR-MAYAGUEZ; Gómez Ramos, Lizzette M., Chemistry Engineering, UPR Mayaguez; Sánchez, Diana, Chemistry, UPR Mayaguez; Román, Félix, Chemistry, UPR Mayaguez

[Chemistry 16]

Removal of Arsenic using Low Cost Sorbents

Water constitutes 70% of the planet. Our bodies consist 60-70% of water and it is also essential for life on earth. Obviously, the quality of water is very important in the biological and environmental level. Some minerals can dissolve in water and threaten the live of living organisms. Methods to remove harmful components of


water have to be developed to recover the quality of water in case of a leak or a natural disaster.

Arsenic (As) is an element that can be found dissolved in water and cause noxious damage to health. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has arsenic in the number one priority list for more than ten years. This research intends to develop a As(V) remover method for emergency cases. The method consists in using tire crumb rubber and dry mud as solvents to reduce the As(V) concentration in water. The effectiveness of both solvents is tested by improving variables as pH, time, concentrations and surface area. The results show that in a pH 3.00 the rubber absorbs more arsenic from water. The percent of arsenic removed in a 3.00 pH was 31.8 and 28.3% for tire crumb rubber and dry mud respectively. This results are found because As forms ox anions which has negative charge while the rubber has positive charge in acid pH and is been create a ideal environmental to attract both charge. With the used method the damage caused by arsenic in water bodies can be reduced, decreasing the chance of multiples diseases.

Fermaintt, Charles, UPR-HUMACAO; Madelene Coombes, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Chemistry, UT MD Anderson Cancer; Sharon Dent, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Chemistry, UT MD Anderson Cancer; Tania M. Malavé, Department of Chemistry, UPR-Humacao

[Chemistry 17]

Transcriptional Represion by Tup1-Ssn6

Tup1-Ssn6 is a co-repressor complex of Saccharomyces cerevisiae responsible of the repression of approximately 180 genes. Tup1-Ssn6 associates to the promoter region where it represses gene transcription. This repression involves the interaction of Tup1-Ssn6 with hypoacetylated histones, histone deacetylases (HDACs) and transcription machinery, and may include nucleosome positioning. The mechanisms by which Tup1-Ssn6 associates with promoters to cause transcriptional repression, specifically the order of recruitment of different cofactors, and the role of histone modification on this order, are still unknown. Answering these questions will contribute to a better understanding of transcription repression. This is relevant to embryonic development, cell differentiation, cellular transformation and tumor progression in cancer, which are all processes in which transcriptional regulation is very important. To determine the order of co-factor recruitment to promoter we will use tagged versions of the co-factors that will be immunoprecipitated once they have been crosslinked to the DNA in the promoter regions. We will also examine the histone modification pattern at the Tup1-Ssn6 regulated promoter. Finally we will present a model on how Tup1-Ssn6 regulates gene expression. These findings will emphasize the


importance of histone modification, HDAC involvement and nucleosome positioning in Tup1-Ssn6 repression.

Fonseca, José, UPR-RIO PIEDRAS; Nicolau, Eduardo, Chemistry, UPR-Rio Piedras; Rodríguez, José, Chemistry, UPR-Rio Piedras; Griebenow, Kai, Chemistry, UPR-Rio Piedras, Cabrera, Carlos, Chemistry, UPR-Rio Piedras

[Chemistry 18]










Urea detection plays an important role on the monitoring of dialysis patients. Finding new methods to enhance sensitivity and selectivity of urea detection can positively determine the life quality of thousands of patients in the US. Herein, we propose the construction of a biosensor by interfacing the enzyme urease and a platinized boron-doped diamond electrode (Pt-BDD). The urease enzyme degrades urea into ammonia while ammonia gets oxidized at the surface of the platinized-boron doped diamond electrode and thus accounting for the analytical signal. Physical characterization of the proposed electrodes has been performed using SEM, XRD and Raman spectroscopy. Meanwhile, the urea degradation and the oxidation of in-situ produced ammonia have been performed as the complete system of the bioelectrochemical sensor showing a conversion efficiency of 20%. The sensor was tested with the enzyme in solution as well as covalently bonded to the electrode.

Fuentes, Lydia, UPR-BAYAMON; Rodríguez Medina, José R.

[Chemistry 19]

AMN1 Gene’s Analysis of a Deficient Cell in Myosin II of Saccharomyces Cerevisiae

One of the transitory processes of the cell cycle in Saccharomyces cerevisiae is the Mitotic Exit. The activity of the mitotic exit is facilitated by a mechanism known as Mitotic Exit Network (MEN) (Wang y Shirogane, et al. 2003) and it’s inactivated by MEN itself through three mechanisms (Wang y Shirogane, et al. 2003). One of the mechanisms that inactive the MEN is AMEN system, where a daughter specific protein, Amn1p, induced by MEN, actively interfere with the MEN function turning off the mitotic exit (Wang y Shirogane, et al. 2003). The AMN1 gene, which encodes Amn1p, is 41.50677 overexpressed in a deficient myosin strain (myo1) more than a normal strain (Rodríguez, et al., 2008). What make us think, that AMN1 is important for a myo1strain that is in stress. The hypothesis of this study is that AMN1 is an essential gene for the transition


control of mitosis to cytokinesis in a myo1strain. We did Real Time and electrophoresis tests to corroborate the AMN1 overexpression in myo1. The fold change in a 1ng/ul concentration, which was calculated from the RT-PCR results, between Actina, the positive control, and AMN1, has to be 13.9288. These results indicate that AMN1 overexpresses. With the assumption that the overexpression of the mRNA of AMN1 gene determines a mayor production of Amn1p, then we infer that the overexpression retard the mitotic exit in myo1strains.

Guzman-Sanchez, Irisbel, UPR-HUMACAO; Stepanenko, Viatcheslav, Department of Chemistry, UPR-Humacao; Padilla, Miriam, Department of Chemistry, UPR-Humacao; Ortiz-Marciales, Margarita, Department of Chemistry, UPR-Humacao

[Chemistry 20]

Enantioselective Reduction of Prochiral â-Halogenated Aryl Ketones for Organic Synthesis of Chiral Oxetanes

Enantio-pure oxetanes are important as start materials for a large variety of applications in organic synthesis. These oxetanes are mainly use in the synthesis of chiral β-amino alcohols of pharmaceutical importance for the treatment of anxiety and depression. A new synthetic method for the formation of enantio-pure oxetanes using our catalyst complex (EG-DPP), derived from ethylene glycol and diphenyl prolinol, and borane, was investigated. Presently, we are studying the enantioselective reductions of prochiral β-halogenated aryl ketones to their corresponding β-halogenated alcohol. We have performed the asymmetric reduction of the 3-chloropropiophenone using 1 mol % to 10 mol % of our complex catalyst EG-DPP, affording the pure product after recrystallization in hexane in 99% ee with 5 mol % of catalyst. To establish the cyclization reaction, the 1-phenyl oxetane was obtained by the reduction of racemic 3- chloropropiophenone and treatment of the 3-chloro phenyl propanol with potassium tert-butoxide. Future organic synthesis of oxetanes with chiral 3- chloropropiophenone and other β-halogenated aryl ketones are under investigation.



β -halogenated aryl ketones are under investigation. R O X 1% mol - 10% mol EG-DPP


1% mol - 10% mol EG-DPP

are under investigation. R O X 1% mol - 10% mol EG-DPP 0.7 equiv BH 3

0.7 equiv BH 3 -DMS

THF, 25 o C


OH O (CH 3 ) 3 COK X THF, 25 o C R
(CH 3 ) 3 COK
THF, 25 o C


Hernández, Rose M., UPR-MAYAGUEZ; Marchany, Darya, Chemistry, UPR- Mayaguez; Román, Elddie, Chemistry, UPR-Mayaguez; Ramos, Brenda, Chemistry, UPR-Mayaguez, Cruz, José, Chemistry, UPR-Mayaguez

[Chemistry 21]

Unusual Heme Proteins and their Formation of Sulfhemoglobin

Human hemoglobin, oxygen-carrier protein, loses its functionality by bonding sulfur to pyrrol B in protein’s heme center. The heme derivate formed, sulfhemoglobin, causes sulfhemoglobinemia. On the contrary, a prokaryotic organism called L. Pectinata possesses three heme proteins, none of which form sulfhemoblogin and one (HbI) transports H 2 S. Previous experiments of mutagenesis suggest that a residue at the distal position, histidine at the E7 position, is important for the formation of the hemoglobin derivate. Organisms that live in a rich H 2 S environment, having the amino acid histidine in the E7 position, were analyzed in order to support the theory previously suggested. Hemoglobin from the earthworms Lumbricus Hb, Lumbricus Dob, Eudistylia vancouverii and Macrobdella decora was monitored by UV-Vis Spectroscopy technique by means of the presence of the characteristic band at 620nm. Out of all the organisms, Eudistylia vancouverii did not form the complex, phenomenon attributed to the presence of Glutamine in the E7 position. These results help support the hypothesis involving the important role of HisE7; sulfheme protein crystals will provide new information of the whole chemical structure to better understand the aspects of its formation.

Hidalgo, Migdalia, UPR-MAYAGUEZ; Espinosa Fuentes, Eduardo, Chemistry Department, UPR - Mayaguez; Pacheco Londoño, Leonardo, Chemistry Department, UPR - Mayaguez; Hernández Rivera, Samuel P., Chemistry Department, UPR - Mayaguez

[Chemistry 22]

Mechanism of Synthesis for Triacetone Peroxide

The mechanism of synthesis of Triacetone Triperoxide (TATP) comprises a two steps process. The first step is the polymerization between acetone and peroxide, followed by the cyclation of the products derived from the same reaction. FT-Raman (excitation line of 1064 nm) was used to measure the rate constant, reaction order and the activation energy. This was accomplished by measuring the evolution of the Raman signal with respect to time at different temperatures. Experimental data supports that acetone can portray a first order reaction, but uncertainty prevails regarding the reaction order of the polymerization products. The activation of energy from the apparent rate constant was of 32.9 kJ/mol ± 0.4 for a 1:1 ratio of acetone/peroxide at 25, 28, 30


and 42 o C. We intend to elucidate the kinetics mechanisms corresponding to the second step and those for the intermediate products using GC-MS.

Keywords: TATP, FT-Raman, Kinetics, Synthesis and activation energy

Jaiman, Melissa, PCUPR; Santos- Santori, Lizette, Chemistry, Pontificial

Catolic Univ. of PR; Repollet, Christian, General Science, Pontificial Catolic Univ.

of PR; Velez, Christian, General Science, Pontificial Catolic Univ. of PR, Morales,

Daysis, Chemistry, Pontificial Catolic Univ. of PR

[Chemistry 23]

The Identification of Cytochromo P450 Isoenzymes in CHO Cells Treated With Oregano Leaf Extracts.

The oregano leaf is used as an additive for cooking also is used to treat infections, upset stomach and others conditions. Two types of extracts (organic and aqueous) from the oregano leaf were prepared. LC50 was determined using a lethality test by exposing Artemia salinas (brine shrimp) to different concentration of the extracts: 10 µg/mL, 100 µg/mL, and 1000 µg/mL. After determining the correct concentration of the extract CHO cells were cultured. Once the cells reach exponential growth they are separated into three batches:

the ones with the organic extract, the aqueous extract and a control batch. The treatment is then applied for a period of four days, replacing the extract at a daily basis. CYP450 Glo is used to determine whether the organic or aqueous extracts induce or inhibit the enzyme activity for the CYP 450 1A2, 2C19, 2D6 and 3A4 insoenzymes.

Jiménez Ramos, Ricardo, UPR-MAYAGUEZ; De Jesus, Marco A., Chemistry, UPR-Mayaguez

[Chemistry 24]

Identification and Removal of Organochlorines Pesticides in Agricultural Soil using Polymeric Micro and Nanostructures

A method for the determination of organochlorine pesticides in soil samples

combining organic polar compounds, solid-phase microextraction (SPME) and high-performance liquid chromatography-UV has been researched. Pesticides are chemical substances or mixtures of substances used to kill pests. Some pesticides are persistent organic pollutants and contribute to soil and water contamination. Their chemical composition makes them resistant to breakdown and residues may remain in soil and water for a long period of time. As a result the identification and removal of these agents from superficial waters and soils


has become an important environmental issue. The work focused on adapting a method of identification of pesticides using environmental regulatory agencies standards methods as reference and then next stages the use of polymer micro and nanocomposites for the removal of these agents. The proposed method was successfully applied to the identification of some organochlorine pesticides in agricultural soil samples with different characteristics.

Laboy, Kristie, UPR-MAYAGUEZ; Kristie Laboy, Chemical Engineering, UPR- Mayagüez; Patricia Rodríguez, Chemical Engineering, UPR-Mayagüez; Rodolfo Pinal, Perdue University, Rodolfo Romañach, Chemistry, UPR-Mayagüez

[Chemistry 25]

Development of NIR Spectroscopy Method for Drug Concentration in a novel Strip Formulation

The objective of this study was to determine the drug content of in a novel gel strip. Gel strips are being developed as an approach to deliver poorly soluble drugs, as nanoparticles and by preventing their possible agglomeration. The distribution of the nanoparticles of drugs is important in order to improve solubility. The spectra have been obtained using a Multipurpose Analyzer (MPA) near infrared spectrometer using a beam size of 15 mm diameter. Since these are novel formulations, there is no established way to obtain their spectra. The research includes several approaches to obtaining the spectra, and these will be discussed. The method repeatability is being evaluated by taking 9 spectra at the same spot. The variation of the gel strip is being evaluated by taking spectra at different sections of the gel strip. The drug content in several areas of the gel strip was measured with the NIR method. The standard deviation for the areas was about 0.21%. The method repeatability (measurements under identical conditions) is about 0.01 %. Future plans include the development of a calibration model using a greater number of samples and concentration levels and determine the distribution of drug content throughout strip film using the Chemical Imaging NIR.


Leon, Joshua, UPR-MAYAGUEZ; Otero, Liz Marie, Chemistry, University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez; Ropero, Jorge, Chemistry, University of Puerto Rico- Mayaguez; Alcalá, Manel, Chemistry, University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez, Romañach, Rodolfo, Chemistry, University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez

[Chemistry 26]

Analysis of Low Content Drug Tablets by Transmission Near Infrared Spectroscopy – Additional Validation Studies

Near infrared spectroscopy (NIR) may be used to support the design and optimization of potent drug manufacturing processes through the analysis of blends and tablets, saving significant amounts of time. In our previous study, we showed the strategy for the selection of concentration ranges in the development of multivariate calibration models, by evaluating the detection and quantitation limits of the created models. This strategy showed that quantitation and detection limits decreased significantly as the concentration range of the calibration models was narrowed. Only 2 to 4 PLS factors were needed to explain the high variance (<99%). All the calibration models allowed the determination of the drug content with error of less than 7% (RSEP). As this study was published and reviewed, various recommendations were received from fellow scientists and industry representatives; this study addresses those recommendations. Several mixtures were prepared in order to build a robust model with a target concentration of 0.50% w/w active pharmaceutical ingredient (API). In order to do this, pharmaceutical formulations of higher and lower concentrations than the target were prepared. The concentration ranges selected were 0.65%, 0.57%, 0.50%, 0.43%, 0.35%, and the Placebo (0%). As our previous study shows, a narrow drug concentration range translates into a model with better API predicting capabilities. For each concentration range three (3) different mixtures were prepared varying the percentage of microcrystalline cellulose in a five percent (5%) of total weight of mixture and adjusting with lactose. This was done to break the correlation among excipients and improve the model’s robustness. Ibuprofen was used as API. An additional 0.50% w/w formulation was prepared following the same method, this time using naproxen as API. Tablets were prepared and spectra were collected following the procedure. Three (3) transmission NIR spectra were collected per tablet, and tablets were rotated 120° between the three spectra. The spectra were recorded in a multipurpose analyzer (MPA) Fourier transform near infrared (FT-NIR) spectrometer (Bruker Optics, Billerica, MA) equipped with a room temperature-indium gallium arsenide (RT-InGaAs) external detector positioned above the tablet. Each spectrum was an average of 128 scans at a resolution of 16 cm 1 . The models included the spectral range from 11,216 to 8,030 cm -1 , where ibuprofen shows most of its bands. The naproxen tablets spectra will be evaluated in the final ibuprofen calibration models in order to determine its concentration prediction ability when the API is


substituted but the excipients remain constant. Preliminary tests show that the ibuprofen models built are rugged enough not to predict accurately the naproxen concentration in the tablets used to challenge them. Further model validation efforts will confirm these findings.

Lopez, Melody, UPR-MAYAGUEZ; Pastrana-Rios, Belinda, Chemistry, UPR- Mayaguez; Gomez, Ana Maria, Chemistry, UPR-Mayaguez

[Chemistry 27]

Cloning of BP1* and Large Scale Expression of hCen2

mRNA splicing takes place in a complex called the spliceosome. The spliceosomes assembly is mediated by small nuclear ribonucleoprotein particles (snRNPs). It is with these snRNP’s that BP1 interacts genetically and physically. BP1 is also suspected to interact with the Centrin family, our main protein of interest. The Centrin family is known as calcium binding proteins that participate in cell division. Specifically, hCen2 is expressed in somatic cells and is implicated in the centrioles biogenesis. The final goal of these two projects was to successfully generate BP1 for further biophysical analysis during its interaction with centrin, also to generate large scale expression of hCen2 to continue studies with centrin. BP1 was successfully amplified by PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) and cloned into the expression vector pET-100. The bacterial cells that had transformed with hCen2 pt7-7 were grown up to log phase and induced with IPTG, for the effective expression of hCen2. This large scale expression of hCen2 will generate enough protein that could be purified using its calcium binding properties in chromatography. NIH-MBRS-SCORE Program-


Lugo, Nichole, UPR-MAYAGUEZ; Luna, Tatiana, Chemistry, UPR Mayaguez; Roman, Felix, Chemistry, UPR Mayaguez; Perales, Oscar, Science & Materials Engineering, UPR Mayaguez

[Chemistry 28]

Calcium Alginate Beads (CAB) of Different Alginic Acid

The contamination of water with heavy metals, oxyanions and organic carcinogenic contaminants represents a world-wide concern. The fact that many heavy metals are toxic even at very low concentrations makes their removal from water bodies indispensable. The present research is focused on the development of a novel bio-sorbent based on alginate beads from alginic acid. Alginic acid is a natural biopolymer mainly isolated from brown algae. It is a linear copolymer with homopolymeric blocks of (1-4)-linked β-D-mannuronate (M) and α-L-guluronate (G) residues, respectively, covalently linked together in different sequences or


blocks. This part of the research is directed to determining the relationship, if any, that exists between the viscosity and the content of guluronic monomer in alginic acid. For the experimental procedures, sodium alginate salt of different viscosities was used to prepare Calcium alginate beads (CAB). Viscosities used were: very low viscosity at 2.0%, 2.5%, and 3.0%, low viscosity at 2.0%, medium viscosity t 1%, 1.5%, and 2.0%, and high viscosity at 0.5%, 1.0%, and 1.5%. Our work also addressed the synthesis of magnetic nanocrystals and their immobilization in the CAB beads to form the so-called ‘magnetic nanocomposites’. In a subsequent stage of this research, magnetite nanocrystals will be functionalized before incorporating into the CAB matrix. The resultant nanocomposite will be evaluated as a sorbent for other metallic ions and organic carcinogens.

Martínez, Madeline, UPR-ARECIBO; Aracelis Soto Torres, Physics-Chemistry, UPR Arecibo; Yashira Cabrera Vazquez, Physics-Chemistry, UPR Arecibo; Moises Montalvo, Physics-Chemistry, UPR Arecibo, Zairin Torres, Physics- Chemistry, UPR Arecibo; William Molina, Physics-Chemistry, UPR Arecibo

[Chemistry 29]

Production of Biofuels: Methane Generation from Manure in a Non-stirred Anaerobic Batch Bioreactor

The generation of biofuels as a topic of renewable energy has become an important subject of investigation as the cost of fossil fuel increases impacting negatively those countries that needs to import them. Hence, in our investigation we addressed the conversion of manure to methane in a non-stirred batch reactor. Simply stated, a 30 L carbon-steel reactor constructed in our lab was loaded with 12 L of a manure solution at around 3 to 4 % total solid. The reactor pressure was monitored with a pressure gauge daily until the reactor pressure reached 50 to 60 psi (around 5 days). The biogas was then burned at a rate of 1 L/min. The production of biogas was investigated at mesophilic (32 to 36 °C) and psychrophile (24 to 27 °C ) temperature condition. In addition of the temperature, the pH and the total solid concentration loading was also controlled.

Massanet, Nicole, UPR-RIO PIEDRAS

[Chemistry 30]

Modeling the Boron-Nitrogen Bond in Aromatic Compounds

Azaborines are compounds isoelectronic with benzene in which two adjacent carbon atoms of the benzene ring are substituted by a nitrogen and a boron



laboratories some of these compounds which contain bulky and extensive substituent groups at the B and N position(Figure 1.1), nevertheless it has been of much difficulty to synthesize these compounds without any substituent; this will be the main objective (Figure 1.2). In the first phase of the research the study of the characteristics of the Nitrogen-Boron bonds are in progress by virtually modeling simple compounds that contain this type of bond. The compounds stability properties are been analyzed. Energy calculations, thermodynamic analysis, electronegativity analysis and bond strength studies are in development, using different theories and basis sets. After gathering all the possible data the procedure will continue by adding substituent groups so the calculations and analysis previously mentioned can be repeated. These observations can help determine whether or not the synthesis of this aromatic compound is possible.

Until nowadays chemists had already been able to synthesize in

nowadays chemists had already been able to synthesize in Figure 1.1 1-tertbutyl-2-diphenylamine-1, 2-azaborine Figure

Figure 1.1

1-tertbutyl-2-diphenylamine-1, 2-azaborine

in Figure 1.1 1-tertbutyl-2-diphenylamine-1, 2-azaborine Figure 1.2 1, 2-dihydro-1, 2-azaborine After making some of

Figure 1.2

1, 2-dihydro-1, 2-azaborine

After making some of the studies, we have obtained some energetic

calculations concerning the virtual modeling of the compounds being studied; the 1-tertbutyl-2-diphenylamine-1, 2-azaborine (Figure 1.1), and the 1, 2-dihydro-1, 2-azaborine (Figure1.2). We were able to calculate the total energy of the

KJ for Figure 1.1, and -

1.027496253e -18 KJ for Figure1.2. In order to familiarize with the nature of both molecules, we also calculated two energies related to the molecular orbital, the HOMO and the LUMO. The HOMO energy was -0.038912296ev for Figure1.1, and -0.464226418ev for Figure 1.2.The LUMO energies obtained were 0.03918441ev and 0.691169462ev, respectively. While studying the Nitrogen- Boron bond of the molecules; we came to obtain the partial charges. The partial charge for the Nitrogen which had the alkyl substituent in Figure 1.1 was - 0.515088, instead, the partial charge for the Nitrogen in Figure 1.2 was -

molecules, which were -3.969105641e -18

0.418427. For the Boron atom in Figure 1.1 we obtained a partial charge of

0.459555, and for the Boron atom in Figure1.2 we obtained a value of 0.153026. This data demonstrates that the substituent groups influence in the Nitrogen- Boron bond’s stability, making possible the synthesis of the compound shown in Figure 1.1. In future studies we expect to get more information about the nature



azaborine molecule.

this bond


know if

it is possible the synthesis of the 1, 2-dihydro-1, 2-

Melendez, Hector, UPR-HUMACAO; Loribelle Rodriguez Neris, Silvia M. Farre

[Chemistry 31]

Synthesis of Optically Pure α-Methylbenzylamines via the Asymmetric Reduction of Oximes Ether with Spiroborate Ester

Enantiopure amino compounds have been recognized for their functions and importance on biological system. In the last decades the synthesis of optically pure primary amines has been part of a great effort on the field of asymmetric organic synthesis. Nonracemic halogenated and alcohoxy substituted aryl benzyl primary amines are valuables organic compounds that have been used as chiral auxiliaries and catalysts in asymmetric organic transformations and as chiral building blocks for the synthesis of a variety of pharmaceutical drugs. Previously the reductions of E-benzyloxime ether were used in our laboratory as a way to obtain arylbenzyl amines in high enantiopurity and good yield. The E- benzyloximes were initially obtained from the pure E-oxime and reduced using a spiroborate ester/borane (1) system as catalyst. Employing only 10mol% of the catalyst (1) we obtained the corresponding primary amines in good yields and 99% ee.



