2017 Grade 12 Lab Tales

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Photo credits: Lauren Todd, Communications Secretary, Berrien RESA.



Shania Ahmed

Synthesis and Hemagglutination Properties of Boronic Acid Substituted Triamines

My name is Shania Ahmed, a senior attending Edwardsburg High School. Throughout high school I have found that I am very interested in the field of science, and hope to pursue this passion at the University of Michigan. As a perspective pre-med student and unique individual, the distinctive characteristics of my project relate to my future ambitions.

For my project, I chose to study the agglutination properties of tris-boronic acid triamines. In the medical field, knowing the chemistry behind what goes on can prove to be very helpful. This is why I chose a project in this area, with hopes to learn and discover new things about blood. With this in mind, I worked in chemistry on making boronic acid containing triamines and in biology tested their interaction with blood.

This entire lab research opportunity has granted me many positive experiences and served as a creative outlet to practice science. Although it may have seemed daunting at first, this entire process made me into a different person and cultivated a love for organic chemistry I did not know I had. I hope to carry this with me throughout my future endeavours and practice something similar while in college.


Catherine Awad

Synthesis and Antibacterial Properties of Nalidixic Acid Stilbenes

My name is Catherine Awad and I am a senior at Niles High School. After high school I plan to move to California and major in clarinet performance at either Chapman University or CSU Long Beach.

My project is the synthesis and antibacterial properties of nalidixic acid stilbenes. I was excited to be able to test product against different types of bacteria and eager to see the results. Unfortunately I didn't have time to test my products against bacteria but I still learned a lot about my products and chemicals from my experiments.

Chemistry taught me to always pay attention to detail. All steps must be done precisely and carefully. I learned to always do research on the chemicals I’m using to know what they react to and the safety precautions I have to take when dealing with them. I enjoyed learning more about my experiment and testing different chemicals to see the different results. The first time my product changed color made me excited because I could finally tell that I was making progress. I enjoyed learning about chemicals and how chemistry is used in a lot of different ways.

Bailey Bakerson

Synthesis and Properties of Arylidene Thiobarbiturates as Histamine Sensors

I will be graduating from Southwestern Michigan College with an associate degree in general science and from the Mathematics and Science Center with an experience to last a lifetime. What kind of experience? One that has changed my outlook on the world and how I will go about my education.

The opportunities provided by this high school are astounding. The major highlight is the original research we perform at the beginning and end of our high school career. I was introduced to the idea of inventing, creating, and finding new ways to perform tasks my freshman year in biology with Dr. Smith.  Here, the students had to theorize and perform their own original research. The next two years were used to provide knowledge and experience to broaden our ideals. Our senior year was used to combine our experience into one final lesson.

This final year, I worked with Dr. Murray and Dr. Smith to further develop my research. Through learning how to use the equipment and properly measuring and documenting my experiment I have developed a skill and passion for research. With time I will create a practical test that will be used in the medical field.

Daniel Chi

Synthesis and Anticancer Activity of Methoxy alpha-Cyanostilbenes

My name is Daniel Chi and I attend Berrien Springs High School. I will attend Andrews University to pursue a biochemistry degree. I am an active piano player who enjoys listening to a variety of music.

I remember back in 10th grade, we were told that as seniors we would have to do our own individual research projects. This made me apprehensive. Unlike my usual labs and projects done in sophomore year, it is safe to say that this project is a unique experience. Each student has their own, personalized project where they do not know what the result will be. I believe that this allowed us to be more responsible and experienced as we explored the unknown world.

My project involved developing hybrid drugs, called α-cyanostilbenes, using an arylacetonitrile and benzaldehydes as reactants. I used synthetic techniques such as reflux and vacuum filtration. Then in the biology phase of the project I tested the products on cancer cells to see their effects.

From this research experience I have grown since the beginning of the school year. Instead of constantly searching for help, I am now able to work more independently. This project not only gave me lab experience, but also helped me prepare for any future research.

Cameron Ekanayake

Synthesis and Anticancer Activity of Chalcone Ureas

Lab! It’s as if a bunch of young bucks are finally being let out into the savannah after years of being groomed to be able to operate in such a wild ecosystem. We train and we study for years to finally reach the point where we can go out by ourselves and do our own research—one that hits close to our hearts and strikes a personal passion.

