Chemistry Students Present Results of their Research

Oct 1, 2014

by Cary McMullen | Publications editor

As part of Florida Southern College’s ongoing commitment to hands-on engaged learning, three chemistry students recently shared the results of original research they conducted over the summer and continuing on into the fall semester. 

The presentations were given on Sept. 24 in the Polk Science building by seniors Wei Pin Teh, Jerrod Flanagan, and Jennifer Yudichak.

Teh has conducted research with three professors in the Department of Chemistry and Physics, conducting experiments in inorganic chemistry with Dr. Carmen Gauthier and Dr. Deborah Bromfield Lee and in computational physics with Dr. Ron Pepino during his freshman and sophomore years. He is currently working under Dr. Lee in organic chemistry. His presentation, “Total Synthesis of Stachybotrin D,” concerned the derivation of a natural product from sponge-derived fungus that exhibits anti-HIV activity.

In addition to his work at FSC, Teh completed an internship with Dr. Joseph Ready at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas, who is conducting research on a unique reaction to control the length of a carbon compound chain.

“It could be a potential approach to substitute crude oil with fatty acids as carbon source,” Teh explained. “It’s synthetic organic chemistry, which is what I want to pursue a Ph.D. in,” Teh said. He is deciding whether to apply to graduate programs at Rice University, The Scripps Research Institute, or UT Southwestern.

Flanagan’s research was conducted with Dr. Gauthier through a grant from the ExxonMobil Foundation in the field of inorganic chemistry. His presentation, “Microwave Assisted Synthesis of Metal Organic Frameworks Containing Semi-rigid Dicarboxylic Acids and 4,4′-bipyridine Derivatives,” described an experiment which attempts to create a fusion between metals and organic compounds, a research area of particular interest to Dr. Gauthier.

“I asked Dr. Gauthier about her work and developed a strong interest in it. She invited me to participate in the research,” Flanagan said. The research has potential applications in batteries, atmospheric quality sensors, and drug delivery systems.

Flanagan intends to pursue graduate studies in chemistry at the University of Florida or Florida State University.

Yudichak’s research was conducted in the field of theoretical spectroscopy with Dr. Jason Montgomery. Her presentation, “Vibrational Spectroscopy of Small Noble Gas Clusters,” utilizes infrared technology to calculate the energy states of small molecules.

“You get a better idea of how molecules move in space. It’s useful if you want to choose a potential energy surface,” she said.

Yudichak is considering whether to accept an employment offer as a senior chemist from JDC, a phosphate company in Fort Meade, after she graduates.

Earlier this year, Teh and chemistry senior Grace Beggs were selected to give presentations at meetings of the American Chemical Society.

Teh took first place in the undergraduate research poster competition at the Florida Annual Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society in Palm Harbor in May. His poster, “Enhancing Atomic Transport Across Off-Resonant Optical Lattices,” described research conducted with Dr. Pepino.

Beggs gave an oral presentation at the ACS National Meeting in Dallas in March. Her presentation, “Synthesis and Characterization of [M(1,3-adamantanedicarboxylic acid)(4,4′-trimethylenedipyridine)], M = Cu2+, Co2+],” described research conducted with Dr. Gauthier.