Student Research

More than 90% of our chemistry majors become actively engaged in research during their academic careers either during the semester or during the summer. Approximately 15-18 students do research on campus each summer with chemistry faculty and another 20-25 students typically do research during the academic school year. Some students start doing research during their first year.

Students interested in pursuing careers in medicine also have access to clinical internships, skill training and direct patient care experiences through a special partnership with Finger Lakes Health, a local health system with 75 staff physicians and a broad range of primary and specialty services located just one mile from campus.

A list of students and their current research projects is found below:

2013 Summer

Andrew Baird ’14 (van Giessen)
“Computer Simulation of Protein Aggregation”

Kathryn Bezbatchenko ’15 (Bowyer)
“Measuring Rates of Heterogenous Reactions: Indium Mediated Allylation”

Matthew Church ’14 (van Giessen)
“Computer Simulation of Protein Aggregation”

Stephanie Cramer ’15 (Miller)
“HDACi Cancer Therapeutic Laboratory Project: Depsipeptide Analog Synthesis”

Christine Ferry ’14 (van Giessen)
“Computer Simulation of Protein Aggregation”

Janae Garofalo ’15 (Miller)
“Toward a Solid-Phase Synthesis of HDAC Inhibitor Spiruchostatin A”

Maeve Holton ’15 (Pelkey)
“Synthesis and Reactions of Tetramic Acids”

Melissa Mahajan ’15 (K. Slade)
“Macromolecular Crowding and its Implication on Enzyme Kinetics”

Maria Mangine ’14 (K. Slade)
“Isolating Thd14 Protein from Tetrahymena Cells”

Megan Musa ’15 (Bowyer)
“Measuring Rates of Heterogenous Reactions: Indium Mediated Allylation”

Amanda Reusch ’15 (van Giessen)
“Computer Simulation of Protein Aggregation”

Troy Robinson ’15 (Bowyer)
“Measuring Rates of Heterogenous Reactions: Indium Mediated Allylation”

Carly Rolph ’15 (Pelkey)
“Synthesis and Reactions of Tetramic Acids”

Greg Shelkey ’14 (Miller)
“New Reaction Conditions for Latent Thioester Chemoselective Ligation”

Anola Stage ’15 (K. Slade)
“Macromolecular Crowding and its Implication on Enzyme Kinetics”

Amy van Loon ’14 (Pelkey)
“Synthesis and Reactions of Tetramic Acids”



Previous Research Projects


Faculty Research

All of the chemistry faculty are research and grant active and involve undergraduate students in their research programs. Faculty research interests include synthetic chemistry, analytical chemistry, computational chemistry, and the chemistry and pharmacology of alcohol.

Current Active Grants

Recent Grants

Recent Publications

Recent Presentations at National Meetings

Professor Walter Bowyer, Analytical Chemistry

Rates and Mechanism of Indium Mediated Allylation; Effects of Volcanic Eruptions on the Chemistry of Tree Rings
Reactions at metal surfaces are important in many areas of chemistry, but tools to study them are relatively limited. We study reactions of organobromides at indium surfaces using photomicroscopy and NMR spectrometry in order to measure the rate and determine the mechanism of the reaction. A second project involves the studying the effect of volcanic eruptions on the chemistry of tree rings. We are exploring the effect of two volcanic eruptions on the chemistry of wood: the 1980 eruption of Mt. St. Helens and the 1630 BC eruption of Thera on the Greek island of Santorini. This research is significant because volcanoes have significant climatic and archaeological effects, and this research may help us determine the dates of past eruptions more accurately.

Professor David Craig, Biochemistry

Social Norms Approach to Alcohol Abuse Prevention
My research group conducts late-night blood alcohol tests late at night in residence halls. Results of our studies help educate the community on the differences between perceptions and the actual BAC distributions measured amongst different student populations.

Professor Christine de Denus, Inorganic Chemistry

Synthesis and Characterization of Novel Molecular Wire Candidates
Research in my group is directed toward the synthesis and characterization of inorganic molecular wire candidates. These materials may find applications in the molecular electronics industry where they could some day be used to replace the silicon chip technology currently found in computers. It is well known that materials that contain metals and/or aromatic rings are able to conduct electricity. My research group has been investigating how the construction of materials that contain large aromatic terpyridine groups held together with Ru, Fe, or Os metal centers behave. We are investigating the preparation of a number of small molecular wire candidates that can be characterized by multinuclear NMR, IR, mass spectrometry, elemental analysis, and electrochemistry.

Professor Justin Miller, Organic Chemistry

Solid-Phase Synthesis of Cysteine-Containing Potential Anticancer Compounds
Students will synthesize potential anticancer chemotherapeutics using new synthetic methodology that has been developed in the Miller laboratory. The new methodology is based on solid-phase resins capable of supporting the synthesis of peptidic molecules containing at least one cysteine residue. Along with the synthesis of potential anticancer agents, these resins will find a range of applications involving efficient synthetic routes towards other valuable, biologically relevant targets and their analogs.

Professor Erin Pelkey, Organic Chemistry

Developing New Synthetic Methods in Heterocyclic Chemistry
The objective of this research is to design and develop new synthetic methods that can be utilized in the preparation of nitrogen heterocycles with demonstrated biological activity (anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, anti-HIV, etc). We are particularly interested in developing methods that offer strategic advantages over previous methods with regard to efficiency and/or flexiblity. The utility of these methods will be evaluated through their application to the synthesis of staurosporinone, heterocyclic analogs of staurosporinone, 3-pyrrolin-2-one analogs of Vioxx, and the aristolactam alkaloids. Staurosporinone is a potent inhibitor of protein kinase C (potential anti-cancer agent) and an important building block used in the synthesis of the indolocarbazole alkaloids.

Professor Kristin Slade, Biochemistry

Macromolecular Crowding and its Implication on Enzyme Kinetics Chromatin Modifications
The interior of cells consists of a heterogeneous mixture of macromolecules that are tens to hundreds of times more concentrated than the dilute conditions used in most in vitro studies. I am interested in how this densely packed interior affects enzyme kinetics. More specifically, my focus involves enzymes that alter DNA structure in order to control gene transcription, because this has downstream implications in aging and many human diseases including cancer. Yet, even at fundamental level of understanding the basic science, many compelling questions arise: Do crowded cellular conditions enhance or reduce the rate of reactions? Are the effects of crowding enzyme specific, or are general trends observed? Students in my lab use chemical, analytical and biological techniques to address these questions. We focus on creating controlled, in vitro environments containing crowding agents that mimic intracellular conditions and using UV/Vis spectroscopy to assess the kinetics.

Professor Alan van Giessen, Physical Chemistry

Determination of Aggregation Phase Diagram for Amyloid-like Peptides via Computer Simulation
Research in the van Giessen group focuses on the understanding of how proteins fold into their native, biologically active configuration in the crowded cellular environment. The majority of theoretical and computational work on protein folding and aggregation has been done on single molecules, a situation far removed from true cellular conditions. We aim to address this deficit between simulation and reality. Students will use Molecular Dynamics-based simulations of model proteins and crowding agents to determine the effect of the concentration, size, and chemical nature of the crowding agents on the stability of secondary structure motifs (α-helices and β-sheets) and of the protein as a whole. In addition, we are interested in how the crowded environment can stabilize misfolded proteins, promote or discourage aggregation, and lead to the formation of amyloid fibrils associated with degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, and Type II Diabetes.