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Chemistry students participate in summer research

Chemistry students participate in summer research

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The Lycoming College Department of Chemistry is hosting five students this year for its summer research program and four students will be involved in off-campus internship and research opportunities.

For more than 25 years, the department has offered the program, hosting several students each summer for complex projects for up to 10 weeks. The department’s entire full-time faculty works alongside the students, making the program a rewarding opportunity for all participants.

Students participating in the program include:

Rory McAtee, a junior from Easton

McAtee, alongside Dr. Charles Mahler, assistant professor of chemistry, is conducting an organometallic investigation of thermochemical properties in molybdenum complexes. This research is essential to chemistry with respect to homogenous catalysis and rational ligand design for catalysts.

Chris McAtee, a junior from Easton, and Joseph Mauck, a junior from Harrisburg

McAtee is working with Dr. Chriss McDonald, professor of chemistry, to explore unsymmetrical ureas as potential activators for samarium diiodide reductions. This is important because the traditional cosolvent activator for samarium diiodide is carcinogenic. Safer and better activators would make samarium diiodide a more attractive reagent for use in the pharmaceutical industry. Mauck is exploring the use of unconventional radical precursors for use in with samarium diiodide. Expanding the range of precursors would allow for greater synthetic flexibility in the construction of molecules with important biological activities.

Alicia Kovach, a junior from Danville

Kovach, who is working with Dr. Jeremy Ramsey, assistant professor of chemistry, is monitoring the growth of electro-active organic films using cyclic voltammetry. Her research involves determining the thickness of films deposited on carbon electrodes. The work is intended to improve the design of chemical sensors as well as to provide control for industrial applications of electrochemical reactions.

Katherine Wellmon, a May graduate from Guys Mills

Wellmon is working with Dr. Holly Bendorf, associate professor of chemistry, to conduct rhodium-catalyzed intramolecular hydroacylation of allyl amines. Her research seeks to develop new, more efficient methods for the synthesis of medium-ring heterocycles, which are present in several classes of biologically active compounds that are of interest as pharmaceuticals. This is Wellmon’s second full year of working in Bendorf’s lab.

Student involved in off-campus internships and research include:

Timothy Kocher, a senior from Red Lion

Kocher is working in the lab of Dr. Matthew Gentry at the University of Kentucky, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry, on the use of multiple models to understand epilepsy and neurodegeneration in Lafora disease. Two goals of his research are to develop a biochemical assay to monitor enzyme function in Lafora disease patients and define glucan phosphatases in plant and algal species.

Rory McAtee, a junior from Easton

After spending four weeks in Mahler’s lab, McAtee will begin his research in the lab of Dr. Katherine Franz at the Duke University Department of Chemistry. Research in the Franz lab involves the design and synthesis of molecules that change their ability to bind to metal atoms in response to a specific trigger. The goal of this work is to develop therapeutic tools for disease states that are related to cellular oxidative stress, such as cancer and neurodegeneration. Franz is the daughter of the late Dr. David Franz, a member of Lycoming’s chemistry department from 1970-2004.

Sarah Jenny, a senior from Sherburne, N.Y.

Jenny is working with Norwich Pharmaceuticals in the quality control department. She will be validating laboratory notebooks in regard to cGMP/GLP requirements and conducting laboratory work with standardizations, titrations and sample preparation.

Samantha Rockwell, a junior from McElhattan

Rockwell is working with Avery Dennison in research and development. She will be engaged in the synthesis and characterization of polymers using a variety of techniques.

Lycoming College is a four-year, residential liberal arts and sciences school dedicated to the undergraduate education of 1,400 students. Its rigorous academic program, vibrant residential community and supportive faculty foster successful student outcomes. Lycoming offers 36 academic majors and is recognized as a Tier 1 institution by U.S. News & World Report. Founded in 1812 and located near the banks of the Susquehanna River in Williamsport, Pa., Lycoming is one of the 50 oldest colleges in the nation. For more information, visit

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