Chemistry

Cox Discovers New Molecular Gelator

November 01, 2013

Swartz Creek junior Sarah Cox has had a passion for science since she was in the sixth grade, and it has only grown with time…

Swartz Creek junior Sarah Cox has had a passion for science since she was in the sixth grade, and it has only grown with time.

“My sixth grade teacher, Mrs. Mann, presented science in a really different way and showed me how interesting it could be,” she says. “From then on I was always interested in the sciences.”

Cox, a biology major, was attracted to the idea of a liberal arts education because of the opportunity to be challenged in multiple disciplines. She chose Alma College because of the friendly people and the high placement of students into graduate programs.

She was accepted as one of 13 students from a pool of about 250 to 350 applicants to complete a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) for the chemistry department at the University of Michigan in summer 2013.

While at the University of Michigan, she worked in a lab conducting research on molecular gelators using computational methods to predict possible gel forming molecules. She then synthesized and screened for successful gelators. Through her research Cox succeeded in discovering a new molecular gelator.

“Alma College very much prepared me for this experience by giving me the opportunity to do research and work one-on-one with a professor as an undergraduate,” Cox says. “The depth and the real world application of the courses that I took prior to my REU were very useful when I was working in the lab.”

She was able to learn what a typical year in graduate school will be like and was also able to discover how rewarding it is to make new discoveries in her field of study.

After graduating from Alma College, Cox plans to go to graduate school and earn a doctoral degree in either biology or chemistry. After receiving her doctorate, she hopes to spend some time working in industry and, possibly, teach at the collegiate level.