The Paley group specializes in developing new methods for synthetic organic chemistry. We are currently using planar chiral, enantiomerically pure iron(0) tricarbonyl diene complexes to control the absolute stereochemistry at positions along the periphery of these dienes to make spiroketals, carbocycles, and other natural product sub-units.
Rablen group research focuses on using ab initio (quantum mechanical) electronic structure calculations to address fundamental questions in physical organic chemistry. Students are currently working in two areas: (1) investigating the barriers to interconversion in atropisomeric biaryl ethers, and (2) investigating how alkyl substitution in various positions influence the stability of carbocations having multiple resonance forms. Projects completed during the last few years include a systematic and quantitative exploration of how reactant structure affects the barriers of SN2, E2, and carbocation reactions, and testing and validation of procedures for the computation of HNMR chemical shifts and coupling constants.
The Yatsunyk group focuses on the design, synthesis, and characterization of novel porphyrin-based antitumor drugs. Current work includes preparation of novel porphyrin molecules that are capable of both chiral sensing and interaction with noncanonical DNA structures called quadruplexes. In addition, our lab started working this summer on an application of quadruplex DNA in nanotechnology. More about the Yatsunyk Lab
The Howard group uses physical chemistry to study molecules bound to biological membranes. Current work focuses on using magnetic resonance spectroscopies to study the structure and drug binding properties of a protein from influenza virus. More about the Howard Lab
The Miller group uses biochemical methods to study the chemical basis of bacterial communication. In particular, we use x-ray crystallography to visualize the bacterial proteins and signal molecules in 3-dimensions at atomic resolution. More about the Miller Lab
The Sarver group uses electron spin resonance to investigate membrane-binding proteins. Current projects include the study of mutants of α-synuclein, a membrane-binding protein involved in vesicle fusion and Parkinson’s disease, and the effect that membrane curvature and charge have on the membrane-association of this protein.
Independent research is an integral part of the undergraduate experience in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Swarthmore College. Students engage in independent research throughout the year in close collaboration with faculty members. Participation in research exposes students to the practice of chemistry as a process of creating new knowledge.
Some students begin research as early as the summer after their sophomore year. Many such projects have led to student-faculty co-authored articles in major chemical journals including The Journal of the American Chemical Society, The Journal of Organic Chemistry, The Journal of Physical Chemistry, and Protein Science.
By completing an independent research project, a student may earn a degree certified by the American Chemical Society. Students also have the opportunity to write a senior thesis based on their independent research-an option that is required for chemistry majors in the Honors Program.
Research projects are supported by a wide range of funding sources including the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, Research Corporation, Petroleum Research Fund/ACS, Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation, Merck/AAAS and Swarthmore College. In addition, Swarthmore students compete successfully for paid, off-campus research internships in academic, industrial, and government laboratories.
Summer Research Groups
Each summer Swarthmore students participate in a 10 week summer research session. For many students this work leads to their senior research thesis or to student-faculty co-authored publications in peer-reviewed chemical journals.
For more details about research please visit faculty lab web pages or stop by our offices - we will be happy to talk to you about research opportunities.