Monthly Archives: October 2021

Student Spotlight: Gabby Molloseau

This week we caught up with Gabby Molloseau, a Junior majoring in Biology and minoring in Psychology and Spanish! Gabby and her mentors, Dr. Michael Giuliano and Dr. Marcello Forconi, received a SURF 2021 Grant to study the intricate nature of cell surfaces in order to better understand cell signaling and communication.

Gabby shared with us a brief introduction of their research, “The environments of cell surfaces are notoriously complex and play a large role in intercellular communication and other biological processes. The interaction between water molecules embedded in the cell’s membrane and other molecules is what creates such a convoluted environment, that has yet to be researched fully. It is believed that the surface of the cell near the membrane will reflect similar properties to organic solvents, since most of the nearby water is bound up by the membrane itself. Previous work in the lab has allowed us to synthesize small organic reporter molecules that will now be used to embed into mimics of the membrane of a cell. Atoms in the reporter molecule will give unique spectroscopic signals, due to their sensitivity to the solvent surrounding the cell’s surface. These signals will allow for a better understanding of the properties of the environment of the cell’s membrane. Understanding the intricate nature of cell surfaces will allow for a better understanding of cell signaling and communication, the binding of medicines to cellular targets and how it affects their designed purpose, and how structure and function of biomolecules are related to the their environment.”

“I hope readers see how much fun organic synthesis can be,” Gabby added. “My favorite memory from this project was my first time characterizing the fluorine and hydrogen NMR because it confirmed that I successfully synthesized the molecule. I gained lab technique and learned how to perform many lab processes, such as flash column chromatography.”

Attached are photos from Gabby’s project. Thank you to Gabby for sharing your SURF 2021 experience!

STUDENT SPOTLIGHT: Laura Maria Diaz Coronado

This week we caught up with Laura Maria Diaz Coronado, a Junior double majoring in Music Performance (concentration in Music History) and Computer Information Systems! Laura and her mentors, Dr. O’Brien and Yuriy Bekker, received a SURF 2021 Grant to study Joaquín Orellana’s post-institutional career and how Guatemala’s troubled history during the 1960s-1980s interfered with both Orellana’s musical production and with audiences’ and scholars’.

“Joaquín Orellana (1933 – ) is an experimental Guatemalan composer, instrument creator, and violinist. His early work, while stylistically traditional, won several important international awards. His career was transformed, however, by a residence at the Latin American Center for Advanced Musical Studies at the Instituto Torcuato Di Tella in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where some of Latin America’s most elite and imaginative composers shared their work with leading composers from the U.S. and Europe. The graduates of the Di Tella Institute were characterized by both experimentalist techniques, and by their political convictions that their music should reflect and engage with the social realities of their own countries, rather than merely reflect European conventions and interests. Orellana was profoundly shaped by this experience, and spent the rest of his career embracing experimentalist techniques inspired by de-colonial ideologies and by Guatemala’s cultural history and conflicted social context. While many of Orellana’s fellow di Tella alumni have been the subject of musicological analysis, Orellana’s post-Institute career, while breathtakingly inventive, remains little studied. This project seeks to address this lacuna, which is owed largely to Guatemala’s troubled history during this period (1960s-1980s), which interfered with both Orellana’s musical production and with audiences’ and scholars’” Laura told us.

Laura hopes that the reader understands “the importance of decolonization in music, I want people to know the story on how western music got to this side of the world and the consequences. I also want people to realize how important are the composers of our era and get them interested in their work. ”

Her favorite memory from the project was “the interview with Joaquin Orellana, who is an amazing character and interesting composer, so I had a bunch of questions for him. I also liked the different analysis of Orellana’s work that I did with the composer assistants. I am amazed of how he came up with different musical notations for his own instruments and the combination with western notation to get something new.”

Laura told us “I gained knowledge and experience about Ethnomusicology thanks to my mentor, Dr. O’Brien, and I also got to work in Sibelius which is an important software for musicians to digitize music manuscripts. ”


Attached are photos from Laura’s project. Thank you to Laura for sharing your SURF 2021 experience!

Laura Maria Diaz Coronado in front of sheet music on her laptop

Joaquín Orellana and Laura Maria Diaz Coronado

Dr. Michael O’Brien, Laura Maria Diaz Coronado, and Julio César Santos Campos