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The McMurry University chemistry department has received a $25,000 Welch Foundation grant for the 2014-2015 school year. This grant is instrumental in funding the department’s summer research program.

“This program is very important to the School of Natural and Computational Sciences, and we are pleased that we will be able to continue our legacy of involving students in chemical research,” said Dr. Alicia Wyatt, dean of the School of Natural and Computational Sciences at McMurry.

The Welch Foundation provides an annual departmental grant with the objective of providing undergraduate students an opportunity to participate in original research with a member of the Chemistry Department. Involvement in research keeps the faculty abreast of the latest developments in their field and keeps them enthused about chemistry and teaching. The students involved in research projects see a practical application and extension of the knowledge acquired in lecture and laboratory courses. It also gives them additional exposure to the chemical literature, stimulate interest and independent thinking, and help them develop problem-solving techniques that prepare them for graduate or professional school or a scientific career.

Medicinal chemistry and inorganic coordination chemistry were the areas in which research was conducted the past few years. The involved faculty members were able to continue with their professional development, and progress was made with the various on-going research projects. One faculty member had a student present their work at the 244th National American Chemical Society meeting in Philadelphia and another student present work at the 2nd Annual West Texas STEM Undergraduate Research Conference at Midland College. A publication of the work of former Welch students appeared in an open access journal. The other faculty member had a student present their work at Abilene Christian University’s 5th Annual Undergraduate Research Festival. Two Welch students used their research as the basis for undergraduate theses in the honors program at McMurry University.

This past summer (2013) the department had three undergraduate students conducting research on the Welch Foundation Departmental Grant. Dr. Hyunshun Shin worked with Damon Rose during the second half of the summer on a project targeting two enzymes: ornithine decarboxylase and histone deacetylase. Dr. Edward Donnay supervised two returning students, Josh Brooks and Christi Barr. Josh will be trying to characterize chromium containing metal complexes via electrochemistry. Christi will be testing the ability of the compounds to bind to DNA. Compounds with the right properties may be useful in photodynamic therapy to treat cancer and other diseases.