Unexpected Discoveries

Four years ago, I would have never thought that I would be involved in a research project in which I work with bacteria and organometallic compounds. As a second-semester sophomore, I have started a project with two other undergraduate Wagner science students, Daniel Cimilluca and Sandra Minchala. Our project not only involves three undergraduate science students, but also three different science professors of unique specialties: Dr. Stepanova, the current organic chemistry professor, Dr. West, a professor of general chemistry, and Dr. Corbo, a professor in the microbiology department.

Before coming to Wagner, I had the misconception that research was a dull, monotonous task. After going on field trips for the experiential learning component of my freshman learning community, my view of research changed dramatically. I found the research projects of other scientists fascinating. When I registered for classes last fall, I was excited to find a project that piqued my interest and involved two sides of science.

I had never imagined that I would immerse myself so deeply in chemistry. Through my research experience so far, I realized that everything that my professors have taught me in class actually has an application in the research world. I have had to recall and use topics and skills that I learned during my first semester of general chemistry freshman year. In addition to recalling old material, I had to read a lot of additional materials in order to grasp the reasoning behind certain techniques and choices the professors made for our project.

In most chemistry classes, transition metals are skipped over and saved for later, more advanced chemistry courses. Our project focuses on the transition metal, palladium, so Sandra, Daniel, and I all had to read excerpts from textbooks and other chemistry books focusing on the characteristics of transition metals and the properties of palladium.

Our team ran the first test run on February 13th. We tested the amine that we are planning on attaching to the palladium atom on four different types of bacteria. We are in the process of making our palladium complex to see what effects it will have on the four different bacteria. Our ultimate goal is to learn more about palladium properties. Many scientists are conducting research on the effects palladium has on cells because there is potential to use this metal to destroy cancer cells in the future. In April, our team will be attending the Eastern Colleges Science Conference in Rhode Island to present our preliminary findings.

Trial Run #1: Twenty-eight petri dishes full of bacteria and how these organisms will react to the amine that our team is going to attach to palladium.

Trial Run #1: Twenty-eight petri dishes full of bacteria and how these organisms will react to the amine that our team is going to attach to palladium.

It has been an enriching experience for me thus far, and I highly recommend other students to try out the field of research for themselves. I have uncovered many unexpected discoveries about myself, science, and the field of research, and I am looking forward to see what other surprises are in store in the future.

Author: Lynn Tay

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