2018 Grade 12 LabTales

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Photo credits: Michaella Chaeny Sousa, https://michaellachaeny.wixsite.com/photography.



Hannah Ahmed

Development of Novel Cyclic Transfecting Agents

My name is Hannah Ahmed and I am currently a senior at Edwardsburg High School, while attending the Berrien County Math and Science Center. Outside of school, my other passions include tennis, travelling and volunteering at my local hospital. In the fall I am planning to attend Michigan State University to pursue Pre-Dentistry.

When we were first tasked with picking our own research projects, I was nervous; all of the topics were things I had little to no knowledge about and I was to pick one to dedicate my entire senior year to. With the help of Dr. Murray and my classmates however, I picked the topic of transfection and have had great success. 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. In my specific project, I developed unique cyclic transfecting agents that I have transferred into cells in biology. Out of the 24 compounds I made, I tested 6 of them in biology and had success with two of them. In the future these other compounds that I created in chemistry can also be tested with the DNA I made in biology. I’ve learned many new and useful concepts and techniques through my experience in this research such as rotovapping, refluxing and taking and intetrepreting IR and NMR of my reactants and products.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my year of research. The thought of me creating something that could actually have a huge impact on the medical field was a constant motivation. It gave me a glimpse into what I can be experiencing throughout my years of college, and made me into a more independent person.

See Hannah's research video here.

Daniel Arn
Synthesis and Sensing Capabilities of Azachalcone Oximes

My name is Daniel Arn, a senior at Berrien Springs High School and the Berrien County Math and Science Center. Next year, I plan to pursue a degree in Computer Science. Before even beginning my project, I felt overwhelmed. We were told that we would be conducting individualized research project, some of which had never been done before. After some consideration, I decided to work with chemical sensors since I was more interested in working with chemistry than biology.

My senior research project was titled “Synthesis and Sensing Capabilities of Azachalcone Oxime.” The purpose of my project was to create an azachalcone oxime product that could be used as a possible sensor for chemical warfare agents. The azachalcone was made by reacting 2-acetylpyridine and 4-dimethylaminobenzaldehyde. Afterwards, we made an oxime by reacting our azachalcone with hydroxylamine. Oximes have been previously used to bind with chemical nerve agents. Some chalcones, meanwhile, can be used as sensors due to their fluorescent properties.

While I was eagerly awaiting being able to conduct my own research project since 10th grade, I wasn’t prepared for how much work it turned out to be. My only chemistry lab experience had been simple step-by-step procedures in 10th grade. However, I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t enjoy working on my project. This experience gave me insight into how the scientific field works, especially in relation to conducting experiments. I also learned how much work goes into not just running the experiments, but doing pre-labs and analyzing the products.

I am not always the most motivated person when it comes to schoolwork. But having an individualized project that I was fully responsible for completing led me to want to continue working on and improving my project. In the end, I learned a lot more about chemistry and was able to have some amazing experiences.

See Daniel Arn's research video here.

Olivia Bella
Development and Hemagglutination Properties of Boronic Acid Modified Glucosamine

My name is Olivia Bella, and I am currently a senior attending Niles High School and Berrien County Math and Science Center. Outside of the class setting, I enjoy reading, jogging, and playing the piano and violin. I will be attending the University of Michigan after graduation in order to acquire a degree in English.

My project concerned the study of hemagglutination and reductive amination. Reductive amination is the process of transforming an aldehyde into an amine, and hemagglutination is the ability of blood to agglutinate. Combining these processes allowed me to attempt to create compounds that could potentially agglutinate blood. We hypothesized that agglutination could be different for each blood type and this could be useful medically, especially before blood transfusions. Knowing that my research could make a difference in a person’s life was in itself a life-changing experience.

Beginning a research project at the Math and Science Center was honestly a bit nerve-racking. I was not very good at understanding the concepts taught in Chemistry (Grade 10), and the thought of performing complicated individual experiments with chemicals that have the potential to be toxic put me on edge. However, after I finally finished my first experiment my fears were alleviated. I am now more confident in the task of conducting lab research and experiments, and in the meantime I have finally learned and understand certain functional groups and their properties in the organic chemistry field. I look forward to continuing my research going forward.

