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Thursday, April 27, 2006

SU Students Earn ISCC Honors

SALISBURY, MD---Salisbury University chemistry majors Brian P. Smith and Aaron S. Jenkins recently won prizes at Intercollegiate Student Chemists Convention (ISCC) at Ursinus College in Collegeville, PA.

Smith, a sophomore from Sharpsburg, MD, placed first in the organic division for his presentation on “Double Michael Addition of 3-t-butyl-5-methyl-pyrazole to Methyl Propiolate to Give a Ligand Suitable for Mimicking Histidine and Carboxylate Residues in Metalloenzymes.”

Jenkins, a sophomore from Waldorf, MD, placed second in the inorganic division for his presentation on “Synthesis and Characterization of Zinc Complexes With The Water-Soluble Tris (3-t-butyl-5-methyl-1,2,4-triazolyl) hydroborate Ligand.”

Both are working with Dr. Elizabeth T. Papish of SU’s Chemistry Department as part of a research group designing catalysts to break down phosphotriester pesticides.  The inspiration for the catalysts comes from nature, the group looks at the active site of enzymes that hydrolyze phosphotriesters, and with that structure in mind they design small molecules to act as enzyme mimics.

The students are both taking unique and original approaches to the problem.  Jenkins’ ligand contains a new kind of bulky, water-soluble triazole ring that was first synthesized by Michael Taylor (who is headed to graduate school at the University of Delaware this fall) last summer. Smith’s ligand should make a novel seven-membered ring when it binds to metals, and the synthesis is unusually efficient at just one step.    Currently the group is involved in organic and inorganic synthesis of potential catalysts, but soon they will begin testing catalysts and studying how they work. Other group members include junior Finith Jernigan, who helps train the younger members of the group, and freshman Bryan Klebon.

This research is funded by the undergraduate research grants in SU’s Richard A. Henson School of Science and Technology and an American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund startup grant. For more information call 410-543-6030 or visit the SU Web site at "

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