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Chemistry & Biochemistry

Learning Beyond the Classroom

All chemistry majors are encouraged (some are required) to conduct independent research as a senior. Learn more about our student’s research.

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Student Research Academic Year 2012

  • Jeffrey Hanshaw (Advisor: Jimmy Franco)

    Small Molecule Drug Targets for Tuberculosis Therapy

    Mycobacterium tuberculosis is the deadliest bacterial pathogen in existence. Despite this fact, no drug with a novel mechanism for treating tuberculosis infection has been approved in over 50 years. The rise of drug-resistant strains of mycobacterium tuberculosis has led to a dire need in the medical community for a new type of anti-TB drug. In this paper, two very different approaches are taken to find a viable candidate for a new tuberculosis drug- manual screening by organic synthesis and virtual screening. Microwave synthesis proved to be very useful when performing the organic synthesis, drastically reducing the time needed to perform a key reaction. Virtual screening, however, proved to be the superior of the two approaches, allowing for rapid screening of thousands of compounds against a target protein. Many compounds were shown to be excellent inhibitors of the targeted proteins, and this effectiveness was confirmed against live cells. In the end, both microwave synthesis and virtual screening were shown to have significant advantages over traditional methods.

  • Michael Luciano (Advisor: Cynthia McGowan)

    Sustainable Chemistry for the Next Generation

    Four reactions have been developed that can be performed in the undergraduate laboratory setting that have an environmentally friendly approach. The reactions were done using microwave technology and were developed in the Discover and/or MARS microwave unit. The first reaction is the Heck reaction that illustrates the use of a catalyst in order to enhance chemical reaction and uses water as a green solvent, the second is an E2 elimination reaction that incorporates the use of green solvents and provides students with an introduction to gas chromatography, the third is a Diels-Alder reaction that illustrates the concept of green chemical work-ups, and the fourth is the copper catalyzed cyanation of iodonapthalene that uses a safer cyanide source than traditionally used. All of these experiments provide a more sustainable approach than those typically found in the literature.