Kelly Bickel
Synthesis and Antibacterial Activity of Boronic Acid Substituted Penicillins

My name is Kelly Bickel and in addition to attending the Math and Science Center over the past four years, I also attend Niles High School. For the next four years I will be pursuing my education at the University of Michigan at the school of Literature, Science, and the Arts. While I personally enjoy the science of the mind, like in psychology/criminology, I was excited to learn in the lab this year through research in chemistry and biology, and possibly make something that could help others.

My project was the Synthesis and Antibacterial Activity of Boronic Acid Substituted Penicillins​. The goal of this project was to bind boronic acid to penicillin to make a 'stronger' penicillin, one more effective at combating bacteria. I was very excited to be able to research such an interesting topic, one that could potentially have such astounding results.

As someone interested in psychology or criminology rather than chemistry or biology, I was a little weary about this research experience. However, I learned and had more fun than I could have ever expected. I made some mistakes but with the help of Dr. Murray and Dr. Smith, I was about to learn from them and better my skills as a researcher. Early research is something that I believe is beneficial to all, not just those pursuing a degree in chemistry, biology, or a medical degree, and I am proof of that. I am immensely grateful for all I have learned this year and will carry it with me on to college.

See Kelly Bickel's research video here.

Emily Branch
Synthesis and Anticancer Activity of Indole alpha-Cyanostilbenes

My name is Emily Branch, and I am a senior at Buchanan High School.  I am attending the University of Michigan in the fall, where I will continue my studies in both Spanish and Science. I plan to go on to medical school to become either an OBGYN or an Emergency doctor.  From my research this year I truly learned what it is like to be in the lab.

The goal of my project was to synthesize anti-cancer indole-α-cyanostilbenes, with the objective being able to help prevent breast cancer. With many losing their life to breast cancer each day, research on this subject is essential to find ways to save more lives by preventing the cause. The project is significant because it has never been done before, and this made it very different from other lab experiments I had done previously. I decided to research this particular project because it is related to my potential future career (as an OBGYN) as I would be dealing with women with breast cancer. 

From this research experience I have become more comfortable in the lab and I know I will be ready to tackle on any sort of lab research I will be given in the future. In college I plan on helping fellow professors with their research projects, so I may hopefully get something published. I have a passion for traveling and helping others, and I hope to take these aspirations with me to my career.

See Emily Branch's research video here.

Everett Case
Development of Nile Blue A Liquid Crystals as Potential Sensors for Date Rape Drugs

My name is Everett Case. I’m a senior at Berrien Springs High School. One of the greatest benefits to my educational experience was being part of the Math and Science Center. It introduced me to a multitude of diverse science fields and developed my drive for computer science, a passion that I intend to pursue through the University of Toronto in Ontario, Canada. While I might not consider chemistry the right field for me, I’m glad that I’ve been given the opportunity to conduct my own early research project through senior year bio-chemistry.

I’ve always been excited to choose my own path, and this project let me do exactly that. I’ve focused on something that I know can have serious real-life applications, attempting to make a chemical that senses date rape drugs. This was a lot more complicated than you think, and involved a great many steps. We ran into some complications while performing even the first steps. This taught me my first lesson about the reality of chemistry. Even though something should be fundamentally working, it might not. It really is a science in that you just have to try it and find out sometimes.

My biggest takeaway from this class might not be all of the hard science and research that I performed in order to create a viable experiment. The real lesson in all of this is that no matter what field you might be in, the scientific community will always be there to help. Whether it’s a friendly neighbor helping you clean your glassware and hold your flask while you clamp it, or someone writing the answer to your question on a forum post, there is always someone who will put their own time aside to assist another fellow scientist in need. That’s something I find truly special here.

See Everett Case's research video here.

