For Bobby Yeboah, a master's in chemistry student, his graduation in May 2024 is another milestone in a journey from Ghana to SUNY Oswego to his next steps in St. Jude's competitive research doctoral program with the same goal: Solving problems and helping humans through research.

After completing his bachelor's in Ghana, which combined his passions for science and technology, he saw an amazing opportunity through SUNY Oswego's graduate chemistry program.

"When I started looking for schools, I was researching schools in America," Yeboah recalled. "And I came across Oswego. Oswego was giving me the best offer because most of the time, for international students, for you to come here and pursue your master's or your graduate degrees, you need a strong financial background. And Oswego was ready to back me up. I'm working as a graduate teaching assistant here, which gives me opportunities and the experience to work among and teach kids and explain what I know to them."

As for the transition to Oswego, Yeboah couldn't be happier: "I came in and it has been fantastic since day one," he said.

"This place is a fantastic place to be, you know?" Yeboah said. "So when I go here at first, I get a little bit nervous. But then the faculty members are so friendly that it made me settle in so easily that I felt like I've been here for years, but it was just outside of a few months that I was here."

Life-saving research

Yeboah has been part of a team working with Arsalan Mirjafari, the university’s Dr. Richard S. Shineman Professor of Chemistry, on an effort to develop better-maintained and more effective vaccines. The groundbreaking work, funded by the National Institutes of Health, involves creating vaccines that perform better and can be maintained at room temperature -- which greatly reduces expense, storage logistics and waste.

His role has involved working with the vaccine in terms of developing the most effective and efficient structures, with his work published in Chemistry Communications recently. He was the lead author on "Are nature's strategies the solutions to the rational design of low-melting, lipophilic ionic liquids?", which reflects his primary research in SUNY Oswego's labs.

"The paper that we actually published talked about all the syntheses, the work that we've done about it and how we can use nature, which is the organic liquids that we develop here, to save, guide or protect the therapeutic gene into their cells," Yeboah explained.

The mentorship of Mirjafari and the opportunity to work on such advanced projects for the betterment of others have been very rewarding.

Yeboah is excited about the next step as well: After May's Commencement ceremonies, he will continue his research via acceptance into a very competitive world-renowned research hospital. 

"My next step is going into my Ph.D., and I got a prestigious admission to St. Jude Hospital, where I want to work in cancer cell research," Yeboah said. "I can see my development going on and it is all targeting that same goal, which is using chemistry and medicine as a tool in developing physiologically active compounds for therapeutic effects."

And ultimately, all getting back to his calling of using science and technology to save and improve lives.