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Six Lafayette students and three professors presented their research last month at the 229th American Chemical Society (ACS) National Meeting in San Diego, a bi-annual conference attended by over 14,000 scientists from around the world. The students also attended presentations about various advances in chemistry research.

The student presentations were part of the main program at the ACS meeting and not in the specific undergraduate section. While not unheard of, it is uncommon for undergraduates to present as part of the main program, says Chip Nataro, assistant professor of chemistry, who accompanied the group.

“We have had great success in getting students to present their work at ACS, and I think this is a reflection of the quality of work being carried out at the college,” says Nataro, who recently received a $50,000 grant from the American Chemical Society’s Petroleum Research Fund. “The poster sessions are excellent learning experiences for our students. These sessions give them a chance to discuss their research with other scientists. The interest shown in their work from outside the Lafayette community gives the students a special sense of pride in their accomplishments.

“It also presents many challenges, such as being open to questions from a variety of backgrounds and perspectives. It can be very intimidating to be asked questions by full professors from Harvard, Berkeley, and other research institutions, but our students handle themselves quite well.”

Biochemistry major Ingrid DeVries ’05 (Hopewell Junction, N.Y.), a Trustee Scholar, and chemistry major Katie Thoren ’06 (Hebron, Conn.), a Marquis Scholar, presented work in biophysical chemistry conducted under the supervision of Yvonne Gindt, assistant professor of chemistry. DeVries’ research on DNA photolyase is in collaboration with New York University professor Hans Schelvis and is part of her honors thesis. Thoren’s presentation detailed thermodynamic measurements on oligomeric protein structure formation.

Chemistry majors William McNamara ’06 (Scranton, Pa.) and Matthew Coughlin ’07 (Boyertown, Pa.), a Trustee Scholar, presented their work with Tina Huang, assistant professor of chemistry, in the analytical chemistry section. McNamara described the surfaces of self-assembled alkanethiols on gold using electrochemistry. Coughlin presented his study of polymer-modified surfaces using atomic force microscopy. The surfaces that both McNamara and Coughlin are investigating have applications in the areas of nano- and molecular electronics and biosensor development.

Chemistry majors Kevin Barry ’05 (North Haven, Conn.) and Brenna Ghent ’05 (Ukarumpa, Papua New Guinea) shared research conducted under the guidance of Chip Nataro, assistant professor of chemistry. Barry detailed the electrochemistry of coordination compounds of gold (III) that have anti-tumor activity in cancers that show resistance to other chemotherapy agents. This work was part of a collaboration with Allyn Ontko of the School of Pharmacy at the University of Wyoming. Ghent’s presentation detailed the electrochemistry of chiral ferrocenylphosphines.

In addition, two recent chemistry graduates presented research at the ACS meeting. Daniel Ruddy ’02 gave a talk detailing his graduate work at Berkeley on vanadium oxidation catalysts supported on silica.

“It was wonderful to see Dan and to see how much he has accomplished in under two years. Second-year graduate students do not usually give talks at ACS meetings,” says Nataro.

Christine Thomas ’01, who is in her third year of graduate studies at Cal Tech, gave a talk on iron and cobalt complexes with pincer ligands.

“Seeing these alumni was very beneficial to current students,” says Nataro. “They were able to see and hear that they will graduate from Lafayette well prepared and they got insight into life as a graduate student from people they know.”

The meeting was also a busy time for Lafayette chemistry faculty. Steve Mylon, assistant professor of chemistry, gave a talk on research in environmental chemistry that he has been undertaking over the past year with collaborators Benjamin Twining, a Fellow at Yale University’s Institute for Biospheric Studies, and Gaboury Benoit of Yale University’s School of the Environment. Their research demonstrates the potential copper limitation of denitrification by reduced sulfur in natural waters. Additionally, Mylon was coauthor of a paper presented in the Division of Colloid and Surface Chemistry. His collaborators were Kai Loon Chen, a second-year graduate student, and Menachem Elimelech, both of Yale University’s chemical engineering department.

Gindt presented her collaboration with Huang on the electrochemistry of DNA photolyase. Sam Morton, assistant professor of chemical engineering, gave a talk in the Division of Agricultural and Food Chemistry on the gas chromatographic analysis of the maturation of single malt scotch.

Categorized in: Academic News