Ph Ph O O B NH 2 O
NH 2 O


good yields and 99% ee. N O R Bn Ph Ph O O B NH 2
NH 2 R
NH 2

Molini, Christopher, UPR-MAYAGUEZ; Lopez-Garriga, Juan, Chemistry, University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez Campus; Pietri, Ruth, Chemistry, University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez Campus; Roman, Elddie, Chemistry, University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez Campus

[Chemistry 32]

Reactivity of Hydrogen Sulfide with Hemeproteins

Experimentation consisted of a kinetic analysis of the reactivity of hydrogen sulfide with myoglobin. The purpose of such experiment was to determine the formation constant of sulfmyoglobin (k 1 ), a product of the reaction of myoglobin in presence of O 2 or H 2 O 2 . This was accomplished by studying the kinetics of the


reaction at different concentrations of H 2 S. The oxidation state of the myoglobin was a mixture of metaquo-myoglobin and oxy-myoglobin. The experimental concentrations of H 2 S were determined with the aid of the Apollo Free Radical Analyzer. The kinetic study consisted of treating equine myoglobin with H 2 S at the following proportions: 1:1, 1:2, 1:3, 1:4 and 1:5. In each reaction, the concentration of myoglobin remained constant at [15µM] while the [H 2 S] was altered. The reactions were conducted in presence atmospherical oxygen. The concentrations of two reagents remained constant (Mb and O 2 ). Each individual reaction was analyzed using UV/VIS spectroscopy in the range from 700 nm to 300 nm. Each reaction was spectrally analyzed during 38min and individual spectra were taken at 2 min intervals. Special interest was given to the red region of the spectra (616-620nm) since it houses the unique sulfmyoglobin absorption band. Further analysis revealed that the small value of the formation constant

(k 1 ) was representative of a slow reaction rate. The value of the formation

constant of sulfmyoglobin (k 1 ) was 0.644 s -1 M -1 .

Olmo-Fontanez, Angelica, UPR-MAYAGUEZ

[Chemistry 33]

Comparison of The Coulombic Output of Redox Dyes and Ferric Chelates in Biofuel Cells

Potentiometric measurements were made with microbial fuel cells for the conversion of chemical energy to electrical energy through the catalytic action of Escherichia coli, using redox dyes and ferric chelates as mediators. A good mediator should be easily reduced and oxidated, and facilitates the electrons transfer during the respiratory process of the bacteria. The dyes and ferric chelates should not be toxic to the bacteria.

The setup of the cell consisted of two chambers separated by a semi-permeable membrane, with inlets and outlets for the N2 gas, used to remove oxygen, and to maintain anaerobic conditions. The bacteria dissolved in a phosphate buffer at pH 7.00 are placed at the anode compartment, while a 0.1 M K3Fe(CN)6 solution is placed in the cathode compartment. Each compartment is filling with 20mL of the correspondent solutions. Carbon cloth of 2cm x 4cm area served as electrode in both compartments, and 10µL of 1M glucose solution are added as fuel.

We have done preliminary studies with Congo Red, Crystal Violet and Alizarin Yellow as redox dyes mediators. Both the redox dyes and the ferric chelate demonstrated at the concentration studied are slightly toxic as mediators. Crystal Violet appears to be highly toxic.


Ortiz, Isamar, UPR-CAYEY

[Chemistry 34]

Study of The Chemical Composition and Cytotoxic Properties Against Artemia Salina of the Endemic Plant Thouinia Striata

For many years plants have been the source of bioactive compounds. In the Caribbean and in our island there is an exceptional flora that includes native and endemic species which may have secondary metabolites with biological activity. Thouinia striata is an endemic species of Puerto Rico, found mainly in the west part of the island and was collected in Guanica. The dry leaves of Thouinia striata were macerated with CH 2 Cl 2 and CH 3 OH to obtain the crude extract which was analyzed by 1 H Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) Spectroscopy and its bioactivity against Artemia salina was assayed. The complex mixture of the crude extract was separated by extraction using a polarity gradient into four fractions that were also analyzed by 1 H-NMR. The spectroscopic analysis and the bioassay results will be presented.

Ortiz, Karla, UPR-MAYAGUEZ; Olavarría, Jenifier, Chemistry, UPR- Mayaguez; , Mechanical Engineering, UPR- Mayaguez; , Electrical Engineering, UPR- Mayaguez, Díaz, Rubén, Mechanical Engineering, UPR- Mayaguez; , Chemistry, UPR- Mayaguez

[Chemistry 35]








Biopharmaceutical Applications

Design and fabrication of random and metal/polymer bionanocomposites as sensors is a novel technique that facilitates studies concerning the fate and transport of environmental pollutants in water. Sorption of contaminants within the sensing surface can provide new empirical details on the adsorption and biodegradation processes under controlled conditions. The development of these bionanocomposites is acquired by use of model microorganisms adhered onto silver/polydimethylsiloxane nanocomposites and electron beam nanolithography. The work presented herein discusses the design and optimization of random nanostructures for the characterization and the quantitative analysis of the abovementioned agents by Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (SERS). Optimization of in-situ preparation demonstrated the influences proportionality variation between curing agent and elastomer and immersion time has over their effectiveness of SERS studies. Experimentation shows that PDMS µ = 0.50 immersed for 10 minutes, allowed characterization of 4-aminobenzoic acid 1x10 -4 M at 784nm excitation line. Substrate performance for SERS application is presented.


Ortiz, Edwin, UPR-RIO PIEDRAS; S. Negretti, M. Fuentes; C. Torres

[Chemistry 36]

On-Line Guidelines as a Tool to Improve Learning of General Chemistry Concepts

Through the statistical analysis of online Blackboard assessment quizzes taken by General Chemistry students at the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus, several of the most common problems and difficulties that students face in the understanding and practice of this course’s concepts were identified. Based on these studies “Interactive Problem Assistance” (IPAs) WebPages have been created using Dreamweaver, which is a platform that facilitates addition of images, text, links and page properties in the creation of WebPages. These IPAs are designed to help students obtain the skills and strategies needed to solve on- line General Chemistry problems. So far these WebPages have been created for two specifics topics: Intermolecular forces and Acid-Base Chemistry. These consist of modules that assist the student in two ways: as guidelines that help to achieve the correct answer and as help at each stage of the problem-solving process. These academic aids will be available to all of the students through the Blackboard platform. Descriptions of the prepared IPAs for various objectives of these topics are presented.

Ortiz, Natasha, UPR-MAYAGUEZ; Mercado, Eunice, Chemistry, UPR- Mayaguez; Suarez, Roy, Chemical Engineering, UPR-Mayaguez; Castro, Miguel, Chemistry, UPR-Mayaguez

[Chemistry 37]

Carbon Nanotubes

Single and multiwall carbon nanotubes were dispersed in an ethylene glycol. Various solutions of silver nitrate in ethylene glycol were added to the carbon nanotube dispersion. The mixture containing the carbon nanotubes and silver nitrate in ethylene glycol was warmed to the boiling point of the solvent for 3 minutes and allowed to cool to room temperature. UV-visible absorption measurements reveal plasmon bands that extend to the visible (900 nm) and an enhancement in the carbon nanotube absorption features. Scanning tunneling electron microscopy measurements are consistent with the formation of dispersed carbon nanotubes. X ray photoemission measurements and inelastic tunneling electron spectroscopy measurements are under way to characterize the interaction between silver and the nanotubes.


Pabon, Jimmy, UPR-MAYAGUEZ; Pietri, Ruth, Chemistry, UPR-Mayaguez; Lopez Garriga, Prof. Juan, Chemistry, UPR-Mayaguez

[Chemistry 38]

Reaction of Hydrogen Sulfide with the Hemoglobin I from Lucina pectinata

Lucina pectinata is a bivalve mollusk that lives in the mangrove swamps of Puerto Rico and lives in symbiosis with a bacterium. Hemoglobin I (HbI) is a sulfide-reactive protein that reacts with H 2 S to form ferric hemoglobin sulfide. This is a complex that transports H 2 S to the symbiotic bacteria. In order to understand the binding and delivery of H 2 S to the bacteria the reaction was followed by UV-Vis Spectroscopy under equilibrium conditions. The results demonstrate that in high concentration of H 2 S the ferric HbI-H 2 S complex is reduced to HbI- Fe II . Then dissociation of the complex occurs and HbI is oxidized again forming the metaquo specie (ferric HbI-H 2 O). The results suggest that stabilization of the bound H 2 S through H-bonding interaction with Glutamine E7 can induce some heme reduction and H 2 S delivery as function of H 2 S concentration. That heme oxidation of the ferrous iron can occur, reconverting the deoxy specie to the metaquo form of the protein as H 2 S is being consumed by the symbiotic bacteria.

Padilla, Cristina, UPR-RIO PIEDRAS

[Chemistry 39]

Modification of Purine Photophysics Caused by the External Heavy Atom Effect and Applications to DNA Processes

According to reports, the fluorescence spectra of 6-methylpurine (MP) can be used as a model of purine bases. The fluorescence intensity of 6-methylpurine increases up to about 80% upon increasing the concentration of 3-bromopropan- 1-ol. In contrast, no fluorescence enhancement is observed in experiments in which the same range of concentration was explored adding 3-propanol. These results indicate that the presence of bromine affects the photophysics of the purine. The room temperature fluorescence yield of purines is notoriously low, through the addition of a heavy atom-containing molecule, it could be possible to achieve several levels of increment the population in the singlet state in purines, specifically in adenine, which enables the possibility to study processes in DNA without resorting to labeling and intercalators, which may modify DNA.


Perez, Zulmarie, UPR-RIO PIEDRAS; Wei, Xiaomei; Nieves Merced, Karinel; Rodriguez, Abimael; Department of Chemistry, University of Puerto Rico

[Chemistry 40]

Ring B abeo-sterols as Novel Inhibitors of Mycobacterium Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis (TB), an infectious disease once thought to be under control, is caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Recent epidemiologic studies suggest that TB currently affects one-third of the world's population, the spread of which is rising with new infections occurring at the alarming rate of one per second. The development of new drugs is crucial due to the emergence of multidrug resistant (MDR) strains of Mycobacterium. In our search for novel, highly active antitubercular natural products from the Caribbean Sea sponge Svenzea zeai, a complex mixture of sterols was isolated. Interestingly, two of the compounds isolated possessed a contracted cyclopentane B-ring. These compounds, named parguesterols A and B, are 5(67)abeo-sterols which exhibited MICs of 7.8 mg/mL. On the other hand, sterols based on the common 6-6-6-5 ring system displayed MICs 128 mg/mL. This discovery encouraged us to investigate the effect of modifying the structures of a series of known

(commercially available) sterols which recently led us to the synthesis of a series of 3-hydroxy steroid analogues possessing the 5(67)abeo-sterol nucleus. All of the abeo-sterols synthesized showed excellent inhibitory activity, whereas

none of the starting steroids based on the common 3-hydroxy-


nucleus proved to be active. The increased bioactivity associated to the contraction of the B-ring of common sterols has motivated us to pursue the synthesis of additional 6-5-6-5 sterol analogues with significantly increased anti- tubercular properties.


Díaz, Agustín, Department of Chemistry,

University of Puerto Rico; Colón, Jorge, Department of Chemistry, University of Puerto Rico

Pérez, Riviam, UPR-RIO PIEDRAS;

[Chemistry 41]

Intercalation of Cisplatin in Inorganic Layers Compounds

Cancer is one of the top three killers worldwide and is a difficult disease to treat. It is hard (if not impossible) to find drugs that are both effective and have low toxicity to the human body as a whole. Cisplatin is one of the most widely used anticancer drugs, particularly for the treatment of testicular cancer and ovarian carcinoma. Cisplatin is unstable in water and for administration as an anticancer drug; it is formulated in saline solution to prevent aquation (hydrolysis) because the aquated species are much more reactive than cisplatin, and are more damaging to the kidneys. It is very important to find better methods for its


transport, controlled release, and localized liberation. Zirconium phosphates (ZrP) are acidic, inorganic, ion exchangers with layered structures. We are studying in our laboratory the use of these materials as hosts for inorganic complexes using a hydrated form of ZrP with six water molecules per formula unit and an interlayer distance of 10.3 Å, which we have recently demonstrated directly exchanges large complexes. Trying to find a new method for the transport of this anticancer drug we intercalated cisplatin into the 10.3 Å phase of ZrP. We are investigating the chemical and photophysical properties of cisplatin intercalated within zirconium phosphate (ZrP). The intercalation process yields a new phase with an interlayer distance up to 9.6 Å. The cisplatin-exchanged ZrP material was characterized by XRPD, FTIR, and UV-vis spectrometry. The complete characterization of cisplatin intercalated into zirconium phosphate (ZrP) is currently under investigation. The stability of the intercalated drug has been analyzed and the drug-release studies of the drug were conducted. The results of these investigations will be presented.










Pietri, Frances, UPR-MAYAGUEZ; Nieves, Abner, Chemistry, UPR-Mayagüez; Pietri, Ruth, Chemistry, UPR-Mayagüez; López-Garriga, Juan, Chemistry, UPR- Mayagüez

[Chemistry 42]

Structural Studies of the Complex between Hemoglobin I from Lucina pectinata and Hydrogen Sulfide

Lucina pectinata, a bivalve mollusk that lives in places of high hydrogen sulfide (H 2 S) concentrations, has three hemoglobins. Hemoglobin I (HbI), reactive to

H 2 S, has an active site, the heme group with an iron (Fe) center, where H 2 S binds. The H 2 S is then transported to a bacteria that lives in symbiosis with the clam. To understand HbI-H 2 S reactivity, kinetics, resonance Raman and FTIR measurements were performed. Ligand dissociation under equilibrium suggested that two competing reactions dominate H 2 S release. This was further confirmed by resonance Raman. The data showed that the high frequency spectra of the HbI-H 2 S complexes change rapidly, indicating the presence of a

mixture of an Fe II specie and the Fe

, characteristic of Fe III H 2 S

H 2 S derivative. Initially, the spectrum of the

rHbI-H 2 S complex showed the ν 4 marker at 1374 cm

moiety. The presence of the ν 3 and ν 2 modes at 1504 cm -1 and 1583 cm -1 , respectively, was also observed indicating a low-spin six-coordinated HbI-H 2 S

(1356 cm -1 ) and ν 3 (1470 cm -1 )

complex. However the appearance of new ν 4

markers suggested the presence of both the rHbI-H 2 S and deoxy complexes. The data shows that this process depends strongly on distal mutations. We suggest that the H-bond between the distal GlnE7 and H 2 S may accelerate this




reduction process.

at 2131cm

The S-H stretching frequency has been tentatively assigned


indicating possible hydrogen bonding interactions.

Repollet, Christian, PCUPR; L. Santos-Santori, Department of Chemistry, Pontificial Catholic University of Puerto Rico

[Chemistry 43]

Identification of Cytochrome P450 Isoenzymes Present in Cho Cells Treated with Ginger Root Extract

The ginger plant, zingiber officinale, is a clinically proven medicinal plant, and its root a commonly used spice in ethnic and modern foods. Ginger root extracts are prepared through organic and aqueous phase extractions. An LD50 toxicity test is performed using Artemia salina to determine the extract concentrations to be used in the assay. CHO cells are cultured and segregated into three groups (Control/Untreated, Aqueous and Organic). Experimental groups are treated with the corresponding ginger root extract for four days. The following CYP450 isoenzymes activity will be measured; 1A2, 2D6, 3A4, 2C19 using the P450 “Glo” assay.

Rivera, Adriana, UPR-RIO PIEDRAS; Carballeira, N,, Department of Chemistry, University of Puerto Rico at Río Piedras; Giménez, L., Department of Chemistry, University of Puerto Rico at Río Piedras; Rivera-Morales, A., Department of Chemistry, University of Puerto Rico at Río Piedras

[Chemistry 44]

Synthesis of the 2-pentacosynoic acid

Sponges are characterized by a wide diversity in their fatty acid composition and, in contrast with higher animals, by the presence of very long chain fatty acids with novel branching and unsaturation patterns.[1] Extracts from the marine sponges Trikentrion loeve and Pseudaxinella cf. lunaecharta contained the 5- pentacosanoic acid and 5-pentacosenoic acid among other long chain fatty acids. A mixture of fatty acids of C24-26 with unsaturations at the 5 and 9 positions exerted a high inhibitory potential with IC50 values of 0.35 µg/ml towards the Plasmodium falciparum FabI enzyme.[2] The 2-hexadecynoic acid, a synthetic acid, has received most attention for its antifungal, antimicrobial, and cytotoxic properties.[3] Since acetylenic fatty acids have shown antimicrobial and antifungal properties, we have worked in synthesizing the 5-pentacosynoic and its alkene analogue 5-pentacosenoic acid as well as the 9-pentacosynoic acid and its analogue 9-pentacosenoic for a comparison of their antifungal bioactivities. We are currently synthesizing the 2-pentacosynoic acid in order to


determine the effect that the triple bond position has on the bioactivity of these fatty acids so as to have a series in order to identify trends. Our efforts towards the synthesis of the 2-pentacosynoic acid will be presented.

Rivera, Keishla, UPR-MAYAGUEZ

[Chemistry 45]

Optimization of Calix[n]arene Structures

Throughout this undergraduate research experience, I created and analyzed molecular structures named 4-sulphonato-calix[n]arenes, where n=4, 6, or 8 benzene rings to which SO 3 H and OH molecules where attached at opposite ends. The purpose of this research is to find the most stable 4-sulphonato-calix [6] arenes that would allow the creation of container-type structures whose main task would be to transport drugs to certain specific areas in the human body in order to target illnesses and help improve their treatments. The method used to identify the most convenient structural arrangements that provided minimum bond energies and created the most proportional “containers” was a computer program called Gaussian. This program allowed for the creation of molecular structures, the manipulation of bond angles, and most importantly, the optimization of these structures once constructed. It was with this program that I tried to optimize 4-sulphonato-calix [6] arenes in various occasions. However, no results have been accomplished due to the fact that the process always resulted in errors or unusable formations. Along with this calix [6] arene structure, I also constructed a model to simulate the type of drug that would be carried by the container. This drug was named “vanadioxeno” due to the metal being used as the main atom, Vanadium (V). After a few failed attempts, we were finally able to optimize this sample drug by changing the bond structure used. In the future, my plans are to keep trying to optimize the calix[n]arene structures and begin using different methods to try and obtain stability.

Rivera, Reynaldo O., UPR-RIO PIEDRAS; Gioda Adriana, Department of Chemistry, Pontífice Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio), Brazil; Vallejo Pamela, Department of Chemistry; Mayol-Bracero Olga, Institute for Tropical Ecosystem Studies (ITES)

[Chemistry 46]

The Influence of African Dust Particles on the Chemical Composition of Aerosols, Clouds and Rainwater at East Peak, PR

Incursions of dust loads from the Sahara desert into the Caribbean have been well documented during the last decades. This dust has been identified as an


important source of primary nutrients to the ocean and terrestrial ecosystems, and has also been implicated in disease outbreaks in coral reefs, in the reduction of amphibian population in Puerto Rico (PR), and in climatic changes. To further assess the impact of dust on the environment, detailed studies must be conducted. We will be reporting on the analysis of the chemical composition of aerosol, clouds, and rainwater samples collected in a Caribbean tropical montane cloud forest in Puerto Rico, and the influence of air masses’ origins on the concentrations of water-soluble organic, inorganic, and nitrogen species hoping to reveal any influence of African dust particles. Results showed that the dominant inorganic species in aerosols, clouds, and rainwater were Na + , Cl - , and SO 4 2- . Total nitrogen (TN) and total organic carbon (TOC) represented about 2 and 4%, respectively, with TN and TOC concentrations in the organic fractions of about 1 mg/L in cloud water; and 0.4 mg/L (TOC) and 0.25 mg/L (TN) in rainwater. Differences in the chemical composition of aerosols, clouds, and rainwater were related to the origin of air masses. For instance, a decrease in Na + and Cl - and an increase in TOC, TN, Ca 2+ , Fe 2+ and Al 3+ were associated with air masses from North Africa, suggesting a crustal origin for these species, where as the highest concentrations of Cl - and SO 4 2- were measured when ashes from the Soufriere Hills volcano reached the site, due to the SO 2 and HCl expelled in the eruptions. Further results regarding the complete chemical analysis of the aerosol, clouds and rainwater samples will be presented and discussed.

Rivera, Jaymie, UPR-CAYEY; Dr. Claudia Ospina, Chemistry, UPR-Cayey; Dr. Mayra Pagán, Chemistry, UPR-Cayey; Prof. Augusto Carvajal, Biology, UPR- Cayey

[Chemistry 47]

Chemical Analysis and Biological Evaluation of Tropical Plants: Goetzea elegans and Pimenta racemosa

The tropical plants Gotzea elegans and Pimenta racemosa were collected, dried and extracted with a mixture of CH 2 Cl 2 -MeOH (1:1). The resulting crude extract was suspended in water and extracted with solvents of different polarities. For the identification of secondary metabolites we used spectroscopic and chromatographic techniques. We evaluate the crude, hexane and chloroform extract using the brine shrimp lethality test. In this bioassay the hexane, and chloroform extract of Pimenta racemosa showed significant cytotoxicity with a LC 50 of 69.2 and 91.2 µg/mL, respectively. We identified eugenol at the Pimenta racemosa extract. The chemical analysis of Gotzea elegans is ongoing.


Rivera, Linoshka, UPR-HUMACAO; Rojas de Astudillo, Luisa, Departamento de Química, Universidad de Oriente, Núcleo de Sucre. Cumaná, Venezuela.; Brito, Rosa, Interamerican University, Metropolitan Campus; Fachini, Esteban, Department of Chemistry, University of Puerto Rico , Río Piedras Campus, Tremont, Rolando, Department of Chemistry, UPR-Humacao

[Chemistry 48]

Detection of 1, 4-Benzoquinone on Gold Surface Modified

Gold surface have been modified by self-assembled techniques. Controlling the adsorption time of propanethiol, propanedithiol, and Benzoquinone at gold surface. This study was followed by cyclic voltammetry (CV), FT-IR, and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) analysis. The method used for the surface modification was the control of exposure time of gold surface in the modifier/ethanol solution. By CV we demonstrated that the gold surface was modified propanethiol and propanedithiol compounds. Also, shown detection of 1, 4-benzoquinone. In the study by XPS and FT-IR we observed that these molecules indeed have been adsorbed on the gold surface.

Robles, Emily, UPR-RIO PIEDRAS; Raptis, Raphael, Chemistry Department, University of Puerto Rico; Rodriguez-Escudero Idaliz, Chemistry Department, University of Puerto Rico

[Chemistry 49]

Synthesis of Fe4O4-core dendrimers

In Nature, redox centers that are required to reach potentials far from those of their environment are protected within protein pockets. Using Nature as an inspiration, scientists have encapsulated redox active complexes for biomimetic studies in order to understand Nature’s extraordinary behaviors and simulate them. Encapsulated complexes are also useful as memory and electronic storage devices.