My passion and research was hybrid drugs and cancer. This passion made lab amazing. Every day I was excited to go into lab and try and learn and find new things. People were so helping and the mood was always inquisitive. Whether I was rotovapping or refluxing, filtering or “washing dishes”, I was thoroughly enjoying myself: much more than I would have being lectured to.

I made mistakes, but the beauty of lab is that I can learn from them. Never again will I prop a round bottom flask against my phone to grab filter paper (It may or may not have broken). Never again will I turn the ionized water faucet fully on and completely soak myself. And never again will I open up butyl isocyanate outside of the fume hood (don’t ask). In this short time, I have already tapped into a hidden passion that I can see translating into my future and possibly my career. With that, I look forward to continuing my research at Andrews’s labs next semester.


Derrick Ekanayake

Synthesis and Antibacterial Properties of Glycine Betaine Esters

My name is Derrick Ekanayake, a senior at Edwardsburg High School. This year, our science class is heavily research based and is the combination of chemistry and biology. We started of with chemistry in the Fall and then moved on to biology in the Spring semester. My project falls in the category of hybrid drugs. It focused on the synthesis and antibacterial properties of glycine betaine esters. It involved reacting glycine betaine with alkyl halides and then testing their antibacterial properties against gram negative and positive bacteria.

Starting off in lab was like being the new kid on the first day of school. Not knowing anyone or anything in lab was similar in the sense that it gives you that “new kid” feeling. Due to this, at first lab was slow. I would get just a few procedures done each lab day. But as time went on I became more accustomed to the lab techniques and procedures and was able to carry out numerous procedures in a single lab session. Now, feeling like the kid that knows everyone, lab was making sense and becoming a fun atmosphere. I learned many new things and I continuously find myself being grateful to have had this experience in a real lab.

Samantha Ekanayake

Synthesis and Anti-Cancer Properties of Boronic Acid Substituted Curcuminoids

My name is Samantha Ekanayake, and as a senior at Edwardsburg High School in my final months of high school, I often find myself asking the questions of “what now?” and “where to?” Outside of school, I love playing basketball and piano. Yet, math and science have always been a huge part of my life and so, when given the opportunity for early research, I was ecstatic.

At the beginning of this experience, I was terrified. Despite being in a lab before, the way we were set loose to dive headfirst into this year’s research gave us a sense of freedom – and a sense of fear. However, throughout the semester I have become increasingly confident in the lab, having gone from only being able to perform one reflux at a time, to setting up four at a time and still maintaining composure. I love vacuum filtration as well – it’s always cool to see what the products look like and how much there is.

This opportunity of early research has made me excited about research in the future, and much more likely to chase similar opportunities in college and further. Hopefully, at the University of Notre Dame, I will be able to have an experience in lab as exquisite as this.

Alena Flegel

Synthesis and Anticancer Activity of Phenolic Aurones

My name is Alena Flegel. I currently attend Niles High School and the Berrien County Math and Science Center. Next year I plan on attending the University of Michigan to major in Biology. My hobbies include reading, playing flute, and playing piano. This school year, in my senior chemistry-biology research project, I synthesized and tested several different types of aurones to see if they have cancer-fighting abilities.

I have had a lot of new experiences in lab that have helped me grow. When I started in the lab I was nervous and anxious. Mistakes were allowed, but I don’t like making mistakes. Mistakes mean having to redo work or spending extra time that wasn’t needed. Once I got into the routine of labs, I calmed down. In chemistry, every time I used a new reactant I enjoyed seeing what color the aurone product turned out to be. Often the color changed throughout the procedure and this was fun to observe and experience.

One thing I learned through lab is that I need to carefully check what I’m about to do. In biology, I didn’t check the amount of product I was putting in with a cell, and made a mistake. I learned that I really have to pay attention and focus. I also learned that I need to have patience with myself, because I would not be able to always do everything perfectly. This year has been challenging and stressful, but it's definitely a unique experience I wouldn't have gotten anywhere else.