Robert Clark
Synthesis and Antifungal Activity of Biodegradable Quaternary Ammonium Acylals

My name is Robert Clark and I am a senior at Edwardsburg High School and the Berrien County Math and Science Center. I will be pursuing a degree in biomedical engineering at Purdue University starting next fall. My academic passions are math and science, but I am also an avid thespian and motocross racer.

At the beginning of the year, I was overwhelmed by the prospect of freedom in my research, but I ultimately embraced it and chose to investigate hybrid drugs.  Hybrid drug development is an important subcategory of biomedical engineering, and I have been able to fully immerse myself into it as a high school student. This year, I have delved into the synthesis and antifungal activity of biodegradable quaternary ammonium acylals. While this may sound complicated, and it is, my research essentially consisted of reacting chemicals and using processes like refluxing and rotovapping to produce the quaternary ammonium.

After my product was synthesized, I tested its efficacy against fungi in the biology lab. After spending over half an academic year making products, watching many of them fail to inhibit fungal growth was disappointing. However, the successes I did have were even more exciting, and the “failures” I experienced were integral to the scientific process.

As a freshman, I had been both fearful and eager to complete a full year of laboratory research.  I had no idea how much fun I would have in the lab, while following safety precautions, of course. I don’t know if there’s anything as satisfying as seeing different chemicals morph right before your eyes. This opportunity has shown me the beauty and thrill in research, and I am confident that I will find joy in continuing on this career path.

See Robert Clark's research video here.

Matthew Davis
Synthesis and Development of New Vitamin C Sensors

My name is Matthew Davis and I am a senior at Coloma High School. I enjoy doing stuff outside, whether it be walking my dog or fishing. After High School I plan on attending Adrian College and obtaining a bachelors in Mathematics, and then pursuing a Masters in Applied Mathematics. Although my intended area of study is very different from this project, I have still learned a lot that will help my time in college.

For my project, I chose to study the synthesis and development of Vitamin C Sensors using Azo Indophenols. I chose this project primarily because it would be more chemistry intensive, and it was one of the few topics that I actually could understand the application of right out of the gate. Vitamin C is probably my favorite nutrient, and it helps me massively whenever I get sick.

This lab research opportunity has given me the opportunity to learn what it’s like to do formal lab research, not just an hour long experiment. It has been very fun and I have learned so much this past semester.

See Matthew Davis's research video here.

Collin Esarey
Synthesis and Sensing Properties of Azooximes

My name is Collin Esarey. I am a senior currently attending Edwardsburg High School. I have always been very interested in science and chemistry throughout my life and I hope to pursue this passion at the University of Pennsylvania. I want to enter on a pre-med track with a focus on majoring in Biochemistry along with a dual major in either actuarial sciences or business and finance. These ideas of what I want to do with my life stem from wanting to help make the world a better place, and I hope my project could help contribute to this idea that I possess.

For my project, I chose to synthesize and test the sensing properties of Azooximes. Organophosphate based chemical warfare agents are becoming an increasing problem in our current world with their possession by regimes like that in Syria and North Korea. I hope that my sensor can help pave the way for chemical sensors that can better detect organophosphates in chemical warfare agents and even the over presence of pesticides on crops. With this in mind, I worked in chemistry on making my compound so that it could be tested with organophosphates.

This entire lab research opportunity has just further increased my interest in the field of chemistry. Being able to see problems in the world and trying to find a solution to them can help me further in my life by allowing me to get my hands dirty and truly learn information instead of just sitting in a lecture (Benjamin Franklin even said that, “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn. After learning the seemingly difficult task on doing full lab experiments by myself this summer, I quickly found that I loved this experience that I will continue to take with me in my future endeavors.

See Collin Esarey's research video here.

Matt Gremaux
Synthesis and Biological Activity of Novel Formazans – Tetrazoliums

My name is Shania Ahmed, a senior attending Edwardsburg High School. id not know I had. I hope to carry this with me throughout my future endeavours and practice something similar while in college.

