Students present work at MERCURY session chaired by HWS professor
(Aug. 9, 2004) GENEVA, N.Y.– Four Hobart and William Smith chemistry majors presented the results of their research projects at the third national meeting of the Molecular Educational and Research Consortium in Undergraduate Computational Chemistry, dubbed MERCURY.
The four had worked with HWS Professor Carol Parish in the laboratory of Nobel Laureate Roald Hoffmann at Cornell University. Parish, whose specialty is the molecular structure and energetics of biologically important molecules, chaired the undergraduate session, as well as one of the keynote speaker sessions, at the conference. Additionally, she is a co-principle investigator on the National Science Foundation-Major Research Instrumentation grant that supports the MERCURY program.
More than 70 people in total attended the conference, held in Clinton, N.Y.
In addition to presenting their research and learning about the breadth of research in computational and theoretical chemistry, undergraduates in attendance had the opportunity to discuss their work with leading researchers in the field and find out about graduate programs at top universities.
The following HWS students presented their work:
Senior Hilda Castillo of New York City, who presented her results on the conformational flexibility of HIV protease inhibitor drugs. A biochemistry major with a double minor in education and Spanish, Castillo also is working on the quantum mechanical behavior of and tautomerization in enediyne anticancer warhead drugs. She has presented at the National American Chemical Society conference and the Undergraduate Chemistry Research Symposium, and in Spring 2002, she chaired a session during the American Chemical Society's regional research symposium, held on the HWS campus. Castillo is the recipient of a Pfizer Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship and summer research fellowships sponsored by the National Science Foundation and the American Chemical Society. Other honors include the Chemical Rubber Company's First-Year Chemistry Achievement Award and several HWS academic awards. Castillo was recently named an American Chemical Society Scholar. The daughter of Felix and Alex Castillo, she plans to pursue a Ph.D. in biochemistry upon graduation from HWS.
Junior Max Macaluso of Canandaigua, N.Y., presented his results on the electronic structure of anti-cancer enediyne warhead drugs and the role tautomerization plays in the cyclization. Macaluso is the recipient of a 2003 Merck/American Association for the Advancement of Science Summer Research Fellowship, as well as a 2004 Patchett Summer Research Fellowship. Previously, he had presented his results at the 2003 MERCURY conference. A Hobart Dean's Scholar, Macaluso has received the CRC First-Year Chemistry Achievement Award and the PolyEd Award for Achievement in Organic Chemistry. He is the son of Nicholas and Grace Macaluso of Canandaigua.
Senior Betsy Nuez of New York, N.Y., presented her quantum mechanical results on the cyclization of polyaromatic compounds important for their material properties. Nuez is a 2004 National Science Foundation Summer Fellow and a member of the American Chemical Society. The daughter of Minerva and Juan Nuez, she is a biochemistry major minoring in environmental studies.
Senior Max Zimmerley of Holliston, Mass., presented his results on the quantum mechanical behavior and cyclization of various heteroaromatic enediynes. Zimmerley presented his work at the 2003 MERCURY conference and is the recipient of a 2004 Merck/AAAS Summer Research Fellowship. A member of the HWS chemistry club and American Chemical Society, he majors in chemistry with an environmental studies minor. Zimmerley's other on-campus activities include cross country and Ultimate Frisbee. The son of Dan Zimmerley and Maureen Caffrey, he plans to pursue a Ph.D. in chemistry upon his graduation from HWS.
MERCURY is a consortium of investigators from four Northeastern liberal arts colleges: Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Hamilton College, Connecticut College and Mount Holyoke College. Support for the 2004 conference was provided by the NSF, Hamilton College and computer manufacturer SGI.
More details about the conference can be found at http://mars.chem.hamilton.edu/conference/.
Hobart College for men and William Smith College for women have an ambitious chemistry curriculum approved by the American Chemical Society. Faculty within the chemistry department encourage all students to become involved in undergraduate research, and most chemistry and biochemistry majors at the Colleges present their work at regional and national meetings. Many also publish the results of their work in peer-reviewed journals.