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Austin Mates ‘18

“Synthesis of Rhodium-DNA Model Complexes”

Major/Minor: Biochemistry
Hometown: Whitehall, PA
Project Advisor: Dr. Stephen Dunham

Briefly describe your project.

Using the resources made available through SOAR funding, I was able to successfully synthesize and isolate the particular dirhodium complexes we had intended to examine. We confirmed the isolation through nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and high-performance liquid chromatography. After the synthesis of the complexes, I reacted them with the model DNA complex 9-ethylguanine and observed binding between the dirhodium complexes with the 9-ethylguanine.

Why did you decide to turn your idea into a SOAR project?

 I continued the research made by previous SOAR research students.

How did your faculty advisor guide you through your research?

The best part about working with my professor was experiencing a more hands-off approach to study and research that I had previously not experienced. Though I was on my own, my professor supported me throughout the process and introduced me to various new research techniques that helped me succeed.

What was your biggest obstacle?

The greatest obstacle I faced was the get acclimated with the organization of my work environment.

What has been your biggest takeaway from this experience?

Through the process of creating the presentations and giving them, I was able appreciate the technique of distilling scientific research to be easily grasped by a general audience. I learned how make my research consumable to those of a non-scientific background without dumbing-down the content. I feel that this will be a very helpful skill to have under my tool belt.

What was the result of your project?

Using the resources made available through SOAR funding I was able to successfully synthesize and isolate the particular dirhodium complexes we had intended to examine.

Will you expand on your research after this summer is over? If so, where would you like to see it go?

I plan on continuing my research through an honors project in my senior year, I hope to study these dirhodium compounds further and possibly other dirhodium compounds using a similar synthesis method.

The gifts and opportunities that the SOAR Summer 2016 Research Program have given me are invaluable. I can honestly say that this summer has been the most productive and fulfilling use of a break that I have ever experienced. Students looking to gain skill in the form of independent research and the presentation of said research should certainly apply for SOAR research.