Zachary Lincoln was offered an extraordinary off-campus research opportunity during his junior year at Alma College. Actually, he had his choice of two opportunities through the National Science Foundation’s Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program: One at Clemson University and the other at the University of Nebraska.
Zach chose Clemson and spent 10 weeks during the summer of 2018 studying enantiomeric identification using guanidinium sulfate crystallization. This was a collaborative effort between the labs of Clemson researchers Joseph Kolis and Daniel Whitehead.
“We were using an inorganic cation to induce crystallization of organic alcohols that have chirality,” says Zach. “My goal was to attempt crystallization of a molecule with two non-superimposable orientations independently. The goal of the lab was to identify molecules of each orientation and separate them. This work is important as the FDA requires relatively enantiomeric pure pharmaceuticals in order to lessen drug side-effects.”
Outside of lab, Zach gave literature talks, participated in graduate school preparation workshops and attended the International Symposium on Halogen Bonding. At the end of the summer he received “Best Poster in Chemistry” at the Clemson University Undergraduate Symposium. Also, as a result of this experience, he will have two additional publications as the labs that he worked in finish their projects.
“Working and interacting with others in the lab, most of whom were graduate students, taught me a lot about the atmosphere of large research institutions and the graduate school experience overall,” says Zach.
Zach is not a newcomer to the chemistry lab research environment. He has worked closely with Alma College Chemistry Professor Joel Dopke since the summer following his freshman year. Their work has focused on the subject of icosahedral borane clusters and their derivatives.
As a result of this work, Zach already has a single publication to his name and has presented twice at the American Chemical Society National Conference. Additional boosters to his curriculum vitae include spending the past two and a half years as a chemistry lab teaching assistant and serving as president of the Chemistry Club and XEM chapter—the Chemistry Department honorary.
“Alma College has great chemistry advisors and professors who are willing to open up their labs and research to undergraduates,” says Zach. “I am thankful to have had these experiences as they have done a lot to prepare me for life after Alma College.”
Zach plans to graduate from Alma College in April 2019 with a bachelor of science degree in chemistry and certification from the American Chemical Society. He has applied to several Ph.D. programs. His goal is to become a professor and continue contributing to the breadth of scientific knowledge in the field of chemistry.