Blog #3: A Novel Unnatural Amino Acid

In my last blog post, I described the process of working through a multi-step synthesis for organic compounds. It’s definitely a long process in which you come across unexpected roadblocks, but the excitement that comes from an experiment that works is thoroughly satisfying. I spent the last few weeks of my research attempting to finish my second profluorophore, often starting over to use larger quantities of reactants after I had perfected some of the reactions. Sadly, I did not finish my second profluorophore during the summer, but I am in a great place to continue working on it in the fall. I learned so much about what works and what does not work when creating this molecule, and I am now extremely familiar with all of the instruments and techniques used in typical organic reactions.

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Blog #2: The Arduous Task of Synthesis

In my previous post, I described one of the challenges of scientific research: science takes a very long time to come to fruition. After just a week in the lab, I realized how much work is involved in just one step of a reaction. Another challenge of scientific research, particularly in chemistry, soon became apparent to me as well: it’s really hard to see what’s going on. What I mean is that, I may run a reaction using milligrams of a solid and microliters of a liquid, and those amounts can be very hard to collect, isolate, and sometimes even see.

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Blog #1: Optimizing Organic Synthesis

When I arrived at school this summer to begin conducting research in the lab, I originally intended to explore chemical synthesis with the microwave, a tool that is widely used in the biosciences to decrease chemical reaction times and increase product yields. I proposed optimizing click reactions, which are reactions that effectively connect two large molecules through a quick and stable mechanism. After talking more with my advisor, my focus shifted.

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Abstract: The Effects of Microwave Irradiation on Organic Reactions

The use of microwaves to speed chemical reactions was first explored in 1986, and since then, scientists have been successful in applying microwave technology to many areas of chemistry. Chemists have found microwave heating to be more effective than traditional heating methods because microwaves target reactants on the molecular level, providing high amounts of energy in short periods of time. Ultimately, the microwave is a tool that allows chemists to substantially decrease reaction times while maintaining high product yields and purity, thereby allowing them to increase the speed of scientific advancements.

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