Young scientists at Washington College learn not to believe everything they read. When Ericka Malow ‘10 came across an article in the Journal of Organic Chemistry suggesting that 2,3-diaminophenazine was produced as the protonated form in an organic reaction, she was skeptical.
Ericka spent her summer proving the authors wrong. She and Kristin Bircsak ‘10 worked in Professor Rick Locker’s lab as part of the College’s summer science research program.
“We were using the NMR spectrometer to look at nitrogen bases,” she explains, “and we repeated the experiment several times. Our NMR spectra matched theirs, but our conclusions were different.” She presented her findings at the poster presentation on campus this fall and would like to publish her work.
A chemistry major with a minor in biology, Ericka came to Washington College from Brunswick, Ohio. “The new science center was one of the big deciding factors in my college choice,” she says. “There has been new machinery coming in, and I like the teaching approach here. When classes are small, you have more interaction with the professors. I think you learn a lot more that way.”
After her summer experience in the lab, Ericka is intent on a career in research, and is leaning toward the pharmaceutical industry.
“I like the organic chemistry/biochemistry aspect,” she says. “It’s interesting to me the way medicines actually work inside the body to fight disease. Advances made through pharmaceutical research can really have an impact on people’s lives.”
As much as she loves working in the chemistry lab, Ericka also enjoys her time on the Chester River. She was part of the women’s varsity eight that represented WC at the NCAA rowing championships for the first time in College history. She and her teammates flew to Sacramento last spring for the national competition.
“Rowing has taken me places I’ve never been before,” she says, ticking off the states: Florida, Massachusetts, California. “There really is no other sport like it. Teamwork is critical. You can feel all eight rowers pushing as hard as they can on every stroke with such a smooth and synchronized rhythm, and you just know they are doing it for each other. That is what is so special about our sport. I have to say that rowing has been one of the highlights of my experience here.”
Chemistry Major Disproves Journal Findings
Senior Capstone Experience
Aldol Cyclotrimerization of Cyclic Ketones
Advisor: Dr. Aaron Amick
The aldol cyclotrimerization reaction has been known for over a century but the potential of this reaction has been determined within the last decade. To date, this method is the most efficient way to create head-to-tail symmetric trisannulated benzene derivatives. A majority of cyclotrimerizations reported in the literature are those of 5-membered ring aromatic ketones, however, there are many interesting trisannulated benzene derivatives that can be envisioned to originate from 6-membered ring ketones. In this project research will be centered on determining a general protocol to maximize the yield of desired cyclotrimers of various 6-membered ring ketones.
- Ph.D. Program in Organic Chemistry at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill