STEP Experience- Undergraduate Research in Organic Chemistry

Over the summer, I participated in a chemistry research project focusing on the synthesis of new compounds that are highly selective for re-alkylation of aged AChE, which can be the product of certain chemical warfare agents. The research took place during summer 2015 at OSU in the Hadad Research Group in CBEC. I focused on organic synthesis of promising compounds.

After having spent the summer in the research lab, I gained an appreciation for scientific research as a whole. Until I spent time in the lab, I did not truly value the hard work that went in to many of the medicines and therapeutics that I used to take for granted. Working in the lab and talking with graduate students gave me a realistic sense of what the research process is like. Furthermore, the research helped give me a better understanding about the life of a graduate student.

The laboratory work, group presentations, and interactions with graduate students and professors changed my outlook on research. Working in the lab and taking NMR samples required an initial learning curve, and the amount of equipment, chemicals, and instruments that were present was, at first, overwhelming. My work started slowly as I became accustomed to the lab and the people working in it. At the group meetings, I listened as graduate students presented their work and progress.

I understood many of the ideas and concepts being presented, which I had learned in my organic chemistry classes, but much of the computational chemistry went over my head. It was interesting to hear the computational chemists discuss the various modeling systems and how they worked. This collaboration encouraged me to work hard and do my best to contribute to the combined efforts of the chemists and biochemists in the group.

Although the lab work got repetitive at times, I maintained the outlook that I was working to ultimately help other people. This mindset coupled with goals set by my research advisor helped keep me productive in the lab. I also got to talk with other undergraduate students about their experiences in research and what they were doing. The other undergraduate students in my lab were helpful and fun to be around. They offered advice on future career paths as well as techniques to be a better chemist.

This research experience has influenced me to think more about applying to graduate school or working in a research lab in the future. The research also helped me to forge valuable friendships and connections with other undergraduate and graduate students as well as professors. Over the course of the project, my network of peers and mentors grew as did my desire to learn more organic chemistry and how it could help others.

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