Organic Chemistry Students Win 3rd Place at UC Irvine Graduate Competition

Derek Stowe

Glendale students presented a project at a graduate student competition in organic chemistry research at UC Irvine on March 26. They placed third out of 55 different colleges and universities.

Thirteen winter session students synthesized six new compounds in GCC’s own lab.

“Most of the colleges presented a summary of somebody else work like on the harms of smoking, or the toxicity of tap water,” said chemistry instructor Asmik Oganesyan. “We were the only ones who entered our own original work.”

Selected from a pool of 35 applicants, what set these 13 Glendale College students apart was their enthusiasm for science and their excellence in previous work.

Organic chemistry is the study of carbon compounds once thought to be produced only by living organisms. However, such compounds can be synthesized in the lab.

The 13 research students called this project of producing new drug delivery platforms, “synthesis of unsymmetrical polymers as potential biologically active agents.”

Drug delivery platforms are compatible chemical agents that are typically used by pharmaceutical companies for oral, transdermal, intravenous, or nasal delivery to a patient.

Many at the competition could not grasp the magnitude of what Glendale had accomplished in terms of viable research.

One judge was so astounded he said, “You really did the work in a community college?”

Sure enough.

Glendale should have placed first, said Oganesyan. But some judges passed by without stopping to inquire what and how the students had accomplished this feat of chemical engineering research.

The judges who did ask questions gave GCC’s display 100 percent scores in every category.

“Most of my students have their sights set on becoming a doctor, yet a career in research might be just as exciting,” said Oganesyan. “It’s a very, very good experience to learn not only how to do the work but also how to present it.”

Oganesyan said one ambitious student said, “Next year we’re going to come up with a cure for cancer, right Dr. DMSO?”

The prize-winning yellow ribbon can be viewed atop a huge poster in the corridor of the second floor of the of the CR building along with many photos, a description of the lab work that got so much attention, and testimonials from each of these diligent 13 organic chemistry students.