Copolymerizing Research and Undergrad Labs

A recent article entitled “Reenigeering the Undergrad Lab” in Chemical and Engineering News highlights an effort to bring research-rich experiences and experiments into the organic chemistry laboratory. The main idea is to have students work on a real research project during their scheduled laboratory time. Its not just organic chemistry laboratory, though. The effort represents an integrated experience through all the levels of chemistry that starts with freshman-level courses and continues through a senior research project. “As students progress from one semester to the next, they learn more advanced skills and begin to mentor newer students.” This emphasis on research is also, apparently, integrated across the science disciplines as well. Quite a bit of space is dedicated to describing synthesis of functionalized vinylbenzenyl thymine copolymers. After all, this is a chemistry journal. The article describes the way the research work in Rich Gurney’s lab has interfaced with what students do in organic chemistry lab. The potential green chemistry applications are a nice aspect of the project which involves the synthesis and testing of new polymers. Evidently, Dr. Gurney  has not published his results yet. I did find a related article in a 2010 issue of Macromolecular Reaction Engineering entitled “Synthesis, Characterization and Curing of Bioinspired Polymers Based on Vinyl Benzyl Thymine and Triethyl Ammonium Chloride.” I am having a little trouble figuring how “reengineering” comes into the picture, though.

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