Chemistry Program Brings Next Generation of Chemists to UA

A summer program in the College, funded by the National Science Foundation, is helping train the next generation of chemists and scientific researchers. The Department of Chemistry hosted its Research Experiences for Undergraduates program this summer under the direction of Dr. John Vincent, professor of chemistry, and Dr. Stephen Woski, associate professor of chemistry.

Top undergraduate students with strong backgrounds in chemistry are invited to come to the UA campus for 10 weeks during the summer to work with UA faculty in their research group and to take part in informal seminars and educational activities.

Each student is paired with a faculty member to work on a research project of their choice. Research conducted during the 2012 program included studying ways to magnetically trigger drugs for cancer therapy, the synthesis of magnetic nano-crystals for biomedical applications, and learning about new DNA bases.

Participants in a 2012 summer research program

Participants in the 2012 Research Experiences for Undergraduates program sponsored by the Department of Chemistry were paired with faculty members to work on research projects of their choosing.

According to Vincent, the program provides undergraduate chemistry students an opportunity to experience what graduate school and a career in scientific research is like.

“It has been most rewarding for the participating students as well as for myself,” said Vincent.

Vincent recalls one student who worked in his laboratory for the summer and told him that before her experiences in the program she had decided to go to culinary school despite loving chemistry. He said her experiences in her upper level chemistry courses and a brief experience with research at her home institution had been quite unpleasant.

“Then in tears she told me that this summer had completely changed her mind,” he said. “Everything she had experienced had shown her that she could enjoy graduate school and a career in chemistry.”

Alabama students participating in the program included:

Jerome Arceneaux, from The University of Alabama at Birmingham, who worked under the direction of Dr. David Nikles on “A Targeted, Magnetically Triggered Drug Delivery System for Cancer Therapy.”

Kevin Benham, Troy University, who worked under the direction of Dr. Daniel Goebbert on “Mass Spectrometry of Energetic Materials.”

Kimberly D. Johnson, Judson College, who worked the direction of Dr. David Nikles on “A Targeted, Magnetically Triggered Drug Delivery System for Cancer Therapy.”

Rebekah Jones, Alabama State University, who worked under the direction of Dr. Silas Blackstock on “Exploring New Types of Organic Donor-Acceptor Bonding to Control Molecular Ordering in Co-crystals.”

Anna Seal, University of North Alabama, who worked under the direction of Dr. Michael Jennings on “Synthesis of Biologically Active Natural Products.”

Patience Wright, Spring Hill College, who worked under the direction of Dr. Carolyn Cassady on “In-Source Decay Mass Spectrometry of Deprotonated Peptides.”

Kristi Wu, The University of Alabama, who worked under the direction of Dr. John Vincent on “Examining the Fate of Chromium Nutritional Supplements in Cells and Culture Media.”

Denise Yancey, Jackson State University, who worked with Dr. Robin Rogers on “Analysis of In Vivo Sorption of Pharmaceutically Active Ionic Liquids.”