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Mitchell Melnick ’22

2021 SOAR Profile

Interactions of a DNA Duplex with Metal Compounds

Major: Biochemistry
Hometown: Nazareth, PA
Project Advisor(s): Dr. Shari Dunham

Briefly describe your project.

My summer research sought to answer the question of whether various transition metal compounds would bind to a DNA duplex, and if so, where would they bind. I investigated the binding of the commonly used chemotherapy drug Cisplatin and compared it to multiple forms of novel Dirhodium compounds using a variety of bioanalytical techniques.


Mitchell Melnick ’22

Describe the origin of your project. (E.g., did you pitch the idea and choose a faculty member, or did they come to you with an idea?)

As a transfer student who had not yet taken biochemistry or had any research experience prior to this, I wanted a chance to experience my major firsthand in a laboratory setting. I looked into the research of many of the professors here at Moravian and found Dr. Dunham’s work most interesting. My project continues to build upon the research of many previous students over the years.

What’s the best part about working with your faculty mentor? What valuable insights have they brought to your project?

Dr. Dunham has been an excellent mentor and very patient with me throughout the course of my research. She provided me with a strong sense of support that allowed me to navigate many concepts for which I was not familiar.

What has been your biggest obstacle so far?

The biggest obstacle for me has been learning to use many different instruments that I had no prior experience with (e.g., MALDI-TOF, GFAAS).

What has been your biggest takeaway from this experience?

SOAR has provided me with lifelong skills and experience in a biochemistry laboratory. It has taught me how to better conduct myself inside a laboratory and overcome many unexpected obstacles that may occur over the course of an experiment.

What was the result of your project?

I found an effective method of running metal-bound DNA duplex on a denaturing PAGE gel and a way to quantify those results.

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

I feel very honored to have taken part in a SOAR project with Dr. Dunham and I strongly encourage others to look into the research that many of the professors do here at Moravian. Taking time to do research offers you a chance to better understand your interests and build lifelong skills.

Now that SOAR is over, do you plan to expand upon your research? If so, how?

I plan to expand upon my research through independent study. Through a few additional modifications to our DNA duplex, I hope to gain more conclusive results to my project.

Have you, or do you plan to present this research outside the SOAR presentations? If so, where? Be specific, if possible.

Outside of the normal SOAR presentation, I presented at the Landmark Conference in August, and I also plan to present a poster in spring 2022.

Are there any aspects of the program (e.g., professional opportunities) that you participated in that you really liked and would want to see continued?

I think the opportunity of presenting at the Landmark Conference was a really nice way to help build upon the experience and if more events like that were presented to those doing SOAR, it would be really appreciated.