Toby Fox

Mechanosynthesis and Sensing Capabilities of Azo Thiobarbiturates

My name is Toby Fox, a senior from Brandywine High School. Outside of school I like to play baseball and I enjoy traveling. One day I plan on moving to Hawaii to be closer to my family. The first day of school was a little overwhelming. We walked into class and were told that we had to do a research project on something that possibly had never been done before. I didn’t really know what to think of this research at first. After some consideration, I decided that I wanted to make molecular sensors. For my project, I worked on developing a mechanosynthesis method for preparing azo thiobarbiturate molecular sensors.

The first lab day was very stressful. Everyone trying to figure out how to do procedures and running around everywhere in order to obtain the needed materials. I was no different and it took me awhile to get used to doing my procedures. As the labs went on, I got more comfortable and started to enjoy myself. I learned a lot of new things about my project that I could use later on in my education.

Madeline Gelesko

Synthesis and Cell Agglutination Properties of Boronic Acid Substituted Triesters

My name is Maddie Gelesko, a 17 year old senior at Bridgman High School. I have a passion for dance and love working with younger children. Next year, I will attend Saint Mary’s College with a major in Biology, in hopes to become a doctor in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

When I actually began working on my project, I was terrified. I had to perform a reflux for my first experiment, having a general idea on how to perform the lab technique, but unfortunately, I made a mistake, possibly affecting my product, forcing me to repeat the procedure a second time.

I was super excited to continue my experimentations in Biology, however, my first participation in this portion didn’t go as expected. I started to panic, but my teacher was very optimistic, suggesting that perhaps my mistake may be actually useful.

It’s safe to say that this experience has allowed me to actually grow as a person. I now make sure to take my time, ensuring that I follow directions precisely, and also know that when things don’t go as planned, just go with the flow. It has also shown me what I can accomplish with an open mind, and I hope to be a part of something like this again.

Joseph Hess

Synthesis and Anticancer Activity of alpha-Chlorosulfamate Ureas

My name is Joseph Hess III and I attend Edwardsburg High School and the Berrien Mathematics and Science Center. Outside of school I enjoy playing football, baseball and wrestling for my high school. Coming into my senior year of high school year I knew that I would be given the opportunity to do original research in my chemistry and biology classes. The idea of conducting my own research was new and exciting to me and I was ready to start. I decided that I wanted to work with hybrid drugs. The goal of my project goal was to create a new class of hybrid drugs called α-chlorosulfamate ureas and investigate their anticancer activity.

At the beginning of the year I was overwhelmed with work. I had a lot of things to learn and complete. My experience in chemistry was fun for the most part. I got to work with different chemicals and perform different procedures I have never heard of before. Biology was my favorite part of the research. I enjoyed applying my work and studying the effects that it yielded. Overall this experience has had a significantly positive impact on me and my future. I believe that I will be able to transfer the things I learned in this class and apply them to what I will be doing in college. This year has been a fun and beneficial learning experience.

Brooke Janes

Synthesis and Hemagglutination Properties of Boronic Acid Substituted alpha-Amino Esters

My name is Brooke Janes and I attend Bridgman High School and the Berrien County Math and Science Center. In the fall of 2017 I plan to attend Central Michigan University to major in kinesiology with a focus on pre-medicine. After that I plan on attending medical school and graduating to become an emergency room physician or trauma surgeon. In my free time I enjoy volunteering in the Emergency Department, camping, fishing, playing basketball, and running track.

When I started my research project, I initially felt very lost. I had a very minute background in chemistry and biology, and almost no knowledge in research. By the end though, I can honestly say I learned a lot about the chemistry aspect of synthesizing compounds, the biology aspect of testing compounds, and the chemistry and biology behind these reactions. This experience opened my eyes to the vast possibilities of scientific research.

I enjoyed this research experience because it was one of the first independent research experiences I’ve had. I hope that I will have the opportunity to continue my research and that others will learn and benefit from my work, continuing it and applying it to do great things.

Alex Jasper

Synthesis and Metal Sensing Properties of alpha-Cyanoazastilbenes

My name is Alex Jasper and I attend Niles High School. I plan to attend Trine University for Software Engineering and also participate in soccer.

Back in 10th grade chemistry at the Berrien County Mathematics and Science Center, we were briefed on what was to come throughout our senior year by older classmates. After hearing that I must create my own research project, I was very overwhelmed with more questions than I had answers.