See Matthew Gremaux's research video here.

Jared Hainey
Synthesis and Biological Applications of Liquid Crystalline Nile Blue A Amides

My name is Jared Hainey and I go to Niles High School and attend the Berrien County Math and Science Center. From a young age, I have always wanted to be an engineer. This is my senior year in high school and college is just around the corner. Time to get down to business. Where do I want to go to college? What type of engineering do I want to major in? Am I going to be prepared for it? The goal of my senior year is to start answering these questions.

At the beginning of the year, we learned what topics we could choose to conduct our research projects with. Liquid crystals and their biological application caught my eye because they had some relevance to engineering. I hoped that this project will give me some more insight into answering what type of engineer I want to be, do I want to be a chemistry or biological engineer or maybe something else?

My project started with googling a strange biological dye called Nile Blue A and then coming to find out that I would have to memorize all the many aromatic rings, amines and alkenes that it was made out of… it was a rough beginning to the year. But, everything smoothed out after I learned what the objective of my project was-- turning Nile Blue A into a liquid crystal amide and how I could accomplish it.

As I went from experiment to experiment, I actually began to have some fun. It was cool to get the NMR and IR sheets back and see that my product actually looked like it had a liquid crystalline structure. As well as to see the color of my products ranging between all different shades of blue and green. Although a couple students in the lab did not appreciate when one of the many shades of blue and green got on their hands after using the sink.

What began as a daunting task thrown at me at the beginning of the year, became a fun way for me to research and actually make my own liquid crystals. Along with getting an insight into beginning to answer one of my all important questions: what type of engineering do I want to major in?

See Jared Hainey's research video here.

Matt Harazin
Synthesis and Sensor Applications of Liquid Crystalline Dichlorofluorescin Esters

My name is Matthew Harazin and I’m a senior at Bridgman High School. I am a hardworking student athlete who plays soccer and basketball and also enjoys spending quality time with my family. For college, I plan to attend Central Michigan University and study mechanical engineering. For my chemistry class, I was required to do research that pushed me to step outside my comfort zone and learn what doing research was truly about.

My project is Synthesis and Biological Applications of Liquid Crystalline Dichlorofluorescein Esters. The first time I heard that I had no clue what any of it meant and doubted that I would manage to be successful. However, I took it upon myself to ask as many questions as I could and worked hard in order to get an idea of what I was suppose to do. The first few days in lab were hard, but soon everything started to make more sense. I became more confident in setting up my reflux reaction and vacuum filtering it to isolate my products. After doing the first few, I managed to set up two reactions at a time per lab period which would not have even crossed my mind as possible going into this in the beginning.

There were a few setbacks though. Even though I was setting up a lot of reactions, I procrastinated on doing the IR’s and NMR’s for my products and my starting materials. When I finally got around to doing them, I had to get through about 14 NMR’s and 14 IR’s. Wanting to get all of them done in one lab period, I rushed on the NMR’s causing a few of them to come out showing unwanted results. I learned that I couldn’t rush these things and taking the time to do it right the first time meant not having to redo it which wasted both time and materials.

For the next part of my project, I ended up staying in chemistry and didn’t move over to biology. I created a few more products and started the second phase for my project. I had to test my sensor with different analytes. When I worked with the thiols, I had to work in the freezer in order to contain the smell. Fighting through the cold and the terrible smell, I managed to get everything done. However, the freezer didn’t contain the smell and I ended up stinking up a huge part of the building.

I continued testing my sensors with different analytes and eventually changed the solvent I was using which produced better results. When I finally finished all my procedures I looked back over everything I managed to accomplish. In the beginning of the year I had no idea what I was going to do but I managed to get through it successful which made me proud of what I accomplished. Overall, this experience was challenging but I managed to learn so much. I’m thankful for all the help I received from my teachers and this experience showed me that hard work and perseverance pays off.

See Matthew Harazin's research video here.

