Barry McNamara  |   Published March 29, 2022

Taking the Next Step

Chemistry students present research at national conference in San Diego, completing plan behind Doc Kieft’s endowment.

 

CHEMISTRY IN CALI: Students and faculty/staff who made the trip to San Diego for the American Che... CHEMISTRY IN CALI: Students and faculty/staff who made the trip to San Diego for the American Chemical Society national conference included, from left, Steve Distin, Sara Simonson, Brad Sturgeon, Talia Long, Sreya Roy, Jonathan Oradiegwu, Laura Moore, Matt Simonson, Gabriela Peterson, Joseph Sampson and Anna Dybal. MONMOUTH, Ill. – Eight Monmouth College chemistry students took the next step in their careers – a progression made possible by the late chemistry professor Richard “Doc” Kieft.

Kieft, who taught chemistry at Monmouth for three decades, left the majority of his $2.3 million estate in 2009 to help support the College’s chemistry program.

“Doc’s endowment helps students pay for college, then engage in summer research and now present that work to a national audience,” said Brad Sturgeon, one of two Monmouth chemistry professors who accompanied students to the American Chemical Society Spring 2022 Experience, a national conference in San Diego. “Our attendance at the ACS meeting is a culmination of year-long student research and is the final step in Doc’s vision.”

But the recent trip to San Diego was not the final step in the students’ overall progression as chemists. They will first use the experience gained to bolster their research skills at Monmouth, then draw on them again in graduate school before embarking on their own careers.


Alzheimer’s research

“My current project is on synthesizing chalcone derivatives, which are cholinesterase inhibitors and have shown to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease,” said Sreya Roy ’22 of Kolkata, India. “Research in this area will help the elderly population as well as their loved ones, because if the onset of Alzheimer’s disease is slowed down, then the people affected by it can live healthier and longer lives.”

Gabriela Peterson ’23 of Southwick, Massachusetts, joined the group on the West Coast after traveling cross-country from her off-campus semester in Washington, D.C.

“I am honored to have been selected to present my chemistry research among so many bright scientific leaders. Being able to present at the ACS conference validated my research, which I have spent countless hours perfecting.” Gabriela Peterson


“I am honored to have been selected to present my chemistry research among so many bright scientific leaders,” she said. “Being able to present at the ACS conference validated my research, which I have spent countless hours perfecting. For four days, I learned about chemistry research, advancements in chemistry and what scientists can do to improve chemistry through methodology and expanded education.”

Other Monmouth students who attended were Amanda Dybal ’22 of Apex, North Carolina, Talia Long ’22 of Troy, Missouri, Jonathan Oradiegwu ’22 of Richmond, Texas, Joseph Sampson ’23 of Naperville, Illinois, and Matt Simonson ’22 and Sara Simonson ’22, both of Monmouth.

Sturgeon’s colleague Laura Moore was also in attendance, as was lab manager Steve Distin.

Five of the students gave talks in the field of chemical education. The other two presentations, by Matt Simonson and Peterson, were in the divisions of medicinal chemistry and colloid and surface chemistry, respectively.

“It was spectacular meeting experts in specific research areas and meeting other undergraduates who are conducting research using bee propolis, too,” said Peterson. “I was able to speak with experts and fellow undergraduates alike and gain insight on career progression and research methodology tips, such as how to grow bacteria cells.”


Thankful and appreciative

Roy said she was “beyond thankful” for the opportunity.

“This opportunity was valuable to me because I was able to educate many people on Alzheimer’s disease and chalcones, as well as receive many helpful insights from other students and professors who are currently working on Alzheimer’s disease,” said Roy, who works in professor Michael Prinsell’s lab. “This experience also allowed me to develop my communication skills, gain in-depth knowledge about the scientific community and confirm my decision of attending grad school.”

“Doc’s endowment helps students pay for college, then engage in summer research and now present that work to a national audience. Our attendance at the ACS meeting is a culmination of year-long student research and is the final step in Doc’s vision.” Brad Sturgeon


After graduating from Monmouth, Roy plans to pursue a Ph.D. in biochemistry.

“I have always been passionate about research and working in a lab, so after grad school I want to work in industry, possibly as a medicinal chemist, or a position specializing in the synthesis of drugs,” she said.

Peterson, who will return to Monmouth next fall, is looking forward to bringing her new knowledge into the College’s laboratory.

“I am extremely appreciative of my research adviser, analytical chemist Dr. Audra Goach,” she said. “Without her guidance and teaching, I would not have been able to conduct high-quality chemistry research. I am also grateful to the chemistry department and the generous Dr. Richard Kieft, without whom my attendance at the conference would have been impossible. I am looking forward to getting back in the laboratory and progressing my research using what I have learned at the ACS conference.”

Back to News & Events

Did you know?

  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> We offer a certified Peace Corps Preparation program that gives Peace Corps bound graduates a leg up in the application process.</p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/academics/peace-corps-prep/" target="_blank">Peace Corps Prep</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> Monmouth College offers several international trips each year during 2-week Scots Terms in January and May. Recently students have traveled to Botswana, Greece, Scotland, Japan, and more. </p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_urls"><a href="https://monmouthcollege.edu/offices/global-engagement/" target="_blank">Scots Term</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> 99% of Monmouth students received some type of scholarship or financial assistance.</p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/offices/student-financial-planning/types-of-aid/scholarships/" target="_blank">Scholarships</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> We’re no stranger to winning. Last year the Fighting Scots won Midwest Conference championships in Football, Women’s Soccer, Women’s Basketball and Men’s Track and Field. </p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_urls"><a href="https://monmouthscots.com/" target="_blank">Fighting Scots</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> Monmouth College is proudly test optional. Applicants may choose whether or to submit SAT or ACT scores for admission and scholarship consideration. </p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/admission/apply/test-optional/" target="_blank">Test Optional</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> Monmouth College offers unique academic minors in Global Public Health and Global Food Security for students who want to use their education to address global challenges. </p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/academics/global-public-health/" target="_blank">Global Public Health</a></li><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/academics/global-food-security/" target="_blank">Global Food Security</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p><strong>Monmouth College is the birthplace of the women’s fraternity movement. Pi Beta Phi, the first such collegiate women’s organization, was founded at Monmouth in 1867. It was followed three years later by Kappa Kappa Gamma. The two pioneering organizations today boast a total of 275 active chapters nationwide.</strong></p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/student-life/sororities-fraternities/" target="_blank">Sororities & Fraternities</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> Monmouth College has an active Pipe & Drum Band. Each year on Scholar’s Day in April the bagpipers wake students up at 6:00 a.m. by playing in the residence halls!</p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/academics/music/pipe-band/" target="_blank">Pipe Band</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> 98% of Monmouth graduates were employed or enrolled in graduate school within six months of graduation.</p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/wackerle-center/career-services/" target="_blank">Career Preparation</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> Monmouth College has an educational garden and 6.7 acre farm. Students grow and harvest fruits and vegetables to sell at the local farmer’s market. </p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_urls"><a href="https://monmouthcollege.edu/academics/only-at-monmouth/educational-garden-farm/" target="_blank">Garden & Farm</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> Monmouth College covers the cost for all current students to get a U.S. passport. Unlock access to over 198 different countries! We’ll even help with the paperwork :)</p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/academics/study-abroad/" target="_blank">Study Abroad</a></li></ul></div></aside>