For my senior research project, I am synthesizing α-cyanoazastilbenes and investigating them as potential sensors for metal ions. Possible applications are environmental remediation and biomedical analysis. To accomplish their synthesis, I combined different types of amino-substituted benzaldehydes with 2-pyridylacetonitrile. Once they were synthesized, I created a solution of my sensors and tested them on different types of metals.

From my experience in lab, I have grown as an individual student. Throughout my schooling career, I have liked having an instructor by my side to help guide me through the process. After taking this class, I have learned to pull away from that and become more independent. I believe that this class has given me more experience in lab and will help me become more prepared for any future research I might do.

Lillian Jillson

Synthesis and Insecticidal Properties of Cyclized Citronellal Derivatives

My name is Lillian Jillson, a senior at the Berrien Springs High School. However, I currently only have one class there: band. In the mornings I am at the Professional Health Careers Academy and in the afternoon at the Berrien County Mathematics and Science Center.

After high school, I plan to attend Lake Michigan College for the first two years then later transfer to Michigan State University. I would like to eventually become a pediatric neurologist.

At the beginning of this project I was incredibly excited about making potential pesticides from citronellal and couldn’t wait to get working and see results. I enjoyed my time in lab, however, I didn’t care for all the tedious work. When I finally started testing my product, I was very discouraged. This is because I only got to test two products because all of my subjects died before I got the chance to test:

My mosquitoes died. The only live one I saw eventually drowned! My nematodes died, including the controls. My fruit flies died by drowning!

In the end I learned that I, myself, am the best form of pesticide. I’m so good at it that I even kill the insects without trying!



Jacob Kanaby

Synthesis and Metal Ion Sensing Properties of Azoimines

My name is Jacob Kanaby. I currently attend Edwardsburg High school and the Berrien Math and Science Center. My hobbies include playing baseball and tennis. This fall, I plan to attend Central Michigan University to major in physical therapy with a minor in health sciences.

The first day when I walked into senior chemistry class, i got hammered with a 900-point project. I felt as if my mother (in this case Dr. Murray) had shoved me out of the nest to see if I was going to fly. For my project, from a list of topics that all seemed foreign to me, I chose the topic of molecular sensors. My sensors were being designed to monitor metal ions that are important in the human body and in our environment.

At the beginning of independent research, I had doubts that I was not going to make it, but everything turned out fine for the most part. After learning more about sensors, I actually became excited about my project. I ran into a couple hiccups along the way such as mixing way too much acid in with my materials, having my friend help me rotovap and dropping my product into the water below, or forgetting to turn the knob at the top of the rotovap machine and having it suck up all my product. I was able to learn from these mistakes and find success. Overall, I enjoyed the opportunity for independent research. It came with a lot of pressure, but also a great sense of satisfaction.

Donovan McPherson

Synthesis and Properties of Enhanced Chitosan-Based Hemagglutinators

I am Donovan McPherson.  I plan on continuing my education in Computer Science in the fall of 2017 at the University of Michigan.

Throughout tenth grade, I certainly didn’t enjoy chemistry, so all of that in mind I came into my senior year at the Berrien County Math & Science Center with a mix of apathy and apprehension.  I wasn’t exactly looking forward to anything specifically, and when it time to choose our project is just chose one only because I had a general idea of what chitosan was.

As a person, this research has given me a lot.  I have never been the most motivated person.  This project has been one of the few things that I have actually worked on throughout, although that is necessary.  Almost everything I have done in public schools has only caused me to work at the last minute and still be able to get a good result.  I have learned how to work towards a goal at a common pace.  I know what it is like to actually do my own independent research.  This project has done a whole lot more for me than I would ever have thought.

Reagan Nadai

Synthesis and Anticancer Activity of Phenolic Arylidene Rhodanines

My name is Reagan Nadai and I’m a senior at Edwardsburg High School and Berrien County Math and Science Center. Next year, I will be attending University of Michigan to study Biology. As a student at the Math and Science Center, seniors get the opportunity to do their own research project for the year. When I first heard about this, I was instantly nervous. What if I messed up? What if I didn’t know what to do? What if I ruined my entire project somehow?