Elizabeth Hartz
Synthesis and Anticancer Activity of  Heterocyclic Boronic Acid Substituted alpha-Cyanostilbenes

My name is Elizabeth Hartz. I am a senior at Brandywine High School, as well as at the Math and Science Center. Outside of being a student, I enjoy playing tennis and the trumpet and hanging out with my friends. I will be attending Michigan State University next fall to study something related to the science field.

I remember stepping into my first day of biochemistry very clearly. It had already been a stressful day (on account of the very, very minor car accident I had just gotten into) and I stepped into class feeling like I was being thrown into battle with no armor. After a few weeks of deliberating over what project I was going to work on. I decided on Synthesis and Anti-Cancer Activity of Heterocyclic Boronic Acid Substituted α-Cyanostilbene. I would be testing α-cyanostilbenes and seeing if they are able to shrink the growth of cancer cells.

I learned a lot during that first few months of lab. I learned that gloves should be worn at all times or else you will definitely stain your hands pink. I also learned that pipettes break very easily, especially if you have shaky hands like I do. I learned about time management, how to keep a proper lab notebook, and lab procedures, such as refluxing, vacuum filtration and how to take the IR of a sample. Perhaps the most important thing I learned was perseverance. The first semester of my project often did not go as well as I had hoped. I would often end up with percent yields that were 10 times the amount of product I was supposed to be getting, with no explanation.

The second semester of this year was spent in biology, testing my products to see if they could actually shrink cancer cells. In biology, I learned that you MUST tape your pipette tips back up once your done and that if you lose four or five or eight pipette tips in cell dye, you don’t have to worry. Once again, the more important things I learned, were about time management, responsibility, and perseverance. I had to be able to manage my time, and I was also responsible for keeping track of when assignments were due and when experiments needed to be done so I could stay on track.

I know now that despite the stress, this experience has prepared me for college and has taught me things that I will carry with me for the rest of my life and I am very thankful for that.


Samantha Hildebrand
Synthesis and Anticancer Activity of Fatty Acylureas

My name is Samantha Hildebrand, I am a senior at Berrien Springs High School. I have always had a strong interest in math and science. I plan to combine those and pursue a mechanical engineering degree from Purdue University. This project has shown me another field of engineering and given me experience in the research field that I might not have had otherwise.

For my project, my topic was the synthesis and anticancer activity of fatty acylureas. I chose to study this area because cancer is something that many members of my family have been affected by and I want to do everything I can to learn more about it and make it go away.  While in the chemistry lab, I worked on reacting octyl isocyanate with aromatic primary amides. When I transferred to biology, I tested three of my compounds on breast cancer cells. The two that showed promising results contained nicotinamide and isonicotinamide and slowed the growth rate of the cancer cells.

Participating in a research lab is something I never would have done of my own initiative, but I am so glad that I had the opportunity to do it. I learned so many skills and a lot of new information that will help me in my future goals.

See Samantha Hildebrand's research video here.

Marcus Hurt
Synthesis and Sensor Application of Liquid Crystalline Eosin Y Esters

My name is Marcus Hurt and I attended Niles High School. My research project is creating an eosin y liquid crystal to detect amonia and amines. When certain foods begin to decay, like fish, they release ammoina or amines which, if detected, can be a sign for the seller to remove them from shelves or a consumer to throw the items out. The liquid crystal I am creating is trying to enhance the detective properties of eosin y by changing it to a liquid crystaline form. With the help of Dr. Murray and the lab TAs,  I learned the process of reflux, ice bath, and vaccum filtration to create the product. This was all invaluable time spent in a real university lab performing real world research.

My experiences with the lab were all positive. I learned how to correctly measure materials, lab safety, lab procedures and who to ask for help. Dr. Murray and the TAs were always there when I needed help understanding a concept or performing a new lab procedure. Each day I was excited to go into lab and try something new. In creating real world research, I was enhancing a scientific discussion as a high schooler, and that was a truly amazing feeling. To be in the lab with my peers and getting hands on experience with procedures and methodology we could very possibly use in future careers was unreal.

