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Seniors Susan Heinsohn (Mount Bethel, Pa.) and Daniel Swarr (Clifton Park, N.Y.) coauthored a research paper that has been published in a leading scientific journal.

The pair was among five Lafayette students who collaborated with William H. Miles, associate professor of chemistry, on “The Oxa-Pictet-Spengler Reaction of 1-(3-Furyl)alkan-2-ols,” which was recently published in Synthesis: Journal of Synthetic Organic Chemistry.

Miles also presented the research earlier this year at the 223rd National American Chemical Society meeting in Orlando, Fla.

Swarr is a double major in physics and mathematics, while Heinsohn is a chemistry major. The other authors are Megan Brennan, who graduated summa cum laude last May with a degree in chemistry; Kathy A. Gelato, who graduated summa cum laude in 2001 with a degree in biochemistry; and Patrick M. Eidam, who graduated in 2001 with a degree in chemistry.
Heinsohn contributed to the project through Lafayette’s EXCEL Scholars program, in which students assist faculty with research while earning a stipend. She learned the ropes of lab work through research involving organic reactions and sea sponges.

“I learned a lot of chemistry, as well as how to use common laboratory equipment that I will probably run into in the future working at a chemical company or doing anything organic-chemistry related,” says Heinsohn. “It also helped me gain experience in hands-on lab work, which helps for future internships or jobs.”

Heinsohn also gained valuable experience in the consumer products field this summer through an internship at Colgate-Palmolive in Piscataway, N.J. After securing the internship with assistance from the chemistry department and Lafayette’s Career Services, Heinsohn worked for nine weeks in advanced technology oral care under the guidance of three mentors.

“I can’t give too many details due to company confidentiality, but my project dealt with finding and examining more effective ‘actives’ for a specific new Colgate product,” says Heinsohn. “First, I did some formulation of product to become familiar with the process, and then I tested different actives in my product and compared their efficacy. Some other things I did include gas chromatography, bacteria growth inhibition, flow cell systems, short-interval bacteria kill tests, and pilot clinical studies.”

Her research at Lafayette gave her an advantage in fulfilling her responsibilities, says Heinsohn.

“The large amount of laboratory time that I’ve had at Lafayette, especially my EXCEL research, really prepared me for this internship,” she says. “Not many undergraduate schools offer that kind of research opportunity. Working for my mentors at Colgate was like working for professors, only they weren’t — they were my bosses.

“The chemistry and biology classes I’ve taken and am currently taking at Lafayette have taught and are teaching me the background I need to know and more in order to put it into practice and apply it in the real world. The fact that Lafayette is a small school helps me learn material better because I am in small classes where I can get to know my professors and go for help when I need it.”

A graduate of Bangor High School, Heinsohn is a member of Tennis Club and Lafayette Christian Fellowship. She has been a member of Madrigal Singers, Concert Band, and Horseback Riding Club.
Swarr received a Goldwater Scholarship for the 2001-02 academic year. The Goldwater is the premier undergraduate award of its type in the fields of mathematics, science, and engineering.
Under the mentoring of Bradley Antanaitis, associate professor of physics, Swarr has researched nuclear magnetic resonance (NRM) because of its relevance to magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), a technique he may use one day as a practicing physician. MRI, a technique used in medicine to produce images of the inside of the body, is very closely related to NMR, used by scientists to obtain information about molecules.

“This independent study was really quite interesting because it combined elements of chemistry, mathematics, biochemistry, and lab techniques with the physics I had previously studied, including quantum mechanics,” Swarr says.

“Lafayette is a great place for an independent study because there are a number of research opportunities available without graduate students to fill up those slots,” notes Swarr, who is undertaking a senior honors thesis with Antanaitis this year. “Also, Lafayette has a lot of excellent professors who are really interested in working closely with students — Dr. Antanaitis is a perfect example. He is a great mentor who really takes an interest in his students and spends a notable amount of time mentoring them, helping them with extras like editing essays for applications or internships, and providing advice. I really enjoyed working with Dr. Antanaitis.”

A graduate of Shenendehowa High School, Swarr is a member of American Physical Society; Phi Beta Kappa, the oldest and most respected undergraduate honors organization in the United States; and Pi Mu Epsilon, the mathematics honorary society. He also is a member of the Physics Club and has been a tutor and grading assistant in physics. He has served as a research assistant at Wadsworth Laboratories, Albany, N.Y., for two summers, and has participated in EXCEL Scholar research in physics and chemistry.

Swarr and his teammates have won first and second place in Lafayette’s Team Barge Math Competitions, in which groups of three to five students work on solutions for the eight weeks in which a weekly problem is posed by the math department. Swarr and his teammates shared a $450 prize. He and two other Lafayette students also placed among the top 14 percent of participating teams – earning the second highest rating – in the 17th annual Mathematical Contest in Modeling, an international competition sponsored by the Consortium for Mathematics and its Applications.

Swarr has been a rape crisis counselor at August Survivors Center, Easton, Pa., a mentor to local students with Adopt-A-Class, and a volunteer for the Emergency Care Unit at Easton Hospital. Swarr is certified as an Emergency Medical Technician and member of Easton’s Emergency Squad. He also has served as vice president of a volunteer group of students living on the same residence hall floor and conducting community service projects together.

During the 2000-01 academic year, Swarr was a member of the McKelvy House Scholars program, living with 17-19 other students of high academic achievement and promise in an historic off-campus house and participating in shared intellectual and social activities.

During the 2002 January interim session between semesters, Swarr participated in Lafayette’s Alumni Externship program, shadowing Robert D. Siegel, M.D. ’77, a hematology oncologist with Oncology Associates, Hartford, Conn.

In his sophomore year, Swarr traveled to Ireland to take a Lafayette course called The Land and Landscape in Ireland during the interim session.

Categorized in: Academic News