Fe 4 O 4 -core complexes of the type Fe 8 (µ 4 -O) 4 (µ-4-Rpz) 12 X 4 (where pz is pyrazolate and X is Cl, NCS) show four consecutive, closely-spaced, reversible redox processes in cyclic voltammetry. These electrochemical properties make them very attractive.

The main objective of this project is to encapsulate the Fe 8 complex into a covalent cage since electrochemical properties can be changed by encapsulating redox active complexes by covalently attaching dendrons to their core.


The first part of the project consists in the Fe 8 cluster modification. An Fe 4 O 4 -core complex, namely Fe 8 4 -O) 4 (µ-4-Clpz) 12 (NCS) 4 , was synthesized starting from FeCl 3 , 4-chloropyrazole, base, and ammonium thiocyanate. The first generation dendron, [G a -1], was synthesized separately following literature procedures. Once the first generation dendron was prepared it was reacted with the cluster previously made. The resulting Fe 4 O 4 -core dendrimer, Fe 8 4 -O) 4 (µ-4- Clpz) 12 ([G a -1]) 4 , was then characterized by elemental analysis, electrochemistry, UV-Vis, IR and 1 H NMR.

Rodriguez, Angel, UPR-MAYAGUEZ; De Jesus Echevarria, Maritza, Department of Chemistry, University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez Campus; Padilla, Maria C., Department of Horticulture, University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez Campus; Morales-Payán, J. Pablo, Department of Horticulture, University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez Campus

[Chemistry 50]

Characterization of the Aroma of Puerto Rico New Peach Cultivars by HS/SPME and GC/MS

Some cultivars of peach [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch] with low chill requirement, were developed for the South zone of the state of Florida, which were introduced to Puerto Rico in 2002. In Adjuntas Puerto Rico, at 594.4 meters above sea level, four cultivars were adapted to the local conditions successfully: "UFSun, Flordaglo, Flordaprince and Tropicbeauty”. To compare the peach aroma of these new cultivars of Puerto Rico, a new project was started in the Environmental Research Laboratory of the Chemistry Department of RUM using the head-space-solid phase micro-extraction and gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (HS/SPME and GC/MS) techniques. This is the first study to report detection of the volatile compounds in peaches form Puerto Rico. The first step was a screening of the HS/SPME and GC/MS parameters. The method allowed analyzing a wide range of aroma volatile compounds of the pulp and the skin in this peaches and also compares these results with commercial peaches from Chile. The pulp and skin of Puerto Rico new cultivars peaches have different aroma compounds. The ‘UFSun’ cultivar had more total chemical volatile compounds than the ‘Tropicbeauty'. The peaches pulp and skin contained volatile compounds such as esters, ketones, alcohols, aldehydes and others, 65% of the compounds were tentatively identified with a match quality over 80% in the pulp and also in the peach skin. Most of the peaches pulp and skin compounds, in ‘Tropicbeauty’ and ‘UFSun’, are the same but have different abundance which formed the complex chemical substances that compose their aroma.


Rodriguez, Gabriela, UPR-MAYAGUEZ; Baez, D. Bibiana, Chemistry, UPR- Mayaguez; Vega, Maddy, Chemical Engineering, UPR-Mayguez; Hernandez, Samuel P., Chemistry, UPR-Mayaguez

[Chemistry 51]

Recycling of Expanded Polystyrene to Remove Organic Pollutants from Water

Polymers cause a serious problem because they are not usually biodegradable and therefore contribute to many sources of pollution. This work presents a possibility of recycling used Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) into an adsorbent material, which can be used to remove organic pollutants, such as explosives and POPs from water. Experiments carried out have been focused on characterization and modification of EPS. Physical and chemical modifications have increased this material’s absorbency. Films, spheres and powder have been obtained through physical and chemical modifications of the original material. They were characterized using Raman Spectroscopy and Scanning Electron microscopy. Analysis of surface area and pore size were performed with the raw and modified material. These modifications have been tested to adsorb trinitrotoluene (TNT) from water. The concentration of TNT present in water after being treated with the modified materials was tested with the use of a High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC). Results have shown that powder and films obtained from EPS adsorb the most TNT out of the three modifications. Powder particles were synthesized in two different sizes (850µm and 250mm) and tested to adsorb TNT in water. Results showed that the smaller the powder particles the more adsorbent. Thick and thin films were made and tested. Results showed that the thicker films had better adsorbance.

Rodriguez, Elienisse, UPR-MAYAGUEZ; Marchany, Darya, Chemistry, University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez; Roman, Elddie, Chemistry, University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez; Lopez, Juan, Chemistry, University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez

[Chemistry 52]

Crystallization of Sulfhemoglobin

Sulfhemoglobin is an unusual form of hemoglobin. Previous studies prove that the presence of histidine amino acid in the E7 position of the distal region in the heme active site lead to the formation of this species. The main concern with this complex is their health effects, where in human, sulfur is introduced in the heme pyrrol B changing the structure of this group and limiting the oxygen transport. Thus, to define the chemical structure and stability of the complex is absolutely essential and the first step is the crystallization of sulhemoglobin. The hanging drop was the technique utilize for the crystallization. The complex was prepared


with myoglobin horse hears and it was exposed to different buffers previously

established for protein crystallization. After several days the formation of crystal

in the sodium formiate was observed. To confirm the reproducibility and optimize

the crystallization, a range of different concentrations of sodium formiate were prepare. However under the new conditions was not observed the formation of form the appropriate single crystal for X-ray diffraction. Thus, variation in myoglobin concentration and sample pH are variables, which could lead to the formation of single sulfhemoglobin crystals useful for its structure determination.

Rodriguez, Patricia, UPR-MAYAGUEZ; UPR-Mayaguez

[Chemistry 53]

Laboy, Kristie, Chemical Engineering,

Evaluation of Method Precision and Sample Homogeneity in Novel Gel Strip Formulation analyzed by NIR Spectroscopy

The purpose of this project is for the determination of homogeneity in gel strips. This novel technology of gel strips is used as a tool that prevents agglomeration

of the drug content with the distribution of the particles throughout the polymer. These results will provide the necessary information for the ability to determine the precision, of this method. Repeatability is expected for a successful method. With the use of a multipurpose Analyzer (MPA) Fourier Transform Near Infrared (FT-NIR) Spectrometer (Bruker Optics) equipped with a lead sulfide detector, an integrating sphere (external transmission) and with a beam size of 4 mm diameter, spectra were obtained for a 100 µm thick gel strips. A smaller beam size in the NIR Spectrometer was used because it provides a more precise result. The scale of scrutiny proves that the bigger the area chosen to work with, the most general result will be obtained. In this case, because the area used has

a diameter of 4mm instead of 15 mm used in previous experiments. The results

obtained will prove that this method can determine homogeneity in samples more precisely than other methods. Initial results are presented using a 15 mm NIR beam diameter which shows more homogeneity in the gel strips. It is expected to have less homogeneity in spectra that is analyzed with smaller beam sizes.

Rodriguez, Edelmiro, UPR-ARECIBO; Guido Peña, Department of Physics and Chemistry University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo; Madeline Buttler, Department of Physics and Chemistry University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo

[Chemistry 54]

The Inhibition Properties of Brown Algae Padina Gymnospora


In the past, seaweeds have been utilized as food and medicine for its curative properties. Given the biological activities of seaweeds numerous studies have been executed particularly in macro algae, but still are far away of it pharmacological application. For this work, the seaweeds were collected in the reef areas of the Parguera, Lajas Puerto Rico, after washing and grinding them we proceed to the extraction using organic solvents in a proportional mix 2:1 of chloroform and methanol. Employing rotoevaporation the liposoluble extracts of the algae was separated from the organic solvents. The liposoluble extracts were maculated in bacterial cultures that included two Gram positive, Bacillus subtilis and Staphylococcus aureus, and two Gram negative, Pseudomonas aeroginosa and Escherichia coli, to compare its bacterial inhibition with Erythromycin and Ampiciline. The results demonstrated that the inhibition varies depending of the bacteria. It has been noted that there is also a stationary effect with the inhibition that is probably related with the seaweeds reproduction cycle.

Rodrìguez, Suhail, PCUPR; Batista, Adalgisa, Chemistry Department, Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico

[Chemistry 55]

Synthesis of Diamidines Precursors

Numerous aromatic diamidines have shown biological activity that varies from antimicrobial to anticancer. However, diamidines with the acetylene group as a linker between the two aromatic systems has not been carefully explored yet.

The diamidines precursors, dinitriles were obtained via cross-coupling reaction of (arylethynyl) trimethylsilylanes with a the aryl bromides in Dimethylformamide (DMF) in the presence of palladium acetate [Pd (OAc) 2] as catalyst and o- tolylphosphine as a ligand. The synthesis, isolation and purification of the dinitriles will be shown.

Br H C 3 CH 3 Si + CH 3 N N
CH 3
CH 3
N Pd(OAc) 2 (o - tol) 3 P, n - Bu 4 NCl N
Pd(OAc) 2
(o - tol) 3 P, n - Bu 4 NCl


Rodriguez-Calero, Gabriel G., UPR-RIO PIEDRAS; Santiago, Diana, Department of Chemistry, UPR Rio Piedras; Cabrera, Carlos R., Department of Chemistry, UPR Rio Piedras

[Chemistry 56]

DNA Electrochemical Biosensor Support Using Pt Nanoparticles on Carbon Black

The research of innovative and new methods for DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) detection is currently been studied due to the current need for cheaper and more effective methods to detect DNA. Electrochemical biosensors provide a new and affordable approach towards DNA detection. This type of biosensor works by taking advantage of the selective base pairing of the different strands of DNA. The method consists in depositing a single stranded DNA (ssDNA) in a support and hybridizing it with its complementary strand. These supports are often of expensive transition metals such as Platinum, Gold, among others. The use of nanoparticles as support reduces cost, has the advantage of the detection of different DNA strands using microelectrodes devices, and has the same effectiveness as other type of DNA supports. The ssDNA will be attached on the platinum nanoparticles that are dispersed in its carbon support; this will increase superficial area, thus increasing its effectiveness. The Pt nanoparticles were deposited electrochemically on a carbon substrate using the Rotating Disk Slurry Electrode (RoDSE) technique. The use of Pt nanoparticles, carbon black and the preparation of the sample reduce cost. This procedure was repeated three times. All samples where analyzed by the following techniques X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS), Transmission Electron Microscope (TEM), X-ray Fluorescence (XRF), X-ray Diffraction (XRD), and Cyclic Voltammetry (CV). It was observed by these analyses that the platinum nano-particles were electrodeposited and highly dispersed in the carbon black. These nano-particles were modified with DNA, and electrodes for electrochemical sensing will be prepared.

Rosso, Diego, UPR-MAYAGUEZ; De Jesus, Rigoberto, Chemical Engineering, UPR-Mayaguez; De Jesus, Marco A., Chemistry, UPR-Mayaguez

[Chemistry 57]

Analysis of the Chemical and Physical Interactions of Polymeric Micro and Nanostructures with Phthalates, PPCPs, and Amino-Aromatic Compounds

Phthalates, PPCPs, carboxylic acids, and amino-aromatic compounds are a significant source of pollution due to their extensive industrial use in polymerization, pharmaceutical, and textile processes. The enhanced sorption properties of micro and nanocomposite polymeric materials make them a


favorable sequestration agent for these ubiquitous contaminants. Colloidal emulsions of chromatographic phases like polystyrene and polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) are an attractive alternative for such purposes. This work uses 4- aminobenzoic acid, benzoic acid, p-toluic acid, 4-nitrophthalic acid, and three PPCPs to study their interactions with polydimethylsiloxane, polystyrene- carboxyl, and polystyrene-aldehyde microcomposites. Phthalate and amino- aromatic’s sorption efficiency was analyzed by HPLC, with an effective removal of 93.99% and 97.98% respectively. Results show that the studied nano and microstructures of PDMS, polysterene-carboxyl, and polystyrene-aldehyde are not adequate for a high yield removal of PPCPs in water. Adjustments to variables like pH, and ionic strength to augment performance is presented. The use of MIP’s and functionalized composites is presented.

Santiago, Jorge, UPR-MAYAGUEZ; Castillo, Amalchi, Chemical Engineering, University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez; Méndez, Nilsa, Industrial Biotechnology, University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez; Pastrana-Ríos, Belinda, Chemistry, University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez

[Chemistry 58]

Two-Dimensional Correlation Analysis of Human Centrin II Mutant By Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy Utilizing Thermal Perturbations

The Centrin group of proteins is composed of relatively small acidic proteins (~170 residues, ~20kDa) belonging to the EF-hand superfamily of calcium- binding proteins. They are an essential component of the mitotic organizer centers in eukaryote organisms, and play a currently not fully understood role in the cell cycle. The isoform Human Centrin 2 (HCen2) involves a molecular partner, Human Sfi1 (hSfi1), which has several centrin-binding sites. The molecular mechanism by which the HCen2-hSfi1 complex is involved in the cell cycle still remains unknown, and is a subject of active research. The recombinant mutant HCen2E105K was bacterially overexpressed with E. coli cells grown in a five liter fermentor and induced with IPTG at log phase. Purification was carried out using a phenyl sepharose CL4B affinity chromatography column that separates the desired protein based on hydrophobic interactions between the protein and the matrix. The isolated protein underwent a water-to-deuterium exchange process in order to prepare it for Fourier-Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FT-IR), which was used in conjunction with thermal perturbations and Two-Dimensional Correlation Spectroscopy (2D-COS) analysis to study the folding of the protein. Changes in the protein’s secondary structure, as well as their order of occurrence, were determined, and the results were used in comparative studies that involved the Wild Type (WT) protein, as well as the isoform HCen1, to contrast events and stability. The results will be fundamental in the understanding of the structure of these proteins and thus in the elucidation of the mechanisms ruling their interactions.


Santiago, Edison D., UIA-BAYAMON

[Chemistry 59]

Producción de Bioetanol Utilizando Hongos de Levadura

El etanol ha sido unos de los productos más antiguos producidos, siendo elaborado al principio para uso comestible o culinario (bebida alcohólica). Este líquido incoloro y volátil, se obtiene mediante la fermentación anaeróbica de carbohidratos. Algunas de sus aplicaciones son: como disolvente, excipiente de medicamentos, materia prima para elaboración de otros productos y desinfectante. En los últimos tiempos, debido a la saturación de gases de invernadero por parte de la quema de petróleo, este ha adquirido auge como posible biocombustible, ya que al ser un compuesto orgánico de hidrocarburo puede ser utilizado para la reacción de combustión, sin producir CO 2 . Por consiguiente, en esta investigación se produjo 20% etanol utilizando hongos de levadura, para observa su función como combustible. Estos se crecieron en una solución que contenía agua y azúcar de mesa y se mantuvo en agitación durante 5 días para obtener una fermentación completa. Esta solución se mantuvo con mangas de escape para liberar el CO 2 acumulado. Al dejar de producir el CO 2 , se purifico la solución utilizando la filtración por vacío, de esta manera se separo la parte liquida de la levadura. La solución liquida se destilo por columna fraccionada, lo cual contiene unas esfera de cristal que aumenta el área superficial, y se calentó a 78 °C permitiendo que el etanol se evapore y se separe del agua, debido a la diferencia de punto de ebullición. Luego de la evaporación el etanol se condeso y se aíslo del resto de la solución, obteniendo un alcohol de 90%.

Santos, Lysmarie, UPR-MAYAGUEZ

[Chemistry 60]

Air Pollution and Public Health in Mayagüez Puerto Rico

Air pollution around the world has been a major environmental health issue for people living in metropolitan areas. This health issue arises as a consequence or urban development and also with the atmospheric activities of the Sahara dust and Soufrière Hills volcano in the Caribbean. Epidemiologic studies suggesting airborne particulate matter as one of the principal causes of respiratory illnesses. Ambient air pollution and its health effects have not been studied in detail in Puerto Rico. It research conduct a study to evaluate whether there was an association between the air pollution, Total Suspended Particles PM10 (TSP/PM10) point sources and a risk of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease


(COPD) in the Mayagüez municipally. The instrument used for this research was a High Volume Sampler (HVS) and the COPD data was provided by the ASES “Administración de Seguro de Salud de Puerto Rico”. The high volume sampler was employed for twenty four hour periods from 2005 to 2007 years. The highest values of TSP were during February, March and April months of 2005 (µg/m3):

36.24, 44.48 and 37.55, respectively and February, September and November 2006 (µg/m3): 37.82, 34.67 and 33.39, respectively. There a correlation of the highest value of the TSP in the three years during February and March months. The preliminary results shows that there a predisposition when the TSP value increase the number of respiratory diseases hospitalization also increase, specially during the months of February and September. This results point out that a direct proportional correlation exits between the TSP values and the respiratory disease if the data of other Health Insurance Plans were included. Our research cans now awareness about the possible consequences of the air pollution and the effect in the public health. At the present day, no TSP measurements obtained exceed the limits impose by the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS).

Sierra, Ivette, UPR-CAYEY; Aponte Verónica, Institute of Interdisciplinary Research UPR Cayey; Gavillán-Suárez Jannette, Chemistry and IIR UPR Cayey

[Chemistry 61]

Screening of Advanced Glycation End-Products (Ages) Inhibitory Activity of Plant Extracts from Several Genera

An increased plasma concentration of glucose found in patients with diabetes initiates a series of biochemical reactions that are responsible for a number of secondary complications. Persistent hyperglycemia leads, among other things, to an imbalance between pro- and anti-oxidant factors, including an increase in non-enzymatic glycosylation of proteins. It has been suggested that the accumulation of advance glycation end-products (AGEs) is one cause of diabetic complications and the prevention of such accumulation is possible by inhibiting the formation of AGEs.

Plants represent an alternative treatment to people with diabetes. In this experiment, AGE inhibition of methanolic extracts of Gymnena sylvestre and Costus spiralis was studied. The administration of G. sylvestre for the treatment of diabetes has been supported by experimental research. Costus spiralis has been reported in folk medicine as a herbal remedy for diabetes.

This study was designed to compare plant extracts activities with that of Aminoguanidine (AG), one of the more potent inhibitors of AGEs. In vitro glycation of BSA was studied at [glucose] =200 mM to simulate hyperglycemia. Test samples containing the extracts (20 µg/mL) or AG (10 mM) were incubated


at 60°C during 30 hours. AGEs fluorescence was analyzed at λex 450 nm and λem 350 nm.

The decreasing order of AGE formation was: Aminoguanidine(68%)> Costus spiralis (43%)> Gymnema sylvestre(14%).

Our results showed that C. spiralis inhibitory activity was significant. The low percentage of AGE inhibition obtained for G. sylvestre methanolic extract suggests that the anti-diabetes activity of this extract is not related to AGE inhibition.

Soler, Rafael A, UPR-MAYAGUEZ; Souto, Natacha, Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus; Briano, Julio G., Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus; Souto, Fernando A., Department of Chemistry, University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus, Hernández, Samuel P., Department of Chemistry, University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus; Pacheco, Leonardo, Department of Chemistry, University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus

[Chemistry 62]

Raman Detection Enhancement through TiO2 Composite Nanoparticles

Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy or SERS is a sensitive and selective technique for the detection of atomic and molecular species adsorbed on nanostructural metallic surfaces, species known as active substrates. Most substrates originate from transition metals, being silver and gold two especially proficient substrates. The SERS enhancement arises when the frequency of the laser excitation is resonant with the surface plasmons on a rough metallic surface. Composite nanomaterials, including semiconductors, are being explored in this field allowing the tailoring of their optical properties, on the basis of improved physical and chemical properties over their sole constituents. We are developing an efficient and stable SERS active substrate based on semiconductor-metal nanocomposites using TiO 2 . The TiO 2 nanoparticles are either synthesized by sol-gel techniques or are commercially available TiO 2 powders such as Degussa. Most TiO 2 @M where M=Au and Ag nanocomposites are prepared by photochemical reduction of M 0 seeds to MX n species on the positively charged surface of the TiO 2 nanoparticles. We are going to control the particles optical properties by tailoring the loading of Au nanoparticles in relation to TiO 2 semiconductor present. These synthesized nanomaterials are characterized via UV-VIS, Dynamic Light Scattering, TEM and Raman Spectroscopy where their SERS Detection Enhancement is tested. We are investigating the optimum combination of materials which provide the highest


SERS enhancement for Rhodamine 6G and 4-nitrobenzenethiol as characteristic compounds.

Sotomayor, Janice, PCUPR; Santos, Lizzette, Biology Department, PUCPR

[Chemistry 63]

Efecto del Ocimum Basilicum L. en las Isoenzimas del Citrocromo P450, Presentes en las Células Cho.

Ocimum basilicum L., mejor conocida como albahaca, se utiliza como estimulante digestivo o vomitivo; estimula la producción de leche en mujeres lactantes; se utiliza externamente como enjuagado bucal para curar inflamaciones, llagas o mal aliento, etc. Este estudio está enfocado en determinar los efectos de los extractos de las hojas del Ocimum basilicum L. en el sistema de Citocromo P450; de este sistema estudiaremos la inducción o la inhibición de las isoenzimas CYP450 3A4, CYP450 1A2, CYP450 2D6 y CYP450 2C19. Las hojas serán sometidas a una extracción acuosa y orgánica. Luego, cultivaremos células CHO y se dividirán en tres grupos: control, acuoso y orgánico. Se les aplicará el extracto sustituyendo el medio de cultivo a las células durante un periodo de 4 días. Se determinará la inducción o la inhibición de las isoenzimas aplicando el ensayo “P450-Glo Assay”. Este ensayo es excelente para este estudio ya que brinda simultáneamente los resultados sobre inhibición o inducción del sistema citocromo P450 en las células CHO, además, brinda una señal estable la cual tiene una vida media de 2 horas y utiliza muestra a escala micro. Los resultados obtenidos serán discutidos durante este foro científico.

Surillo, Sorivette, UPR-MAYAGUEZ; Fernando A. Souto, Chemistry, UPR Mayagüez; Lolita Rodríguez Rodrigüez, Chemistry, UPR Mayagüez; Lianette Rivera Baez, Industrial Biotechnology, UPR Mayagüez, Aitza Acosta Feliciano, Chemistry, UPR Mayagüez

[Chemistry 64]



Tinctorum as


Phytoremediator of




The term phytoremediation evolves from the use of plants as cleaning agents for polluted soils. Soils are contaminated with heavy metals added by the use and construction of explosives, pesticides or industrial chemicals. Heavy metals like cadmium have an uneasy and slow natural removal from soils. One of the objectives of this research project is to inquire about the cadmium resistance and accumulation capacity of Rubia tinctorum. Rubia is a diuretic, medicinal plant


capable of complexing calcium ions, ions of similar ionic radii as Cd+2 under hydrated conditions.

R. tinctorum has been cloned in vitro under growing conditions that stimulate root proliferation. Plantlets with roots and two to five eyes were recultured in growing media doped with Cd+2 up to 50 ppm. After two weeks, the medium was analyzed for free Cd+2 using a cadmium selective electrode. Preliminary results show that Rubia clones used are both resistant to Cd+2 and capable to accumulate it. Ion cadmiun concentration decreased in the growing media as this is taken as preliminary evidence that the plant is capable to absorb Cd+2 from the medium. We have also observed that the growing media changes in color to a variety of tonalities from red to orange depending of the initial Cd+2. For future work, we need to confirm these preliminary results and observations and analyze the chemistry composition of the plant and the cadmium containing media.

