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Lycoming students co-author organic chemistry research publication with faculty

Lycoming students co-author organic chemistry research publication with faculty

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Chriss McDonald, Ph.D, Frank and Helen Lowry Professor of Chemistry, along with Associate Professor of Chemistry Holly Bendorf, Ph.D., six Lycoming students, and a Lycoming alumnus recently published research in the highly regarded journal Organic Letters.

Their paper, “The SmI2/TEU‑Mediated Cyclization of Unsaturated Halides,” published June 30, 2020, presents research conducted in Lycoming’s organic chemistry laboratories over five years. In addition to McDonald and Bendorf, co-authors are Restek Corporation research chemist Ahren Green ’98, and now-graduates of Lycoming’s chemistry program Joseph Mauck ’15, Christopher McAtee ’15, David Ciccarelli ’18, Cassandra Bendyk ’18, Brandon Conrad ’18, and Angelique Delgado ’17.

The research was conducted entirely at the College, providing an uncommon opportunity in experimental science for students at a school of Lycoming’s size. Its primary application lies in the field of medicinal chemistry, which is used to synthesize existing and new pharmaceuticals.

Addressing the lack of safety for pharmaceutical use of reactants used in making cyclic compounds, McDonald’s team’s work achieves two desired results. It allows for the cyclization reaction, or ring-making process, to occur using safer reagents, and does so with less formation of undesired side products. The team accomplished this safe and more efficient method using its reactant combination of samarium diiodide with triethyl urea.

“It is important for new scientists to get experience doing real science – where the answers to questions are not known and must be proven or disproven by experiment,” said McDonald. “This sort of work is invaluable in the education of a scientist, and provides them with a set of skills that are marketable upon graduation.”

The Lycoming College chemistry and biochemistry programs provide students with a foundational understanding of the respective disciplines and valuable hands-on lab experience to prepare them for careers or graduate school programs. Students benefit from research and internship opportunities, modern facilities and instrumentation, experienced faculty, and a low student-to-faculty ratio. To learn more, visit

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