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Research

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.

Funding

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.

More Information

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.

The Yatsunyk group focuses on the non-canonical DNA structures, namely G-quadruplex DNA, i-motif, and the DNA with an unknown structure implicated in replication stress. Such DNA is proposed to play regulatory roles in cancer and targeting them with novel small molecule ligands, notably porphyrins, may lead to new way of treating cancer. Current work includes pursuing X-ray crystallography of non-canonical DNA alone and in complex with ligands as well as biophysical characterization of ligand – DNA interactions.   More about the Yatsunyk Lab

Howard 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

Graves Lab

The Graves group is interested in the development of novel aluminum complexes for application as catalysts. Current projects include the synthesis of aluminum complexes of redox active ligands across various oxidation states with the aim of expanding the utility of aluminum in catalysis by enabling novel reaction profiles.

The Fera lab is interested in understanding how antibodies are produced by the immune system and how they recognize a wide range of viral antigens. Current work focuses on analyzing complexes between antibodies and viral spikes, as well as between protein kinases. To do this, lab members are determining low- and atomic- resolution structures of complexes, and determining binding affinities between protein variants and their targets. These analyses will be informative for both vaccine and therapy development.

Laela Ezra '19, Arka Rao '18, Prof Kathryn Riley

On leave 2021-2022.  The Riley group is interested in measuring the dynamic interactions of metal nanoparticles (e.g., silver) in biological and environmental solutions. Currently, group members are developing electrochemical and spectroscopic tools to quantify nanoparticle dissolution and aggregation rates, and to determine the affinity and rate of adsorption of organic molecules and proteins on nanoparticle surfaces.

Elijah Kissman '18, Nicholas Petty '18

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

Ben Hejna '19, Nathan Dow '18, Professor Paley

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.

The Yatsunyk group focuses on the non-canonical DNA structures, namely G-quadruplex DNA, i-motif, and the DNA with an unknown structure implicated in replication stress. Such DNA is proposed to play regulatory roles in cancer and targeting them with novel small molecule ligands, notably porphyrins, may lead to new way of treating cancer. Current work includes pursuing X-ray crystallography of non-canonical DNA alone and in complex with ligands as well as biophysical characterization of ligand – DNA interactions.   More about the Yatsunyk Lab

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