Graduate student research continues to advance with addition of new facility

Research among SUNY Oswego chemistry graduate students continues to prosper with the addition of the new science building, the Shineman Center for Science, Engineering and Innovation.

With new and improved research laboratories and equipment, students have greater resources and opportunities to gain research experience.

Fehmi Damkaci, associate professor of chemistry and the graduate students he advises, look at three main research areas: the synthesis of medicinally and structurally important molecules, and improving the medicinal properties of these molecules; new method development to increase the efficiency of known reactions; and development of new experiments for undergraduate laboratories.

Student research

The master of chemistry degree program has ten graduate students, researching diverse topics. Advisees of Damkaci include Nicholas Massaro, Ryan Cotroneo and Cihad Sigindere, all in the second year of graduate school and will graduate in the spring.

Massaro’s research focuses on the total synthesis of Trigonoine B, an anti-HIV therapeutic compound.

“Right now, I’ve got a conversion synthesis and I’m doing two different sets of reactions to make one compound,” said Massaro. “Once that is made, I have to do my thesis on it and once I write that I will probably be defending it next spring.”

Massaro has been using a piece of equipment called a nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy for his research and has been traveling to the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) to use the NMR located on the campus.

“I am currently collaborating with an (alumnus) from Oswego that works (at ESF) with NMR,” Massaro said. “He was helping us out a lot.”

The SUNY Oswego alum, David Kiemle, works in the ESF analytical and technical services, where he oversees the NMR.

Students will no longer have to travel to Syracuse to use an NMR, as in January 2014, SUNY Oswego’s Shineman Center will be the home to a 300 MHz NMR and a 500 MHz NMR.

Cotroneo, who is in the development stage of his research, is in the process of developing pentacene derivatives that are economically and environmentally beneficial.

"I believe that we perform high quality research with our graduate students and prepare them for their next endeavor in life, either Ph.D. or industry,” Damkaci said.
Fehmi Damkaci
Associate Professor of Chemistry

According the Cotroneo, pentacene is found in LED and LCD screens and allows these screens to be bent.

“They are really great conductors so you get a lot of good color and it’s good for touch screens,” Cotroneo said. “Where they are having problems right now is dissolving them and keeping them stable so this is where my research is focusing on.”

Sigindere’s research is the third step of the recently published article “N-Picolinamides as Ligands for Ullmann-type Homocoupling Reactions” by Damkaci and five other graduate students.

This third step in Ullmann coupling is trying to optimize the reaction conditions and implementing a reaction with a group of compounds.

“What you usually do is decide what would be the best solvent for that reaction, what would be the optimized reaction temperature and the time for those reactions,” Sigindere said. “Since these are catalytic reactions, you also need to decide how much catalyst you should use with your reaction.”

The experience

Students at SUNY Oswego not only have the opportunity to be involved in research, but also have the opportunity to participate in conferences and publications.

Damkaci and his students had three articles published in 2013 and expect to submit two more in spring 2014.

Each year, students have the opportunity to present their research at Quest, a symposium dedicated to sharing the research pursuits of the SUNY Oswego community and to present at the national level through the American Chemical Society.

“I believe that we perform high quality research with our graduate students and prepare them for their next endeavor in life, either Ph.D. or industry,” Damkaci said.