by Maddie Higgins (left) and Sutton Needham (right)
Sutton Needham, a 2011 senior at Coloma High School and Berrien County Math and Science Center, aspires to be a Diagnostic Medical Sonographer. “This is why I was really interested in doing a project about Ibuprofen Acylals,” said Needham. Ibuprofen is an NSAID pain reliever commonly used to treat a myriad of symptoms, including headaches, menstrual pain, and arthritis.
“An acylal is a hybrid organic functional group that allows two or more drugs to be combined into one molecule. Eventually our research could lead to more effective, less costly drugs because of this process,” explained Maddie Higgins, a 2011 senior at Buchanan High School, Professional Health Careers Academy, and the Berrien County Math and Science Center.
We participated in the Building Excellence in Science and Technology (BEST) early research program through the Math and Science Center for our Grade 12 chemistry class. This gave us an opportunity to do independent research using Andrews University laboratories and equipment. Dr. Desmond Murray, professor of chemistry at Andrews University, created this program a few years ago because he believes high school students are ready for independent research. In fact, student responses showed a 76% increase in interest in research, and a 71% greater interest in chemistry after taking this course.
This was our first real research experience. “We walked into the lab knowing nothing about the equipment,” stated Higgins. “However, by the time we were finished with this class, we were able to conduct our experiment independently.” We both agree that this class taught us responsibility, independence, and leadership. “Our future lab experiences will be easier because of this experience,” said Needham. “Since we are both interested in pursuing careers in the medical field, we understand the importance of research and have found this to be a valuable opportunity.”