Junior chemistry major Taryn Campbell has won a competitive Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) from the American Chemical Society that comes with a $5,000 stipend. The fellowship will support Campbell's continued research with Professor of Chemistry Timo Ovaska into synthesizing a chemical compound found in marine sponges that may have anti-HIV and tumor-reducing properties. "We're trying to synthesize a certain class of compounds called Frondosins in the lab," says Campbell.
"Timo's lab has already synthesized Frondosins A, B, and C. I'm working on Frondosin D. As far as I know, we may be the first to synthesize it." Selection for the ACS SURF program this year was competitive, with only 15 students nationwide receiving fellowships. Ovaska, who wrote Campbell a letter of recommendation and helped her prepare her proposal, said that the award is a great recognition for Campbell and for the College's chemistry program. "Given that only 15 undergraduate students in the entire country will receive the ACS research fellowship in 2011, this is a big deal and Taryn certainly deserves the recognition," says Ovaska, who serves as Campbell's adviser.
Campbell believes her lab research last summer with Professor Ovaska as part of the Keck Undergraduate Science Program gave her the experience to make her a more competitive candidate. "It takes almost a whole summer to learn lab techniques," says Campbell. "When I applied for the SURF program, I think they knew that I would be able to spend a lot more time working in the lab rather than learning methods." It wasn't always chemistry that interested Campbell.
As a prospective student, she came to the College intending to study dance. Only after taking a chemistry class did she realize that she wanted pursue it. She now plans to go to graduate schools to pursue a Ph.D. in organic chemistry. "It's a big reason why I came here instead of a dance school," says Campbell. "At another school, I never would have been taking general education classes, and I probably would not have ended up in chemistry." - By Franz Ritt