Graduate STEM Fellow Profile
Initiating New Science Partnerships in Rural Education (INSPIRE)
Thesis: Synthesis of Complex Heterocycles via Novel Transition Metal-Catalyzed Cycloaddition Reactions
College/University: Mississippi State University
Research Advisor: Gerald Rowland
Degree Sought: Ph.D., Chemistry
Research Focus: Synthesis of α-lactams and development of new enantioselective reactions
Teaching Partner(s): Patricia Cochran
Description of Research
My Ph.D. research is in the area of organometallics and will focus on the synthesis and isolation of α-lactams. Currently I am working on a collaborative project on the synthesis of analogues of a biologically important natural product with the Emerson lab in the chemistry department. Our hope is to be able to control the selectivity of these compounds by varying the nucleophiles and metals in subsequent reactions. I am also interested in the development of new rhodium catalysts and diazo compounds for the development of enantioselective carbene and nitrene transfer reactions.
Example of how my research is integrated into my GK-12 experience
Working with middle school children provides me with the opportunity to integrate the basics of chemistry into many of the lessons that I develop. Whether through showing the children the equipment that I use or bringing in samples that I have synthesized, I always try to find some way of showing them how the information being presented can be transferred to everyday life. One specific example was a lesson that followed the unit on the structure and organization of the periodic table. I developed a lab where the students demonstrated their knowledge of the atom and the organization of the periodic table by having them perform flame tests with varying metal salts. I also brought several dozen vials of metals and metal complexes that I use daily in my lab. The students had to demonstrate their knowledge by relating the different color flames to the size and transitions that each metal could have. Then based on what they observed, they were asked to make predictions for other metals.