Vargas-Barbosa, Nella Marie, UPR-RIO PIEDRAS; Santiago-Rodriguez, Lenibel, Chemistry Department, University of Puerto Rico - Rio Piedras; Cabrera, Carlos R., Chemistry Department, University of Puerto Rico - Rio Piedras

[Chemistry 65]

Electrochemical Study and Characterization of Methylene Blue Intercalation to Single-stranded DNA attached on Gold surface

Deoxyribonucleotide acid (DNA) detection is an area of intensive research. The most widely used methods for DNA detection are optical techniques that offer sensitivity but they are expensive, tedious and require high power. Electrochemical techniques are advantageous because they are inexpensive, require less energy, and at the same time offer high sensitivity and selectivity. DNA detection using electrochemical techniques can be used in the future for disease diagnostics, food safety, and environmental monitoring. Here we report the preparation and characterization of a gold substrate self-assembled with a single-stranded DNA (ss-DNA) polyGT15’ monolayer. Methylene blue (MB) is an electroactive organic dye widely used to detect DNA hybridization due to its high affinity for guanine bases. Square wave voltammetry was used to monitor MB responses. We found that the MB response diminishes with hybridization which was reported before. Electrochemical Impedance Spectroscopy (EIS) was used to minimize the non-specific absorption of ss-DNA on the gold surface by switching the potentials several times between 0.2 V and 0.5 V. When the non- specific absorption of the ss-DNA is achieved the ss-DNA that remains attached to the surface show a “compressing and stretching” behavior when the mentioned potentials are switched.


Vázquez, Soleyl, UPR-RIO PIEDRAS; Cartagena, Michelle, Quimica, UPR Rio Piedras; Carballeira, Nestor, Quimica, UPR Rio Piedras

[Chemistry 66]

Towards the First Total Synthesis of the 2-methylthio-6-nonadecynoic acid

Fungi are pathogens that cause infections that can affect the skin, nails and in worst case scenarios the organs. Due to the rise of resistant strains to current antifungal drugs it has been necessary to find effective treatments that can eliminate these harmful fungi that attack the human body. Fatty acids have been studied over the years due to the antifungal activity they present. Our research group recently synthesized the 6-nonadecynoic acid which shows antifungal activity against Cryptococcus neoformans, Candida albicans, Aspergillus fumigatus and Trichophyton strains. Our current goal is to synthesize a sulfur analog, such as the 2-methylthio-6-nonadecynoic acid to test if the addition of the methylthio group increase its bioactivity. To synthesize this compound, first we do the coupling between 1-tetradecyne and 2-(5-bromopentyloxy)-tetrahydro-2H- pyran to afford 2-(nonadec-6-ynyloxy)-tetrahydro-2H-pyran (1a). After the deprotection of the 1a we obtain alcohol 1b which then was oxidized to the acid 1. Finally, we esterified acid 1 to obtain the corresponding ester 1c for the future addition of the methylthio group at the alpha carbon. Once synthesized, this acid will be submitted to antifungal testing.

H 10

1) n-BuLi, THF

r.t. , 1h

2) HMPA, Br

-60°C, 24h

OTHP pTSA, MeOH 4 4 60°C, 48h 10 10 1a 95% 1b
60°C, 48h
10 1a


O 3 OCH 3 10 SCH 3
10 SCH 3
79% PDC, DMF r.t. , 48h 49% O O 4 1) LDA, THF, CH 3
r.t. , 48h
1) LDA, THF, CH 3 SSCH 3
2) KOH, EtOH
10 1

Scheme 1. Synthesis of 2-methylthio-6-nonadecynoic acid and its sulfur analog




[Chemistry 67]






Case Study On Saline Intrusion In Rincon Puerto Rico

The most important aquifers in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are in

coastal areas.

These aquifers have been negatively impacted since the early


part of this century by large scale agricultural land reclamation and projects through construction of drainage and dewatering works causing the saline intrusion environmental problem. Saline intrusion is the influx of sea water into an area that is not normally exposed to high salinity levels. This could be the inflow of seawater into a fresh water wetland or a fresh water aquifer. Understanding saline intrusion in coastal aquifer is an important issue in management and protection of groundwater resource, which can be well achieved by the measurements of several target parameters. To explain some phenomena of correlation between groundwater level and salinity in observation wells in coastal area of Puerto Rico, two different drinking water stations in Mayagüez and Rincon cities were selected. The water sources of both cities are different. Since August 2008, weekly, several chemical analysis on the potable waters samples of both cities were measure, the pH, conductivity, salinity, total dissolve solids (TDS), turbidity and ions concentration of sulfate, nitrate, free chlorine, magnesium, sodium, calcium, cooper and other ions. The results show that the drinking water of Rincon has the highest values of pH, conductivity, salinity, TDS and the ions concentration of sulfate, nitrate, free chlorine, sodium, calcium, magnesium (hardness) and cooper. The values of sodium, conductivity, sulfate, cooper, and hardness from the potable water of Rincon are sometimes 3 to 7 times more than the Mayagüez water. However the town of Mayagüez has the higher values of turbidity and zinc. The major anions in the saline intrusions free chlorine, sulfate and sodium were found in the Rincon drinking water. This research demonstrated that the drinking waters of Rincon and Mayagüez were classified as very hard and soft respectively according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS) standards. This is a seriously environmental problem in Rincon town since groundwater is the principal source of drinking water.

Vélez, Christian, PCUPR

[Chemistry 68]

The Identification of Cytochrome P450 Isoenzymes in CHO Cells Treated With Cilantro Leaf Extracts

Coriadrum sativum, cilantro leaf, is used as an additive for cooking. From cilantro leaves two types of extracts are prepared: one organic and one aqueous. Once the extracts are prepared, the LD50 is determined by doing a lethality test with Artemias Salinas (brine shrimp). After the LD50 is determined, the appropriate concentration of the extract is chosen for the CHO cells treatment. The CHO cells are then separated into groups: one group treated with organic extract, one treated with aqueous extract and one control group (no treatment). The cells are treated for a period of 96 hours. Enzyme activity for the CYP 450 1A2, 2C19, 2D6 and 3A4 isoenzymes is tested using the CYP450 Glo assay. The results will be used to determine whether the cilantro leaf induces or inhibits the enzyme system.


Zayas, Rafael, UPR-MAYAGUEZ; Rodriguez, Lolita, Chemistry; Souto, Fernando, Chemistry; Hernandez, Samuel, Chemistry, Correa, Sandra Natalia, Chemistry; Barreto Perez, Eydia, Chemistry

[Chemistry 69]

Lippia dulcis as effective phytoremediator of soils contaminated with TNT

The term phytoremediation comes from the use of plants to clean water and soils. Plants considered hyper-accumulators can remove large quantities of substances considered contaminants of xenobiotic origin. Lippia dulcis is an autochthonous medicinal plant The objective of this research is to study the accumulating characteristics of this plant using available clones grown in vitro. The contaminant of interest is largely trinitrotoluene (TNT), a common pollutant left on sites where explosives are used, stored or manufactured. The Lippia dulcis from Puerto Rico was successfully placed in vitro after several trials under appropriated aseptic techniques. Clones of the mother plant were exposed to increasing amounts of TNT. Plantlets were placed in liquid media doped with TNT (0.0, 5.0 and 75 ppm). Initial results showed that the L. dulcis plantlets continued to grow in the presence of the contaminant. The TNT concentration in the media was measured by HPLC analysis. It was found that after several weeks the TNT concentration had decreased considerably. This suggests that L. dulcis may be a viable plant for use as a phytoremediator on soils contaminated with TNT. Future experiment are planned to confirm these preliminary results as well as explore in detail the fate of the contaminant.

Computer Sciences

Bermudez, Jeranfer, UPR-RIO PIEDRAS; Garcia Lebron, Richard B., Dept. Ciencia de Computos, UPR-Rio Piedras; Lopez Roig, Reynaldo, Dept. Ciencia de Computos, UPR-Rio Piedras

[Computer Sciences 1]

Study of r-Orthogonality for Latin Squares

A Latin Square (LS) of order n , is an n × n array of n different elements, where in each row and each column the elements are never repeated. Latin Squares have various applications in Coding Theory and Cryptography. Examples of LS are the famous Sudoku squares. Two LS of order n are r-orthogonal if when the squares


are superimposed we get r distinct ordered pairs of symbols. We study generalizations of the r-orthogonality to sets of LS. In this work we present preliminary results on some properties of these generalizations.

Cardona, Rogelio, UPR-MAYAGUEZ; Betancourt, Edward & Rivera, Samuel, Electrical and Computer Engineering, UPR-MAYAGUEZ

[Computer Sciences 2]

An Introductory Survey on Cloud Computing, its State-of-the-Art and Current Performance Issues

A relatively new computing paradigm known as Cloud Computing has emerged

to meet the goal of providing mainstream users a new way to acquire computational resources as a service over the Internet. However, this new paradigm brings several challenges that need to be addressed in order to guarantee widespread use and acceptance within business and academic environments. Of particular interest is the challenge of performance, which should be top-notch, compared to traditional computing methods that by nature

are offline, e.g. the use of a personal desktop or laptop. Our research work aims to provide an understanding of the performance-related issues associated with Cloud Computing and suggest possible research avenues to explore in the area

of performance.

Dávila, Guillermo Manuel, UPR-RIO PIEDRAS; Farrington, Jose, Computer Science, University of Puerto Rico at Rio Piedras; Arce, Rafael, Computer Science, University of Puerto Rico at Rio Piedras; Orozco, Edusmildo, Computer Science, University of Puerto Rico at Rio Piedras

[Computer Sciences 3]

A VHDL-FPGA Implementation of Mastrovito Multipliers

Finite fields have applications in cryptography, error correcting codes, signal processing, and more recently, in genetic networks. Finite field multiplication is usually seen as polynomial multiplication modulo an irreducible polynomial of degree m, which in general is O(m 2 ). Mastrovito developed an algorithm for fields of characteristic two that avoids the reduction step by transforming the multiplication problem into a matrix-vector product. A very important feature of the Mastrovito matrix is that its symmetries are well-suited to pipeline processing. Ferrer, Bollman, and Moreno have used a modified version of this method to develop a multiplication algorithm for fields of characteristic two that is the fastest known such algorithm to date. In this work, we give a Mastrovito Multiplier


implementation in a Hardware Description Language (VHDL) for Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGA).

Farrington, Jose J., UPR-RIO PIEDRAS; Davila, Guillermo, Matematics, University of Puerto Rico at Rio Piedras; Orozco, Edusmildo, Computer Science, University of Puerto Rico at Rio Piedras

[Computer Sciences 4]

A Especial Case of Reduced Linear Modular Systems

Given a nonsingular matrix S over the integers modulo a prime number, we consider the action of a nonsingular matrix M that commutes with S on the cycle structure induced by S. The resulting system is called a "reduced linear modular system" (RLMS). Such a system has a cycle structure similar to nonsingular linear modular systems. Of especial interest are those RLMSs which yield the least number of MS-orbits. The solution to this problem is crucial for optimizing the computation of fast multidimensional Fourier transforms with prime edge- length and linear symmetries in their inputs. It is known that if the characteristic polynomial of S is irreducible, one can find an RLMS with only one nontrivial MS- orbit. In this work we explore those RLMSs for which the characteristic polynomial of S is a nontrivial power of an irreducible polynomial over the integers modulo a prime number.

Fontanez, Guillermo, UPR-RIO PIEDRAS; Marcano, Mariano, Computer Science, University of Puerto Rico

[Computer Sciences 5]









Potassium-chloride cotransporters (KCCs) perform electroneutral transport of K and Cl ions simultaneously when activated by cell swelling in order to control intracellular K concentrations. Four types of KCCs with similar characteristics (isoforms) are known to date. For each isoform a mathematical model was formulated using a system of ordinary differential equations to model the cotransporter states, from which unidirectional fluxes of the ions are computed. Nonlinear optimization was performed to obtain transition rates for each state by minimizing the distance between published experimental data and the unidirectional flux of the model. For the optimal parameters the half-maximal effective concentrations were very similar to those of the published data. Solutions are not unique since various sets of parameter values resulted in solutions with similar accuracy. Slow rates for movement of ions into the cell with


fast rates out of the cell were obtained and are in accordance with the cotransporter function of potassium excretion from the cell.

Keywords: Parameter estimation, KCC, potassium-chloride contransporter, mathematical model Acknowledgment: This work was supported in part by NIH grant number


Lopez, Reynaldo, UPR-RIO PIEDRAS

[Computer Sciences 6]

Condor as a Solution for Highly Intensive Computational Tasks

A Latin Square of order n, is a n x n array of n different elements, where in each

row and each column the elements are never repeated. Two Latin Squares of order n are said to be r-orthogonal if when the squares are superimposed we get r distinct order pairs of symbols. As the n increases, the number of possible combinations needed to calculate the r-orthogonality increase exponentially, causing the required computations to last impractical amounts of time on a single computational unit. Research on Latin Squares brings up an essential problem, the need of a high computational system capable of handling computer intensive tasks on a reasonable amount of time. A possible solution would be the use of several computers joined as a grid, whose main purpose is to divide a big task into several smaller work units in order to accomplish the final job. Condor, a job manager for computer intensive tasks developed by the University of Wisconsin,

solves this issue by providing an efficient infrastructure which allows us to easily distribute Latin Square’s immense work flow between different machines. Thanks


Condor, problems that would take years, or even decades can now be solved


reasonable amounts of time. This and several other characteristics, such as

its easy implementation between several operating systems and the way it manages computer resources, make Condor the ideal system for this kind of job.


[Computer Sciences 7]

Optimized Strategies for the Mastermind Game

The game of Master Mind is a code-breaking board game for two players in which one player makes a code with colored pegs and the other has to correctly guess it. Over the years, many efficient algorithms have been proposed, some with better expected winning results and some which minimize the maximum turn in which the player that guesses can win. The purpose of this research is to


implement some of the strategies and play the game for all the possible combinations and present empirical results. Also, variations of the game can be made by adding more colors and pegs to make the game easier or harder to win. We wish to compare the effectiveness of the algorithms for different variations of the game.

Trinidad, Jason, UIA-BAYAMON; Canales-Pastrana, Rafael, Department of Natural Science and Matematics, UIA Bayamón; Rivera-Marchand, Bert, Department of Natural Science and Matematics, UIA Bayamón

[Computer Sciences 8]

Development of a Computer Program for the Procrustes Analysis

Procrustes analysis is used to obtain a general shape measurement in objects with unusual shapes and is widely used in the fields of Biology, Medicine, among others. The Ordinary Procrustes Analysis is used to fit an object into another object by re-scaling, rotating and translating the objects, so that they are normalized. This is done by assigning points of correspondence between the objects called landmarks. This analysis can be very complicated if done by hand, and that is why the use of computers is crucial. A computer program can be used to place landmarks on the objects and make the necessary calculations for the analysis quickly and precisely. Some of the software products available for this analysis are: MODICOS, SAS, TPS and a computer language called R. These applications do not offer both functions of placing landmarks and making the calculations, so more than one of these software must be acquired to make the complete analysis. This is why Procrustes Analysis Tool (PAT) was created. PAT is a user-friendly application, developed using Visual Basic.NET, to carry out the Ordinary Procrustes Analysis on two dimensional objects. This program will be available on the internet as a freeware.



Agosto, Ibis, UPR-RIO PIEDRAS; Borrero Michelle Ph.D., Biology, UPR-RP

[Education 1]

Development of a genomics project for a Molecular and Cellular Biology Laboratory

The National Academy of Sciences in their report BIO2010 challenged undergraduate biology programs to reexamine their current curriculum to assess if they meet today’s scientific challenges. To this effect, a project-based laboratory course in Molecular and Cellular Biology at UPR-RP has been developed to enhance our students’ preparation for a scientific career. This approach breaks the traditional “cookbook” laboratory exercises and gives students the opportunity to execute scientific research in a laboratory course. The new curriculum design consists of two sequential projects in genomics and proteomics. In the current work we present how the genomics section of the course was developed, optimized for student use, and implemented. We have preliminary data that shows that the new laboratory protocols can be implemented in the course successfully. Students have been able to isolate total RNA, analyze it, prepare cDNA, and begin microarray experiments. Upon completion of the genomics project students will do oral presentations of their data. We expect that the incorporation of this type of laboratory experiences into the curriculum will increase students’ scientific and critical thinking skills. Furthermore, we propose that the acquisition of these skills will lead to an increased interest in pursuing a scientific career.


Soltero, Daniel, UPR-MAYAGUEZ; Breazeal, Cynthia, Ph.D., Media Lab, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Adalgeirsson, Sigurdur, Media Lab, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

[Electronics 1]

Electronic Systems for a Semi-autonomous Robot

The Personal Robots Group at the MIT Media Lab is working on prototypes for a mobile robot designed for communication purposes. My project was based on designing a sensor suite of ultrasonic range finders (sonar) and infrared binary


range finders, and designing a small, one-channel motor controller that will be used for the six motors that move the robot. The sensor suite provided data from the five sonar sensors, giving us horizontal range in two dimensions, and the four binary sensors, for knowing if the robot is about to drive off an edge of the surface it is placed on. This provides enough information to the robot/user to make intelligent decisions. Both circuits where programmed and debugged so that they all share the same serial lines, minimizing wire use and space. Additionally, physical models of the boards were made using SolidWorks CAD software. These models are being used with the robot’s model to design perfectly fitting parts for the robot. A simple mechanical system was also designed in SolidWorks, and constructed, which presented the motor controllers’ capabilities to control three motors that represented the actual robot’s arms and waist. EAGLE software was used to design the boards, and AVR microprocessors were used for the low level control.


Alicea, Neysa, UPR-MAYAGUEZ; Maxuel J. Cruz, Mechanical Engineering - UPR Mayaguez; Carla S. Príncipe, Civil Engineering - UPR Mayaguez; Lilia Olaya, Mechanical Engineering - UPR Mayaguez, O. Marcelo Suárez, Engineering Science And Materials - UPR Mayaguez

[Engineering 1]

Characterization of Al-Cu Alloys Reinforced with Dodecaborides

Aluminum matrix composites (AMCs) have great potential in structural and aeronautical applications due to their high corrosion resistance, good mechanical properties and low density. Therefore a careful characterization of their phase transformations upon processing and resulting mechanical properties is essential. In the present work we have fabricated aluminum alloys reinforced with AlB 12 particles via gravity casting. The specimens were heat-treated and analyzed using optical microscopy, scanning electron microcopy (SEM), Vickers microhardness, high temperature x-ray diffraction (with Reactor X and differential scanning calorimeter DSC) and differential thermal analysis (DTA). Our results proved the lack of stability of AlB 12 in contact with liquid aluminum and the subsequent change of the dodecaboride into smaller AlB 2 particles.


Alvarez, Steven, UPR-MAYAGUEZ; Madeline Torres-Lugo, Chemical Engineering Department, University of Puerto Rico Mayagüez; Carlos Rinaldi, Chemical Engineering Department, University of Puerto Rico Mayagüez

[Engineering 2]

Preparation of Ferrogels Consisting of Magnetic Nanoparticles Embedded in Polymeric Matrices

Hydrogels and magnetic nanoparticles (MgNp’s) are materials widely studied due to their special properties. The possibility of embedding the MgNp’s in the polymeric matrix could result in a new material, known as a ferrogel, with yet unknown properties. The focus of this project is embedding cobalt ferrite MgNp’s in a poly(ethylene glycol) methacrylate/poly(ethylene glycol) dimethacrylate hydrogel. It is suspected that the Brownian relaxation of the cobalt ferrite MgNp’s when subjected to an alternating magnetic field will impart special properties to the material. The cobalt ferrite MgNp’s were synthesized by the thermodecomposition method. The obtained MgNp’s had oleic acid surfactants making them hydrophobic. Since our interest is using the particles in a hydrophilic medium, a poly(ethylene glycol) monomethyl ether ligand exchange method was used to obtain water dispersible MgNp’s. The MgNp’s where characterized using Dynamic Light Scattering (DLS) and Superconducting Quantum Interference device (SQUID). The MgNp’s were added to the prepolymeric solution and polymerized using UV-activation in a controlled environment. At this point, the MgNp’s have been successfully embedded in the hydrogel and will proceed with the material characterization.

Barrado, Pilar, UPR-MAYAGUEZ; Sergio E. De Hoyos Irizarry, Departament of Civil Engineering, University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez; Hermes E. Calderón, Departament of Civil Engineering, University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez

[Engineering 3]

Effect of AlB2 reinforcements on the High Temperature Thermomechanical Response of Al-Based Composites

A new series of Al-based composites is being evaluated for high temperature

structural and automotive applications. The material is constituted by an aluminum matrix – containing 2.5 wt% Cu and 1 wt% Mg and reinforced with AlB 2

dispersoids. This research focuses on the effect of the reinforcements on the creep resistance of the composites. Samples with different levels of boron (0, 1,

2, 3 and 4 wt.% B) are prepared and tested using a thermo-mechanical analyzer

(TMA) under constant compression load. The coefficient of thermal expansion and the behavior under creep conditions are studied. The preliminary results show that, as the percent of boron increases, both the time for primary creep and


the deformation rate upon secondary creep are reduced. This research is supported by NSF through award Nº DMR-0351449 (PREM program) and by UPRM CoHemis (RUM Olé program).

Burgos, Jose, UPR-MAYAGUEZ

[Engineering 4]

Determination of the Gelation Temperature of Sodium Alginate at Various Concentrations by Creating a Graph of Viscosity as a Function of Temperature

By using a rheometer and a computer program to analyze the data of this instrument; the temperature of gelation of the solutions of Sodium Alginate was determine at different concentrations using curves of cooling. On these curves of cooling it was graph the viscosity of the fluid as a function of temperature to be able to observe the gelation temperature. This temperature of gelation was determined observing a sudden change on the viscosity of the fluid at certain temperature. An experiment of reproducibility was perform to assure the reproducibility of the data for the solutions of Sodium Alginate at 1.5% by weight changing only the time passed between its preparation and analysis.

Calzada, Jaime, UPR-RIO PIEDRAS

[Engineering 5]

Wireless Transfer of Electric Power

Wireless transfer of electric power is considered as a plausible means for alternative efficient energy technology. Extensive research has been conducted on late Nikola Tesla’s technology, the “Magnifying Transmitter”, which intended the broadcast wireless electric power to every point in the globe, simultaneously in industrial quantities. The “Magnifying Transmitter” patents are debunked and discussed in a technical manner. The theoretical implementation of this system for a world-wide wireless electrical system is exposed, along with the numerous engineering feats that arise. A Hypothesis is made about the operation of this system and various theories for operation are discussed. Possible experimental setups which implement the proposed methods of operation are proposed and discussed.

Keywords: Wireless electricity, Magnifying transmitter, Wardenclyffe Tower, Nikola Tesla, Radiant Energy.


Cordero, José, UPR-MAYAGUEZ; Portela, Genock, Materials Science and Engineering, University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez; Rivera, Samuel, Civil Engineering, University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez

[Engineering 6]

Structural Response of Pre-cambered Bridges Under Moving Loads

Structural systems consisting of composite materials have gained modality during recent years. The increase in strength of combined materials with different properties at different stages of loading is an area open for research. Furthermore, advances in the mechanical behavior of materials provide new fields of study, especially when it is combined with material characterization. Systems consisting of high-strength materials primarily based on plain concrete, reinforced concrete (with silica fume), and low alloy structural steel (A-572) are being investigated. Prediction of the behavior of these systems under dynamic loading, such as cyclic and impact loads, are challenging tasks to scientists working in the implementation of functional and affordable systems for actual needs. Examples of successful systems are the pre and post-tensioned mechanical states vastly used in structures. In order to expand recent applications, the first part of this project is oriented to develop analytical formulations for pre-cambered composite structural elements that are subjected to dynamic moving loads, based on service and ultimate levels. Computational analysis of other systems previously used for similar structural applications will be performed in the second part of the project. Outcomes found will be used in future applications, changing materials that would improve the behavior of the proposed systems.