Despite my apprehension, I decided to look into a project involving hybrid drugs, since my career in the future will revolve around working with medicines. I picked a project that involved synthesizing different arylidene rhodanines and testing them on breast cancer cells. My worries were soon washed away when I knew what to do and how to continue working on my project. I actually found myself looking forward to each new day of researching.

Overall, I really enjoyed my experience. This helped me get a glimpse into what I’ll be doing in the coming years as I pursue my career as a pharmacist. Research has only made me more excited for my future in research and the sciences.

Gregory Olsen

Synthesis and Insecticidal Activities of Indanol Derivatives

My name is Greg Olsen, former child and professional stay at home son. I have achieved a multitude of things in my life. These include, but are not limited to, killing thousands of fruit flies, toppling an oppressive regime, and purchasing an electric guitar. However, by far my proudest achievement is completing a research project during my high school career.

I learned a lot about lab procedures and fancy chemical words with long names and numbers, but I learned more about myself; mostly that I’m a chronic procrastinator. I learned about how to gender fruit flies, and that you should never do a project that involves gendering fruit flies. My friends learned how much I like to whine about sorting and killing fruit flies as well. On a more serious note, I learned how important lab work and research is to the world.

I spent the year working with pesticides, specifically insecticides. I wanted to test my products on both insects and plants, but plants couldn’t be fit into the time frame. The opportunity to conduct research at such a low level of schooling is immense and extremely important. For how much I complained and dealt with confusion and deadlines, I would readily do a research project again (just without fruit flies).

Hannah Olson

Synthesis and Properties of Novel Diquaternary Ammonium Salts

I am Hannah Olson, a senior at Edwardsburg High School, and will be attending Belmont University in the fall to major in Management Information Systems.

My project involved the synthesis of novel diquaternary ammonium salts for potential applications as effective transfectors. Transfection is when a small channel is created in a cell so that foreign DNA can be inserted. This technique has been used to treat diseases such as cancer. Transfectors that are currently used in the biological field today are increasingly expensive. I am trying to create a transfector that is more cost effective so that more people are able to utilize this technology. It's so cool to think that the research I am doing could have a major impact on the medical field. 

I will admit when this research project was first introduced to us I was nervous to say the least. Most of my prior lab experiences had involved basic experiments with step-by-step instruction and most importantly had been previously conducted by a chemist. This was whole new territory.

After this semester in the lab, I am much more comfortable with not only my specific project but conducting chemistry experiments in general. I look forward to continuing this research this summer.

Mia Pelton

Synthesis and Hemagglutination Properties of Arginine-Based Boronic Acids

My name is Mia Pelton and I am a senior at Watervliet High School. Upon graduation, I will be majoring in Pre-Dentistry on an academic scholarship at Saint Mary’s College of Notre Dame; and finish dental school at the University of Detroit Mercy.

At the beginning of this year, I was quite enthusiastic to hear that we seniors would be able to conduct research on our own. However, to prevent radical ideas, our class was provided with a list of major categories to choose from, and then subcategories to make each project more personal.  I eagerly chose hybrid agglutinators because it closely related to my future career of becoming a dentist. My project tested agglutination properties of arginine-based boronic acids in efforts to create a solution to safely clot oral blood, replacing the use of gauze for tooth extractions and other dental procedures. Through this, I synthesized compounds that combined arginine, lysine and glutamine with 4, 3 and 2-bromomethylphenylboronic acids, transformed my solid products into solutions and then tested them on sheep and human blood.

This research project has given me a strong in-depth and hands on experience that I can apply towards college since I will be majoring in biology and minoring in chemistry. I have become more confident in working independently and determined to achieve my life goals!

Brynn Ritchey

Synthesis and Sensing Capabilities of Bidentate Azastilbenes

My name is Brynn Ritchey and I am a senior at Edwardsburg High School and the Berrien County Math and Science Center. Outside of school, I enjoy running track, reading, and hanging out with friends. I was thrilled to come back this year and actually do hands-on experimenting and lab work. I knew that I would have to take full advantage of this opportunity because even few college students rarely get this much freedom in the lab.

My project involved creating sensors to detect dangerous metals in soil or water. In the future, I want to be a botanist, which does have some chemical aspects. The project I chose could eventually have environmental applications. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to the part where I would go outside and test my product on soil and water. I actually never even made it past step one. It was very stressful all year because I didn’t get the results I wanted.

