Wabash Blogs Summers in Science

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Nolan '08 Spends Summer in Research in Hays Hall

I am currently conducting research in organic chemistry in the Chemistry Department at Wabash College. This is my second summer doing research with Dr. Paul LePlae. This summer, I have begun work in the exciting new field of organocatalysis.

Alex Nolan '08 - My project involves identifying molecules that accelerate particular reactions. The molecules we find interesting are chiral organic molecules because they have the potential to give pure chiral products.  In addition, these catalysts can accelerate reactions at a rate faster than has been previously reported.  Another benefit of organocatalysts is that they do not require the presence of a potentially hazardous metal.

Most of my time has been spent synthesizing organocatalysts. More recently, I have begun studying the kinetics of reactions that involve organocatalysts.  I use NMR (Nuclear Magnetic Resonance) to determine the rate of reaction and how that rate is influenced by several variables including: amount of catalysts, substrates, and cocatalysts. Future studies will investigate the integration of a cocatalyst within the present organocatalyst.

I am indebted to the Wabash Chemistry Department for supporting undergraduate research. My independent research experiences have enhanced my ability to think critically and solve problems.  This opportunity will help me achieve my educational and career goals after leaving Wabash.