The overall experience of being in the lab was something I wouldn’t trade for the world. I learned by applying my knowledge and got to really feel all parts of a researcher’s job from the lab to the paperwork to testing the final product. Working alongside my friends, we dove into the deep end of the work and partook in what is likely the best research experience any of us have ever had.

Marcus is an aspiring engineer who loves to tinker with projects.

Alec Janowski
Effect of Boronic Acid Appendages on Chitosan Hemagglutination Properties

My name is Alec Janowski, and I am a senior at Niles High School. Next year I plan to attend Stanford University to study Computer Science with a focus on Artificial Intelligence. I have always been more of a physics guy, so I was somewhat apprehensive about a senior research project in organic chemistry. To my surprise, however, working on my project has been a fantastic experience and has taught me quite a bit about chemistry.

As a computer scientist, few of the research options seemed to apply directly to my field, but I chose to research blood agglutination because of its practical application to medicine. Over the course of the year, I have grown increasingly interested in my research, and I have even attempted to design a few of my own lab experiments. Testing the different reaction techniques and observing the drastically different outcomes is genuinely intriguing, and I am always excited to analyze new NMR and IR data.

Many of the other students seem to find my obsession with trying dozens of stoichiometric variations humorous, and I suppose that my passion is quite funny at times. My research paper probably reflects the massive amount of data I gathered throughout the year with its multi-page tables and packet of NMR results. Although it may not seem like the most exciting thing, data compilation and analysis was my favorite aspect of the project. I guess that I just love sorting through numbers to find trends and connections.

The biology side of my project has been enjoyable as well. I enjoyed testing the product on real human blood and looking for agglutination. I also had a great time working with Dr. Simpson and learning about different blood types and properties.

Overall this year has been a blast. The senior research project, although it was scary at first, was definitely worth it, and working in the lab was incredibly fun. I appreciate all of the help from Dr. Murray, Dr. Smith, and Dr. Simpson throughout the project, and I am sure that they are beyond tired of me invading their offices and asking dozens of questions. I wish the future researchers the best of luck, and I can’t wait to see what college has in store.

See Alec Janowski's research video here.

Cecily Kaufmann
Synthesis and Anticancer Activity of Quinoline alpha-Cyanostilbenes

I am Cecily Kaufmann, and I attend Berrien County Math and Science Center. I plan on continuing research as an undergraduate student at Andrews University. My intended college majors are Biochemistry and Public Health. I am a gymnast and an aerialist who loves to travel all over the world and meet new people along the way.

My research, Synthesis and Anti-cancer Activity of Quinoline α-Cyanostilbenes, has been a learning experience driven by curiosity. My project topic came about after going as a medical missionary to Togo, West Africa this past summer. I helped surgically remove tumors, which led to my interest in anticancer hybrid drugs. While I was there, there were many patients treated with quinoline for malaria. This peaked my interest in the drug, and I began my research on the topic.

Quinoline has shown antimalarial, antibacterial, antifungal, anthelmintic, cardiotonic, anticonvulsant, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic activity. Through further research, I discovered that stilbenes are natural phenolic compounds that function as antimicrobial phytoalexins in plants. They are known from other research to affect the human health as a cardioprotective, as well as antibacterial, antioxidative and anti neoplastic agents. Additionally, evidence of antifungal, estrogeni, antitumoral and tyrosinase inhibitory activity has also been observed. Stilbenes are produced by plant organisms in a defensive response to an infection after exposure to microorganisms.

The opportunity to conduct this research was only possible with the amazing research facilities of Andrews University and its professors, Dr. Murray and Dr. Smith. I thank them and the Berrien County Math and Science Center for this wonderful experience that allowed me to explore the world of science and discover new possibilities.

See Cecily Kaufmann's research video here.

Conor McKiernan
Synthesis and Biological Applications of Liquid Crystalline Azure A Amides

I am Conor McKiernan, a senior at Niles High School and the Berrien County Math and Science Center. I am a spirited snowboarder with a love for learning. I plan to pursue aerospace engineering and computer engineering at the University of Michigan.

Throughout my months in the classroom and bio-chem lab I learned so much about my specific topic. My project, Synthesis and Biological Applications of Liquid Crystalline Azure A Amides, is meant to create a liquid crystal out of a biological stain and explore its biological applications. In taking on this challenge, I learned lab techniques such as vacuum filtration, reflux, rotovapping, micropipetting, and electrophoresis. I also learned about my materials: Azure A, acyl chlorides, liquid crystals, agarose, ethidium bromide, and DNA ladder. Not a single lab day went by without me gaining new knowledge.

In the chemistry phase of experimenting, I synthesized, isolated, and identified my product: liquid crystalline Azure A. When all was done, I was left with vials of precious powder, which I took into the biology phase to use in cells. In the biology phase, I used my product to develop a method to stain DNA in a gel. I ended up with blue stained DNA stripes, meaning my project was successful.

My experiences in the class and lab have been priceless. I not only learned a ton about science, but I learned things about myself as well. At the beginning of the year, I was tentative and afraid to start lab. Day by day I became more comfortable. At the end of it, I realized that I could achieve anything. My confidence has gone up and I am not afraid of taking on challenges. Lab has been an overwhelmingly positive experience for me.

See Conor McKiernan's research video here.

Erica Mitchell
Synthesis and Antiparasitic Properties of Rare Benzooxaheptalactones

Who knew chemistry could be so much fun?! Hi, Erica Mitchell here to tell you about my amazing experiences in the chem lab this fall, but first, a little about myself. I am a senior at Buchanan High School and I  have attended the Berrien County Math and Science Center for the past four years, and I plan on attending Grand Valley in the fall to study sciences and get into a pre-med program.

This fall my classmates and I walked into Dr. Murray’s class a little hesitant as to what the semester would bring. Our shyness was short lived however, as we got excited about our upcoming projects and the new research we would be starting. 

For my research project I choose to study hybrid pesticides, specifically,  the Synthesis and Antiparasitic Properties of Rare Benzooxaheptalactones. This basically means making a new class of cyclic esters and investigating their antiparasitic properties. I spent the majority of my year in chemistry working hard to find the best reaction conditions for making benzooxaheptalactones. When I finally headed to bio we only had a week left of lab time so my results were not fully conclusive. I did however learn a lot through my research and even had fun along the way.

See Erica Mitchell's research video here.

Kaylee Moore
Development of Sensors for Vitamin C

My name is Kaylee Moore. I attend Edwardsburg High School and Berrien Math Science Center. I intend on majoring in biology or chemistry in college. Throughout my experience at Math Science Center I have found myself to be most interested in pursuing a career in the medical field. One of the most exciting things about my senior year was being able to participate in a chemistry/biology yearlong project.

After researching many options, I settled on developing a colorimetric sensor for Vitamin C. The goals of my project was to identify the structure of my reaction products and single out the best aromatic amine for identifying the Vitamin C. I enjoyed researching my project because when the aromatic amines were changed, the colors produced were changed too.  Everyday brought a new color and new end result. Not only was I able to learn from my own project but I was able to learn from my classmate’s projects as well. I believe I gained a lot of knowledge in research which will prove to be very beneficial in the pre-med route.

See Kaylee Moore's research video here.

Matt Norris
Synthesis and Biological Applications of Liquid Crystalline Sudan II Esters & Carbamates

My name is Shania Ahmed, a senior attending Edwardsburg High School. id not know I had. I hope to carry this with me throughout my future endeavours and practice something similar while in college.

Jasmine Sindelar
Development of Novel Acyclic Tris Quat Transfecting Agents

My name is Jasmine Sindelar and I am currently a senior at Edwardsburg High School and the Berrien County Math and Science Center. Outside of school, I enjoy performing in musicals and plays.  This fall, I plan to attend the University of Notre Dame to major in chemistry on the pre-med track. I hope to become a pediatrician after medical school.

