Student Spotlight: Christopher Savich

Each summer, several students have the opportunity to learn more about their field of study (and themselves) by doing internships, research jobs, or REUs (Research Experience for Undergraduates). We will be highlighting their enriching summer experiences periodically.

chris at rotovap
Name: Christopher Savich
Major: Chemistry
Minor: None
Year: Senior
Type of summer program: Full-time Paid Summer Research
Location: LSSU with Dr. Mosey
Summary of  project: Synthesis of novel 3,4-Dihydroquinazolines for the testing of anti-cancer and anti-bacterial properties.
Describe a typical day: Typical activities included the synthesis of novel compounds, the purification of them, and finally their characterization. A variety of chemical reactions were done to synthesize these compounds, some taking multiple days of reaction time. Then, purification would be done which almost always included flash column chromatography but often included other methods such as the usage of a rotary evaporator, basic silica plug, and filtration. Characterization of the compounds would typically use Carbon Nuclear Magnetic Resonance and Hydrogen Nuclear Magnetic Resonance spectroscopy to determine the identity of the compound in question and to assess purity. Melting points would also be taken if the compounds were solids. Usually, only about three or four of the activities listed would be performed a day.
Things the student learned about their field:
  • I became more acquainted with many of the hands on procedures involving the synthesis, purification, and characterization of organic compounds. One example of this would be that I learned how to prepare and use Wittig reagents and to make 3,4-Dihydroquinazolines; the former being an intermediate and the latter being the desired end compounds.
  • I became acquainted with the usage of catalysts for hydrogenation and general reaction. 10% Palladium on Carbon was used alongside hydrogen gas to catalytically reduce aromatic nitro-compounds to aromatic amines.
  • I became very well acquainted with the usage of flash column chromatography, wherein compounds are dissolved in organic solvents are passed through a tube of silica slurry in order to separate the compounds based on polarity. While I was already acquainted with flash column chromatography before my job over the summer I became even more so during it.
Things the student learned about himself:
  • I learned how to cook. I lived on my own over the summer, but on campus at LSSU. Before this I had never had to cook for myself, so it was a fun adventure. I ended up coming to love cooking for myself.
  • I learned how to budget money. I was paid minimum wage and wanted to save up money to use over the school year. Learning how to live frugally (By necessity) was interesting and I’m glad I did it not only for the learning experience but also because I now have money to use over the school year.
  • I learned how to live on my independent of family or school.