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FLORENCE – Francis Marion University chemistry students are currently involved in several undergraduate research projects, based on their interests and career plans.

The projects range from pure and applied chemical research to theoretical computational chemistry; from historical literature surveys of scientists and their contributions, to the development of experiments for elementary and secondary science students, Barbara Hankinson, Ph.D., chemistry department chairman, says.

This past summer session, Joshua Jackson of West Columbia completed a research project, under the direction of Hankinson, on “The Historical Development of Physical Chemistry and Modern Physics.”  His research focused on the life and scientific achievements of Ernest Rutherford, Neils Bohr, Sir Humphry Davy, Max Planck, Albert Einstein and other chemists and physicists.

For research during the fall 1999 semester, seven chemistry majors at FMU have been awarded Roche Research Fellowships and are undertaking a variety of research projects under the direction of chemistry faculty members.

Shannon Byrd of Dillon will work under Fred Clayton, Ph.D., professor of chemistry, to research and explore the historical background of Amedeo Avogadro and his determination of Avogadro's number.  Also, the measurement of Avogadro's number by other means in more recent times will be studied. 

With this data and information, a method or experiment will be developed for use in the advanced high school/beginning college chemistry laboratory course, incorporating Byrd’s education and chemistry backgrounds.

Wendy Crowley of Florence will work under the direction of Kenneth Williams, Ph.D., professor of chemistry, to research salicylaldehyde phenylhydrazone as an indicator in the “Nonaqueous Titration of Organometallic Reagents.”  This indicator will be prepared by the reaction of salicylaldehyde and phenylhydrazine and used to titrate commercial samples of methyl-, ethyl-, and phenylmagnesium chloride and butyllithium. 

These titrations will be compared with others in which the organometallic reagents have been dissolved in common laboratory solvents of varying qualities (extent of moisture).  The goal is to determine the effect of the quality of solvent purchased, and the drying procedure used, on the activity of the organometallic reagent, and ultimately to allow precise, known quantities to be delivered to reaction mixtures.

Laura Graham of Lynchburg will also work under the direction of Williams to research topic zinc complexes of 5-fluorosaccharin as models of inhibitor/enzyme interactions. In previous work in FMU laboratories it has been shown that saccharin is an effective competitive inhibitor of the enzyme carbonic anhydrase. 

This enzyme has a zinc ion as a crucial component of its active site.   Hyperactivity of this enzyme has been implicated as a cause of glaucoma and thus inhibitors are potential treatments for this disease.  In this study, simple zinc complexes of 5-fluorosaccharin will be prepared and characterized by HPLC, and IR and F-19 NMR spectroscopies. 

Robert Scott Hudson of Elgin will work under the direction of Allen Clabo, Ph.D., assistant professor of chemistry, on “The Synthesis and Computational Investigation of a Lactone Carbene.”  It is known that photolysis of cyclobutendiones yields bis-ketenes as intermediates that can be trapped as succinic acid derivatives. 

However, in some cases, other products are isolated that suggest that an unusual lactone carbene is also present in the reaction.  In this reaction this novel rearrangement will be investigated by designing an alternative synthesis. The structures and relative energies of the bis-ketene and the carbene will be further studied using semi-empirical and ab initio theoretical methods.

William Stephen McCall of Florence will work under the direction of Williams on “Metal Halogen Exchange in Organometallic-Alkyl Iodide Systems.”  In this study iodo derivatives, or organic compounds of various functional groups, will be prepared or purchased and reacted with methyl-, ethyl-, and phenylmagnesium chloride, and with n-butyllithium.  The reaction products will be hydrolyzed with aqueous acid or other electrophilic reagents, and the nature of the products determined by Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry.

The purpose of this project is to discover routes to otherwise inaccessible organometallic reagents.

Toby L. Nelson of Lake City will also work under the direction of Clabo to research “Computational Investigations of Chalcogen-Substituted Carboxylic Acids.”  Semi-empirical and ab initio computations of the molecular structures and energies of mixed  dichalcogen acid isomers will be performed and used to locate minimum energy structures and to calculate energy differences between isomers.

Ryan Pooran of Trinidad is work under the direction of LeRoy Peterson, Ph.D., associate professor of chemistry, on “The Synthesis and Characterization of Porous Crystalline Materials.”  Metal ions such as Zn (II), Cu (II), and Mg (II) and ligands such as 4,4'-bipyrimidine and 2,2'- bipyridine will be used to synthesize these metal complexes.

These zeolite-like materials find many useful applications in catalysis and separation technology.

Roche Carolina International provides funding for these research fellowships.  Each student must be a chemistry major and can take from one to three hours credit for participation in a research project.

These seven students will present their research findings in a research colloquium on Tuesday, Dec. 7.  For more information about the FMU chemistry programs of the undergraduate student research, call Hankinson at 843-661-1449.


Last Published: June 21, 2004 7:37 AM
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