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Cone snail research rounds out 50 years in Sullivan

July 26, 2013

Chemistry Research

After more than 50 years of scientific research in Sullivan Hall, science-related majors at Saint Francis University are saying goodbye to the facility as they move into the new Science Center when the semester starts this fall. Yet even with dreams of sparkling new research spaces dancing in their heads, three undergraduate chemistry majors and their professor put the Sullivan’s chem lab to good use for one last summer research project.

A spotlight on organic chemistry

Dr. Balazs Hargittai  led promising chemistry students sophomore Stephanie Ciraula and freshmen Cathleen Fry and Morgan Dutrow through their first undergraduate research experience. The team synthesized peptide combinations based on conotoxins (useful in the treatment of various neurological diseases) found in the venom of cone snails living in the Indian Ocean.

Importance of student research

Many Saint Francis science students start research projects as freshman or sophomores. This early exposure in the lab places them far beyond many of their counterparts entering graduate school or industry positions after graduation who did not have the same exposure to lab work as undergrads. While research is a hallmark of science programs at Saint Francis, all four academic schools of the university (Arts and Letters, Business, Health Sciences, and Sciences) embrace the idea of student research to take students beyond the boundaries of classroom theory.