The cutting-edge

“I am the type of person who needs to know the answer to everything,” said Lycoming’s Caitlin DeAngleo ’13. “You can’t just tell me something and expect me to believe it. I need to be able to prove it and see it. It’s really a great feeling to be able to do that in chemistry.”

DeAngelo, Dave Sampsell ’12 and Katie Wellmon ’13 have been hand-picked to participate in theChemistry Department’s summer research program, which has enjoyed more than 20 years of success. During their research projects, the students will work on “new chemistry,” meaning they’ll get hands-on experience running reactions and making compounds that no one has ever done before.

DeAngelo’s research includes working on methods for the preparation of sulfur heterocycles, using hydroacylation chemistry. Wellmon is developing intramolecular hydroacylation chemistry for the synthesis of medium-ring nitrogen heterocycles. Both are working under the guidance of Dr. Holly Bendorf, associate professor of chemistry.

Sampsell and Dr. Chriss McDonald, department chair and professor of chemistry, are collaborating to find safe alternatives to hexamethylphosphoramide (HMPA), which is carcinogenic. Their research has recently identified several phosphoramide compounds that are as effective as HMPA, but are significantly safer to use.

“The summer interns are working on the cutting-edge of modern science,” said Bendorf. “If their work is successful, it can lead to publication in international journals and presentations at conferences. The benefits are pretty wide ranging in a sense that they learn new lab techniques. They work on open-ended experiments where there are a lot of trouble-shooting and problem-solving skills that they will have to develop.”

All three students said the research experience will no doubt help them with the next step of their educational journey - gaining acceptance into graduate school.

“The professors here are the best,” said Sampsell. “I am really glad I came to Lycoming because they really support their students. They give us real, hands-on experience with instrumentation and experience in the lab. Dr. McDonald really pushes me to do the best I can. All the professors are very supportive and are willing to help at any time.”

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