Espinal, Ana, UIA-BAYAMON

[Engineering 7]

PACER Experience at LSU, Knowledge Transfer and Future Projects

In the summer 2008, LSU (Dr. Greg Guzik, PI) selected Inter Bayamon-UIPR to participate in the NSF PACER-Physics & Aerospace Catalyst Experiences in Research program. Over an intense 9 week, a faculty and three students learn basic electronic, microcontroller programming, and scientific balloon to design, build, and launch a small payload from a sounding balloon at NASA CSBF- Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility. A new class: Aerospace Experience I & II is being offered at UIPR. First semester: Twelve students realized a temperature sensor-SkeeterSat, a micro-controller Basic Stamp-BalloonSat circuit & build payloads. SkeeterSat were launched on the payloads. Second semester: they will form groups to design, build and launch their own scientific payload. NASA formatted documentation will be required from each group: PDR-Preliminary


Design Review, CDR-Critical Design Review, FRR-Flight Readiness Review and final project presentation. UIPR has been invited by Dartmouth College to participate in a NASA balloon mission. BARREL-Balloon Array for RBSP Relativistic Electron Loss is a NASA mission of opportunity to support NASA Living with a Star mission RBSP-Radiation Belt Storm Probes. Launching up to 46 scientific balloons to study the precipitation of energetic particle in the atmosphere: spatial and temporal domain. UIPR students will help to integrate the scientific payloads at Dartmouth College (provided by participating institutions at UC at Berkeley, Santa Cruz and University of Washington), learn how scientific instruments work, participate in the mission operation, and analyze results. This chance will help retain student interest in aerospace related projects and induce them to go to graduate schools.

Espinosa, Javier, UIA-BAYAMON; Jaime Yeckle, Computer Engineering

[Engineering 8]

Grid Portal at Interamerican University

Grid Portals is a web based resource that provides a personal point of access to high computational capacity to assist us with one or various jobs. In this study we researched various grid portals and analyzed them for deficiencies. We found two portals that were the most distinguish: Open Grid Computing Environment (OGCE) and P-Grade Portal Developer Alliance. The objectives of this research were to find the most efficient portals, analyze them thoroughly and decide which two portals to install. We have started with the installation of OGCE grid portal. During the semester of August 2008 we accomplish the selection of the portals and the beginning of installation. Further research will be aimed at finishing the installation of the portals and implementing a new design from these existing portals. The results from the study will lead us to the creation of a more efficient and user friendly grid portal.

Fuentes Martínez, Paul M., UIA-BAYAMON

[Engineering 9]

Characterization of Graphene Ribbons from Liquid Exfoliation of Graphite

The study of graphene, a single layer of carbon atoms bound together, is becoming a growing international area of research interest, due to its presumed mechanical, thermal, electrical and optical properties and possible practical applications. Since its discovery in 2004, by physicists from the University of Manchester, graphene has been rigorously investigated as this innovative material was expected not to exist in nature because in its free state it is unstable


with respect to the formation of curved structures such as buckyball, nanotubes and 3D diamond and graphite. These structural instabilities have resulted in dedicated efforts in the field of material science focused on procuring thinner and thinner layers of graphite, approaching nano-particulate scale, or growing epitaxial graphene on surfaces for later removal and incorporation into varied applications.

The subject of this ongoing research project is focusing on the optical and electric properties of freestanding graphene ribbons and corresponding networks. In order to obtain these ribbons, graphite flakes with an average size of 45 µm are dispersed in isopropanol alcohol, with a concentration of 1mg/ml, using ultrasonic vibration. This provides initial mechanical exfoliation into individual graphene sheets. To remove the multilayer graphite flakes, the liquid suspension was sorted by ultracentrifugation at 21000 RPM per 10 minutes. This procedure separates the suspended particles by size, ribbons on top, larger particulate on the bottom. To obtain a freestanding graphene films, we selected the top fraction and deposit it on the surface of a nanoporous membrane, having a pore size of 100 nm, via a vacuum filtration process. After completing these procedures, the optical properties were analyzed with diffuse reflectance measurements on the membrane and scattered transmittance measurements of the fraction solution using a UV-Vis-NIR spectrophotometer. The spectra obtained can be used to qualitatively identify free charge carriers present in individualized graphene sheets. In order to determine the electrical conductivity properties, the membrane was sputter coated with gold electrodes, and the impedance at different frequency was measured using an impedance analyzer.

Fuertes, Francheska, TURABO UNIV

[Engineering 10]

Waste Chaser: Geldipping/Gelcap ERG Cut Line Adjustment.

Waste Chaser is a McNeil site strategy in which waste has been identified as a major budget expense during the current year. Once major offenders were identified, specific projects, at different manufacturing areas, will be realized to attack waste expense, one of which comes from Geldipping Gelcap ERG Cut Line Adjustment Project. The new cut line adjustment implementation will provide Gelcap area to have $ 117,012.00 annual standard waste saving and reducing downtime by 40.6 % annually. ERG standard waste is reducing by a 0.2% applying a cut line adjustment and training in Geldipping Gelcap area.


Gambaro, Sahray, UPR-MAYAGUEZ; Morales, Dorimar, Computer and Electrical Engineering Department, UPR-Mayaguez; Rivera, Melvin, Computer and Electrical Engineering Department, UPR-Mayaguez

[Engineering 11]

Low Power Consumption Software for Cochlear Implants

Deafness is caused by the degeneration of the sensory hair cells known as the sensory tissue of the cochlea, which is in the inner ear. The cochlea is responsible of gather electrical signals from sound vibrations and transmits them to the auditory nerve. Then the auditory nerve sends these signals to the brain for processing. A cochlear implant is a medical device implanted inside the inner ear of the patient providing the hearing capability by bypassing the damaged hair cells via direct electrical stimulation. UPR-Mayaguez research group has been working for the past few years with the Wireless Integrated Microsystems Engineering Research Center (WIMS ERC) to develop the software for a cochlear implant. In the past, a Tone Demonstration was developed to show the functionality of the whole WIMS Microsystems. Currently, a Current Shaping Demo is being developed consisting on a demonstration that the currents for the stimulation of the electrode array can be controlled to have a particular shape. The functionalities of this demo will be tested with the MSP430 commercial microcontroller.

García, Sergio, UPR-MAYAGUEZ; Oyola, Rolando, Chemistry, University of Puerto Rico; García, Carmelo, Chemistry, University of Puerto Rico

[Engineering 12]

Automation of a Nanosecond-laser Flash Photolysis System and Stop-flow UV- VIS Absorption Spectroscopy System

In this project two set-ups were automated. The first one used the LabVIEW programming package (National Instruments) to automate and control several equipments attached to the nanosecond-laser flash photolysis set-up at UPR- Humacao (UPRH). The objective of the project was to integrate a new oscilloscope (Tektronix, Model 3052B) to measure the photomultiplier voltage signal as a function of time. This oscilloscope has a higher resolution and better averaging capabilities than the previous one, (LeCroy Model 9310). This was successfully achieved using the GPIB protocol available in the LabView package. The second set-up that was automated was the SFA-20 Rapid Kinetics Stopped- Flow Accessory for UV-VIS Spectroscopy (Agilent HP8453). To connect the SFA-20 to the spectrometer trigger signal input, a TTL signal (5V to ground level change) was used. The set-up was program to start data acquisition, whenever the spectrometer detected the TTL signal at the auxiliary input socket. In order to


relate the voltage difference with the program, a cable was soled to short its trigger pin to ground as soon as the substances that were to be analyzed were mixed. In addition, the spectrometer’s software was reprogrammed to activate the auxiliary TTL input/output socket. By comparison, the results obtained with the trigger were much more precise than without the trigger installed.

Gomez, Suzette, UPR-MAYAGUEZ

[Engineering 13]

Implementation of the Abundance Estimation Algorithms Using NVIDIA CUDA

Hyperspectral image analysis is an active research area in the field of Remote Sensing. Several techniques have been developed for analyzing the massive amounts of data contained in one image. The ultimate goal of hyperspectral imagery (HSI) is to obtain information on, or classify, the contents of the image. One of the procedures used in HSI classification is spectral unmixing. Literature review was done on algorithms for spectral unmixing and their previous implementations in particular, we have done research on the Positive Matrix Factorization (PMF) Algorithm as an alternative for unsupervised unmixing. Our work focuses on the implementation of the PMF algorithms and porting the Hyperspectral Image Analysis (HIA) Toolbox on GPUs. HIA is a collection of algorithms that extend the capability of the MATLAB numerical computing environment for the processing of hyperspectral and multispectral imagery. Using Graphic Processing Units (GPUs) as the computing platform we intend to reduce computation time on the analysis of hyperspectral image data. We are using the Geforce 8800 GTX GPU and CUDA technology.

Gutierrez, Ian, UIA-BAYAMON; Rivera, Manuel, Electrical Engineering, Universidad Interamericana; Garcia, Joel, Electrical Engineering, Universidad Interamericana; Font, Bernardo, Mechanical Engineering, Universidad Interamericana, Alicea, Emmanuel, Computer Science, Universidad Interamericana

[Engineering 14]

Rocket Payload the Size of a Soda Can

The cansat is an annual student design-build-launch competition for space- related topics organized by the American Astronautical Society and American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. It is available to any university and college students.


The competition is designed to reflect on a typical aerospace program. It includes all aspects of an aerospace program: a detailed schedule, in the form of a Gantt chart, PDR, HWR, CDR and PFR.

The schedule, in the form of a Gantt chart, is use to track the progress toward completion of the cansat development. The schedule will have all the competition milestones as well as all internal tasks and milestones, hardware procurement milestones, and academic milestones.

The Preliminary Design Review is a multi-disciplined technical review to ensure that the system under review can proceed into detailed design, and can meet the stated performance requirements within cost (program budget), schedule (program schedule), risk, and other system constraints.

The Hardware Review shall be performed between the PDR and CDR, and its intent is to ensure hardware selection and procurement is proceeding to support a successful completion of the cansat.

The Critical Design Review is a multi-disciplined technical review to ensure that the system under review can proceed into system fabrication, demonstration, and test; and can meet the stated performance requirements within cost (program budget), schedule (program schedule), risk, and other system constraints.

The Post Flight Review provides an assessment of flight operations and results of the demonstration flight. It provides an assessment of successful and unsuccessful flight operations.

Hernández Pérez, Joany R., UPR-MAYAGUEZ; León Burgos, José G., Chemical Engineering, UPRM; Reyes Luyanda, Damian, Chemical Engineering, UPR-Mayaguez

[Engineering 15]

Bifunctional Nanostructured Catalytic Materials for the Conversion of Cellulose into Sugar Alcohols

The catalytic conversion of lignocellulosic biomass into intermediates that can be used to produce fuels and high-value chemicals, as well as substitutes for petroleum-based feedstocks, in an integrated biorefinery is a novel technology that can help meet the growing energy demand while dramatically reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This work presents the development of bifunctional nanostructured materials for the catalytic conversion of cellulose into sugar alcohols that can be used as a sustainable source of renewable biorefinery feedstock. Mainly sorbitol and mannitol are obtained by the hydrolysis of cellulose to glucose followed by the corresponding reduction. Supported Ru


catalysts were prepared by evaporative deposition on various ordered mesoporous silica (SBA-15) with different functionalities. The catalysts were characterized using surface area determination (BET), X-Ray Diffraction (XRD), and Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM). The activity and selectivity of the bifunctional catalysts were studied by monitoring the cellulose conversion and production of sugar and sugar alcohols in a batch reactor. These results were compared to the effectiveness of samples with single functionality. The effect of acidity on conversion and selectivity will be discussed.

Kaufman, Richard, UPR-MAYAGUEZ; UPR-Mayaguez

[Engineering 16]

Gabriel Pérez, Computer Engineering,

Enhancing the VXL Libraries for the Computer Vision Community

VXL (the Vision-something-Libraries) is a widely deployed, robust, and cross- platform open source computer vision library written in C++. Like many open source projects, this one is developed by a wide variety of contributors, including members from industry, academia as well as some of the leading researchers on computer vision.

VXL is divided into 6 core libraries and a set of contributed libraries. A group of students at UPRM are working on the VIDL (Video Streaming) and VGPL (Geometric Projection) libraries, which belong to the set of contributed libraries, with the end goal of promoting them to the core library level. The contributed level is where all the contributions made by researchers and developers around the world are placed. However, these contributions may not be as robust and complete, or as generic as those in the core level. For the library to be promoted it must be considered a general purpose and robust computer vision library. In addition, it must comply with the following rules:

All of the code must strictly abide to the project's coding guidelines.

At least two institutions or companies must be using this library.

The library must have a chapter in the VXL Book. This chapter will contain tutorials and documentation regarding the library.

There must be a maintainer for the library with the responsibility of coordinating all changes to the library.

Once all the conditions for moving VPGL and VIDL to core have been met, the resulting libraries will be included in VXL core. The result will be that the VXL library will add another excellent resource to its framework and make it available to industry, academia and the wider developer community. It is expected that this resource will, not only expose VXL to a larger audience, but extend its community impact by supporting even more products and state-of-the-art research.


López, Alejandro, UPR-MAYAGUEZ; Carola Barrera, Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez; Carlos Rinaldi, Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez

[Engineering 17]

Preparation of Magnetic Fe3O4 Nanoparticles with Covalently Bound Chitosan and Chitosan Oligosaccharide Lactate for Use in Biomedical Applications

Functionalized magnetic nanoparticles present characteristics that make them suitable for use in biomedical applications, for example, cancer treatment through hyperthermia. Nanoparticles injected into a tumor and subjected to an alternating magnetic field heat up sufficiently to kill cancerous cells without causing damage to healthy cells. In this project, magnetite (Fe 3 O 4 ) nanoparticles functionalized with covalently bound chitosan were prepared using a novel method. Chitosan is a biocompatible, biodegradable polymer with a positive charge, thus potentially increasing the nanoparticle-cell interaction. First, oleic- acid stabilized magnetite nanoparticles, were synthesized by the thermal decomposition method. The oleic acid originally present on the particle surface was replaced via ligand exchange reaction with a silane bearing terminal carboxylic groups. Subsequently, chitosan and chitosan oligosaccharide lactate were covalently attached to the carboxylic group present on the particle’s surface via carbodiimide activation, leading to amide linkage formation. The resulting nanoparticles were characterized using Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR), Zeta Potential Measurements, Dynamic Light Scattering (DLS), Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) and Super Quantum Interference Device (SQUID) magnetometry. Infrared spectroscopy results demonstrate successful ligand exchange as well as amide linkage formation. The procedure employed resulted in non- agglomerated chitosan oligosaccharide lactate coated nanoparticles, as confirmed by TEM images. Zeta potential measurements confirmed the positive charge on the particle surface, and magnetic measurements demonstrated superparamagnetic behavior. Hence, the procedure employed yields nanoparticles suitable for biomedical applications. Such positively charged particles should have prolonged interactions with negatively charged cell membranes.


Lugo Morales, Yahaira, UPR-MAYAGUEZ; Escobar, Zalleris, Department of Civil Engineering, UPR-Mayagüez; Hwang, Sangchul, Department of Civil Engineering, UPR-Mayagüez

[Engineering 18]

Landfills with Coal Combustion Byproducts as an Alternative Daily Cover

Landfill is an engineered facility for the disposal of solid waste materials to minimize environmental and public health impacts that can be resulted from them, if not managed appropriately. Putting a daily cover on the top of a day’s deposition of wastes is a standard practice in landfill operations, which is to:

minimize disease vectors; restrict access to rodents, birds, and insect; control leachate and erosion; reduce fire hazard, minimize wind-blown litter, reduce noxious odors, provide an aesthetic appearance and allow accessibility regardless of weather. Alternative materials for daily cover could conserve landfill space and soil resources while also meet environmental and operational requirements.

This research evaluates coal combustion byproducts aggregate (CCAs) as an alternative daily cover material. It is a manufactured aggregate, an agglomerate of fly ash and bottom ash which are produced during the coal combustion process. Biochemical decomposition and settlement are simulated using bioreactors in a temperature-controlled environmental chamber. Bioreactors are equipped with a gas extraction port and a water spraying system. For settlement monitoring purpose were constructed transparent plexi-glass window on the wall of bioreactors. Solid wastes used in the study are a representation of Puerto Rico’s typical waste characteristics. One bioreactor is using soil, whereas another bioreactor is using CCAs as an alternative daily cover. Environmental chamber was equipped with a thermal circulator to assist the rate of waste decomposition. Different stages of rainfall events and leachate recirculation are simulated. Leachate quantity and quality, extent of settlement and gas production trend are to be presented. Preliminary results indicated that the landfills amended with the CCAs as alternative daily cover could reduce toxicity of leachate and enhance the rate of waste decomposition.

Melendez, Adriana, UPR-MAYAGUEZ; Reyes, Andrey

[Engineering 19]

Analog Rank Order Filters to Reduce Computational Needs in Processing Hyperspectral Images: Coding and Storing of Rank Order Data

Hyperspectral Imaging (HSI) has many applications such as for ecological purpose, agricultural benefits, and surveillance. Sensors from an HSI camera


collect information of several images taken at a slight and near range of the electromagnetic spectrum also known as spectral bands. These bands provide us with high spectral resolution data that can be used to classify between objects based on their spectral signature. The quantity of data generated for an HSI becomes a challenge in computing. The information of each pixel is processed and stored, which consumes a great amount of time, memory, and processing capacity. We propose to use a pixel-range storing system, instead of the traditional pixel by pixel system to reduce the quantity of bits needed for the computation of an image. This research consists of the conversion of data from an analog Rank-Order Filter (ROF) to decode computational information used in HSI.

The ROF Integrated Circuit (IC) preprocesses the signal prior to digitizing it. In the ROFs different classes are detected in the analog domain. Known classes are sensed as different signals and thus can be classified and coded with an Analog-to-Digital Converter (ADC). The system receives the information from the ADC converter and registers the amount of pixels that are in a consecutive order and from the same material. We will present the research questions and solutions for designing the digital part of the system where coding and storing of data are the main concerns of this part of our research work.

Montes, Gina, UPR-MAYAGUEZ; UPR-Mayaguez

[Engineering 20]

Rentería, Boris, Mechanical Engineering,

Synthesis And Magnetic Properties Of Bismuth Ferrite, BiFeO3, Nanoparticles

Application of nanocrystalline multiferroics materials in sensor development, massive memory storage or in the fabrication of new devices taking advantage of the electron charge and spin explains the need of investigating various options for its synthesis. Bismuth ferrite (BiFeO 3 ) is a multiferroic material that exhibits ferromagnetism, ferroelectricity and ferroelasticity. The present research is focused on the confirmation of the BiFeO 3 formation in ethylene glycol media and its structural and magnetic characterization. Our preliminary results suggest that the ferrite formation was strongly dependent on both, the drying and annealing conditions of the solid precursors. Bismuth ferrite was produced after annealing the precursor for one hour between 700 ο C and 800 ο C. The corresponding magnetic properties (magnetization and coercivity) were influenced by the selected annealing temperatures.


Perez, Misael, UPR-MAYAGUEZ; Díaz, Abraham; Peguero, José; Negrón, Norman; Electrical and Computer Department, UPR-Mayaguez

[Engineering 21]












The Engineering Research Center for the Wireless Integrated Micro-systems (WIMS ERC) located in Michigan is developing a micro gas chromatograph (µGC) that will provide real-time analysis in a portable form. The device that is being developed will combine wireless communication with micro electromechanical system (MEMS) technology, allowing the device to be controlled wirelessly. In collaboration with the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, and Michigan Technological University, the University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez (UPRM) group is in charge of developing the firmware to remotely control the µGC along with implementing the gas data pre-processing algorithms. The µGC will be capable of analyzing and remotely reporting complex mixtures of organic compounds at high speed on a small package under low power restrictions. An ATMEL AT91 ARM microcontroller manages the ZIGBEE wireless radio to receive the µGC control instructions and report the analyzed data. The team at UPRM is currently working with the wireless communication implementation, memory management algorithms to manage the memory constraint requirements of the project and the software that will be installed on host PC to control the system. Low power techniques and software optimization will be used to complete the tasks.

Hidalgo, Ruth, Mechanical Engineering,

UPR-Mayaguez; Suarez, O. Marcelo, Engineering Science & Materials, UPR- Mayaguez

Plaza, Nayomi, UPR-MAYAGUEZ;

[Engineering 22]

Effects of Magnesium Levels in Al-B Composites Subject to Mechanical Wear And Abrassion

A series of high wear strength, lightweight Al/AlB 2 composites was developed for aerospace applications. The effect of magnesium addition on the composite wear behavior and hardness was analyzed. The composite wear strength was investigated by means of pin-on-disk experiments. SEM and EDS analyses permitted identify the phases present and correlate the composites microstructure with its mechanical behavior. SEM observations also allowed identifying the wear mechanisms involved during the pin-on-disks tests against a 440 martensitic stainless steel ball. Measured wear coefficients were contrasted with Brinnell and Rockwell F hardness values. Within the magnesium levels studied the wear rate is reduced as Mg concentration increases.


Quiles, Marcelo, UPR-MAYAGUEZ; Jose Angel Galarza Rivera, Electrical and Computer Engineering, UPR Mayaguez; Gladys O. Ducoudray Acevedo, Electrical and Computer Engineering, UPR Mayaguez; Guillermo Serrano, Electrical and Computer Engineering, UPR Mayaguez

[Engineering 23]

Digital to Analog Converter Modules with Offset Cancellation Using Floating-Gate Transistors

Digital to Analog Converters (DAC) have numerous uses such as data conversion in DSP, MP3 players among others modern electronic devices. The proposed project consists in developing DAC modules with offset cancellation. The approach uses floating gate transistors to get rid of offset fluctuation, usually called offset drift, mismatches effects, and other common flaws encounter in present technology. The challenge is to incorporate different mixed-signal circuit modules, impervious to offset fluctuations using floating gate transistor programmable devices, for offset cancelation in a DAC. Floating-gate transistors add programmability to circuit current sources, differential pairs and transconductance amplifiers, which allow offset cancelation [1], high accuracy, and reduce mismatch effects reduction. The architecture replicates the scaled DAC composed of the following modules: Current Mirrors, Floating-Gate Programming and Operational Transconductance Amplifier.

The proposed solution is to perform a theoretical analysis and simulation to develop mixed-signal modules. Computer simulations in Cadence Virtuoso will be used for design validation. The validation of the simulated data will be tested by fabricating an Integrated Circuit Prototype using MOSIS CMOS 0.6µ technology. Also a Very-Low-Cost-Tester test board will be designed and assembled to enable easier testing procedures. Testing of the IC prototype and validation of the design with experimental results will be the last step. The IC Prototype developed will be tested for offset cancellation, INL, DNL and standard testing procedures used in Industry.

Ramirez, Ismarie, TURABO UNIV; Fuertes, Francheska, Department of Industrial and Management Engineering, Turabo University

[Engineering 24]

Computational Experiments: Reliable Location on a Network

The purpose of this research project in Operations Research and optimization is to design a computational experiment for the algorithm that solves the relisum problem on a network with unreliable edges. The expected result of the


computational experiment is a polynomial equation that relates the time it takes the computer to solve the algorithm with the amount of nodes and edges of the network it solved.

Reyes, Andrey, UPR-MAYAGUEZ; Melendez, Adriana, Electrical and Computer Engineering Departement, UPR-Mayaguez; Ducoudray, Gladys, Electrical and Computer Engineering Departement, UPR-Mayaguez

[Engineering 25]

Analog Rank Order Filters to Reduce Computational Needs in processing Hyperspectral Images: Analog circuit design

This research proposes the use of Analog Rank Order Filters to potentially reduce computational needs in processing Hyperspectral Images (HSI). Hyperspectral Images is used for environmental applications such as mineral detection, vegetation monitoring and more. In HSI, hundreds of images are taken at narrow and nearby spectral bands providing us with high spectral resolution data that can be used to classify between objects based on their spectral signature. The quantity of data generated by a Hyperspectral Image camera becomes a challenge in computing. Preprocessing these images through an

Analog Rank Order Filter (ROF) can significantly reduce the computational needs

of Hyperspectral Image Processing.

