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Class of 2017
Fall 2016

My name is E.J. Curtis and I am a senior neuroscience major, chemistry minor from Canton, New York.  For the past two and a half years I have worked with Dr. Samantha Glazier on the interactions of a class of chemotherapy agents with DNA.

This past summer, while conducting research as a Ronald E. McNair scholar, I traveled to Pune, India with Dr. Glazier to work at the Indian Institute of Scientific Education and Research with Dr. Arnab Mukherjee.  My trip was made possible from the generosity of Ms. Francine Stone through the Sol Feinstone International Study Prize.  Our research at St. Lawrence is a primarily spectroscopic study that seeks to characterize the mechanism of drug-DNA complex formation. Dr. Mukherjee’s work is theoretical in nature and complements our study by simulating what we do in the lab, on a computer.

While at IISER I was able to learn several computational chemistry techniques while teaching myself to write code in two different programming languages. In order to practice these new techniques I began a collaborative project with another Ph.D. group in Pune. I worked with Somnath Kashid and Dr. Sayan Bagchi at Pune University to help in explaining anomalous two-dimensional infrared spectroscopic data that they had collected. This collaborative project required me to apply my understanding of foundational chemistry principles, while stepping outside of my comfort zone to experiment with new theoretical techniques.  My role in the project was to elucidate the change in absorbance of an acetone derivative in the presence of different solvents using molecular dynamics and density functional theory.

This work has given me exposure to the vast possibilities that are available with computational chemistry.  I look forward to applying these skills to my own research at St. Lawrence, where I am now working on my Senior Honors Thesis. 

I am so very thankful to Ms. Stone for giving me the opportunity to travel around the world to continue research, while building relationships with future collaborators to facilitate my journey in the pursuit of knowledge.

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