I did my entire experiment in Dr. Murray’s lab, rather than the lab with everyone else, which I believe has been really good for my overall lab experience because there is a lot less chaos so I could really focus.

Vanya Ruppart

Synthesis and Biological Applications of Liquid Crystalline Luminol Amides

Hello, my name is Vanya Ruppart and I am currently a senior at Niles High School and the Berrien County Math and Science Center. Next year I will be attending Case Western Reserve University to study Mechanical Engineering and Business. I am a serious student-athlete and loved the opportunity for research even though I have always shied away from the idea of research.

When we were presented with the ideas for our projects, I had no idea what I wanted to do. I finally decided on liquid crystalline luminol, partly because liquid crystals are awesome and have many applications, and partly because luminol glows and I thought it would be fun to work with. I was right: the labs and chemiluminescence (glowing) was extremely fun, however there was the neverending prelabs and note taking to get through. The final part of the project is a stressful time where I have to condense a year’s worth of data and experiments into a poster and research paper.

This experience has been amazing and I have learned innumerable things throughout the course of it. I have been exposed to the fun side (experiments) and the time consuming side (prelabs and the research paper). I feel that I have had a taste of what real research is and will therefore have a substantial advantage over my peers when I start research in college.

Joon Won Seo

Synthesis and Staining Properties of of Liquid Crystalline Martius Yellow

My name is Joonwon Seo and I am a senior at Berrien Springs High School and the Berrien County Math and Science Center. I am planning on attending Andrews University next year with a full scholarship. My hobbies consist of playing Counter Strike Global Offensive and traveling.

For my collaborative chemistry-biology research, I made liquid crystalline Martius Yellow using Martius Yellow and different alkyl halides. Through this, I was able to test the properties of the products and also stain keratin from hair, fingernails, and skin. My experience with this research was a new and mostly pleasant one. The usage of the new materials like the rotary evaporator gave me a step into what college research in chemistry may look like. Collaborating with students along with Dr. Murray gave me a sense of reassurance. My favorite experience through this research was probably the chill vibe in and outside of the labs. The sense of independence in my work worried me because I do tend to procrastinate, but with the help of Dr. Murray and Smith, the whole experience for me was pretty smooth and non-stress inducing. From all of this, I hope to do more research projects similar to this one in the near future with possibly better results to look at.

Alex Shellhamer

Synthesis and Insecticidal Properties of Rare Cyclic Organic Carbonates

My name is Alex Shellhamer, a senior from Edwardsburg High School.  I am planning on attending either the University of Michigan or Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis to study business.

This year I had the opportunity to work on an early research project dealing with hybrid pesticides. My project, entitled “Insecticidal Properties of Rare Cyclic Organic Carbonates,” involved the creation of a rare class of organic compounds and then investigating their insecticidal properties. My procedure involved a one-flask, two-part addition-cyclization reaction sequence to create cyclic carbonates from an aldehyde, phenyl chloroformate, with zinc acetate as catalyst. Throughout the course of my experimentation, I used aldehydes of different structures with varying carbon chain lengths and rings.

While my decision to study business might mean that the chemistry skills I have learned throughout my project won’t be especially helpful, the research and presentation skills that I pick up will. Since business is all about marketing yourself and your company to others, having this research/presentation experience on my resume will definitely make me more appealing to potential investors. It has also been a nice addition to college applications, because early research demonstrates skills that aren’t necessarily found very often among high school applicants.

Brent Simmons

Synthesis and Hemagglutination Properties of Boronic Acid Substituted Hydroxy Diesters

Hello everyone! My name is Brent Simmons and I am currently a senior at Watervliet High School, as well as at the Berrien County Math and Science Center. Throughout my senior year, I have been involved in many activities. I have a part time job, about to start a second job, and currently serving as the 2017 Mr. Watervliet. Last month I competed in the 111th Mr. Blossomtime contest. In the fall I ran cross-country and competed in our high school’s marching band. This spring I am running as a member of Watervliet’s varsity track team. After high school, I wish to attend college for pre-med and to get a degree in some form of environmental science. From this experience I have learned how to better my time management skills. It has also helped to think for myself when I’m doing individual projects.