A Rank Order Filter is implemented in a programmable “Winner Takes All” (WTA)

structure, which allows the control of the voltage level to be measured from the sensors output signals. This provides the advantage of selecting a desired level such as the maxima, median or minima, to limit our analysis and develop a range for a specific value. This is useful to filter a specific material which outputs a constant voltage from the sensor. A basic three input WTA Integrated Circuit (IC)

design in 0.60 um CMOS technology is fabricated for testing purposes. Several prototypes will be daisy-chained to later expand their programmability.

Rios, Miguel, UPR-MAYAGUEZ

[Engineering 26]

Improving Undergraduate Design Experience: Effective Integration of Software, Hardware and Renewable Energy Projects

Integration of software and hardware projects is a common task in the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) field. While students are getting applying the knowledge acquired in undergraduate courses, they could be instructed by their advisors to work in a design project involving one or two main topics depending


on their specialization: Software Development/Engineering and/or Hardware Design. The difficulty of these kinds of projects is increased when students have to work with both, software and hardware elements. In these cases, students need to focus in those components and also in the connection of them, which could be limited, complicated, inefficient and time-consuming.

This work intends to explain an effective way to reduce the time, efficiency and complexity of the connection of software and hardware components in Computer Engineering design projects. It is the integration and merging of CE projects using web services and external application programming interfaces (API). Two cases involving hardware and software tasks where evaluated: a web-based monitor for photovoltaic applications (PV Monitor) and a configurable wireless notifying system (openAmbient). PVMonitor consists on a hardware module that retrieves data from solar panels and a web application that receives the information and interprets it. In the other side, openAmbient is composed by a Bluetooth-enabled module with a screen and a light that turns on when it receives email, calendars and other configurable notifications from an application installed in a computer. Both projects were created by connecting components that were individually developed: a software application and a microcontroller- based circuit. Those elements were interfaced using a communication module, web services and external APIs to complete the main projects.

The advantages that were seen using this approach include an easier separation of tasks and individual effort, an effective integration of the developed modules and a feasible way of expansion, which leads to the students to complete their hardware and software tasks and then to collaborate with each other to produce larger and productive projects.

Rivera, Jemilly, UIA-BAYAMON

[Engineering 27]

Renewable Energy

Earth needs us to find other ways to get energy these days. Renewable energy should be that way. This investigation is about using a natural source in order to get that energy. In this case, we are using the sea water and its movements. Our goal is to create a model which can help us to use the waves and turn them into energy by making them move an object. Since the information available about the waves is too little, we are using some sensors that will help us measure the movements so that we can use that information and use it to work in our model and use it properly so we can get the most out of this investigation. Still, this is an ongoing investigation and we have a lot of work ahead of us, but at the end, it will all be worth it.


Rivera, Jose, UPR-MAYAGUEZ; Quiles Guzman, Marcelo, Electrical Engineering, UPR Mayaguez; Ducoudray, Gladys, Electrical Engineering, UPR Mayaguez; Ramirez-Angulo, Jaime, NMSU

[Engineering 28]

Class AB Floating Gate OTA Module for DAC Implementation

This research proposes the design of a Class AB Operational Transconductance Amplifiers (OTA) using floating gates to reduce current offsets, low voltage supply and obtain a higher slew rate. This OTA would be use as a module to develop a programmable offset null Digital to Analog Converter (DAC). The OTA module used as a buffer configuration will held the single ended low impedance output current from the current mirror module and transfer it to the desired high impedance output. The function of this module is to avoid overload on single ended output of the current mirror module when connected to other electronic applications. Current offset removal of the OTA modules would be done by trimming the differential input pair, using floating gate transistors programmability to eliminate the offset, then the OTA operate in normal operation mode and various DC sweeps are performed. This OTA would be designed, simulated, layout, fabricated and tested as a Integrated Circuit design using 0.60 um CMOS technology. Characterization will be done internally using a Prober and to characterize parasitic capacitances endured by packaging, the packaged CHIP will be tested using an Automated Test Equipment. Experimental results will be provided.

Rivera, Roberto, UPR-MAYAGUEZ; Carrasquillo, Ronald, Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez, PR; Martínez, Yarymar, Department of Industrial Engineering, University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez, PR; Adelakin, Tunde Kingsley, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez, PR, Suárez, Oscar Marcelo, Department of Engineering Science & Materials, University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez

[Engineering 29]

Comparative Tribological Study of Aluminum-Tin Bearing Alloys Containing Silicon or Boron

Al-Sn-Si alloys are the current choice for lightweight bearings. The recent design and manufacturing of Al/AlB 2 composites prompted the feasibility of using this new material as a replacement of Al-Sn-based alloys. To improve wear behavior in bearings, centrifugally cast aluminum-boron composites have been alloyed


with tin, and the resulting mechanical properties of the material have been compared with those of similarly cast Al-Sn-Si alloys. This study analyzes the effect of chemical composition, namely B and Si levels, and the casting parameters on the wear behavior of both materials. The measured response variables are then correlated to the expected applications of the proposed material: microhardness, surface hardness and wear response (wear track produced by a pin-on-disk apparatus). Results demonstrate substantial increments in hardness and wear resistance, which points to an apparent superiority of the studied boron-based composites over the commonly used silicon-based bearing alloys. This research is funded by Sigma Xi Grants-in-Aid program and NSF through Award Nº DMR 0351449 (PREM Program).

Rodriguez, Cristina, UPR-MAYAGUEZ; Perales, Oscar, Department of Engineering Science and Materials, University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez; Mazuera, David, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez

[Engineering 30]

Effect of Processing Techniques on Thermo-Mechanical Behavior of Polyimide Films

Polyimide (PI) is a high-strength polymer which thermal stability and thermo mechanical properties can be tuned by suitable control of its processing conditions. This study addresses the dependence of structural and mechanical properties of PI films with variable curing cycles. X-ray diffraction and Fourier Transform-Infrared spectroscopy confirmed the development of the polyimide structure. Thermo-gravimetric analysis was used to investigate the thermal stability and stability against thermal degradation of produced PI films. The temperature of degradation was determined by heating the polymer at 5°C/min from room temperature up to 600°C, whereas the thermal stability was evaluated at 400°C. The PI films experienced a degradation temperature of 550°C while the PI films remained stable. Dynamic mechanical analysis was used to determine the tan δ value, also called the tangent of the phase lag, and the storage (elastic) modulus M’ as a function of temperature at 1 Hz and 10 Hz. These measurements were also used to estimate the glass transition temperature of the films. It was found that the number and conditions of the curing cycles strongly influence the mechanical properties of PI films. It was also found that the formation of the polymer under homogenizing conditions caused a change in the corresponding degradation temperature of the film.


Rodriguez, Christie, UPR-MAYAGUEZ; Perales, Oscar, Material Sciences and Engineering; Asmat, Martin, Physics

[Engineering 31]

Size control Synthesis of ZnO Nanoparticles

At the nanoscale, crystalfinal size is a crucial factor because it will determine material properties; in other words, properties will vary in conjunction with size variation. The objective of this work was to control the size of nanoparticles of ZnO as an attempt to tune the corresponding optical properties. For this purpose, ZnO was synthesized in ethanol solution at different temperatures in the room temperature-60ºC range. Produced samples were characterized by X-ray diffraction and UV-Visible spesctroscopy. Also, the variation in band gap energies with average crystallite size was estimated. Our results confirmed the

increase in crystallite size by rising the synthesis temperature. ZnO nanocrystals

of different sizes will be doped with Nickel and Cobalt achieve ferromagnetism at

the nanoscale.

Sandoval, Roger, TURABO UNIV; Donato, Yessenia, Industrial Engineering, Turabo University; Mendez, Carmen, Industrial Engineering, Turabo University; Loushine, T.W., University of Minnesota

[Engineering 32]

Educating Safety Engineers to Meet Industry-Specific Needs

Industries require specific knowledge and expertise from their Safety Engineering Professionals. Educating Safety Engineers as part of the Industrial Engineering undergraduate curriculum can be a major challenge due to the limited number of classes where safety concepts are included and the wide complexity of techniques and regulations specific per industry. These complexities are often outlined in a classroom but can be difficult to address fully in an effective, cost- and time-efficient manner.

A multi-phase study is currently underway at the University of Turabo, Gurabo,

PR. The study aims to identify the strategies used to train safety engineers today, the level of knowledge and expertise that different industries require from their safety professionals, and how any knowledge-gap is being bridged in practice by different means (such as practitioner’s journals and continued education courses). The goal of the study is to identify a practical strategy to ensure that graduating safety engineers are ready to meet the challenges of industry and their knowledge and expertise stays current on all areas of practice, research, and regulations.


Santiago, Paulette, UPR-MAYAGUEZ; Estevez, Antonio, Chemical Engineering, University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez Campus

[Engineering 33]

Biodiesel Production Proposal Using Supercritical Methanol and Fryer Grease

This article is a literature review on biodiesel production and determination of the best procedure to manufacture it based on several scientists’ reports. A substitute to petroleum derived diesel has been sought after as a way to discontinue or diminish to our dependency on this crude oil. An alternative has been achieved thanks to Rudolph Diesel since the 1800’s

The difficulty on its implementation is its production cost. The cost primarily comes in large part from the triglycerides source. The sources of triglycerides are different types of pure oil, price ranging about 5 dollars per gallon.

A useful solution to this problem is the use of fryer grease. Fryer grease

containing 5-6 wt% of free fatty acids is comparable to the other types of oil which are 8.4 wt% and an obvious cost relief.

The other aspect of the production to be varied is the process; the best technique found was the one using methanol as a supercritical fluid instead of the need of a catalyst. The process consists of a first hydrolysis reaction preceding the second and final esterification reaction.

Santiago-Torres, Juan E., UPR-MAYAGUEZ; Torres-Lugo, Madeline PhD, Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Puerto Rico - Mayagüez

[Engineering 34]

Protein Crystallization with Neutral Hydrogels Providing Conditions for Counter- Diffusion

Protein crystallization is of much interest due to its importance in describing and understanding a protein as it provides required crystals to perform analytical techniques such as X-ray Diffraction. Improvements in crystallization methods have provided the environment to crystallize some proteins. Counter-diffusion of

a precipitating agent has been achieved by suppressing convection and

sedimentation by employing common polymers such as agarose. However, such polymers do not provide the means to control the diffusion coefficient of the precipitating agent. This work focuses on the examination of the effects of poly(ethylene glycol) based morphologies on the crystallization of lysozyme. Its


main goal is proving that controlling the precipitating agent diffusion coefficient provides a mass transfer profile needed for a better crystallization. Crystallization of lysozyme was achieved utilizing the counter-diffusion method by employing the Granada Crystallization Box (GCB). The precipitating agent was NaCl with acetic acid/sodium acetate buffer at 3.5M and pH of 4.6, respectively, and lysozyme concentration was kept at 40mg/mL. The crystals’ growth was studied by varying the morphologies of poly(ethylene glycol) monomethyl ether monomethacrylate (PEGMA) and poly(ethylene glycol) dimethacrylate (PEGDMA). PEGMA (monomer) with MWs of 200, 400, and 1000 g/mol and PEGDMA (cross-linker) of 400 and 1000 g/mol were used. These polymers were synthesized by free radical solution bulk polymerization. The polymer morphologies were modified by varying the monomer and cross-linker ratio. Results indicated that all morphologies were capable of producing crystals. The resulting crystals were examined by X-ray Diffraction. Crystallographic results indicated that crystals obtained in the GCB are of lysozyme and that PEG 1000/1000 crystals had an average mosaicity of 0.227 degrees. These results indicate that cross-linked hydrogel matrices have the potential to provide diffusion controlled environments for crystallization. This study will be repeated using other proteins and, as long term goal, proteins that have never being crystallized.

Soto, Yahaira, UPR-MAYAGUEZ; Aviles, Sully Mar, Chemical Engineering Department, UPR-RUM; Carreras, Gretselle, Chemical Engineering Department, UPR-RUM; Suleiman, David, Chemical Engineering Department, UPR- Mayaguez

[Engineering 35]


Nanostructured Ionomers





This investigation studied the resulting nanostructure of ionic membranes composed of sulfonated copolymers with thermoplastic and elastomeric blocks. Linear poly(styrene-isobutylene-styrene) (SIBS) of different molecular weight and polystyrene (PS) weight fraction were sulfonated to various levels of ion exchange capacity (IEC) and selectivity. The sulfonation level of the polymer was controlled with the stoichiometric amount of the sulfonating agent and with prior understanding of the reaction kinetics. The percentage sulfonation was obtained using Elemental Analysis (EA). The resulting membranes were then characterized with several techniques including: thermogravimetric analysis (TGA), dynamic mechanical analysis (DMA) and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR). These techniques provided physical, thermal and mechanical properties of the membranes, which allowed us to compare the


resulting morphologies and selectivities. This is turn allowed us to have a better understanding of their structure-property relationship.

Environmental Sciences

Alicea, Vivianette, UPR-ARECIBO; Romero, Maylisa, Department of Physics and Chemistry, UPR-Arecibo; Ramos, Maiella L., Department of Physics and Chemistry, UPR-Arecibo; Arbelo, Jose G., Department of Biology, UPR-Arecibo

[Enviromental Sciences 1]

Sorption of Lead From Aqueous Solutions by Nasturtium Officinale

There has been a strong interest in the use of aquatic plants as a potentially useful group for pollutant uptake and biological indicators of heavy metals in aquatic systems. Nasturtium officinale (watercress) is a promising candidate for metal removal. It is well known that heavy metals can not be degraded like most organic compounds. Lead (Pb) is an environmental toxic metal and its accumulation seems to be a significant problem in water systems, human and animal life. In a previous work we quantified the uptake of lead and chromium by Nasturtium officinale from natural waters in the Central Region of Puerto Rico. In this study we investigated the uptake of Pb by Nasturtium officinale after being treated with different concentrations of the ions individually in separate containers Plant samples were digested using a microwave laboratory oven (CEM MARS X). Analysis was performed by means of a flame-graphite furnace atomic absorption spectrometer (PE AAnalyst 800). Results indicated that Nasturtium officinale bioaccumulated elevated concentrations of lead in its tissue. Lead concentration levels were higher in the plant tissue than the levels found in the water. Bioconcentration factors of Nasturtium officinale resulting from exposures to metal containing water were 10 2 times higher with respect to lead concentrations in water. Removal percentages indicate that there was apparently no difference between the initial concentration of the solution and the metal uptake by the plant. The presence of total and fecal coliform bacteria will also be studied in the aquatic plant. The results of this study can provide the basis for understanding the bioaccumulation and phytoremediation capabilities of Nasturtium officinale for environmental cleanup purposes.


Almodóvar, Laura, UPR-MAYAGUEZ; Díaz, Elba, Biology Department, University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus; Valentín, Alexis, Biology Department, University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus; Massol, Arturo, Biology Department, University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus

[Enviromental Sciences 2]

Heavy Metal Removal in Wastewater Treatment Plants in Mayagüez and Adjuntas

The role of activated sludge in the removal of heavy metals in wastewater treatment plants of geographically distant units is yet to be fully understood. Heavy metals are key components of wastes and their composition and concentration varies from one location to another thus impacting the microbial community composition of the sludge. In this study we measured during six consecutives months the removal efficiency of copper, lead, chromium and cadmium in two water treatment plants in Puerto Rico (Mayagüez and Adjuntas). Samples were collected from the affluent and effluent pipelines, activated sludge from the recirculation unit, the aerobic chamber and the anaerobic unit. Sludge samples were analyzed using general acid digestion with HNO 3 and HCl. Metals were extracted with HNO 3 in the water samples . Samples were analyzed using atomic absorption spectroscopy. Preliminary results show that both wastewater treatment plants removed metals. Removal of cadmium was observed in both plants. Mayagüez showed significant removal in October through December and showed removal levels of 52%-100%. Adjuntas showed cadmium removal every month except in November and January with 59% to 100%. Significant removal of copper was only observed in Adjuntas. The removal efficiency ranged from 30%-67%. The removal of these metals indicates a significant contribution of the microbial biomass in the wastewater treatment process. Future plans include comparing removal in both plants, a study of the temporal variation and sludge samples analysis. Understanding the responsible microbial groups could help with modeling and optimization of wastewater metal removal in this important biotechnological application.

Alvarez, Derry, UIA-BAYAMON; Ruiz, Oscar N., Natural Science, Inter American University of Puerto Rico

[Enviromental Sciences 3]

Development of a Tobacco Plastid Genome Transformation Vector

Chloroplast genome transformation is a viable and advantageous technique for genetic engineering. High expression of the transgene, containment of the genes inside the plastid genome, and site specific integration of the transgene is some of the advantages of this technique. Current cloning vectors need to be optimized


in order to improve the transcription and the translation of the transgene. Development of the vector in our laboratory will reduce costs and the amounts of time require to develop a transgenic plant. To address this situation, we propose to create a cloning vector capable of increasing the transcription and translation rates, also capable of homologous recombination of the transgene into the chloroplast genome, exploiting the high expression rate of plastids. The main aim is to develop our transgenic chloroplast cloning vector to transform genes of interest into chloroplast genome.

Angel, Luisa, UPR-CAYEY; Alexandra Cid Aponte, Biologia/UPR-Cayey; Valerie López Carrasquillo, Biologia/UPR-Cayey; Jorge Roldan Carrasquillo, Biologia/UPR-Cayey, Janice Ramírez Santiago, Biologia/UPR-Cayey; Adriana B. Rivera Renta, Biologia/UPR-Cayey; Dra. Belinda Román Avilés, Biologia/UPR- Cayey

[Enviromental Sciences 4]

Survey Terrestrial Mollusk Diversity at the UPR-Cayey Secondary Forest

Invertebrate species play a central role in the survival or maintenance of most ecosystems. A survey to study the diversity of mollusks in the UPR-Cayey Secondary Forest, was carried out during the rainy season. A total of twenty- seven Mollusks belonging to thirteen families were found and positively identified. A large diversity of Mollusks were identified which contribute to the forest ecology wealth. Mollusks are considered excellent ecological indicators of a forest ecosystems overall health.

Aponte, Deylen, UPR-CAYEY; Barbara Demming-Adams, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology; Matthew R. Dumlao, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

[Enviromental Sciences 5]

Effect of Cold Temperature on Vein Density and Photosynthetic Capacity in Winter and Summer Squash

Continuous increases in the requirements for food, materials, and energy in a world with a rapidly rising human population create a need to increase crop productivity. However, it is currently not well understood what factors are limiting plant productivity. It had recently been suggested that plant species that load sugars into the phloem veins (that transport these sugars to the rest of the plant) through holes in the cell wall (symplastically) may not be able to be productive at cool temperatures. Symplastic loaders transport large sugars with a high viscosity that may increase even further in the cold and thereby slow down sugar export. To test this assumption, I grew two symplastic loaders, summer and winter squash, at warm versus cool temperatures in growth chambers to


measure the density of the sugar-loading veins as well as leaf photosynthetic capacity from plants grown at the two temperatures. While these transfers are still in progress, preliminary data from another symplastic loader, Verbascum phoeniceum, show an increase in loading vein density as well as an increase in photosynthetic capacity in the plants grown at cool temperatures. This should compensate for any slow-down in phloem transport due increased viscosity. In conclusion, the previous assumption that all symplastic loaders perform poorly at cool temperatures is not correct, and it remains to be seen whether or not summer and/or winter squash show the same trend.

Aulet, Bianca, UPR-AGUADILLA; UPR-Aguadilla

[Enviromental Sciences 6]

Rosado-Torres, Marco, Ciencias Naturales,

Relationship Between Temperature, Salinity, Oxygen Concentrations and Light Attenuation Coefficient in the Caño Madre Vieja, Aguadilla

Several physicochemical parameters and their relationship with contrast attenuation coefficient (kd + c) were studied in the pipe Madre Vieja, located in Columbus Park in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. Water samples were collected at four different stations of the water body during October 2007, April 2008 and October 2008 with the purpose to determine the concentration of ammonium, nitrate and phosphate in different regions of the estuary and the possibility that these parameters fluctuate seasonally. Also was measured: salinity, temperature and dissolved oxygen concentrations in each of the stations studied. The results obtained in the different stations are within the values reported in the literature for similar coastal environments. It was noted that the physicochemical parameters depend on rainfall and wave activity in the west area of Puerto Rico. In the October 2008 sampling was calculated the attenuation coefficient of contrast using Secchi disk measures. No significant differences were observed in the attenuation coefficient of contrast in the stations considered in this work.

Benítez, Isabel, UIA-METROPOLITANO; Metropolitano

[Enviromental Sciences 7]

Dr. Freddy R. Medina, Biology, UIA

Biological Activity of Pyrethroid Impregnated Paint Upon Daphnia Magna

Dengue virus is transmitted by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. Reducing the contact with mosquitoes will diminish transmission of the disease. Our aim is to develop a method to repel and/or kill the mosquito vector. We did a preliminary screening of chemicals and then carried out a definitive evaluation of a pyrethroid


impregnated in a paint. At this time, we are assessing the impact effect in the environment. Some of our laboratory partners evaluated the effects upon dicotyledonous and monocotyledonous plants. Others evaluated the effect upon

the mosquitoes themselves. Our aim is to evaluate the effects of the pyrethroid impregnated paint upon Daphnia magna, a small, planktonic crustacean used as

a model to assess the toxicological effects on the environment. Data will be

shown to demonstrate the effects of these pyrethroids upon the environment.

Bonet, Joshua, UPR-RIO PIEDRAS; Yu, Mei, Plant Ecology, UPR-Rio Piedras; Ramirez, Alonso, Ecology, UPR - Rio Piedras

[Enviromental Sciences 8]

Spatial-Temporal Variation of Water Consumption in Puerto Rico

Conflicts between land use/land cover change, population growth, human

consumption and nature consumption can cause water resource tension in Puerto Rico’s watersheds. In this study, a large array of chronological data will be collected, concerning watersheds and their association with environmental impacts and water resources. Using statistical analysis and spatial modeling, all

of the data collected will be correlated to detect the relationships between water

consumption and watershed degradation. The temporal range for this research will be from 1945 to 2007. Missing values will be replaced by those between the specific dates or by their average values. There are few spatial studies that correlate statistical analysis and watershed hydrology; hence this study can be used to evaluate future consequences in watershed degradation. Therefore, this new approach with mathematical techniques and geographic systems will emphasize the importance to control the water use in Puerto Rico.

o Hypothesis 1:

The increase of human population will cause an increment in water consumption, thus decreasing significantly the water resources distributed in the main watersheds of Puerto Rico.

o Hypothesis 2:

The intense irrigation since the 1940s had a stronger effect of water use than current urban and reforested land cover.


Bosch, Agnes, TURABO UNIV; José R. Pérez Jiménez, Instituto de Investigación Interdisciplinaria, Universidad del Turabo

[Enviromental Sciences 9]

Diversity and Abundance of Sulfate-Reducing Bacteria in Hypersaline Microbial Mats in Cabo Rojo Puerto Rico

We are interested in understand the distribution, richness and endemicity of sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB) across layers of mats during rainy and dry seasons from two lagoons, Candelaria and Fraternidad in a Neotropical environment . Samples were collected in November 2007 and April 2008 from the hypersaline waters in Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico. We isolated each layer of the samples and extract its DNA for polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification of the dissimilatory sulfite reductase gene (dsrAB) and terminal restriction fragment length polymorphisms (TRFLP) analysis of their NdeII digests.

