Luesse receives two-year organic chemistry research grant

Chemistry professor Sarah Luesse will begin a two-year research project this summer in organic chemistry. She received a Cottrell College Science Award from the Research Corporation for Scientific Advancement. Photo courtesy of Luesse.

Chemistry professor Sarah Luesse received the Cottrell College Science Award (CCSA) from the Research Corporation for Scientific Advancement (RCSA), a $35,000 grant that funds two years of organic chemistry research.

According to the RCSA website, “Cottrell College Science Awards jumpstart the research work of early career scientists at primarily undergraduate institutions, helping them achieve lifelong, productive roles as scientist-educators. Criteria for funding include the potential to add to fundamental scientific knowledge, the potential to develop future support from other agencies and the involvement of undergraduates in this research.”

Luesse said her research relates to how “you go about designing and producing potential pharmaceuticals” by developing new chemical reactions.

“It’s a multi-component coupling reaction which means that you put several different chemicals together and make a complex molecule in one step,” Luesse said.

This work, according to Luesse, will study the Ugi-Smiles Diels-Alder tandem reaction discovered by her group and ways to improve it. They expect their findings to be used for the preparation of “organic molecules that might be biologically active,” or compounds that have potential as pharmaceutical drug candidates.

“How do you find compounds that might be useful as drugs? How do you make those compounds in an efficient way that is cost-effective?” Luesse said.

These are the questions that her work will address.

Luesse said she is excited about the honor and the stipends it provides for undergraduate students performing research in her lab. This award also includes funding for laboratory supplies and equipment.

The grant proposal, according to Luesse, included research conducted with some of her students.

According to Chemistry Department Chair Michael Shaw, the department is pleased that students will learn to conduct research more independently after working with Luesse on this project.

“She has been able to obtain resources that will allow students to have opportunities that they otherwise wouldn’t have access to,” Shaw said.

Shaw said the CCSA grant is a “prestigious award” given by the RCSA.

“I am very pleased that she was able to compete for and obtain this award. It’s an excellent start to her career at SIUE,” Shaw said.


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