Uriel Tayvah, 2017, Chemistry

Many medically important small molecules can be synthesized in the lab, but often these syntheses involve the use of environmentally harmful catalysts and solvents. Over the summer I worked with a group that works to synthesize structures common in biologically active small molecules using organocatalysts (catalysts containing mostly carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and other non-metal elements) instead of metal-containing catalysts. This project focused on the synthesis of spirocyclic oxindoles, a class of molecules that includes a number of molecules with important biological activity. My main tasks were running reactions and characterizing and purifying the resulting products. I also copy edited manuscripts before they were sent for review. Over the course of the internship, I learned techniques often used in organic chemistry labs, such as liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (a method used to identify the compounds present in a reaction mixture) and high performance liquid chromatography (a method used to separate the components in a reaction mixture). I hope familiarity with these techniques and with the research process overall will be helpful in any future research I may undertake.