Bryn Mawr College was well represented at this year’s biannual gathering of the American Chemical Society.
Eight undergraduate chemistry majors from Bryn Mawr and eight graduate students joined faculty members Sharon Burgmayer, Jonas Goldsmith, and Bill Malachowski at the conference, which took place in Philadelphia in August.
The participating undergraduate students were Roselyn Appenteng ’13, Alexandra Gaudette ’12, Hannah Gilbert ’13, Yichun Fu ’13, Suyin Lee ’12, Sharan Mehta ’12, Maisha Rahman ’13, Eesha Sheikh ’13, and Meredith Skiba ’12.
The participating graduate students were Sarah Burke, Ryan Fealy, Doug Gisewhite, Samantha Jones, Andy Krasley, Tina Ross, Ben Williams, and Maria Winters.
Bryn Mawr’s contingent gave a total of nine presentations at the conference, highlighting collaborations among a combination of members from each group.
“A hallmark of Bryn Mawr’s chemistry program is these close collaborations between faculty, graduate students and undergraduates,” notes Malachowski. “Few programs have this close integration of all three groups working as colleagues. The result is an exceptional educational environment and the discovery of some great new science.”
In work supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Krasley, Ross, Mehta, Appenteng and Burke from the Malachowski research group related new, efficient ways to build molecules that could be used as drugs. Rahman, Sheikh and Winters presented their studies in developing a new treatment for cancer. They reported the discovery of hydroxylamines as a new class of inhibitor of indoleamine-2,3-dioxgyenase, an enzyme used by cancer cells to evade the immune system.
The Burgmayer research group, represented by Gisewhite, Williams, Gilbert, Fu, and Lee presented NIH-supported work that explored the chemistry of a critical molybdenum enzyme, without which life could not exist. In a second project, Williams, Gaudette and Skiba presented their studies exploring interactions between DNA and transition metal complexes that can break the DNA strands when illuminated. Besides helping to understand the nature of DNA and its susceptibility to light degradation, these complexes might evolve into new therapies.
In work jointly supervised by Burgmayer and Goldsmith, Klein reported on photocleavage of DNA by another transition metal complex which could prove useful for cancer therapy. The Goldsmith group also reported their electrochemical studies which may one day contribute to new technology for capturing the sun’s energy. The study presented by Fealy described their efforts at designing systems for more efficiently capturing and transforming light into useable energy.
Presenting at conferences like the ACS’s is a key part of any scientist’s education says Malachowski.
“Presenting your research is a critical part of being a scientist. Learning how to communicate your discoveries is almost as important as the discoveries themselves,” he says. “The national ACS meeting was a great opportunity for our undergraduate and graduate students to develop their talents in this regard.”
Graduate student Ryan Fealy also commented on the importance of taking part in conferences while still a student and the role the chemistry department played in preparing him for the experience.
“The chemistry department teaches you the skills to make your independent mark on a research project so you can present your research like a faculty member,” says Fealy. “Bryn Mawr encourages independent scholarship as well as attendance at many conferences where you can network and collaborate with professionals in the field.”
Maisha Rahman ’13 adds, “Attending this conference was an excellent opportunity to learn about all the different kinds of research being done and to meet chemists from all over the country. It was also a great way to practice talking about my research with other people.”
Bryn Mawr’s chemistry department combines high quality, visible research programs with excellent teaching. The chemistry department seeks to provide a supportive and rigorous curriculum at the undergraduate and graduate level to students having diverse preparation and diverse goals. The chemistry major includes introductory and advanced courses in the core areas of biological, inorganic, organic and physical chemistry. Advanced courses are informed by the research areas of bioinorganic, nanomaterials, medicinal, computational, organic maiterials, and nucleic acid and protein chemistry. For more information, visit the chemistry department website.