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Lauren Caronia ‘20

“Synthesis, Characterization, and DNA Binding of a Novel Rhodium Complex”

Major & Minor: Neuroscience & Graphic Design Majors
Hometown: Bethlehem, PA
Project Advisor(s): Dr. Stephen Dunham

Tell us about your research. 

My research involved creating a new Rhodium compound in order to test how it binds to DNA. The purpose of this was to see if the new compound could potentially be used for antitumor drugs, similar to the commonly used drug cisplatin.

How did it materialize? 

Dr. Dunham came to me with the idea of continuing to build upon the topic of Rhodium-DNA binding that previous students had worked on in the past at Moravian.

What was the best part about working with your faculty advisor? What valuable insights did they bring to the research process?

The best part was being able to have one-on-one conversations about the topic and being able to ask questions when I did not understand something. Dr. Dunham provided many valuable insights about how the synthesis occurred and how all of the testing machines we used worked. He helped me to expand upon my existing level of knowledge on chemistry and be able to understand more advanced concepts.

What was your biggest obstacle?

My biggest obstacle was that I had only taken one previous chemistry course, and while I was confident in my knowledge from that course, there were still many things I had to learn in order to be successful in completing this research. 

What was your biggest takeaway from this experience?

My biggest takeaway from this experience is feeling more comfortable in a laboratory setting and gaining insight to what scientific experimental research is like. 

What was the result of your research? 

The result of my research was that I was able to synthesize the new Rhodium complex and bind it to single nucleotide DNA bases and then to larger double strands of DNA. It was found that the new Rhodium complex had a DNA binding rate in between the two known Rhodium compounds. 

Now that SOAR is over, do you plan to expand upon your research? If so, where would you like to see it go?

I do not have any current plans to expand upon my research but it is something I would consider doing in the future. I would like to see the novel Rhodium complex start to be tested with larger DNA strands and further the long-term process of seeing how this complex would affect organisms.

In your own words, how do you feel about being rewarded this opportunity? Why should other students take advantage of the SOAR program? 

I feel very proud to have been rewarded the opportunity of participating in SOAR. It was a rare opportunity to see how research is conducted and to have been a part of a project that I feel is very beneficial. Other students should take advantage of the SOAR program because it would help them see what their field of interest is like beyond the classroom and help them gain real world experience in that field.