My research project involved the development of novel acyclic tris-quaternary transfecting agents. Transfection is the process of deliberately introducing nucleic acids (in this project, specifically DNA) across plasma membranes from one cell’s nucleus into another cell’s nucleus. With this project, I discovered that patience is a virtue. When I moved over to biology, things kept happening so that I wasn’t able to obtain the plasmid DNA I needed. This led to me being able to only test 7 of the 18 products I created.

The opportunity that I have been presented with is amazing considering the fact that I get to do something for the medical field before I even graduate from high school. When I was first assigned this project, I was a little bit apprehensive because I hadn’t really heard of transfection. Also, I was always given a step by step procedure in the past and now I had to start making my own decisions (but under the guidance of the one and only D Murray, of course). Once I made the lab my new home, however, I had a lot of fun and wanted to keep doing more experiments. Of course, there were times when things didn’t go as expected, but I learned how to work through the uncertainties of my project and how to adjust. I loved this experience and hope to continue doing research in college.

See Jasmine Sindelar's research video here.

Kailey Skarbek
Synthesis and Biological Applications of Liquid Crystalline Martius Yellow Carbamates

My name is Kailey Skarbek and I attend Niles High School along with the Berrien County Math and Science Center. In the fall of 2018, I plan to attend Michigan State to major in marketing and minor in entrepreneurship. After my undergraduate degree, I plan to receive my MBA. In my free time I enjoy running track and cross country, baking, traveling, and reading.

When starting my research project, I was very nervous. I am the first one to admit that chemistry and biology doesn’t come easy to me. I was nervous that I wouldn’t be able to perform the research correctly. The first couple days of my experiment was rough. I had to constantly ask people for help. As time went on, I became more comfortable with my experiment and my ability to perform it. By the end, I wasn’t only able to complete my experiments with no help, but I understood what I was doing.

See Kailey Skarbek's research video here.

Luke Smous
Development of Novel Acyclic Bis Quat Transfecting Agents

My name is Luke Smous, and I am a senior at Edwardsburg High School. Next year, I plan to attend the University of Michigan to study Biology. In my free time, I enjoy playing football, hanging out with friends, and exercising.

This past research project dealing with Bis-Quat Transfecting Agents at Andrews University has been an eye-opening experience for me. I never knew what it was like to be a true scientist in the field. To be able to study a sophisticated field of transfection, which is the process of transfering DNA from one eukaryotic cell to another, was very challenging but also enriching. I also felt like a true scientist when I had to go to lab almost everyday, put on goggles, and gloves in order to carry out my experiments. Overall, I was very glad that I was able to research this topic and experiment in the lab. I would like to thank Dr. Murray, Dr. Smith, and the Berrien County Math & Science Center for giving me this tremendous opportunity.

Brandon Strickland
Synthesis and Anticancer Activity of Arylidene Pyrazolones

My name is Shania Ahmed, a senior attending Edwardsburg High School. id not know I had. I hope to carry this with me throughout my future endeavours and practice something similar while in college.

Brianna Wright
Synthesis and Antibacterial Activity of Phenolic Azo Drugs

My name is Brianna Wright, and I am a senior at Coloma High School. In the fall I will be attending University of Michigan in Ann Arbor for a degree in biology and I hope to move on to medical school after that and ultimately become a dermatologist.

When I learned that we would be doing independent research projects, I was unbelievably excited. However, more noticeable was the definite feeling of nervousness. I was so scared of messing something up, or even worse, blowing something up. Thankfully, there has been 100% less things blowing up in lab than I expected. Over time, I have gotten over my fears and that has made things in this class a lot easier and more enjoyable.

Regardless of the lack of things blowing up, my lab experience so far has definitely been interesting. It has also been extremely valuable. Though antibacterials wasn’t my first choice, it has proven itself to be a pleasant and beneficial research opportunity. I am grateful for having had the opportunity to participate in this research program. I have thoroughly enjoyed the time that I have spent in this class this year.

See Brianna Wright's research video here.

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