In the developing mat during the rainy season the top layer comprised a community of 57 TRFs, the mid layer 66 TRFs and the bottom layer 57 TRFs. In the more mature mat during the rainy season the top layer comprised a community of 44 TRFs, the mid layer 46 TRFs, the bottom layer 55 TRFs and during the dry season the top layer 95 TRFs, mid layer 63 TRFs and the bottom layer 53 TRFs. As for the younger mat , it show a proportional sulfidogenic community through all the layers, this may be because it is a developing mat and pass through marked seasonal changes, during rainy season is under water meanwhile in dry season is completely dry. The more mature mat show a marked abundance of sulfidogenic community in the bottom layer of the mat during the rainy season and in the upper layer during the dry season. It is relevant to know that this mat is under hypersaline waters during both seasons. It may suggest that sulfate-reducing bacteria swim up in the mat during the rainy season and get trapped inside eukaryotic-photosynthetic assemblages in the upper layer or express protective mechanisms against oxygen. Further investigations are being carrying out through sequencing and phylogenetic analysis to identify sulfate-reducing bacteria richness and possible endemicity.


Claudio, Jennifer, PCUPR; Asencio, Carmen, Biology; Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico; Jaimán, Rosa, General Sciences; Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico; Torres, Karylsa, General Siences; Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico

[Enviromental Sciences 10]

A New Subspecies of Dryas iulia (Lepidoptera: Rhopalocera: Heliconiidae) in Puerto Rico?

Butterflies are nature’s indicator of a geographic area’s health, hence our interest in knowing more about the function of butterflies in nature. The butterfly we are interested in, Dryas iulia, is a butterfly species distributed throughout the Continental Neotropics, South Florida and the West Indies. Only in the West Indies there are 12 subspecies and Puerto Rico has one of them, Dryas iulia iulia. However, recently, one new form of this subspecies has been found in the island. Previous work made with the new form demonstrated that the differences on the wing pattern were not related to seasonality nor feeding behavior. Therefore, we are interested in knowing if these changes are just phenotypic forms or if we have a subspecies not recorded. Consequently, a DNA extraction from both phenotypes of the Dryas iulia butterfly was performed using the DNEASY Blood and Tissue Kit of Qiagen. In order to determine if in Puerto Rico there is more than one subspecies of this particular butterfly, with this product, we will proceed to amplify and further analyze the sample.

Colon, Johanna, UPR-RIO PIEDRAS; Restrepo, Carla, Environmental Sciences Department, UPR Rio Piedras

[Enviromental Sciences 11]

Socioeconomic, Land-Use and Land-Cover Change as Drivers of Water Quality Regimen Shifts in the Río Grande de Arecibo Watershed

Human societies have significantly impacted freshwater ecosystems through a variety of activities that include withdrawal of water for consumption and irrigation, and construction of channels, dams, and reservoirs for flood control and water storage. One consequence of these activities has been regime shifts whereby freshwater ecosystems have moved from a state characterized by pristine condition to a state where water quality and quantity have been dramatically changed. Changes in demography, socioeconomic activities, and land use/land cover can trigger these regimen shifts. The main objective of this research is to explore regimen shifts in Río Grande de Arecibo watershed at Puerto Rico by focusing on land use/land cover and socioeconomic changes in their likely impact on water quality. First we will develop a model that describes the relationship between water quality and land use/ land cover and


socioeconomic variables for sub-watersheds for which data exists. Second we will use the model to predict water quality in sub-watersheds for which data on land use/ land cover and socioeconomic but not water quality data exists. This will allow us to examine changes in water quality throughout the watershed both in space and time, and therefore identify regime shifts.

Curbelo, Jean Carlos, UPR-RIO PIEDRAS

[Enviromental Sciences 12]

Breeding Systems and Pollinators of Mammilaria Nivosa Species on Mona Island Reserve

Breeding systems of plants are affected by habitat structure factors, pollinators and competitive invasive species. Habitat structures vary from geographical territories. This study compares insular oceanic island territories vegetation and their habitat structure to large continental territories. Some features of oceanic insular islands are lack of pollinators, great occurrence of wind pollination and great changes due to invasive species, opposite to continental territories. To observe breeding systems and the effects of invasive species in an insular oceanic island studies of the cactus Mammilaria nivosa, a native species of the Mona Island Reserve in Puerto Rico, were performed. Reproductive conduct and how it is affected by the invasive African grass, Megathyrsus maximum, were studied. Series of reproductive test as artificial pollination have been made to establish breeding systems, as well audiovisual observation recording to monitor plant-animal interaction and possible animal pollinators.

Monitoring of fruit, flower and individual production was conducted throughtout invaded and non invaded areas of Megathyrsus maximus.

Research was conducted through a three month period time spand with sampling being taken once a month, and current sampling still being taken. This investigation will contribute to the knowledge of the evolution of breeding systems in insular plants. It will provide information relevant to the conservation and management of tropical cacti species in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean many of them threatened by habitat transformation and invasive species.


De Jesus, Rigoberto, UPR-MAYAGUEZ; Rosso Gonzalez, Diego J

[Enviromental Sciences 13]

Analysis of the Chemical and Physical Interactions of Polymeric Micro and Nanostructures with Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products

A challenge in the sewage treatment facilities in Puerto Rico is the difficulty of removing pharmaceuticals and personal care products, an emerging class of environmental pollutants that present a potential risk to public health. Actual techniques used in sewage treatment facilities do not remove these pollutants from the water, meaning that the eluent destined to be re-used have traces of these compounds that are ingested by people. In this experiment we proposed the used of High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) to identify and quantify PPCP’s diluted in water, and use polymers to sequestrate these compounds. The studied PPCP’s were exposed during a period of 3 day to Polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) matrix and 1 day to a Polystyrene matrix. In the case of PDMS, around 45% of the analytes were sequestrated from the water, and for the Polystyrene exposure, around 60% of the analytes were removed from the water. Results show that aldehyde terminated polystyrene prove to be most effective removing the analytes from water.

Feliciano, Augusto, UPR-MAYAGUEZ; Alamo-Nole, Luis, Chemsitry, UPRM; Perales-Perez, Oscar, Engeniering Science & Materials, UPRM

[Enviromental Sciences 14]

Sorption Study of Toluene onto Crumb Rubber

Waste tires crumb rubber was used to remove toluene from aqueous solutions at room temperature. Concentrations of toluene were quantified by GC-MS. Sorption process was investigated using 5.0 g/L of crumb rubber mesh 14-20 at pH 6.0. Sorption process onto crumb rubber was a mixture of two different processes: adsorption onto carbon black and absorption into rubber material. Scatchard plots were used to evaluate both processes. The removal efficiency was dependent on toluene concentration. Up to 70% of toluene was removed from starting 30 ppm solution.


Garcia, Cesar I., UPR-HUMACAO; Hernández, Emily N., Engineering, UPR- Humacao; Santiago, Ana I., Engineering, UPR-Humacao; Rodríguez, Edward, Engineering, UPR-Mayaguez, Machín, Nellissa, Biology, UPR-Humacao

[Enviromental Sciences 15]

Energía Renovable desde los vertederos de Puerto Rico

The first part of the project consisted on informing the residents nearby the landfill in Humacao about the problem that represents the great amount of garbage arriving there and the fact that is no program implanted to take advantage of the products coming from the trash for the production of eco- cement. For this purpose the use of a Power Point presentation titled Cement production and waste management was needed. Next we make a wide search to find solutions to this problem. The most imminent problem is the release of the landfill gas to the air without receiving any benefits like being use for electricity generators, or as rough material in other processes. This problem is being treated around the world and is necessary that in Puerto Rico an action plan must be set in motion to solve a problem that has the technology to be solved. Our job consisted on searching those solutions to be the bridge between the primary experimentation and the future development of this source of renewable energy. The following presentation is a pre-factuality study for the use of landfill gas as a source of energy to generate electricity. Most of the landfills in Puerto Rico burn the landfill gases before releasing them to the air, what will be done is to use them to generated electricity, based on the predictions of landfill gas emissions made in the UPRH with two mathematical models from the Environmental Protection Agency and data of population from government statistics.

Gomez, Ivonne, TURABO UNIV; Perez- Jimenez, Dr. Jose, Puerto Rico Institute for Microbial Ecology Research

[Enviromental Sciences 16]

Genetic Diversity of Arsenate Respiring Bacteria in Nature: a Way to Track Enviromental Risk

The diverse dissimilatory arsenate-respiring prokaryotes (DARP) derives energy from arsenate. Arsenate can replace phosphate groups in biomolecules, such as enzymes, proteins, and genes. Therefore, interfere with their natural functions and can accumulate within the food chain. Despite the limited biochemical understanding of the arsenate repiratory reductase bacteria, its gene (arrA) could be used as a biomarker to distinguish DARP because it have a enzyme catalyst of the ARR process encoded in the arrA gene. A molecular biomarker should be long enough and genetically persistent to register evolutionary changes suitable


for characterization. Our aim is to characterize DARP based on a large fragment of the arrA gene. Primers for nearly complete, and internal amplification of the arrA gene were designed and tested on genomic DNA from several DARP, and non-DARP. Resulting amplicons were cloned for sequencing and phylogenetic analysis. Several combinations of degenerate primers produced the nearly complete sequence of the arrA gene, encoding the ARR, has been acquired for Bacillus selenitireducens, Desulfitobacterium hafniense, Wolinella succinogenes, Bacillus arseniciselenatis, Chrysiogenes arsenatis, and Sulfurospirillum barnesii by protein analysis, genome sequence, or selective PCR amplification. A recent attempt to characterize arrA genes from the environment yielded amplicons of ~180 bp. We have designed a collection of primer for broader gene amplification and universal application among bacteria. We have sequenced nearly the complete arrA gene (~2.3 kb) for Desulfosporosinus sp. strain Y5, Bacillus macyae, Sulfurospirillum arsenophilum, and S. carboxydovorans. Designed primers had broad application across classes within the DARP. Long arrA amplicons were consistently generated from DARP. Long and genetically persistent arrA genes have registered evolutionary changes suitable for characterization. We continue examining the arrA gene from isolates and environmental samples to resolve their diversity and develop specific detection tools.

Gonzalez, Xiomara, UPR-RIO PIEDRAS; Ramirez, Alonso, Biology, Institute For Tropical Ecosystem Studies

[Enviromental Sciences 17]

Periphyton Response to Nutrient and Light Limitation in a Tropical Urban River, Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is a highly urbanized tropical island with 16% of its surface under urban land use. Most urbanization is concentrated in the San Juan metropolitan area (population density: 3,500 people/km2). We have limited information about how urban development impacts river ecosystems on the island. Therefore, the objectives of this study were to: 1) identify whether urban rivers are impacted by nutrient contamination, 2) determine which nutrient (e.g., phosphorus or nitrogen) is most limiting, and 3) assess the response of periphyton to contrasting nutrient and light levels. We selected the Río Piedras, in San Juan, as it is impacted by urban runoff and waste water from leaking pipes. Two reaches with contrasting canopy covers were chosen to assess light limitation on periphyton. Periphyton was characterized as chlorophyll-a and ash-free dry mass (AFDM) and nutrient limitation was assessed using nutrient diffusing substrates and alkaline phosphatase activity. We found high chlorophyll-a and AFDM levels, relative to non-urban rivers in Puerto Rico. Measures of nutrient limitation indicated phosphorus limitation, potentially due to high nitrate levels in the river. Overall, the Río Piedras is severely impacted by


urbanization and nutrient levels are impacting algal communities and increasing their biomass relative to non-urban rivers.

Hernandez, Bryan, UIA-METROPOLITANO; Sanchez, Josean, Natural Sciences, UIA Metro; Albizu, Angela, Natural Sciences, UIA Metro; Sanchez, Yuly, Natural Sciences, UIA Metro, Mejia, Daniel, Natural Sciences, UIA Metro; Garcia, Karla, Natural Sciences, UIA Metro

[Enviromental Sciences 18]

Study of the Microbial and Physical-Chemical Water Quality at Torguerro Lagoon, Vega Baja, P.R.

Tortuguero Lagoon Natural Reserve is a highly valuable ecological and hydrological resource located on the north coast of Puerto Rico, between the cities of Manatí and Vega Baja. This natural reserve is the only and largest coastal freshwater body in the Island; it extends for 2.43 km 2 . This system can hold about 707 millions gallons of water. Its biodiversity includes 717 plant types and 23 fish species, as well different species of reptiles, amphibians, and mollusks. Nevertheless, over the years this natural resource has been impacted by urban development and contaminants as result of human activities. The main goal of this study was to characterize the water quality near the fishery and recreational area of the lagoon. Five sampling stations were selected to measure temperature, pH, Dissolved Oxygen, and salinity. Also qualitative microbial test (Colilert ™) was conducted to identify the presence of total coliforms and Escherichia coli. The bacterial densities for total coliforms and fecal coliforms were determined using the Membrane Filtration technique. A total of 40 water samples were taken over a period three months and submitted to microbial tests. The average of the physical-chemical measures were temperature= 27.53 o C, pH = 8.10, OD = 5.8mg/l and salinity = .52 mg/l. The microbial analysis showed an average of 14CFU’s/100ml for total coliforms and 42CFU’s/100ml for fecal coliforms. The results suggest an acceptable water quality, according to the standards established for this type of natural resources. The study was sponsored with funds provided by PRLS-AMP, CECIA-IAUPR and USEPA.

Jaiman, Rosa, PCUPR; Asencio, Carmen, Biology, PUCPR; Claudio, Jennifer, Chemistry,PUCPR; Torres, Karylsa, General Science, PUCPR

[Enviromental Sciences 19]

Molecular Characterization of Dryas iulia iulia

Dryas iulia is a species of the family Heliconiidae, and 12 subspecies have been identified in the West Indies, based on differences in wing patterns. In Puerto


Rico the subspecies is Dryas iulia iulia . Recently, a new phenotype was found in Puerto Rico. We are trying to find out if the new phenotype is based on differences in the genes related to wings patterns. A DNA extraction was performed and mitochondrial genes cytochrome oxidasesubunit I (COI), cytochrome oxidasesubunit II (COII) were selected. Both genes are known to be informative about the relationship among tribes and subfamilies of butterflies. The nuclear genes selected were factor-1a (ef-1 a) apterous (ap), decapentaplegic (dpp) and wingless (wg). Nuclear genes are phylogenetically informative at deeper levels. Using these genes and their genetic differences we expect to find out the relationship between these two forms of butterflies.

Jaime, Xavier, UPR-HUMACAO; Cruz, Noelia, Dept. Biology, UPR-Humacao; Claudio, Leisha, Dept. Biology, UPR-Humacao

[Enviromental Sciences 20]

Seed Rain and Phenology in an Invasive Species Removal Experiment in Mona Island Reserve

As part of an experiment to test the effects of removal of an invasive species (Megathyrsus maximus) in cactus and other native plants populations in the Eastern coastal area of Mona Island, we collected seeds and plant parts in tray traps, located in the experimental plots. Monthly samples were separated (using sieves) and classified in the laboratory. With the exception of seeds that were counted and weighted, other plant parts were oven-dry (60 ºC) for biomass measurement. Our results show the seasonal variation of seed production, and biomass variation of plant parts (leaves, stems, and reproductive components) and their relationship to precipitation and other environmental and biotic factors.

Latorre, Luis, TURABO UNIV; Turabo University

[Enviromental Sciences 21]

Josè Pèrez-Jimènez, Science and Technology,

Characterization of Sulfate Reducing Bacteria Across Terrestrial Habitads in Neotropics

Sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB) are important decomposers of organic matter and mobilizers of minerals, including pollutants, while respiring sulfate in anoxic environments. Sulfate respiration uses the dissimilatory sulfite reductase, encoded by dsrAB genes, as ultimate catalyst. Several dsrAB-based methods have disclosed presence and distribution of SRB for marine and coastal ecosystems worldwide. The SRB prevalence remains unclear for terrestrial microniches in the Neotropics. We hypothesize that terrestrial ecosystems harbor


sulfidogenic communities scarce in their prevalence, diversity, and distribution. We aim to characterize sulfidogenic communities across terrestrial environments in the island of Puerto Rico. Terminal Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphisms (TRFLP) and clonal sequencing for the dsrAB gene have been conducted for soil samples collected from agricultural fields, mountains, caves, inland lagoons, and forests. A total of 343 phylotypes (richness) were detected across sites. Richness increased gradually from inland lagoon, cave, palma de sierra forest, elfin forest and agricultural site. Most of the phylotypes were found once per environment suggesting a highly endemic sulfidogenic community. Sequences retrieved from the few sites were diverse and related to various sulfidogenic genera (i.e., Desulfotomaculum, Desulfovibrio, and Desulfococcus) and environmental phylotypes (i.e. China, Guaymas Basin, Everglades, and France). Interestingly, minimal relatedness was observed to dsrAB genes retrieved from other environments in Puerto Rico (i.e., mangroves, and elfin forest). Additional analysis will describe distribution pattern according to sites previously study in Puerto Rico. The rich sulfidogenic communities in the Neotropics examined seems to develop from physical barriers across sites and adaptation to local conditions. This in-depth description of sulfidogenic communities will provide insights in the natural history, roles, and prevalence of sulfidogens within the Neotropics.

Lugo, Roberta, UPR-CAYEY; UPR Cayey

[Enviromental Sciences 22]

Roman Aviles, Belinda, Biology Department,

Study Basidiomycota Diversity in a Secondary Forest

Wherever forests flourish, fungi establish themselves as saprophytes that decompose wood, as mycorrhizal mutualists on roots, internal endophytes, epiphytic lichens, and parasites that attack living trees. The intricacy of fungal form, function, interaction, evolutionary history and geographic distribution has driven forest ecologists in many ways for many years. Our research focus on studying the diversity of Basidiomycota at the UPR-Cayey Secondary Forest. As part of our preliminary results we were able to identify five species of Basidiomycota, which could help us understand the Secondary Forest diversity and development. Research will continue during the January –May semester.



Institute of Ocean Sciences; Peters, Andrew, Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences







[Enviromental Sciences 23]

Estimates of Calcium Carbonate Dissolution Rates Under Elevated CO2 Conditions in Devil’s Hole, Bermuda

The oceans have absorbed a significant fraction of the fossil carbon released to the atmosphere from human activities. As a result, seawater pH and carbonate saturation state () have decreased and will continue to decrease owing to anthropogenic CO 2 emissions. These changes in ocean chemistry could result in increased dissolution of calcium carbonate minerals, sediments, structures and reefs. In the present study, carbonate sediment dissolution rates were estimated under elevated CO 2 conditions in Devil’s Hole, Bermuda. During summer, thermally induced density stratification and microbial remineralization of organic

matter in the subthermocline layer of Devil’s Hole produces pCO 2 levels similar or higher than those pCO 2 levels projected by the end of the 21 st century. Based on observed changes in total alkalinity (TA) and estimates of vertical flux of TA out of the subthermocline region, carbonate dissolution ranged from 0.23 to 0.93

mmol CaCO 3 m 2 h 1

in the summer of 2008. On an annual basis, this

corresponds to 201 to 815 g CaCO 3 m 2 year 1 , which is a significant fraction of the present day estimate of the average global coral reef calcification of 1,500 g

CaCO 3 m 2 year -1 .

Meléndez, Glorimar, UPR-CAYEY;

UPR-Rio Piedras; Maria-Eglee Perez, Department of Mathematics, UPR-Rio Piedras

Carla Restrepo, Department of Biology,

[Enviromental Sciences 24]

Analysis of Precipitation Time-series for the Rio Grande de Arecibo Watershed:

Implications for Watershed Management

Precipitation is one of the main components in the water cycle. Once it falls, it is redistributed within a watershed and a fraction of it will feed the streams. Therefore, understanding long-term precipitation trends is instrumental for the sustainable management of watersheds. Here we focus on the Rio Grande de Arecibo watershed, one of three key watersheds in the island of Puerto Rico, and examine long-term precipitation trends. Daily precipitation series for 16 stations within the watershed were obtained from NOAA’s National Climate Data Center. The daily precipitation data was added up to get monthly total precipitations and use as input in the statistical package R to generate monthly precipitations plots for each series. Stations varied greatly in terms of the mean total annual and


mean monthly precipitations, as well as maximum and minimum total monthly values. For example, monthly maximum total precipitations ranged between 400 and 1200 mm, with the lowest values for coastal stations and the highest for mountainous ones. Further analyses will be performed to examine long-term increases or decreases already revealed in a qualitative way by the plots.

Nieves, Janice, UPR-CAYEY; Ricart, Carlos, Biology, UPR Cayey; Román, Belinda, Biology, UPR Cayey

[Enviromental Sciences 25]

Preliminary Study of Fungi Basidiomycota in Las Casas de la Selva Forest Reserve

Las Casas de la Selva is a 409 hectare Tabonuco forest experimental enrichment project in Puerto Rico, was established in 1983. Located in steep slopes in old secondary Tabonuco forest in the mountains of south eastern Puerto Rico, the Las Casas de la Selva project has worked with a total systems approach for utilizing a rainforest environment for profit without diminishing ist species richness, biological diversity or total biomass. The forest elevation of 600 meters provides year round temperatures averaging 22 °C. The prevailing easterly winds delivering an average annual rainfall of 3 m, therefore the year round humidity is high. This study focuses on the biodiversity of fungi from the division basidiomycota in the Las Casas forest reserve. During the preliminary survey (september-november 2008) three species of basidiomycota were found and identified: Aurificaria luteo-umbrina (Rom.) Reid., Lycogalopsis solmsii, Hygrocybe sp., Hymenochaete damaecornis Link ex lev. However, the survey covered only 40% of the forest reserve area was covered. Future work will continue during the january-may 2009.

Otero, Beatriz, UPR-RIO PIEDRAS; Miguel A. Acevedo, School of Natural Resources and Environment, University of Florida; Mitchell Aide, Department of Biology University of Puerto Rico Rio Piedras Campus

[Enviromental Sciences 26]

The Effect of Land-Use History on the Recovery of Amphibians and Birds Communuties in Puerto Rico

The land-use history of a region can have a large effect on the diversity and composition of the fauna. Puerto Rico experienced a dramatic change in land- use during the last century with extreme deforestation (<10% forest cover) being reversed by forest recovery (>40% in 2000). Previous studies of plant


communities have shown that 60 year old secondary forest have similar structural characteristics (e.g. species richness, basal area, density) in comparison with relatively undisturbed forest, but they are very different in terms of species composition. In the present study, we will determine how amphibian and bird communities have responded to the recovery of new forests. To accomplish this we will compare the vegetation between mature and old secondary forests and we will document the amphibians and birds using automated recording devices.

Perez, Jansel, UIA-BAYAMON; Mari Ana Montalvan, Science Department; Jean Manuel Sandoval, Science Department

[Enviromental Sciences 27]

Additional Data on Bat Predation by Cats

Last year we provided data on bat predation by cats based primarily on wing remains obtained at the entrance to Culebrones Cave, Puerto Rico, West Indies. Culebrones Cave is a hot cave located in the karst region of northern Puerto Rico. The temperature gradient inside the cave sustains a multi-species assemblage of bats consisting of approximately 300,000 individuals of six species, namely: Brachyphylla cavernarum, Erophylla bombifrons, Monophyllus redmani, Mormoops blainvillii, Pteronotus quadridens and Pteronotus parnellii. Here we report additional observations on the predation on bats by feral cats. We filmed the hunting strategy of cats and recorded the number of wings left as remains of these hunting bouts. We also examined cat scats found at the entrance to the cave. Wing and bone remains were identified to species. It appears like bat captures are not a function of their potential prey abundance in the cave. While Mormoops blainvillii (11g) and Pteronotus quadridens (5g) are more commonly captured with a harp trap placed at the entrance to the cave, wing remains from Brachyphylla cavernarum (50g) and Monophyllus redmani (11g) were more commonly found. Cat scats showed a preponderance of bones from B. cavernarum and E. bombifrons. Remains from cockroaches represented the most common item in scats. Feral and domestic cats are known to adversely impact native faunas in the areas where they have been introduced. This impact is even greater on islands. Although rats are often their primary prey, cats will use alternative prey, which enables them to maintain their abundance when one prey is not available. In Puerto Rico, birds and reptiles are known to be preyed upon by cats. Although cats are commonly observed in or around bat caves in Puerto Rico, no systematic attempt had been previously made to evaluate their impact on bat populations.


