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The ACS initiative

Barry McNamara
The National American Chemical Society Meeting & Exposition in Anaheim, Calif., was no “Mickey Mouse” operation, although Monmouth College’s 10 participants did get to pose with a statue of the international celebrity. MC’s eight students were able to participate in the conference thanks to funding from one of the college’s seven new academic initiatives.
Another of Monmouth College’s seven new academic initiatives became a reality this spring when chemistry faculty members Audra Sostarecz and Eric Todd took eight students to last month’s National American Chemical Society Meeting & Exposition in Anaheim, Calif.

Each student who attended presented a research poster. The students included junior Lauren Bergstresser of Peoria (“Determining Reactivity and Stability of Myeloperoxidase”); senior Emily Barks of Geneseo (“Expression and Purification of Recombinant NAP-1 from Xenopus laevis in E.Coli for In-vitro Chromatin Reconstitution); and senior Rex Jackson of Newark and junior Dominic Savino of Des Plaines (“Role of Lipids in a Peroxidase Chemistry”).

Also, senior Blake Lyon of Mount Pleasant, Iowa (“Analysis of Hops”); senior Angie Morris of Knoxville (“Using Antioxidants to Increase the Stability of Pharmaceuticals”); senior Holly Morris of Knoxville (“Investigation of the Mechanism of Action of the Synthetic Antibiotic CSA-13 Asing Langmuir Monolayers for Application in Cystic Fibrosis Treatment”); and junior Samantha Nania of Tinley Park (“Interactions Between Cholesterol and Dipalmitoylphaphatidylserine in the Aiding of Alzheimer’s Disease Progresion”).

“The National ACS Meeting has definitely made it worth staying a fifth year at Monmouth College,” said Lyon. “This meeting opened my eyes to the many different jobs available for chemists getting ready to leave their undergraduate career. I was able to make connections and interact with chemists from all over the country and the world, exchanging ideas with them and even working out problems.”

Lyon said the ACS conference also showed him how chemists can be involved in changing the world and making a difference.

“Before I leave, I hope to set up a water purification fundraiser that will raise money to buy PUR packets that will be sent to underprivileged nations to quickly and easily purify their water so they can drink clean water and reduce water-borne ailments.”

“Taking students to conferences to present their research is always a great way to instill confidence in them,” said Sostarecz. “A very memorable part of the trip for me was when one of my research students mentioned to me with excitement that a professor told her that she was doing graduate level research. It was also rewarding for me to see all the students engaged in conversations about their research.”

“This experience allowed students to see the value in engaging in research at Monmouth and how those experiences will be useful down the road,” added Todd.

While at the conference, the students had the opportunity to meet Scott Shaw, a 2005 graduate of Monmouth’s chemistry department. Shaw, who is currently applying for academic positions, explained to the students what he studied in graduate school and as a post-doctoral student.

“The conference provided great practice for us to work on our networking and professional communication skills,” said Holly Morris. “We also were able to promote our research to scientists from all over the country and find other undergraduates who are doing similar work, which was motivating and exciting.”