NSF Graduate Fellow
I. The development of a sophomore-level organic chemistry Question-Driven Laboratory Exercise, a Question-Driven Lecture, and a simple assignment designed to facilitate students' understanding of the scientific thought process utilized in a research setting.
II. The use of computational modeling to assess the mechanism of Grignard reagent formation in hydrocarbon media and the interactions of thalidomide with DNA
Robert W. Holman
Masters of Science
University Department and/or Lab:
Description of Research:
This research dives into two branches of chemistry. The first, chemical education, involves the development of laboratory and lecture materials for the sophomore organic level which promotes scientific thinking through a data first, principle later approach rather than the traditional approach of principle first and data second. Students are guided by questions which facilitate the interpretation of provided data to establish a chemical principle. In this way students learn the ability to synthesize information from several pieces of data to develop chemical principles.
The second branch of chemistry, computational chemistry, involves using chemical modeling and calculations to determine the mechanistic pathway of Grignard formation in novel conditions and to determine the interaction of thalidomide with DNA. Computational modeling allows the theoretical determination of the endothermicity/exothermicity of a particular stage in a chemical mechanism and provides insight into the geometry of an interaction. This enables the determination of the likelihood that a particular step will happen in the reaction or that a chemical compound will indeed interact with another compound.