Chemistry and Biochemistry News

This summer, senior Chemistry major, Nathaniel Espey (second from right in back) is participating in an REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) at Virginia Commonwealth University. Here’s an update directly from Nathaniel:

This summer I am working in the Lucas Laboratory for research in Bio-inorganic Chemistry. I will be synthesizing and characterizing two complexes, [Ni(12-DOB)] and [Ni(13-DOB-Cl)], which are derivatives the amphoteric [Ni(13-DOB)] varying in ring size and electron withdrawing substituents. My research is synthetically heavy, but aligns very well with what I have had success with in the past at the University. I am finding research to be incredibly rewarding thus far, and plan to use this experience in making a graduate school decision somewhere in the field of Organic Chemistry. What I have most enjoyed is the joint effort aspect of working in a research lab. When I get a puzzling result, or have ideas about a procedure, I can always share them with my mentor, Ashley Forney, or other members of the lab to get more insight and more knowledge. We are all working together toward the same goal and we all revel in each others successes!

This summer, senior Kristin Turner is working as a research and development intern at Athena Enzyme Systems (building in picture above). She reports, “Currently I am working on a cloning project with an enzyme called Chitinase. It is an early project and a lot still needs to be worked out in order to go further, but I enjoy being here every day. Being able to have hands-on research and lab experience will help me in the future, because I want to work in a lab as a career. I love being handed a problem and trying to solve it, but also having someone here I can lean on for help when needed. I feel like I have freedom here to be able to use my mind in the way I feel works best for me, and being able to see results in my work. So far, I have been able to use my knowledge in PCR amplification and running gels in order to get the starting information needed for my cloning project. Everything has been running smoothly and efficiently for the first couple of weeks of my internship.”

Yesterday, Monday, July 1 was my first day where I met with my capstone mentor, Dr. Mandal, and a post-doctoral research fellow, Chris, of the department of otolaryngology at Johns Hopkins. I communicated with both of them via email periodically since April, so I already knew the basis of my research project. Yesterday we got acclimated and discussed how it would be executed.

This summer, Biochemistry senior, Katie Powell is very excited to be involved in a research experience at Johns Hopkins Medical School in the Department of Otolaryngology. She is doing clinical database research on three mini-projects under the topic of head and neck cancer due to HPV. The projects are comparing survival rates of patients with metastatic oropharyngeal cancer due to HPV and without HPV infection, comparing survival of patients with HPV by socioeconomic status and insurance status, and comparing differences in immune infiltration between men and women with similar cancers. Katie is really excited about this research experience because it incorporates her interests in women’s health and public health!

This summer, Biochemistry senior, Travis Ashley is working in the environmental center at Anne Arundel Community College. Here’s his description of what he’s doing: “Mostly what we do is microbial monitoring in the bay around the Annapolis area, which involves a lot of filtering of bay water, plating on selective media, and counting bacterial colonies. One of my tasks this summer is to help develop an enzymatic method to determine phosphate concentration in samples. In fact, in the picture I have included, I’m in the process of running that reaction. It’s mostly lab work, which is great, but some weeks I get to go out on a boat around downtown Annapolis and Eastport to collect water samples which is pretty fun.” Travis is having a great summer and loves applying his biochemistry background to developing the enzymatic assays to monitor the bay.

This summer, chemistry senior, Joe Kittelberger, is completing his Capstone internship at Smiths Detection. This company, located in Edgewood, MD, works on the application, management and manufacture of detection and screening technology. Currently, Joe is getting experience with analyzing the plasma gram data from an ion mobility spectrometer, an instrument that is used by TSA to detect trace amounts of explosives and narcotics at airports. Once he’s familiar with the instrument, Joe’s project this summer is to look at false alarms that occur with the IONSCAN 600 in Narcotics Mode. Joe is really enjoying his internship and is excited about all he is learning!