Plata, Frances, PCUPR; Contreras, Georgina, Environmental Science, Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico; Molina-Colon, Sandra, Environmental Science, Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico

[Enviromental Sciences 28]

The Relation of the Aerodynamic Metals in a Highly Hit Area by Activities of Emission of 2.5 µm particles

Pm 2.5 µm particles are originated by natural and anthropogenic sources. These particles can travel great distances or can remain suspended in the atmosphere by several days. In epidemiology studies demonstrated an association between the emission and the respiratory diseases. One of these studies attempted to compile information about the amount of heavy metals in the air and the envelope the type of metals. We also have the objective to compare the quality of the air between the Rio Caña districts and Guayabal districts in the municipality of Juana Díaz. The period of the sample was six months. For taking the sample we used the equipment High Volume Sample model Anderson RAAS p.m. 2.5 single Filter Sample and Partisol- FRM Moder 200 2.5 P.m. Air Sampler. We collected the air sample in a period of 24 hours, the aspiration of air was 3.5 L/min. When the sample was taken, it was transferred to a teflon container. We added 6 ml of HNO3 Conc. and 4 ml of HF Conc. To begin the digestion process and later transfer the product to be analyzed in the ICP. The ICP was programated to read the wave length of eight metals: Cd, Cu, Mn, Zn, Be, Cr, Ni, and Se. The result statistically was analyzed and interpreted with a significance of in two tests: the t Test for Cu and Mann-Whitney U Test for the rest of the metals. The significance of each metal was greater than 0.05, that means that we acepted the null hypothesis: There’s no significant differences between the concentration of the metal (x) founded in the air in the distric Rio Cañas and the distric Guayabal.

Ramos, Anjuli, UPR-RIO PIEDRAS; Fernando Gonzáles, Department of Chemistry, University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus; Osvaldo Rosario, Department of Chemistry, University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus

[Enviromental Sciences 29]

A Novel Methodology to Determine the Presence of Β -N-Methylamino-L-Alanine Neurotoxin in Natural Waters

β-N-methylamino-L-alanine (BMAA) is a non-protein amino acid. This neurotoxin has been associated with the illness amyotrophic lateral sclerosis/parkinsonism- dementia complex (ALS/PDC) which has extremely high rates of incidence among the Chamorro people of Guam compared with incidence rates elsewhere. BMAA can be produced by all known groups of cyanobacteria and it bioaccumulates in


ascending trophic levels. This hypothesis gained attention when BMAA's presence was discovered in the brain tissues of the Chamorro people who died of ALS/PDC, but has not been found in patients that died of neurodegenerative diseases. Also BMAA was discovered in nine Canadian Alzheimer patient’s brain tissues; however it was not detected in other fourteen Canadians who died of causes unrelated to neurodegeneration. Because of this information it was suggested that cyanobacteria might be the ultimate source of the BMAA. The presence of cyanobacteria in natural waters opens the possibility of exposure to these toxins; therefore a practical analytical methodology for its detection in natural waters is needed. Methods based on Solid Phase Extraction/High Performance Liquid Chromatography/ Ultraviolet-Visible (SPE/HPLC/UV-VIS) and Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry (GC/MS) with direct derivatization in water are being developed. Derivatization with 2, 4, 6, -Trinitrobenzenesulfonic acid (TNBS) is necessary for the neurotoxin’s detection by UV/VIS. Different SPE disks and resins like SCX, Anion-SR and SDB-RPS were used to optimize the extraction and isolation. SCX resin gave the best recoveries in the range of 88%. Spikes of BMAA in natural waters at ppb levels can be detected in the universal mode and ppt in the single ion monitoring.

Rivera, Antonio Luis, UPR-CAYEY; Noel A. Cuevas López, Biologia/UPR- Cayey; José Efraín Berríos López, Biologia/UPR-Cayey; Belinda Roman Aviles, Biologia/UPR-Cayey

[Enviromental Sciences 30]

General Tree Inventory of ‘Verdes Sombras’ Park Located at the UPR-Cayey

Foresters use surveys to obtain information on the condition of the forest or park and monitor any changes, since there are not only surveys of standing trees, but also surveys after logging as well as forestry surveys aimed at prescribing treatments. Baseline abundance and distribution information on ‘Verdes Sombras’ Park plants are needed to track changes in plant populations. A total 459 trees were identified at the Verdes Sombras’s Park. Thirty-one species corresponding to 20 different families were clasified within the 459 trees. The two most dominant tree species were: Malaleuca (Melaleuca sp.) and María (Callophyllum calaba). The least dominant tree species were: Pino (Pinus caribaea), Tulipán Africano (Spathodea campanulata), Orquídea de pobre (Bauhina monandra), Mangó (Manguifera indica), Teca (Tectona grandis), Aceitillo (Zanthoxylum flavum), Pino Araucaria (Araucaria heterophylla), Casuarina (Casuarina sp.), Guayaba (Psidium guajava L), Higuera (Crescentia cujete L.), Algarrobo (Hymenaea courbaril), and Eucalipto (Eucalystus robusta).


Rodriguez, Bianca, UPR-RIO PIEDRAS; Ortiz-Zayas, Jorge R., Institute for Tropical Ecosystem Studies, University of Puerto Rico Rio Piedras

[Enviromental Sciences 31]

Biodegradability of Dissolved Organic Carbon in the Rio Piedras Watershed, Puerto Rico

Urbanization strongly impacts stream ecosystems and little information is known about how it affects DOC in rivers and how in turn this affects tropical rivers. The importance of DOC is that it is the basis of the food chain in many rivers. This project focuses on changes in DOC biodegradability along a tropical urban river in Puerto Rico. The Rio Piedras runs through the heart of the San Juan Metropolitan Area, making it susceptible to human impacts. The headwaters are less urbanized therefore surrounded by riparian forests whereas downstream, urbanization increases and riparian vegetation decreases. Water samples were collected at seven sites along the river during the months of June, November and January 2008. Samples were incubated for five days at 20 ºC and analyzed for BOD 5 . To measure the organic carbon (Particulate + Dissolved Organic Matter) quality, the biodegradability constant (k) was computed for each sample using the Thomas graphing method. Although the k constant seems to be elevated in the headwaters (1.809d -1 ; SD = 1.3172) and near the mouth (1.420 d -1 ; SD = 4.2879) and decreased in the middle (3.641 d -1 ; SD = 8.2969), after concluding a t-test these differences did not prove to be significant (p>0.05). This demonstrates that urban watersheds do not seem to portray patterns regarding biodegradability of organic carbon.

Rodríguez-Benítez, Josué, UPR-RIO PIEDRAS; Castro-Voltagio, Branda I., Environmental Science Program, Uiversity of Puerto Rico - Río Piedras; Meléndez-Oyola, Melissa, Environmental Science Program, University of Puerto Rico - Río Piedras

[Enviromental Sciences 32]

Integral Plan for Solid Waste Management in The Town of Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico

One of the main environmental issues affecting the world is due to poor solid waste management, which is causing the deterioration of the biological systems and social structures of the countries. In Puerto Rico, the practice of burying trash and an associated insignificant percent of recycling are the basic trends. The Rio Piedras town was chosen as the study area because it is representative of island wide trends. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the population of the town of Rio Piedras for 2000 was 9,320 persons. The aim of the study was to analyze the solid waste management system in Rio Piedras and the adequacy of


these management practices. This study considered storage at the point of generation, the composition of solid waste, an analysis of the routes, disposal, recycling and reduction mechanisms, and socio-demographic analysis.

It was observed that the wastes had higher percentage of food waste (34.1%), paper (18.6%), plastics (16.2%) and cardboard (10.5%), which showed that most of the wastes were recyclable materials, suggesting the need for the development of a plan which primary target is the integration of recycling practices and organic waste management. The present systems for the handling of solid wastes in Rio Piedras are relatively primitive, with a high percentage of recyclable materials being lost, inconsistency in the types of containers used for storage and inefficiency in the collection mechanisms. The collected data will produce a plan that is implementable and viable, resulting in better management of waste.

Román, Laura, UIA-BAYAMON; Dr. Oscar Ruiz, Ciencias Naturales y Matematicas, Universidad Interamericana de Puerto Rico, Recinto de Bayamon; Derry Alvarez, Ciencias Naturales y Matematicas, Universidad Interamericana de Puerto Rico, Recinto de Bayamon

[Enviromental Sciences 33]

Enhanced Expression of the accD Gene in Tobacco Plastids

The plastid accD gene encodes the -carboxyl transferase subunit of acetyl-CoA carboxylase. Current research has demonstrated that increased expression of accD gene enhances de novo fatty acid biosynthesis in plants. In this investigation we attempt to genetically modify the plastid of plants to hyper- express the accD gene with the goal of increasing fatty acids biosynthesis in the plastid. By producing enough fatty acids, we expect to overcome pleiotropic effects observed in transgenic plants expressing transgenes which divert fatty acids from the plastidic pool to the biosynthesis of novel products. The 1,539 bp accD gene was amplified from tobacco genomic DNA by Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) using primers specific to gene. The PCR product was cloned in frame to plastid transcriptional and translational enhancers, which should promote the over-expression of the accD transgene. The presence of the gene construct in the bacterial host was analyzed by PCR and restriction enzymes, and then the transgene was sequenced and aligned to the NCBI sequence using BLAST. The transgene construct was subsequently cloned into a plastid transformation vector, and this plasmid was transformed into tobacco plastids by particle bombardment. Transgenic plants are being analyzed at the molecular level for the correct integration and expression of the transgene, as well as for the enhancement in fatty acid biosynthesis. Our final goal is to use this plastid transformation vector to express transgenes that affect the plastid fatty acid pool in the chloroplast.


Sandoval, Jean, UIA-BAYAMON; Jansel Pérez Martínez, Biology, Inter American University of Puerto Rico, Bayamón Campus; Dr. Armando Rodríguez- Durán, Envirolmental Science, Inter American University of Puerto Rico, Bayamón Campus

[Enviromental Sciences 34]

Metabolic rate of Molossus molossus (chiroptera), in Puerto Rico

The bats of the family Molossidae range from the lower latitudes of the temperate zone to the tropics. In Puerto Rico the bat Molossus molossus shows a pattern of roost selection that differs from all other species on the Island. This bat roosts almost exclusively in attics and walls of houses. This selection of roost exposes M. molossus to highly variable temperature regimes. We used an oxygen and CO 2 analyzer to examine the change in balance of these gases as a result of the metabolic activity of the bats. This allows calculating the rate of energy expenditure. Bats were measured at different temperatures, from 15 0 C to 35 C, and different nutritional states. Basal metabolic rate (BMR) of this specie shows that around 25 0 C the bats were in a state of thermo neutrality. We did not find statistically significant differences in BMR based on the nutritional state of the bats.


Santiago, Iliana, TURABO UNIV; Ivonne Gomez-Milian, Universidad del Turabo; Jose Perez-Jimenez, Universidad del Turabo

[Enviromental Sciences 35]

Distribution of the Crenarchaeota Across Life Zones of the Tropical Rain Forest (El Yunque, Puerto Rico)

Crenarchaeota have been documented in mesophilic environments. We demonstrated their prevalence in the elfin forest of the Luquillo Experimental Forest (tropical rain forest El Yunque, Puerto Rico, USA) with predominance for June over December and 5-10 cm over topsoil. However, the rain forest present a gradient of climate and vegetation change that extends through five life zones (subtropical moist forest to lower montane rain forest): xerophytic forest, tabonuco forest (c. 200-600 m asl), colorado forest (600-900 m asl), elfin forest (900-1075 m asl), and palm forest (edaphic formation at all elevations). Our objective is to ascertain the richness and distribution of the crenarchaeal communities along microclimates throughout the elevation gradient of Tropical Rain Forest of El Yunque (Puerto Rico, USA). Total genomic DNA was extracted from archived soil samples collected in June 2005 with a depth of 5-10 cm. A specific portion of the 16S rDNA was amplified for terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism (16S rDNA-TRFLP) analysis of HhaI digests. A total of 1,239 TRFs were obtained from the thirty-four samples. No common TRF was


found for the five life zones. However, 113-bp was detected for all samples of the elfin and palm forest; and 243-bp for xerophytic and palm forests. Diversity increased with the elevation gradient: elfin forest is the most diverse with 1032 TRFs unlike Palo Colorado (just 9 TRFs). A clonal library was established from the elfin forest soil. Clones will be assigned to TRFs when completed in silico digests and double-stranded sequences assemblages. According to the Sorensen's similarity index, diversity appears to be driven by the microclimate of each forest since all sample clustered according to its life zone. Statistical analyses are in progress respect to selected physicochemical conditions. This suggests that the temperature and precipitation influence the crenarchaeal diversity across life zones in Tropical Rain Forest. By comparing microbial diversity along this gradient, we contribute to understand on general properties that underlie the dynamics of ecosystems.

Santos-Figueroa, Gilmarie, UPR-RIO PIEDRAS; Mayol-Bracero, Olga L., Chemistry, UPR-RIO PIEDRAS; Gioda, Adriana, Institute for Tropical Ecosystem Studies, UPR-RIO PIEDRAS

[Enviromental Sciences 36]

Size-Resolved Chemical Composition of African Dust Particles over the Caribbean: Focusing in the Carbonaceous Fraction.

Deserts in North Africa are the principal source of mineral dust at a global scale. This African dust (AD) particles are transported by the trade winds over vast areas of the North Atlantic, the Caribbean, and even the Amazon basin. In the Caribbean region, these AD particles arrived predominantly between May and August (summer months). To understand the effects of aerosols particles on climate and health we need a better understanding of the sources, chemical composition, size, and concentrations of the AD particles. In this work we focused on the size-resolved aerosol distribution with particular interest in the carbonaceous fraction (organic and elemental carbon (OC and EC) and water- soluble organic carbon (WSOC)), and on the water-soluble nitrogen (WSN). Aerosol samples were collected at Cape San Juan, a marine station located at the most northeastern tip of Puerto Rico, using a 13-stage Dekati low-pressure impactor with quartz filters. Analyses were performed using EC/OC, total organic carbon, and nitrogen analyzers, as well as ion chromatography. The presence of AD was supported with satellite images of aerosol optical thickness, results from the air masses backward trajectories calculated with the NOAA HYSPLIT model, and with the color of the filters after sampling. Results also showed that OC size distributions during the absence and presence of African seem to be trimodal, with one mode in the fine fraction (D p =~0.33 µm) and two modes in the coarse fraction. In the absence of dust, OC concentrations are higher than in the presence of dust. In general, OC is mainly fine with concentrations around 48


and 20 ng/m³ in the absence and presence of dust, respectively. Additional results regarding the water-soluble fractions and its sources will be presented.

Torres, Karylsa, PCUPR; Asencio, Carmen, Biology, PUCPR; Claudio, Jennifer E., Chemistry, PUCPR; Jaiman, Rosa J., General Science, PUCPR

[Enviromental Sciences 37]

Extraction of a Butterfly DNA

In Puerto Rico, Dryas iulia iulia is one of the three species of the Heliconiidae family of butterflies. A new wings pattern had been observed recently in this species. We are interested in knowing if those changes are just phenotypic forms or if we have a new subspecies not recorded. Therefore, a DNA extraction from both phenotypes of Dryas iulia butterflies was performed using the DNEASY Blood and Tissue Kit of Qiagen. Through electrophoresis and spectrophotometry we determined the optimal DNA concentrations and checked the purity of the genetic material. The next step to be performed would be amplifying, sequencencing cytochrome oxidasesubunit I (COI), cytochrome oxidasesubunit II (COII) and further analyzed the samples to determine if there is a new subspecies of Dryas iulia.

Vidal, Edmarie, UPR-ARECIBO; Rosado, Juan L., Biologia, UPR Arecibo

[Enviromental Sciences 38]

Comunidad de algas bénticas en el Río Grande de Arecibo en la región Norte Central de Puerto Rico

Este trabajo se realizó en las aguas del Río Grande de Arecibo localizado en la región Norte Central de Puerto Rico. El estudio es relevante ya que este cuerpo de agua es uno de los que provee para los usos de los residentes del área Norte y aún del área metropolitana de la Isla. El mismo estuvo dirigido a determinar la composición de la comunidad de las algas bénticas, su abundancia relacionándolo a algunos parámetros físico-químicos. La presencia de éstas puede asociarse a factores como la luz, substrato, nutrientes, hidrodinámica del sistema, presencia de herbívoros y química del agua. La presencia de las algas verdes filamentosas, tales como Cladophora y Spirogyra es indicativa de que estos sistemas presentan una carga considerable de nutrientes. El grupo con mayor número de especies fue el las diatomeas, siendo Achnanthes, Gomphonema, Navicula, Nitzschia y los géneros más abundantes.



Alonso, Carla, UPR-MAYAGUEZ; Rodríguez Lizzette, Geology, University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez

[Geosciences 1]

SO2 volcanic gas emissions from Soufrière Hills volcano, Montserrat:

comparison of mini-UV spectrometer data

Among the hazards posed by volcanic activity, we can mention lava flows, ash falls, and volcanic gas emissions, among others. It is very important to measure volcanic gas emissions, partly because these gases affect our atmosphere at different rates and also it is important to monitor them regularly to be able to find any abnormalities in the pattern of emission, especially in relation to changes in volcanic activity. In this project we worked with data from the Soufrière Hills volcano (SHV), Montserrat, specifically with sulfur dioxide (SO 2 ) gas emissions, which represent the third most abundant volcanic gas, after water vapor and carbon dioxide. The data were collected on March 26 and April 13 and 22, 2004, using a mini-ultraviolet (UV) spectrometer, and were compared with data from a second spectrometer, measuring side-by-side, as well as with SO 2 data collected by the Montserrat Volcano Observatory (MVO). Because of clear differences between the SO 2 column amounts (in ppm m), outputted from data processing, between the two spectrometers we followed to calculate a correction factor using the %Error between the ppm m values for the spectrometers. The correction factor for the spectrometer was calculated to be ~16.5%. SO 2 fluxes were calculated, compared, and corrected. The original SO 2 fluxes ranged between ~1098 to 1758 t/d on March 26, ~682 to 1142 t/d on April 13, and ~500 to 930 t/d on April 22, 2004. After the correction factor was applied, the SO 2 fluxes averaged ~1553 t/d for March 26, ~1073 for April 13, and ~879 for April 22. For the majority of the data, the corrected fluxes matched well with the results from the second spectrometer. A comparison with the MVO continuous gas data was also made, were the MVO daily SO 2 fluxes were much lower than our spectrometer’s. Studies like this one can serve as a basis for future projects related, for example, to changes in gas concentration with distance from the vent and to improving the parameters related in the calculation of SO 2 flux, like plume speed and plume geometry and dispersion with distance from the vent. Finding better ways to calculate the parameters used for flux calculation is useful in order to produce more accurate results and a better analysis of the plume.


Lopez, Christian, UPR-RIO PIEDRAS; Cortes, Angel, , Geography, University of Puerto Rico - Río Piedras; Mendez, Rafael, Physics, University of Puerto Rico - Carolina; Morales, Ricardo, Physical Sciences, University of Puerto Rico - Río Piedras.

[Geosciences 2]

Atlantic Hurricane Climatology 1975 - 2005

The present study covers the chronological hurricane incidence in the Atlantic from 1975 trough 2005. These 31 years were studied and divided in decades, while doing statistical analysis following the Saffir-Simpson scale’s categories and the frequency of huracanes by year. The objective of this analysis pretended to identify if there were any increase in hurricane activity and intensity, and if the mentioned activity had any relation with the temperature increase in the oceans surface. We developed a table that represented each huracanes by year, maximum velocity and minimum barometric average. This data was analyzed using arithmetic and pondered averages, and correlations. By dividing the data by decades we saw a low variability between the first two (1975-1984 and 1985- 1994); it reflected an increase in the number of huracanes in the last decade (1995-2004). Hence, we compared the three decades with the year of 2005. This year depicted an anomaly due to the 12 registered huracanes, 4 of them reached a category 5 according to the Saffir- Simpson scale, being this the year of greater hurricane activity in this study. Also we found a correlation between the temperature in the ocean surface and hurricane activity.

Quintero, Raiza, UPR-MAYAGUEZ; Cavosie, Aaron, University of Puerto Rico- Mayaguez; Radovan, Henri, University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez; Moser, Desmond, University of Western Ontario

[Geosciences 3]

Shocked Minerals in Siliciclastic Sediments From the Vredefort Dome: A New Approach Towards Searching for Impact Evidence From the Early Earth

Understanding the intense meteorite bombardment hypothesized to have dominated the early evolution of the Earth is a fundamental goal of planetary geology. While the surface of the Moon preserves a record of early impacts, terrestrial evidence remains elusive; no Hadean impact structures have been identified on Earth. The vast majority of terrestrial impact structures are removed by erosion shortly after crater formation, however corresponding sedimentary records have not been identified. In this study we report the occurrence of detrital grains of shocked metamorphosed quartz and zircon in siliciclastic sediments from the channel of the Vaal River, a large meandering river actively eroding the 2023 Ma Vredefort Dome. The sediment samples analyzed all contain numerous


detrital grains of shocked quartz which preserve a single orientation of decorated planar deformation features, and also detrital shocked zircon grains that contain one to three sets of parallel planar fractures. The recognition that impact evidence in the form of shocked minerals can persist in siliciclastic sediments up to 2 billion years after an impact provides a new investigative tool for identifying ancient impact-related detritus from structures that are long since eroded. The Hadean rock record is fragmentary, however the existence of Hadean detritus has been demonstrated by the documentation of >4000 Ma zircons in Australia, China, USA, and Canada. The geochemistry of the Hadean zircons strongly suggests they originated in quartz-saturated granitoids that likely contained abundant quartz. We hypothesize that large volumes of shocked quartz and zircon were produced during Hadean impact events. While the Hadean impact structures have long since eroded, shocked detritus may be preserved in Archean sediments. The results from the Vredefort Dome demonstrate the viability of this potential record, and in particular offers promise that traces of the lost record of impacts on the Early Earth may be preserved in siliciclastic rocks.

Rodriguez-Delgado, Alejandra, UPR-MAYAGUEZ; Wilson Ramirez, Geology Department, University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez

[Geosciences 4]

A Comprehensive Study on Coastline Process and Sedimentary Dynamics, Sardinera Beach, Mona Island, P.R.

Sardinera beach in Mona Island, Puerto Rico, has a great recreational and ecological value and is an important research place to gather information on shoreline processes in an area far from the main land and with only scarce man made influences. Beach rock exposures present along the shoreline in Sardinera Beach have increased considerably during the last decade. A new management plan is being developed for Mona Island and the Department of Natural Resources (DNRA) of Puerto Rico wants to better understand the beach sand dynamics on this and other Mona Island beaches. This research includes field and laboratory work that characterize coastal sedimentary processes and helps to better understand the shoreline changes as well as seasonal variations in sand movement and composition. This work also establish the logistics and methodology basis for further studies that will expand to other Mona Island beaches. Benchmarks, GPS coordinates, and