I wish to pursue a career as a plastic surgeon. So for my project, I decided I wanted to work with agglutinators. Since there is a lot of blood involved in surgery, having a solution that can agglutinate or coagulate the blood to slow down or stop bleeding would be very useful. I am currently working with and testing agglutinators containing boronic acids, known for their ability to stick to carbohydrates.

Taylor Sobolewski

Synthesis and Carbohydrate Sensing Properties of Boronic Acid Azoimines

I am Taylor Sobolewski, a 2017 senior at Buchanan High School with plans to attend Indiana State University, South Bend this fall to study engineering. During my free time I enjoy volunteering, robotics, and spending time with my friends and loved ones.

I am synthesizing azoimines as potential sensors for carbohydrates. The hope is that azoimine sensors can become important glucose sensors for people with diabetes. When I first heard that we were going to be doing our own projects this year, it was a little terrifying. However, the fact that this could be such a huge medical advancement and I get to be a part of it is pretty amazing.  Once I found this out my project became exciting. The two-step process involves first creating the imine and then attaching an azo directly to form a conjugated azoimine structure. Later on I tested different sugars with the azoimine products to observe any color changes.

One thing I have learned from my time in the lab, is that things won’t always go right the first, second, or even third time. I know I will always remember this experience for the rest of my life. This research project will always have my name attached and will always be an important memory from my high school experience.

Madeline Stanton

Synthesis and Antibacterial Properties of Glycine Betaine Chloro Acylals

I’m Madeline Stanton, a high school senior from Niles High School and the Berrien County Math Science Center. This semester, I’ve been able to do laboratory research, and it’s been amazing. This chemistry class has let me see the reactions we’ve discussed in class while working with the materials.

Most chemistry classes have a lab portion that leaves students dazed and confused, with little understanding. Instead of lab partners, each student in our class has their own project. My project title is “Antibacterial Properties of Glycine Betaine Chloro Acylals.” Initially, I was intimidated just reading this. I had no idea what any of the words meant. I researched each term and learned glycine betaine is the main chemical in my reaction. Next, I learned organic chemistry has something called functional groups. These are groups of atoms, arranged in certain patterns that appear commonly in chemicals. These combinations have different properties that change the way they act chemically in reactions and physically with respect to boiling points and water solubility.

Once I became familiar with those concepts, I understood what I was doing in the lab. Now, I’m comfortable in the lab and want to do it later in life!

Alexandra Tobler

Synthesis and Sensing Capabilities of Arylidene Thiobarbiturates

My name is Alexandra Tobler and I am currently attending Buchanan High School. I will be attending Adrian College in the fall to pursue a degree in Accounting and to continue my volleyball career. I enjoy many things such as sports, reading, going to the beach, and spending time with my family and friends. 

During 10th grade at the Berrien County Math and Science center I discovered that chemistry was not my strong subject. After this year of intense scientific research, I have decided the science field all together is not for me. This crushed my dreams of being a scientist, but now I am hopeful I will be a great Certified Public Accountant. 

I did not enjoy being in the lab, and I realized I am better off at a desk job. I enjoyed seeing the color changes in three of my 143 sensor-salt solutions. It was nice to finally see a result after working very hard for 8 months!

This experience has made me more independent and made me realize that on my own, with help along the way, I can accomplish anything I set my mind to.

Christopher Wentworth

Synthesis and Insecticidal Properties of Novel Benzooxaheptalactones

My name is Chris Wentworth and I am participating in Dr. Murray’s and Dr. Smith’s Independent Chemistry – Biology research class this year as part of my Math and Science Center education at Andrew’s University. My research involves making novel compounds in a novel way and then studying their potential applications as insecticides and nematocides.

In the morning, I attend class at my home school, Buchanan High School, and after that I come to Andrew’s to take college electives and Math Science Center classes from Berrien RESA. I have really enjoyed participating in independent research both in the summer after my sophomore year, and now during my entire senior year.

All the responsibility and freedom has really helped me to become better at managing my own work, and having the research that I have done on my resume has opened many doors for me when applying for college and scholarships.

Senior year has been very good for me and I have greatly enjoyed my time at the Math and Science Center. After graduation, I will be attending Michigan State University to study economics and biosystems engineering. In my free time I enjoy reading, playing lots of tennis, and hanging out with my friends and family.




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