NSLS student-researcher talks at the March APS Meeting

Each year, the National Synchrotron Light Source (NSLS) at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory hosts several high-school and college students, who come to the facility to perform research using its bright beams of x-ray, ultraviolet, and infrared light. This year, four of these students will be presenting the results of their research at the March meeting of the American Physical Society (APS) in Baltimore, Maryland.

Michael DiBiccari, a senior at Hauppauge High School in Hauppauge, New York, has been working with NSLS biophysicist Elaine DiMasi. His project is part of a wider research effort on the study of biomineralization, the process by which living organisms produce minerals, such as shell and bone. He is studying diatoms -- single-celled algae with outer shells composed of biosilica, a type of biomineral.

DiBiccari has used x-rays to identify the atomic structure of the biosilica, which he then compared to the structure of synthetic silica. His results show that the structures of both materials are identical. He will discuss this research and its implications on Thursday, March 16, 2006, at 1:15 p.m. in Room 323 of the Baltimore Convention Center.

Samantha Palmaccio, also a student working with DiMasi, attends Sachem High School in Farmingville, New York. She is investigating the biomineralization of protein fibers, which is one step in the process by which many organisms form shells. Recently, she studied the "growth" of the mineral calcium carbonate on a protein-fiber network.

Her results show that the strength of the mineral increases over time as it covers the fibers. This is unlike stand-alone calcium carbonate. Additionally, using a powerful microscope, she was able to study the crystal structure formed by the mineral. Palmaccio will discuss her results on Monday, March 13, 2006, at 8:24 a.m. in Room 326 of the Baltimore Convention Center.

Additionally, two graduate students working at t

Contact: Karen McNulty Walsh
DOE/Brookhaven National Laboratory

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